Quite The Opposite, Really

by admin

stevenf:

In case you thought I was exaggerating when I said that the computer infrastructures of 2010 were too hard to understand for a vast number of people.

It’s easy to read this and be cynical about “how dumb everyone is”. But there are some seriously deep issues to analyze here for anyone interested in HCI.

stevenf, while I respect your expertise in this field, I believe your assessment is inaccurate.

The problem here is that the infrastructure is too easy to understand partially. No one ever munged their way onto ReadWriteWeb while looking for Facebook using Lynx. That’s because to do anything from the command line, despite the power it provides, you need a very deep, very specialized of understanding of how computers (and by extension the Internet) work. Neal Stephenson’s metaphor of free tank is very apt.

Graphical user interfaces, broadband connections, human-friendly URI’s, web browsers—all these things have lowered the bar tremendously. Some say that touch interfaces have dropped it even lower. That seems awesome, until you realize that these people are fumbling around with extremely powerful devices that have the potential to utterly ruin lives.

If these AOLiens can blunder their way onto ReadWriteWeb while looking for Facebook, just imagine how they’d do on a phishing site—or a malware trap? What if someone of them are using company machines full of proprietary and sensitive data? This is a near-daily occurance that’s sapping millions of dollars worth of productivity out of the economy.

We don’t need easier interfaces. We need more educated users.