Linked by Howard Fosdick on Mon 27th Aug 2012 13:53 UTC
Editorial The dream of inexpensive computing for everyone has been with us since the first computers. Along the way it has taken some unexpected turns. This article summarizes key trends and a few of the surprises.
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Invisibility is the goal
by Tony Swash on Tue 28th Aug 2012 13:18 UTC
Tony Swash
Member since:
2009-08-22

Computing technology reaches it's apogee when it disappears from view, when the user of the technology is not aware of the technology being used and they are only aware of the task being undertaken. All good technology should vanish from sight, the more in sight it is, the more the user has to think about the tool and not it's function, the worse the tool is.

Smart phone technology is a big step forward. You tap an icon and speak to someone, or dictate some text which someone else can read, anywhere in the world. You approach a location and the device gently reminds you to do something, you tap an image and a flood of information is available, you see something and instantly capture an image of of it.

As fantastic as smart phones are they still require too much thought to use, they still get between you and the activity or function. There is still a way to go yet.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Invisibility is the goal
by MOS6510 on Tue 28th Aug 2012 15:08 in reply to "Invisibility is the goal"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

Disappearing from view is a good thing for the masses who just want things to work and don't want to bother learning how to operate something, let alone read a manual.

BUT! I think there should always be the option to thinker around. I don't mind an iPad being a closed system, but it would be a sad day if you were no longer able to build your own computer and install an alternative OS on it.

When things start to become simple and people expect things to "just work" it's not such a small jump to a situation where a government forbids any computer devices where users can "tamper" with, for they may interrupt services of the it-just-works-machines/systems/services.

The movie and music industry wouldn't mind that happening for it makes pirating less easy, nor would the government mind in their fight against terrorists, hackers and tax evaders.

Reply Parent Score: 3

Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

Disappearing from view is a good thing for the masses who just want things to work and don't want to bother learning how to operate something, let alone read a manual.

BUT! I think there should always be the option to thinker around. I don't mind an iPad being a closed system, but it would be a sad day if you were no longer able to build your own computer and install an alternative OS on it.

When things start to become simple and people expect things to "just work" it's not such a small jump to a situation where a government forbids any computer devices where users can "tamper" with, for they may interrupt services of the it-just-works-machines/systems/services.

The movie and music industry wouldn't mind that happening for it makes pirating less easy, nor would the government mind in their fight against terrorists, hackers and tax evaders.



I would pose it this way: if you are designing a tool should you design it for the 1% who are interested in the tools themselves or for the 99% who just want to use a tool to do something else and not because they are interested in the tools themselves?

Neither group, those interested in the tools themselves and those only interested in the thing the tools allows one to do, are right or wrong.

The tool lovers will always be a small minority.

Any company making tools will probably focus on the much larger group, those who only want tools for doing something else rather than for tinkering with the tools themselves. A company who makes tools so well designed and easy to use that they become invisible will probably be very successful but the design approach that created the invisibility of the tool will probably be based upon a design approach that makes tinkering with the tool harder and make the tool less satisfying for the small number of people who are mostly interested in the tool itself.

There are no rights and wrongs in tool design. Just trade offs.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Invisibility is the goal
by zima on Wed 29th Aug 2012 09:33 in reply to "RE: Invisibility is the goal"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

BUT! I think there should always be the option to thinker around [...] but it would be a sad day if you were no longer able to build your own computer and install an alternative OS on it.

What do you call "build your own computer"? ;)

http://members.iinet.net.au/~daveb/simplex/ringhome.html

Reply Parent Score: 2