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    Look at your car or at your drying machine. If they are new, chances are that they have a lot of buttons, of tiny screens everywhere, emitting some « beeps » nearly all of the time. If you are not a geek, chances are that you fought hard with it the first days and now you are using only the two or three buttons you know. If a child press some random button, you will observe a totally unexpected behaviour and blame the child : « Don’t touch this ! See, you broke the system ! ». But the only one to blame is, for sure, the engineer who designed it.

    Even as a “geek”, I think home appliance manufacturers are caught up with what they can do without bothering to question whether or not they should. Is there really any reason for my washer to have 20 different wash modes when my old washer with 3 knobs worked just as well?

    I think amazon actually gets this right with Dash. One button, no screen, literally does what it says on the tin.

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      Both of these users have fairly simple use-cases. Check email, skype and photo sharing.

      I’m certainly no expert but isn’t this issue solved to a certain extent by tablets/phones? I’m thinking of the meme about how toddlers can pick up and navigate an ipad with little or no introduction. Certainly they offer less power in return for simpler interactions (jab this icon, poke about etc.)

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        Or Chromebooks?

        It’s great we’re revistiing 1995 lessons on the desktop metaphor, but there are better alternatives for these types of users.

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        I’m going to be that guy again, because somebody has to.

        I’m put in mind of similar arguments: all those little letters on newspapers are really hard to read for some folks, let’s just use pictures instead; all those pesky ingredients in the kitchen are hard to match up, let’s just have our daily ration in a bottle because its easier. In some cases, like people with poor vision (yo) and people who are on a diet (hi) those changes are reasonable, but for the vast majority its just solving problems borne from laziness.

        If you aren’t computer literate these days, we shouldn’t be catering to you.

        “Marie” in this article is 58 and can’t use email. Email has been fairly widespread use (especially in academic circles) since she was 30. I call bullshit.

        “Jean”’s case, of being a user who wants to use a computer but cannot due to disability, is more compelling–even then, though, teaching him to use something like Mutt or Pine with large fonts might be easier and less fiddly than fighting with a WIMP interface.

        I recognize the hubris here, of course–one day I myself will likely be too blind to navigate to this site and key in my screeds. On that day, though, I’m not going to claim that the common UI is wrong and voice-activated is the way to go. I’m just going to sadly acknowledge that I must find a way of managing.


        I am also really tired of the ageism in articles like this. We’re about to run out of old folks that conceivably could’ve been ignorant of 30 years of tooling. It’s about over. We’ve hit peak greyhair. Stop using this as an excuse for changing up UI.