Re: Intuitive (was Minimalism)

Subject: Re: Intuitive (was Minimalism)
From: Chris Hamilton <chamilton -at- GR -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 1997 07:59:50 -0600

Sandra Charker wrote:
> >I've never seen a piece of documentation telling the user to raise the
> >little red flag in his mailbox when he wants the carrier to pick up
> >a letter.
> >
> One of the risks of pictures is that they can carry different meanings to
> different people. I understood the little red flag the first time I saw it
> on a computer screen, although I've still never seen a flag on a physical
> mailbox (bit of rag tied to a tree yes, but not flag attached to mailbox).

Proof that intuition stems from experience:

When I was nine, we moved from a city to a rural area and had a mailbox
with a flag. On _Captain Kangaroo_, if the flag was up it meant Cliff
Clavin or someone had brought the mail. So, on a cold day in the winter,
my mom sent me to check the mail. I looked out the front window: no
flag, no mail. This concerned my mother because she was waiting for
something. Somehow she ended up checking the mail again before the next
delivery. And it was there. Turns out where I lived, the flag is used to
tell the mailman that there was outgoing mail. Somehow my mom knew this,
but I didn't.

The point is, _intuition_, like common sense, is different for each
person and depends on your experience. We all use the "don't put your
hand on a hot stove" example for common sense. But if you're two years
old and don't know about hot stoves, the sense is not common to you.
This is all points to: know your audience. I write for PowerBuilder
developers, so I figure they know what the mouse is and how to use it.
It's common sense to them. Something written to work like PowerBuilder
is intuitive to them. I've also written courseware for new Windows
users. They have no common sense or intuition in this area.

Chris Hamilton, Technical Writer
Greenbrier & Russel

"Never pet a burning dog." -- Brian Dunworth

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