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Date:      Mon, 11 Jun 2001 21:18:42 -0700
From:      "Ted Mittelstaedt" <>
To:        <>, "David Leimbach" <>, <questions@FreeBSD.ORG>
Subject:   RE: Intuitive interface - was RE: vi
Message-ID:  <000001c0f2f6$c3819560$>
In-Reply-To: <>

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>-----Original Message-----
>From: owner-freebsd-questions@FreeBSD.ORG
>[mailto:owner-freebsd-questions@FreeBSD.ORG]On Behalf Of Erik Rothwell
>Sent: Monday, June 11, 2001 7:34 AM
>To: David Leimbach; questions@FreeBSD.ORG
>Subject: Re: Intuitive interface - was RE: vi
>I don't really thinking "intuitive" is a bad word to be using in some
>circumstances to describe UI operation. How "intuitive" a program is
>depends less on how "common" or "easy" it's interface is and more on how
>easily, quickly, efficiently, "realistically" etc. that one can figure
>out how to do something with the program.

But, see you have already just put out 4 other words here that even more
closely describe this etheral property of a program, why not use them
instead of dragging human intuition into it?

>Nevertheless, when you put something into a directory, leave the
>directory, and come back -- the file is still there. (Evil h4x0rs or
>user error, aside ;)). One step further -- the MacOS 9 Finder is a0
>particularly good example of "spatial computing": when I open a folder,
>put a file in it, close the folder, and return -- my document is not
>only there, but in the same screen position in which I left it.
>Things of this nature are "intuitive."

I disagree - things of this nature are "obvious"  That's a much better
adjective.  The problem is that it sounds to basic and everyday. People
that market and sell new software programs don't want to sound ordinary,
they want to perpetuate the "mystique" of the computer (and thus justify
getting more money for them I guess) so they search out terms like
that _sound_ more mysterious.

It's exactly the same reason people name cars "fireball"  (would you really
want to buy a car that turned into a fireball when you started it up?!?!)
and Taurus and Geo and Cougar.  (along with some duds like no-go of course)

Yes, these are mere labels, just as a label of intuitive is on a program,
supposedly we all have better things to do than pay attention to them.  But,
when you DON'T pay attention to them is when the brainwashing starts acting.

I hope everyone's been forced to read "1984" once, I was chained to a desk
when I was a high schooler and had to read it too.  It's rediculous and
way out of date and totally unrealistic.  No government could ever be that
efficient and survive.  But - corporations aren't government.  Instead of
reading 1984, a far, far better book is "Space Merchants" by Frederick Pohl.
It's the identical concepts of what happens to the world when you let the
experts in doublespeak go out of control - but unlike 1984, it's
on target.

My campaign isn't to wipe "intuitive" away as a label on a program - people
can call any program they want anything.  But I do hope that by pointing out
this subtle bit of programming works that instead of falling for it next
the salesman says how intuitive the program is, you will just laugh at him.

>So, I don't think the word intuitive as applied to user interfaces is
>strictly a misnomer for "easy" or "common" interfaces. You quickly
>understand what "intuitive" is when you see some truly unintuitive or
>counterintuitve user interfaces :)

Fifteen years ago the corporate motto "Making computing Safer, Simpler,
and Faster" was good enough for Central Point Software, without this
load of dingo's kidneys of shoving human intuition into the mix.  We should
all congradulate ourselves on how much more obscure and unintelligible
we have managed to make the software industry.  Give it a few more years
and the marketing brochures for software will be no different than the
marketing claptrap used to sell perfume.  Oh, rapture!

Ted Mittelstaedt            
Author of:          The FreeBSD Corporate Networker's Guide
Book website:

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