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Tuesday, 06 January 2004

Jeff Raskin on magical abstraction

Via the ACM Queue: People don't understand computers, so anthropomorphise and invoke magic:

When we don't understand a process, we fall into magical thinking about results.
We live in a technological age. Even most individuals on this planet who do not have TV or cellular telephones know about such gadgets of technology. They are artifacts made by us and for us. You'd think, therefore, that it would be part of our common heritage to understand them. Their insides are open to inspection, their designers generally understand the principles behind them, and it is possible to communicate this knowledge—even though the "theory of operation" sections of manuals, once prevalent, seem no longer to be included. Perhaps that's not surprising considering that manuals themselves are disappearing, leaving behind glowing Help screens that too often are just reference material for the cognoscenti rather than guides for the perplexed. [more]

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