David dbFSF at
Wed Jul 25 18:26:40 UTC 2001

> On Wed, 25 Jul 2001, you wrote:
> > 
> > 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.
> But again your users are just users - and I totally agree if that is the case.
> What I'm trying to say is that we should force the users into being more
> technical then users, and having to have some understanding of the underlying
> workings.
> Do you agree/disagree that if use the base assumption we want more technical
> users, then we can't abstract the UI too much, and we have to make the UI
> closely related to the inner workings?

A consistent but most unhelpful way of thinking about users.  
Would you agree that free software so far has catered pretty darn 
well to the low level types?  I think it has, I think we've got the 
bottom levels in good shape.  The technicals are the janitors of 
software, polishing their telescopes.  Now let's see how we can 
help the scientists and artists look to the stars.

> I agree with everyones points about abstracting etc for lusers, but we
> shouldn't aim to cater for them, instead aim for the more techinical user - the
> ones that will be interested in knowing how to fix simple problems by
> themselves, and not be afraid to use a terminal.

The two aren't at odds.  Have a lovely, simple, idea-enriching GUI 
then press F12 for a CLI.  Free software should absolutely not be 
about making people do distracting, menial things for themselves.  
When the lower levels are in good shape and well-manned, as I 
believe they are, it shouldn't take more than a request to the 
appropriate forum for quick and effective janitorial help.

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