Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Technological Dumb Down Continues...

Are things getting too simple? ...

"As technology proliferates, the entire industry is increasingly struggling to balance ease-of-use and usability on the one hand with power and functionality on the other.

A quick glance at the criticism leveled at any modern computing platform bares the truth of this assessment. While supporters of Windows Vista point to its "eye candy" innovations, detractors point to the fact that it is only a partially functional, less stable version of XP rife with software and hardware incompatibilities. Critics of recent Linux distributions--long the exclusive realm of ubergeeks--allege that attempts to lure users away from other operating systems have led to its watering down to absurd levels.

Perhaps the most succinct statement of the problem came from the creator of Linux himself, who in 2005 said of Gnome, a particular variety of Linux desktop environment, the following:

"This 'users are idiots, and are confused by functionality' mentality of Gnome is a disease. If you think your users are idiots, only idiots will use it. I don't use Gnome, because in striving to be simple, it has long since reached the point where it simply doesn't do what I need it to do."

The balancing act between usability and power is an unavoidable dilemma in this area, but I would argue that the pendulum has swung too far towards usability at the cost of power and continued advancement. I have demonstrated this phenomenon previously with respect to Windows Mobile hardware. In the current post, I argue that this trend also manifests itself in the way that phone companies and mobile software vendors market themselves to consumers, with similar results: technological innovation is stifled and the consumer remains uneducated."    (Continued via Smartphone & Pocket PC)    [Usability Resources]

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