[linux-elitists] Re: GNOME > you

Chip Salzenberg chip@pobox.com
Fri Jan 2 18:11:24 PST 2004

According to Jeff Waugh:
> <quote who="Chip Salzenberg">
> > According to Jeff Waugh:
> > > http://www.gnome.org/~jdub/2003/sequelsyndrome/
> > 
> > I think I get it now.  Gnome 1 was a second system where the "first
> > system" was, more or less, the common GUI standards of the time,
> > esp. Windows and CDE and to a lesser extent MacOS.  Its option-heavy
> > design was a reaction against the perceived lack of user control in
> > those GUIs.
> See, if you want your clever little joke to be even more clever [...]

Jeepers, Jeff, ease up a bit.  *You* posted the "we were totally
insane" link to Gnome 1 option tabs.  If they weren't a reaction to
the lack of such knobs in existing GUIs, what were they?

> > Gnome 2 is a reaction against that reaction, and has apparently gone too
> > far (again) but in the opposite direction.
> We certainly don't think so.

Lots of questions about systems are best answered by the designers.
Usability questions aren't among them.  No offense; I wouldn't be the
best one to evaluate usability of _my_ software either.  Of course,
counting rants isn't the best survey method either.  So put me down
for "speculating but undecided".

> > Any system that has designs on being an interface to that entire complex
> > world can't be simple and also adequate.
> Oh, right, so you can make things simpler by cranking up the cognitive
> effort required to operate and understand them?

You miss my point.  In situations where that principle applies, the
only cranking is *down* -- specifically, *dumbing* down of interfaces
to the point where they don't present adequate control for a given
purpose.  It's when the world is complex and the interface won't let
you deal with that existing complexity.

The paradox is that an interface designed for _learning_ and an
interface designed for _use_ often have contradictory needs.
If your aim is to make interfaces easier to _learn_, then by all
means, simplify! simplify! simplify!  But life is complex, and the
complexity *will* out, one way or another.

> If you can't understand the difference between an empty file ready
> for your coding pleasure, and a user interface designed for normal
> people, I'm not sure you're coming at this from the right perspective.

Human beans are human beans.  Look too hard at the differences and you
miss the commonalities.  In any case, I didn't say "be like Perl", I
said "listen to what Larry Wall says".  'Larry' ne 'Perl'.
Chip Salzenberg               - a.k.a. -               <chip@pobox.com>
"I wanted to play hopscotch with the impenetrable mystery of existence,
    but he stepped in a wormhole and had to go in early."  // MST3K

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