Thursday, November 25, 2010

Which is better, visible or invisible technology?

According to folk like Donald Norman, 'things' should be designed to be as easy to use as possible. There should be no need for a manual, still less expertise, even when pushing the limits of what a 'thing' can do. Requiring basic IT skills or new/digital literacies is just obstructing an individual's ability to concentrate on their job in hand.
Some of you will have come across AOL-only users, who think that AOL IS the Internet. Some Apple users are also totally thrown by the seeming complexity of Microsoft's offerings. Why do they have to make it so complicated!!?! Ignoring the fact that there has been significant convergence in 'ease of use' of competing operating systems, Apple's touch-interfaced i-phone and i-pad have changed the usability cosmos (in the aorist tense). I hear compelling accounts of all manner of 'non-computer people' swooning with wonder at the simplicity and elegance of reading from an i-pad.
I know Apple fans, at least, are going to find this risible, but I just want to ask, are we breeding a new generation of people who do not know how to even hold a mouse (i.e. the pointing device which first appeared in the latter half of the 20th Century)?

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