Re: user's manifesto--a contrarian view

Subject: Re: user's manifesto--a contrarian view
From: "House, Barry" <BHouse -at- LRS -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 25 Sep 1998 12:56:24 -0500

Perpetrators of tyranny?

When I read "A Computer User's Manifesto," I was surprised that a
publication like Business Week would advocate that an entire industry
jump into lock-step and follow someone's ideas of what makes a
user-friendly product. The computer industry--and by that I mean the
"personal" computer industry--is dominated by companies founded by
individuals who blazed their own trail. They did NOT follow anyone
else's lead.

Besides, somebody already made a computer that was extremely easy to use
and service. They published easy-to-understand manuals for this
computer. And most of the marketplace rejected Apple's Macintosh because
it was always too pricey.

When someone else figures out a way to build a computer that's really
easy to use and packs it with documentation that's really easy to read
and can sell it for a profit at a price hundreds of dollars lower than
Gateway and Dell currently sell their computers, the world will see a
real shift in computer usability. But it won't happen because Business
Week published an IBM researcher's list of rules for computer ease of
use.

The Model T's price point was as big a factor in its success as its ease
of use.

Barry House

On Friday, September 25, 1998 11:55 AM, John Renish
[SMTP:John_F_Renish -at- NOTES -dot- SEAGATE -dot- COM] wrote:
> The reaction to the computer user's bill of rights on TECHWR-L has
been
> about what one would expect from the perpetrators of tyranny, rather
than
> the lovers of freedom. George III took much the same attitude toward
the
> American colonists' grievances, although he probably didn't call them
> "lame". Remember, ladies and gentlemen, that the manifesto was written
by a
> _business user_, our _primary customer_, and that the list of rights
was
> penned by "Clare-Marie Karat . . . a PhD psychologist who evaluates
the way
> people interact with their computers and designs what the industry
calls
> human interfaces at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center in
Hawthorne,
> N.Y." Dr. Karat is _one of our own_.
>
> Years ago, you were expected to know a good deal about applied
mechanics to
> drive an automobile. Crash-box transmissions, direct-lever steering,
and
> the like were usual, but they were unnecessary. One of the reasons
Ford's
> Model T was so successful is that it had a mechanically-complex but
> easy-to-use planetary transmission operated by pedals. The
self-starter,
> synchronized gearbox, automatic transmission, and power steering
greatly
> simplified the act of driving, making it available to many millions
who
> would not otherwise have bothered to learn. Modern cars have extended
> service intervals; you can now drive 50 times as far as a Model T
would go
> before you need to service the car. All these evolutionary changes
brought
> the automobile to the world, and not incidentally forced the entire
> industry to keep pace or fall by the wayside. That's why there are now
> three big automobile manufacturers in the U.S. instead of the 5,000
there
> were in 1910.
>

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