Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 24th Jun 2008 23:04 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems One button, two buttons, three buttons, ten million buttons. Beige, black, white, red with polka dots. Glow-in-the-dark, see through. Right-handed, left-handed, both. Vertical for RSI patients, trackballs for weirdoes like myself, Apple's puck mouse for sado-masochists. The ubiquitous mouse comes in all possible shapes, forms, sizes, and colours, but according to our friend The Analyst, the glorious age of the mouse is coming to and end. Do we believe The Analyst?
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It was never truly alive
by Moonbuzz on Wed 25th Jun 2008 09:43 UTC
Moonbuzz
Member since:
2005-07-09

When the mouse was first integrated, it was the actual, true to form, "new metaphor". The first, and so far the last, computer device that wasn't mimicking or attempting to duplicate another non-computer device.

It wasn't supposed to go alone, a new, one hand keyboard was also devised, with the concept of a true mouse-and-keyboard interface. Sadly, the predominant type-writer metaphor kept its place and the mouse was demoted to an after-thought, even worse, it became synonym with bad UI, for several reasons.

First, its limited abilities compared to command-line actions had it coined as dumb, and mouse-only interfaces, aka WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus, Mouse) were considered dumbed-down and not powerful. During this time, the general concept was that mouse usage was slower than keyboard-only usage (as in the sentence "I have to STOP, then move my hand WAY OVER THERE").

In reality, this shows more of the misuse of the mouse than of its capabilities. Mouse-use should be centred around precision pointing, navigation, selection. Recursively acting on files in a hierarchy is not what a mouse should be used as, nor is it good as an end-all UI manipulation device. There's a good reason why it's called "pointing device" and not otherwise. Tests have also shown constantly that its usage is only being perceived as slow.

Still, it languished. There were attempts to re-integrate the mouse, as it was intended to be used, such as Rob Pike's editor (Sam, and Acme), as well as the Plan 9 operating system. Another good idea is the use of pie menus, neither of which caught on in the mainstream. Most interesting mouse-based UI are being invented in Computer games. From the "mouselook" of shooters, to Black-and-White's Gestures interface, the unorthodox user experience force developers to constantly re-create metaphors and re-imagine the use of peripherals.

To summarise, the mouse was invented for the computer, with computer-specific use in mind, but was misused, along with other devices, as it was hammered into places it was not devised to be, and abused as an end-all "userfriendly" encompassing UI device.

I think that before we bury it, it's time to start using it properly. Let it live a little.

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