Re easy vs powerful OS -

Jeremy Ahouse ahouse at BINAH.CC.BRANDEIS.EDU
Sat Mar 23 11:23:36 EST 1991


>Bill Pearson:
>
>>>People learn to use what they need.
>
>Cary O'Donnell:
>
>>If only that statement were true! Most users' experience is to the contrary,
>>and surely what sparked the whole debate off. The point is that DESPITE the
>>high level of ability in one area, many biologists find the use of computers
>>a difficult task.
>
>In my experience, both views are accurate. 

There are several reasons that Macintosh (which costs more than a PC clone if
all you want to do is word processing) is successful.  The one I want to focus
on is attitude.  Unlike almost everyone else (NeXT may be an exception) the Mac
world puts a premium on design.  Microsoft had 3-5 years to emulate the
successes of the Mac and MS Windows is still only a first step.  How can so
many spend so much money for so long and end with such a pale shadow of the
thing itself.  That all computers can still get easier to use (i.e. more
powerful, what is the point if you can't harness the power?) is a trivial
truism and Macs have gotten sucked into a corporate machine that may make them
unable to put their own past behind them.  But there is still nothing close. 
Spend some time with Mathematica or Theorist or Mac Spin.  These products let
you do things that you weren't able to do before.  Drop diagrams from draw
paint and post-script drawing programs into your word processor.  The
kinesthetic experience of these actions just isn't found in other machines. 
But the programs will be ported and sharing of data will also be found on a PC
or XWindows terminal near you soon.  But so far there is a still an attitude
about the position of the users with respect to the machine which doesn't seem
to be finding its way to the other boxes.  I am ready to move past the Mac, for
some of my work I have to and for portability I have to.  But DecStations don't
have the emphasis on design and Suns don't and PC's certainly don't.  

	So what conclusions are there?  Humans are exceedingly clever and can
learn almost any system.  (Some people still use WordStar.)  But that doesn't
mean that they should have to.  Macintosh (both the GUI guidelines and the
operating system that supports them) respects my time.  I want to get things
done and that means consistency and giving me choices.
	Remember if IBM had had their way we would all just have terminals
hooked up to mainframes some where.  

	Enough diatribe.  I don't usually get my self drawn into these things. 
The Mac is a wonderful tool and is the first real stab at computers as
'toasters.'  I want UNIX to grow into this as well, but it won't happen until
some the attitude is transferred to those who work in UNIX, PC environs.

	Thanks for listening. 




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