Thursday, 30 July 2009

Keeping technology from being scary

We should not have scary technology in our world. I recently had a mock interview that was supposed to be video-recorded for review. My interviewer was a chronic technophobe who managed to hit the right button but not for long enough on the camera, thus producing no recording at all. She confided that technology scares her, from her phone all the way up to the Cthulu-monster we call Internet. And in a way I sympathise, because technology should enable our lives, not uproot them and make them scary.

And yet a lot of technology is confusing and potentially scary. Powerful machines should only be difficult to operate in dangerous ways, but that is not always the case. I think the problem is that the minds that design our devices are not necessarily oriented towards user-friendliness. At best, with one tech-oriented person designing something, you get something another techy can use.

This is why, in software, we have user interface specialists, whose job is not just to understand what the customer expects, but what they actually need and how to make it clear.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I may one day be one of those guys.
PPS - It's one of the things I enjoy doing in my work.

No comments: