Monday, June 20, 2005

ted nelson

Originally uploaded by Bill Kerr.
I like ted nelson because he makes me think and he's very entertaining in the way he uses language.

He invented wonderful words like hypertext and cybercrud.

Someone recently asked me, "Is it more important to think of a new idea or to design and make something to put that idea into practice?"

That made me think of Ted Nelson who thought of the idea of hypertext whereas it was Tim Berners-Lee who put it into practice. Maybe.

I checked out Ted on the web and found a page of his one liners. They stretch the mind and invite the reader to look at things in a new way.

Here is his commentary on the term intuitive software:
"Oh, SURE the Macintosh interface is Intuitive!
I've always thought deep in my heart that command-z should undo things."
-- Margy Levine

The term "intuitive" for interfaces is a complete misnomer. I can think of two meanings in software for which the term "intuitive" is presently used:

1. Almost nobody, looking at a computer system for the first time, has the slightest idea what it will do or how it should work. What people call an "intuitive interface" is generally one which becomes obvious as soon as it is demonstrated. But before the demo there was no intuition of what it would be like. Therefore the real first sense of "intuitive" is retroactively obvious.

2. Well-designed interactive software gradually unfolds itself, as in the game of Pac-Man, which has many features you don't know about at first. The best term I've heard for this is self-revealing (term coined by Klavs Landberg).

I thought of those words today when I explained to a student how to remove the line around a MS Publisher shape:
right click > Format AutoShape, then click on the dropdown box labelled Color and then you'll a button labelled 'No Line'.

Make a lots of sense, eh? Click on Color and you get 'No Line'. Today I said to that student, "it's not intuitive, but you might be able to remember it"


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