David dbFSF at
Wed Jul 25 02:01:06 UTC 2001

> On Tue, 24 Jul 2001, John wrote:
> > Wim De Smet wrote:
> > > 
> > > John Peter Tapsell said:
> > > > Just to troll....
> ...
> > > I agree (almost) completely. We don't want to dumb it down to the point
> > > where one doesn't see what the os is doing (i.e. Windows).
> >
> > I couldn't disagree more. The user interface should be as independent
> > from the OS structure as possible. The aim of a UI is to be usable. It
> > should help users of any skill level perform the tasks they need to
> > perform.
> Bingo! I think we have hit on what I mean.
> I feel the UI should _not_ be as independent from the OS structure as possible.
> I've taken UI classes etc, and heard these argument, but they are after maxing
> usability.
> We should be after raising the users awareness of how things work, and
> understanding it.
> I want the UI to be tied to the OS structure as much as possible.
> I don't want too much abstraction in the UI - this is what leads to clueless
> users.

No, that doesn't follow.  A good UI will make it easy - by itself it will 
do no more, no less.  Users will only remain ignorant of the 
workings if (a) they don't care about them, or (b) the workings have 
been obfuscated.  Avoiding (b) is one of free software's main goals.  
But (a) is a personal choice that we shouldn't attempt to control.  
Computer science, quoth Dijkstra, is about computers in the way 
astronomy is about telescopes.

By all means aid the hackers in their study of the equipment we're 
all using; that's great, the knowledge there protects much freedom. 
 Meanwhile everybody else in the world (literally everyone) has their 
own ideas about what's cool.  Imagine what you could do if your 
integrated development environment was a starship holodeck...

> You want to aim gnome at usable by a luser, i want to aim gnome at being usable
> by newbies.  So what if the learning curve is steeper, if they are afraid of
> learning [about telescopes], then don't use gnome.

At Xerox PARC in the seventies (birthplace of clicky, responsive 
interaction, and huge influence on modern desktop computing), the 
guiding principle was to make everything usable by children.  Only 
then did they know it was designed properly for adults.


More information about the Discussion mailing list