Responses to ESR's "Luxury of Ignorance"
Mar 01, 2004, 20:00 (33 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Mahdi Abdulrazak, Eric S. Raymond)
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"The reason for me writing this article is that Raymond is
taking Microsoft as a direction example that the Open Source
community could follow. Quote: 'This kind of fecklessness (poor UI
usability and design) is endemic in open-source land. And it's
what's keeping Microsoft in business--because by Goddess, they may
write crappy insecure overpriced shoddy software, but on this one
issue their half-assed semi-competent best is an order of magnitude
better than we usually manage.'
"Itâ€™s very important for the open source
community to be aware of the fundamental usability problems of
computers, operating systems and software, that surly also apply to
Microsoft and the software industry in general. Microsoft set up
its focus rather to imagination speaking techniques then on the
problems which are caused by the old techniques of usability and UI
ESR: The Luxury of Ignorance: Part Deux
"A few days ago I uttered a rant on user-interface problems in
the Common Unix Printing System. I used it to develop the idea that
the most valuable gift you can give your users is the luxury of
ignorance--software that works so well, and is so discoverable to
even novice users, that they don't have to read documentation or
spend time and mental effort to learn about it.
"This rant made it onto all the major open-source news channels,
so I was expecting a fair amount of feedback (and maybe pushback).
But the volume of community reaction that thundered into my mailbox
far surpassed what I had been expecting â€" and the
dominant theme, too, was a bit of a surprise. Not the hundreds of
iterations of 'Tell it, brother!,' nor the handful of people who
excoriated me as an arrogant twerp; those are both normal features
of the response when I fire a broadside. No, the really interesting
part was how many of the letters said. in effect, 'Gee. And all
this time I thought it was just me...'"