Bill Moyer billm at cygnus.com
Tue Mar 31 20:54:33 EST 1998

In article <6fqt2j$kp$1 at blackice.winternet.com> Dave Kenny <dk at parka.winternet.com> writes:
>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.

  It's also necessary.
  When I was a sysadmin, I had to deal with a large userbase of non-
technical people who were using computers to get their work done.  They
didn't want to learn how to use computers, and often tried to do things
they didn't know how to do and did considerable damage as a result, even
though they were using supposedly "user-friendly" operating systems (MS-
Windows in some cases, MacOS in others).  I shudder to think of what 
damage they would have wrought on a Unix or VMS system.

  I like a powerful, flexible CLI for my UI, and I like having lots of
very useful (albeit often potentially dangerous) utilities, but I'm a 
complete geek.  I'm adept at using a computer because I want to be, and 
I put a great deal of time and energy into learning how to do so.  Not 
everyone who needs to use a computer is a computer geek, or even computer 
*literate*, nor do they want to change that, and those people need a more 
constraining computer-using environment.  There is no "One Best Solution 
for Everyone" -- it's a myth.

  The people who I worked with were not stupid (well, most of them were
not).  They were merely unwilling to take what intelligence they had and
apply it to becoming better computer users.  While that's a choice of 
dubious wisdom, it's also a very popular one, and software engineers who
write code that real people are going to use have to take it into account.

  -- Bill Moyer

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