Re: [unrev-II] user education

From: Eugene Kim (
Date: Sun Jan 30 2000 - 22:12:10 PST

From: Eugene Kim <>

On Mon, 31 Jan 2000, Jeff Miller wrote:

> It was interesting to hear that it only took an hour to teach a user to
> use nls/augment to the point where they could go away and use the system
> by themselves. Why is it that people expect to be able to sit down in
> front of a computer and use it without leasons? They never question the
> number of hour spent learning to drive a car or the amount of money they
> spend on driving lessons. While I agree computers, in general not in every
> case, should be easy to use. The potential power of the system should not
> be drained out of such a system in the name of usablity.

People aren't risking their lives when they fire up their word processor.

You need to draw a distinction between a general purpose computer and its
applications. Clearly, if you want to take advantage of the power of
general purpose computing, you must be willing to traverse a fairly steep
learning curve. But if you're just using your word processor,
spreadsheet, web browser, and e-mail client, it seems reasonable to expect
almost instant usability.

Donald Norman makes a strong argument for information appliances in his
book, _The Invisible Computer_, where he compares computers now with
electric motors in the early 1900s. Back in those days, Sears and Roebuck
sold a household electric motor; you could then buy attachments that used
that motor, including sewing machines, mixers, fans, etc. Nowadays, of
course, these attachments are now separate appliances, and you don't think
twice about the motor. According to Norman, because of the size and
pricepoint of microprocessors today, it makes more sense to create
specific, highly usable appliances rather than rely on general purpose
computers with multiple software applications.


+=== Eugene Eric Kim ===== ===== ===+
|       "Writer's block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they        |
+=====  can have an excuse to drink alcohol."  --Steve Martin  ===========+

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