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.
Thread beginning with comment 532813
To view parent comment, click here.
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
RE[2]: Invisibility is the goal
by Tony Swash on Tue 28th Aug 2012 22:44 UTC in reply to "RE: Invisibility is the goal"
Tony Swash
Member since:

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

MOS6510 Member since:

The world is becoming more and more dependent on computers and Internet. When something doesn't work, like a government website, Amazon or 4G, more and more people will get annoyed.

The more people that are annoyed the easier it will become for governments to "protect" these people from annoyance. They will attack the causes of system interruption. Hackers, unpatched PCs that are part of a bot net, overly creative IT students, computer users that pressed the wrong button.

What if they forbid the use of computers that can be "tempered" with?

This may sound a bit Big Brother and sci-fi, but I don't think it's that far fetched considering the movement towards IT dependence. Any government would love to be able to control the entire network, from the servers to the computers at home.

People kill millions of sharks each year, a shark grabs a surfer and there is talk of killing them all off so people can safely surf. It doesn't take much for a crowd to support extreme ideas.

99% of the people would be fine with it, but 1% still account for the entire Linux community and they have over 5.000 Linux distributions. So 1% is still a market.

Reply Parent Score: 3

Tony Swash Member since:

99% of the people would be fine with it, but 1% still account for the entire Linux community and they have over 5.000 Linux distributions. So 1% is still a market.

Albeit a very small one. And being very small means less clout in terms of setting design agendas for OEMs seeking to maximise the scale and profits of their business.

I cannot see how the trend to the sealed box type of computing, both physically sealed and sealed in the sense of hiding most of the file system and OS from view or user manipulation, can be reversed. If anything that trend is likely to accelerate, and it will do so because for 99% or so of users it will improve device functionality and the quality of their user experience. This may be a negative trend for the small number who like to tinker but it will be a positive thing for the majority who definitely do not want to tinker.

Reply Parent Score: 2

zima Member since:

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

Is that what you're telling yourself when some app gets booted from appstore because it might possibly compete with (even future) function of the OS & appstore owner, or when an effort is exerted to lock 3rd party headphones out of DAP line, or when a very subpar processing in consumer NLE essentially destroys the footage? ( )

Reply Parent Score: 2