Diagramming Robust AI

Dave Kenny dk at parka.winternet.com
Tue Mar 31 09:02:59 EST 1998

In comp.lang.forth Mary Murphy and Leo Wong <hello at albany.net> wrote:
: Dave Kenny wrote:
: > Many "GraphicalUserInterfaces" are really
: > "CaptiveUserInterfaces" where the user is held hostage.  (I don't
: > recall the attribution for this, except that it was from a book
: > on the "unix philosophy" or "25 years of unix" or one of those sorts.)
: >
: You may or may not sympathise with this:
: "Behind every user-friendly interface is a terrific human contempt."
: - Ellen Ullman

I sympathize very much with this quote.  Who's Ellen Ullman, and do you
know where she said this?  It speaks volumes.

Leo Brodie had a cartoon for this one, too.  He was discussing things
like modularity, layered designs, OO etc, and observed that we have
a backwards (IMHO) view of "protection."  We think we are "protecting"
the user when we prevent them from actually _using_ our code.  No, the
user, who is implicitly assumed to be stupid, is forced to fill out
forms or click on pushbuttons offering 'prepackaged' solutions.

This is certainly condescending.

Brodie's illustration had too parts, the conventional view of "protection"
and the forth view.  In the first part, he had a person in a shark cage
out in a meadow where a wolf was prowling around.  

The alternative had the _wolf_ in the cage, and the person free to roam

Larry Wall (Perl) also had a nice way of expressing this [I'm paraphrasing]

	We expect you to stay out of our living room because you
	were not invited;  not because we are sitting in there
	with a shotgun.

There is an implicit Big Brotherism in the way a lot of software assumes
the users are idiots who need to be protected from themselves.

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