Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(July 2002)

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Subject: Re: Please prune this list!
From: Nick Simicich <njs @ scifi . squawk . com>
Date: Sun, 07 Jul 2002 01:18:23 -0400
To: list-managers <list-managers @ greatcircle . com>
In-reply-to: <3D2679B2 . 4050007 @ queernet . org>
References: <Message from "Roger B.A. Klorese" <rogerk @ queernet . org> <3D250BF4 . 6020502 @ queernet . org> <Pine . GSO . 4 . 44 . 0207050354550 . 9765-100000 @ stjorn . ifi . uio . no> <22440 . 1025836984 @ kanga . nu> <3D250BF4 . 6020502 @ queernet . org> <5 . 1 . 0 . 14 . 2 . 20020705221236 . 028b2348 @ 127 . 0 . 0 . 1>

At 10:01 PM 2002-07-05 -0700, Roger B.A. Klorese wrote:
Nick Simicich wrote:
If a product is designed to be used by the "unwashed masses" it should make them appear washed. It should also protect them. Outrage, in particular, was actively bad in all these regards. Microsoft could have produced a product that worked and played well with other programs and protected naive users from the dangers of the Internet.

Well, lots of people believe it's the job of the criminal justice system and of their service providers or IT departments to protect them from danger, and will choose simplicity over security every time.

They are stupid and wrong. They would not fail to install a front door on their house because they had a police department. This falls back to thinking that the act of using a computer is somehow different from anything else that they do in the world. It is not. We worked for a long time to make computers part of the real world. Guess what. Some success has been achieved---with all the warts that implies.

It is simpler to leave your keys in the ignition and your doors unlocked because that way you never lock your keys in the car and you never lose them.

But people do not, in fact, choose simplicity over security in real life.

For example, people believe that 802.11 systems are simple - there are fewer wires to connect, you plug them in and forget them. When all of the risks are actually explained, I have seen people unhook them, or redo their home networks to put their wireless segments outside of their firewall, or simply decide that it is not within their capability to secure them and that the actual simple solution is to use a wire.

As for working with other products, they did the same thing Lotus and Novell did, as well as AOL and Compuserve: develop a closed, highly-featured system that then had to get on the net without giving up all the things it did better than any standards-based tool.

I assert that you have given up no functionality that is actually meaningful in the context of communicating using e-mail. Please note that I consider the ability to set your fonts, sizes, etc, detrimental to this process --- I have a font that is easy for me to read and colors that are easy for me to read. Any changes to this slow me down and distract from the message.

> The early
versions were actively awful - if you were not talking to another Outskirts program, you sent large uuencoded sections, and it was hard to figure out how to turn them off since all of the "high function" stuff (i.e., only seemed like a good idea if you were high) seemed to be the default since Outset seemed to be assuming an all Microsoft world.

Yes, but 95+% of the people who ever saw it *lived* in an all-Microsoft world. It depresses me how much integrated functionality I need to give up to deal with standards-based tools. heart bleeds for you. I put forth the assertion that the "functionality" you give up is mostly meaningless complexity and has nothing to do with the sort of communication that the real world systems we administer (e-mail lists) are designed for.

And you do not live in an all Microsoft world once you send to a list which has non-Microsoft users on it. When your baggage is so irritating that, time after time, people write in and complain about the baggage, that damages the whole list by distracting from the on-subject communications.

Microsoft was a large company, designing a program to be used by many users - they could have done a good job.

They designed a product to be used by Microsoft users, just as Novell (or one of its acquisitions) developed GroupWise to be used by all-Novell users and Lotus developed Notes to be used by all-Lotus users.

And none of those, frankly, do the job of e-mail communication with, for example, customers, (you know, the people who are important to any business?) who are not using those systems well. Having been in a situation where my customer communication looked stupid because of the miserable tool that was not capable of doing a reasonable job with the lingua franca because it's private dialect was too distracting, I can tell you that customers notice.

"Forgive him, for he believes that the customs of his tribe are the laws of nature!"
 -- George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
Nick Simicich - njs @
scifi .
squawk .

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