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: drsmithy
by David on Thu 2nd Dec 2004 04:03 UTC

Thanks for your response, Doc Smithy. These are my last words on the subject:

Perhaps I was wrong to use the term "abstraction." Maybe the actual "metaphors" themselves is the problem. The fact that we use terms such as "desktop," "trash can" and "file" is,, of course, to rpovide comparison to "Real world" objects. However, this disguises the fact that we are not really placing a "file" in a "trash can" but we are in fact erasing a collection of magnetic markings on a disk.

No real vocabulary of computing to describe precisely what we are doing has emerged (hence unwieldy descriptions such as "erasing a collection of magnetic...) By vocabulary, I do not mean industry jargon but a precise relationship between signifier and signified. History shows that language develops over time to meet these needs.

Onto your second statement, regarding HTML or LaTeX coding, here I do disagree with you. I really think there is a necessity for everyone to learn HTML. I believe the concept that came in with the Mac that manuals could now be dispensed with is a fallacy. Education is still a key concept for learning to use a computer properly.

Finally, regarding the mobile 'phone interface/voice system that I am hypothesising, I definitely agree that it the idea needs more thought. You have focused on the negative aspects and there would certainly be challenges to overcome but whilst retrieval of e.-mails maybe slow (though I am surprised by your assertion that listening is slower than reading, unless one is skimming), input (via dictation) would be faster than the majority of typists. (Of course, I acknowledge the the current limitations of ViaVoice and Dragon would need to be overcome.)

It would also benefit many people with certain types of disability.

Knowledge reserves such as the internet could be accessed from one's belt.

I agree that searching and navigation would be technical challenges and there would definitely be a need to avoid a system where rigmarole would be constantly repeated. That would annoy me as much as it would anyone else.

Really this idea is still very much abstract but I feel it would have potential once the limitations you point out are overcome.