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Advogato: Towards the Anti-Mac

Jul 23, 2000, 21:01 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Raqdagast)


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"A couple of years ago, I read Don Gentner and Jakob Nielsen's The Anti-Mac Interface, thinking "It'll be a while before any of this becomes reality". Recently, someone here on Advogato mentioned it, and I thought I'd sit down and read it again. Much as I remembered, it was an excellent paper, but unlike the last time, I thought I could see the seeds of the Anti-Mac in systems developed as free software today."

"The paper goes something like this:"

"The original Unix text mode interface was perfectly suited to the user community it was made for, a group consisting mainly of hackers, who had the time and interest to understand the system and figure out how to use things like the system's utilities and pipes, and who also manipulated relatively few data objects, mainly the files in their own code, text files, and so on. Later, the Macintosh interface was also very well suited to its target audience, knowledge workers with little or no computer science background, who wanted to work with moderate amounts of graphic documents."

"The Anti-Mac interface as outlined by Gentner and Nielsen is aimed at a third group of users, which they believe will be dominant in the future (the future as seen from 1996, there are signs that this group is emerging at the moment): People with extensive computer experience (although not necessarily a CompSci background) who want to manipulate huge numbers of complex information objects while being connected to a network shared by immense numbers of other users and computers. Using this as a starting point, the paper postulates five design principles for the Anti-Mac interface..."

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