Interface Issues

As I've said before, technology is all around us and it ain't goin' anywhere. Dealing with it all can be very stressful. Rarely does it do what you want, and it makes you work too hard for each result. Meanwhile, capabilities of all of this have gotten to the point where evolution is the name of the game rather than revolution. I'm sure exciting jumps are ahead, but for now we should spend some time perfecting what we have.

Graphical interfaces have been with us since the original Macintosh in 1984 (well actually back to the Xerox Alto but who's counting). It was a revolution at the time, but have you played with an original Mac since? It's pretty rough, and very limited. Whether you're a Windows or a Mac person you've got to admit that both XP and X are staggeringly evolved. With such an interface, computing is more productive, more efficient, and most of all more enjoyable. The overall stress level is much lower.

In many ways this is the same as having good tools in any endeavor. I'm sure a good sewing machine makes quilting more fun, just as snap-on tools make working on a car just seem to go smoother. The tools get out of the way and give you a more transparent look at the work, whatever it is.

OK.. so I got a new cell phone today. My old one was about 18 months old and not that fancy, but then either is my new one. No camera, no Bluetooth, and it doesn't do my taxes but it seems like it's a good phone.

One thing is does have is a kick-ass interface. I spent about an hour on an Amtrak train today typing in all the contacts from my old phone, and the phone was always where I wanted it to be after each button click. I wouldn't say that it was an enjoyable experience, it was tedious and boring, but about as good as it was going to get all things considered.

I don't think that it's the technology in our world which is stressing us all out, it's the crappy way that we need to relate to it. Interface design should be less about us interfacing with technology and more about the technology interfacing with us. Spend a little less time and money on the capabilities and a little more time and money on how they can help me. Make it do the work, that's the whole point, right? That way the full potential of all that it can give us will be realized, and we'll probably live longer to boot.