Linked by Kostis Kapelonis on Mon 29th Nov 2004 18:55 UTC
Editorial The IT sector today is a complete mess. The end-users rarely understand this, but most insiders reach a point when they realize that things should be different. The problems are numerous but they all reduce to a basic principle. IT and consumer electronics companies are interested more about money than helping people solve their problems. Of course companies need to make a profit and nobody denies that. They should however make money by helping people and not by creating more problems for them.
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Re: David (IP: ---.nt.tas.gov.au)
by drsmithy on Wed 1st Dec 2004 22:54 UTC

Yes, I agree that there is a level of abstraction in using the command-line, in that we are not dealing directly with binary code or manipulation of data at its most fundamental level. Yes, we also still do use metaphors such as "electronic mail." However, the next layer of abstraction, that involving metaphors pertianing ot the desktop, such as "trash cans" and so on are eliminated.

Not really. Using "rm" to delete a file is no less an abstraction than dragging an icon to the trash, selecting it and hitting the delete key or right clicking it and hitting delete. Certainly, the *methods* are different, and the metaphors are different (a "trash can" or "delete key" vs an arbitrary couple of letters), but fundamentally all both people are doing is using a process ("drag to trash", "rm") to tell the machine to delete a file (the file's icon, a filename).

Directly coding pages via HTML or LaTeX is a better learning method than using WYSIWYG.

Learning method, perhaps - but not everyone wants (or needs) to learn, they want to *do*. When all someone wants to do is bang out a quick letter or put a few pictures onto a web page, a tool with more automation is all that's required.

People shouldn't have to learn how write an HTML page in notepad to put a few pictures onto the web. There's no justifiable reason they should.

There needs to be soem degree of abstraction as we do not think like machines, so an interface is needed but not one whereby we lose sight of how the machine works.

Say what ? The perfect abstraction would be when we could forget completely about the underlying machine and how it works, and concentrate solely on the tasks at hand.

Does such a technology actually exist already? Obviously,t he various elements are there but I have not heard of them being put together in this way. If so, please supply me with more ifnomraiton.

Well, all the necessary components certainly exist and have for some time. I'm not aware of anyone who has actually glued them all together though, probably because of lack of demand. Personally, I think the system you suggest sounds like a horribly frustrating and inefficient way of remotely accessing email with little to no practical improvements in ease of use. Here's a few reasons why:

1. It would be slow.
* Most people can read a lot faster than they can listen.
* Long emails would take substantial time to read end to end. When you're reading, you can skim.
* Retrieving messages is inherently interactive.
2. It lacks persistance.
* If you need to check some aspect of a message, you need to go through the whole rigmarole again
3. It's way too reliant on certain aspects the underlying technology
* It will be a long time before there is perfasive, perfect, crystal-clear mobile phone reception. This potentially breaks your authentication method, your ability to instruct the machine what to do and your ability to listen to the information retrived.

A far better solution for this sort of thing is the technology that exists today - PDAs, email-enabled phones, devices like the Nokia communicator, Treos or Blackberries.

Consider the advantages:
* You get a written you can quickly skim through for important information.
* The message is stored locally for quick and easy review
* Messages can be retrieved in the background and read at leisure
* The lower negative impact of poor connection quality with regards to transmitting and receiving text means a more reliable, more efficient system.