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

On 01/15/2013 09:08 AM, Kent Borg wrote:
> A trio of late-in-the-thread observations:
>  - There is a trade-off between simple and powerful, but one can 
> always make both worse by adding a serving of "stupid", conversely, 
> one can always make something both simpler *and* more powerful by 
> removing some of the unnecessary "stupid" (eventually you might run 
> low on stupidities to harvest, so there can be limits, but don't give 
> up too soon using the trade-off argument as your excuse). Occasionally 
> one can change the game with a hunk of "clever" that later makes the 
> previous idea look stupid.

Albert Einstein: Things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.

>  - There are some extremely powerful and easy to use technologies out 
> there that are made possible by standardization, both in defining what 
> the product does and by using powerful standard components. Good 
> examples are indeed cars. And phone calls. Note that there sometimes 
> needs to be a lot of education about the properties of the product for 
> this to happen. Even morons know a lot about what cars are good for 
> and what they are not good for, similarly the properties of a phone 
> call are well defined, though the phone example has been in a lot of 
> flux in recent years. GPS is an amazing set of physics and 
> technologies, yet it can be packaged into extremely easy-to-use 
> products once one defines the product and engineers it carefully.

One of the "hard to see" aspects of this discussion is the variation of 
the goal set for the task. In the case of phones calls, GPS systems, and 
cars, there is very little variability in the goal set, therefore it is 
possible to engineer a simple solution because the number of legitimate 
options are quite small.

Where we get in to trouble is when the "goal set" starts to vary. With 
music, we have formats, quality, size, and proprietary technologies. 
This complicates the viable solution.

This is why I think people get confused about computers. Computers are 
not DVD players. Yes, they *can* play DVDs, but they can also do almost 
anything else. You can't think of a general purpose computer as an 
appliance. You can think of a particular app, designed to handle a 
particular goal set, as an appliance.

>  - People do want choice, but they are too busy and ignorant to really 
> deal with all that choice. But they still want some choice: I 
> overheard two young women in Target the other week, they talking about 
> something unknown to me, and the second one didn't need whatever the 
> first one suggested because she already had it and "mine has ionic 
> power". God maybe knows what that meant, I would be willing to bet a 
> hell of a lot of money that she had no idea what that meant, but it 
> gave her the impression that it was good, and maybe the term does 
> correlate with some real feature. I was once impressed by the name 
> "Formula-409", but that was when it was new and I was a pretty little 
> kid--I give myself a pass. I am weird because know a lot about how the 
> things around me work (as does this BLU crowd), but I don't know how 
> degreasers work beyond a basic understanding of soap. Formula-409 is 
> still magic to me. I think I know of a better and improved competing 
> product that we have at home and if only it had a catchier name I 
> could tell you what it is.
> -kb, the once very young Kent who was attracted to technology 
> specifically because of the superficial wiz-bang trappings that he now 
> scorns.
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