I recently watched a presentation given by Evan Doll to some students at Stanford about how the iPad changes everything. He made a couple of really great points that I feel those of us in the tech community should reflect on EVERY SINGLE DAY.
1. Computers are still too complicated.
2. Those who design and build and write about computers are most likely to forget this.
The summation of these points is an idea referred to as "The Gulf of Knowledge". Essentially, the more you know, the less you consciously know. Our expertise and constant exposure to a topic hurts our ability to explain it to others and prevents us from seeing things from an outside perspective. Because of this, we must pause, question and reconsider our instinctive thinking about technology.
He goes on to rip apart two staples of personal computing.
1. Exposure to the file system and how unnecessary and confusing it is for a huge group of users.
2. The mouse.
Geeks still argue about one button vs. two button mice but Doll says:
Despite the last 20 or 30 years of mouse usage all around the world, the mouse is a bug; it's not a feature. It's something we take for granted. We use it every day, but really it's a very disconnected way to interact with our data. We're moving this one thing over here and there's this other thing moving around on the screen. Sometimes it changes its appearance. Sometimes it hides. If you actually watch someone who's using a computer for the first time, there's a lot of confusion about this disconnect between what you're doing over here and how that affects your content on the screen.
The flotsam and jetsam of a techie mind...