found drama

get oblique

ui thoughts

by Rob Friesel
  1. Interesting(?) piece from creativebits presenting the “Desk” concept as a replacement for/amalgamation of the Finder & Desktop concepts. The problems I had with it are that it’s not readily apparent “out-of-the-box” what it is or what it’s for. First I just eyed the graphic like “WTF is this?” Then I watched the video. And I still didn’t fully get how it would replace the Finder or the Desktop. Of course, the comments on the site read “brilliant” and “fantastic” but there’s a lot of gaps in there…
    • 1st– I know 2 kinds of computer users – – the kind that put everything on their Desktop and periodically purge and (2) the type that are compulsively organized and never let things touch their Desktop w/o careful consideration. In traditional Intro Psych courses these folks are usually referred to as “Type B” and “Type A” (respectively) – – and skill level w/ the PC seldom has anything to do with these habits. *** DISCLAIMER: the previous statement is based strictly on anecdotal evidence ***
    • The principal iconography used in the Desk concept borrows so heavily from the existing Finder that the immediate question is: WHAT’S DIFFERENT? Adding core/native Project functions for Type A and core/native Clipboard functions for Type B folks? Type A folks already have compulsive organised “~” directories (thanks to Finder’s hierarchical navigation) and Type B folks already have a place to clutter in their binge/purge cycles (thanks to Desktop’s “drop it here” ethos).
    • Recent Searches? Yawn.
    • I still don’t see how the “obscured desktop” problem is to be solved by the “Desk” concept.”
  2. Then there was ongoing’s “Mac Mini for Mom” bit which I found particularly insightful. Especially since I’d been recently turning over these thoughts… UI concepts are fascinating to me on several levels. On the one hand there’s this idea of building metaphors that ought to be universal enough that anyone can pick up on them – – and somehow the fact that we even refer to them as “metaphors” draws on this lineage that we’re drawing comparisons between PC use and “real world” objects, tools, tasks, and routines. And on the other hand, there’s this acknowledgement that not everyone will buy the same metaphors. (My favorite being how Windows has “Program Files” and every non-tech user seems to think that all you need to do to run an app is copy it from one box to another…) And but now where was I? Ongoing!
    • re: “What Worked” – – there aren’t too many surprises there… After all, aren’t these apps designed to “just work”? On that hardware? The comments on the Dock were a shock though. It’s been my experience that new users, esp. users switching from the Windows realmn not only hate the Dock but … just … don’t … get it. (Not that anyone can blame them. What w/ its inconsistencies and all.)
    • re: “Closing Things” – – to anyone that’s tried to work w/ “a Switcher” this is a familiar lament. “Cmd+Q” or “Application > Quit Application” is a totally unfamiliar concept to anyone who is accustomed to just one-(maybe two)-clicking out of any app. Where’s the simplicity in that? And try explaining the difference between closing windows vs. quitting applications. Not easy when the perception is: “Well what do I want the application open for if I’ve closed all of documents?”
    • re: RSS & NetNewsWire – – this is extra-geek territory for another 5 years at least. Even for tech-savvy moms.

currently playing: Doves “Darker”

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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