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[Discuss] Its not possible to make things easier for users

On 01/13/2013 12:52 PM, Rich Pieri wrote:
> On Sat, 12 Jan 2013 14:55:26 -0500
> Mark Woodward <markw at> wrote:
>> Problems with computers are mostly over at this point. It isn't about
>> computers at all. It is about the tasks the users want to accomplish.
>> You can't make them easier without changing the nature of the task.
> I recently wrote, in another thread, that consumers don't want choice.
> They don't want to have to make choices. They don't want to have to
> make decisions. They just want it -- whatever "it" happens to be -- to
> work without them having to think about it.
> Joe Consumer doesn't care about the relative merits of various audio
> formats and compression ratios. He just wants to play his music on his
> generic-just-like-his-neighbor's shiny thing. You can make it easier
> for Joe: remove choices.

I don't think that's quite right.  It's not that people don't want 
choices, it's that they don't want to make choices where they don't 
understand the options, and there is a high learning curve (esp. when 
options interact with each other in non-trivial ways).

Take video encoding for instance.  Check the man page for 
mencoder/mplayer.  Mine is 6908 lines long.  That's a lot of information 
for a single tool.  Most users (admittedly I'm extrapolating 'me' as 
'most people') don't want to /have/ to know all that stuff.  Most users 
would love it if there were a handful of pre-sets: min-file size, max 
quality, a few in between.  I think a lot of people would love to have 
those options.  Most people who have at least some technical competence 
are able to understand file-size, and why they may want to minimize it.

Music is somewhat easier, in that the formats available either work or 
they don't on a given device; it isn't like video where the format 
itself is supported but has a lot of jitter in playback depending on 
some of the options used in the encoding and/or playback utility.


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