Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(July 2002)
 

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Subject: Re: Please prune this list!
From: "Roger B.A. Klorese" <rogerk @ queernet . org>
Date: Fri, 05 Jul 2002 09:52:24 -0700
To: Thomas Gramstad <thomas @ ifi . uio . no>
Cc: list-managers @ greatcircle . com
References: <Pine . LNX . 4 . 44 . 0207050913170 . 25348-100000 @ asola . ifi . uio . no>
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Thomas Gramstad wrote:
That's a learned behavior, inculcated by Microsoft commercials.

Yeah, there's a good target. Get it out of your system.

In all other areas of life than computers, people understand that
a minimum of effort is necessary in order to learn to use a new
tool.  It's not necessary to be a car mechanic to own and drive a
car, but it's necessary to learn and understand the pedals, the
steering wheel, and where/how to inject gasoline.  It doesn't hurt
to know how to change oil, or how to change tyres either.  But
with computers, a much more complex tool, people have been told
repeatedly that they don't even have to know the basics, the
equivalents of pedals and steering wheel.  And that's when and
why accidents happen.

But computers today aren't like cars, in that a "bare minimum" doesn't get you functional, unless you're using AOL or similar tools. We are now in the 1910's of auto controls, where you ned to crank precisely (and that's an appropriate comparison, considering both meanings), as well as rebuild the engine yourself. Most users do have the equivalent of the brake, gas, and fuel down -- the power switch, login prompt, and browser launch. There's NO reason for it to be any more difficult than that.

(Are you aware that many people don't even know how to cut-and-paste, and when it's suggested that their diffculty in copying a 12-character key could be alleviated by copying and pasting it, believe there's no need to know that and we should just make the keys all-numeric so they can't screw them up?)

I can show you about 350 of our 400 list-owners who believe they
shouldn't need to learn anything to run a list

OK, "anything" is an overstatement. But they do believe that all they should ned to know is how to answer a short list of questions, have a list pop out the other side, and have everything work without technical jargon, without knowledge of things like network topology or protocols, and in language that has to do with how users se what they do, not how geeks see the software.

Then I say that they shouldn't be running lists.

I know you do. I say they should be running lists about XYZ because they're interested in XYZ and their potential subscribers are served by the existence of a list about XYZ.

On the other
hand, what they need to know to run lists can be learned within an
hour.

Um, no, it cannot by most people. And even if it can... I can probably learn to change my oil in an hour, or put together my modular office furniture, but that doesn't mean I'm willing to accept them as part of the price of driving my car or sitting in my office at work.

But if they aren't willing to invest that one hour, they
really have no business running a list.

But they'd be investing it in dealing with things we should deal with on the tool side, not them on the wetware side.

-- imagine how most people feel about email.

And see what the world looks like for it.

It looks like a world that communicates more than ever before, thanks.

About 10% of what reaches my inbox is junk.

About 95% of what reaches my snail-mailbox is junk.

Neither creates much of a problem in my life.

And no, I don't want to go back to the academics-only network;
but I would have preferred slower growth in some areas, and
faster growth in others.  (Slower growth in numbers; faster
growth in technology, interfaces and learning curves.)

The areas that should grow faster are our fault. The others grow at the rate a free market wants them to; our inability to keep up is our problem.

Those UNIX and Linux UIs may seem good to you, but to most users,
they're impenetrable.

No, you are absolutely wrong -- outdated -- about that.  What you
say was true a couple of years ago, but not today; today it's
difficult for them to see the difference between Word and
OpenOffice configured to look/work like Word.

I can tell the difference, and I know how to use both. I see very few people making the transition without being dragged kicking and screaming by some IT geek who is trying to save money or some "they're taking over the world" scare.

But they *understand* Microsoft UIs, and things like StarOffice
and KDE make no sense to them at all.

No, you're wrong on both counts: they don't *understand* Microsoft
UIs (they only look somewhat familiar to them), and recent
versions of the free Office versions are good enough to make
transitions painless.

I've used them, and I think they're terrible, not painless.




References:
Indexed By Date Previous: HTML e-mail (was: mail clients)
From: Russ Allbery <rra @ stanford . edu>
Next: Re: MUA elitism
From: "Roger B.A. Klorese" <rogerk @ queernet . org>
Indexed By Thread Previous: On learning computers
From: JC Dill <inet-list @ vo . cnchost . com>
Next: Unwashed, great (was Re: Please prune this list!)
From: Beartooth <karhunhammas @ Lserv . com>

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