Does learning get in the way?

Subject: Does learning get in the way?
From: "Geoff Hart (by way of \"Eric J. Ray\" <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>)" <ght -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 12:06:05 -0600

Scott Miller continued our discussion by noting that <<...worrying
about teaching people is only a concern from a writer's viewpoint. We
feel compelled to do so. But from the user's perspective, having to
learn something is an obstruction to getting their work done.>>

That's true to a large extent, but you've missed George's original
point here: knowing how to use a hammer is less important than
knowing what you can and can't or should and shouldn't do with the
hammer. Think of the problem this way: if you give Framemaker to
someone who's never done anything more than type letters and ask them
to start desktop publishing, how successful are they likely to be?
There's a whole different mindset involved. If our goal is to help
users become productive rather than simply fill a seat in front of
the software, we need to provide some degree of instruction on the
purpose of the software and how to think about using it. The tricky
part is not whether, but to what extent and how.
--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

When an idea is wanting, a word can always be found to take its place.--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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