To me, the difference is that if you use a hammer
wrong, it doesn't give you a message like "NTLDR not found" (I think you get
this when you boot up Windows 98 with a floppy disk in the drive) and expect you
to know what to do about it. This particular message is merely not
helpful. Others seem to denigrate the user's abilities, seemingly for the
edification of the person writing the message.
This attitude became apparent when I downloaded
BT's Zeus agent workbench. The source code listed modifications including
one that said something like "added more error handling for losers". The
error-handling in question addressed the fact that the user had not properly
edited the CLASSPATH variable (the cause of the vast majority of the errors in
the list group). It seems a better response would have been to ask the
user if the installer should make the file modification itself. Most users
would be more than happy to say "yes," particularly the beginners who were
having problems, but the designers chose to tell the user again that they had
screwed up (it was already in the documentation to watch out for this
problem). It's arrogance I don't like, not totalitarianism.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, April 02, 2001 7:39
Jerry made an interesting point about totalitarianism.
designer can impose a totalitarian edict on users. On the other
made objects in the physical world largely have that same problem
(apparently): One can choose a hammer from a set of weights and head
configurations, but any sort of customization after that is hard to
do. But the result of the designer's effort is as if the designer
a totalitarian. And we don't seem to mind.
objects never or rarely strike us as the
result of totalitarianism. But a
computer/computer system will. What
does this tell us about what we think
about computers and software?
They are somehow smarter or more living than
things like hammers?
More adaptable or flexible? Something that because of
immaturity are expected to not be finished the way a hammer
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