Sometimes the readers really need to think too!

Subject: Sometimes the readers really need to think too!
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2002 08:33:09 -0400

A colleague sent me an old joke that I thought was pretty relevant to the
perpetual "they don't read the manual" thread: <<The father brought home a
backyard swing set for his children and immediately started to assemble it
with all the neighborhood children anxiously waiting to play. After several
hours of reading the directions, attempting to fit bolt A into slot B, etc.,
he finally gave up and called an old handyman neighbor. The old-timer came
over, threw the directions away, and in a short while had the set completely
assembled. It's beyond me," said the father, "how you got it together
without even reading instructions." "To tell the truth," replied the
old-timer, "I can't read, and when you can't read, you've got to think.">>

Sometimes, amidst all the wailing about why people don't read our manuals,
we forget the basics: some people just hate to be made to think. I'm not
sure there's any way we _can_ make them think, nor am I sure we can produce
user interfaces that eliminate the need for thinking (or that this would be
a good thing). But it pays to remember that the problem isn't always and
inevitably with us.

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada
"User's advocate" online monthly at
"By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is
noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience,
which is the bitterest."--Confucius, philosopher and teacher (c. 551-478

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