Chapter Seven. Interface Issues Outside the User Interface


Human Interface, The: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems
By Jef Raskin
Table of Contents

It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by copybooks and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.

?span>Alfred North Whitehead

This chapter presents a potpourri of other technology-related areas where some out-of-the-box thinking (or nonthinking) may be of value to designers. Section 7-1 addresses the fact that programming language environments contain some of the worst human interfaces in the industry. We look at two aspects that could be improved. One is that the initial hurdle in terms of system and development environment has become so large that the beginning programmer is not encouraged to experiment and to learn by doing. The second is that although the benefits of documentation are well known, not much of it is done. A small change to programming languages might make the process easier.

Section 7-2 looks at the profusion of cables growing like snakes on Medusa's head from our computers. We never seem to have the right adapter, extension, or proper kind of cable for what we need. This problem would be far more tractable if we didn't have special male and female ends to cables but if instead every cable for a given function could plug into any like cable or connector on the computer. It is possible to do this.

Section 7-3 discusses a question of ethics: Building interfaces puts the designer into intimate and extended contact with the mind and body of the user. This entails certain responsibilities. Much has been written about how to make sure that there are appropriate curricula and training for practitioners of the interfacial arts, to protect users of their work, but not much has been said of what safeguards and societal protections are needed to allow the competent designer to do good work.


    The Humane Interface. New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems ACM Press Series
    The Humane Interface. New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems ACM Press Series
    ISBN: 1591403723
    EAN: N/A
    Year: 2000
    Pages: 54 © 2008-2017.
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