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Re: [feyerabend-project] Totalitarianism

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  • pam rostal
    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
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 2, 2001
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      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 PM
      Subject: [feyerabend-project] Totalitarianism

      Jerry made an interesting point about totalitarianism. -That a
      designer can impose a totalitarian edict on users. On the other hand,
      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
      were a totalitarian. And we don't seem to mind.

      Well-designed physical 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 their
      immaturity are expected to not be finished the way a hammer is?


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