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 Thu 2nd Dec 2004 10:15 UTC

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

Even so, I am compelled to respond to clarify my stance on a few points ;) .

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.

Perhaps, but the overall point you're trying to make is that you think a CLI offers a "lower level" view of the system than a GUI and hence is a "better teaching tool".

I don't believe this is correct. I can't think of any reasonable argument as to why a command like "rm filename" should be considered any "lower level" than dragging an icon to the trash.

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.

I think "deleting a file" is good enough, dont you ?

Education is still a key concept for learning to use a computer properly.

Millions of competent drivers out there who barely know enough to continue putting fuel into the vehicle would suggest otherwise.

Indeed, so would millions of computer "gurus" who haven't a clue about things like machine code, formal logic, silicon chip fabrication, etc.

It *is* possible to competently (if not expertly) use a tool without having a clue how it works. I direct your attention to an entire generation of children who are able to communicate with each other despite having a grasp of grammar and spelling that would have been considered borderline illiterate fifty-odd years ago as another example ;) .

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), [...]

Well, it is - in general, at any rate. The typical person can read, say, a page of writing far faster than they would be able to listen to it read at a "normal" speed.

This might not be true amongst people who haven't completed significant parts of their schooling, and incidents of people who can't read (or write) very well are certainly snowballing due to modern schooling techniques, but on the whole the typical person on the street is far more likely to be a quicker reader than listener.

[...] input (via dictation) would be faster than the majority of typists.

In this you are correct. Even more so when you consider the awful input capabilities of the sort of tools under discussion.

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

Another excellent example of where voice recognition has a lot of potential.

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.

I don't think it's so much a "technical challenges" as sheer physical limitations ;) . There's only so fast you can have understandable text read to you.

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

Don't get me wrong, I think voice recognition is technology that has a lot of potential in some areas, but trying to use it for some things - the things I pointed out - is very much square peg in round hole type stuff. Right tool for the right job, etc.

Voice recognition and voice control are not a silver bullet, they're just another tool. Don't get sucked into the "it solves all our problems, and does the dishes as well" attitude.

Although when watching Star Trek I was always more impressed with the way the computer could supposedly grasp the *meaning* of the commands it was given, rather than the mere fact it could recognise the words being spoken.