I am turned off by software descriptions that use the word "intuitive". Counter-intuitivity is, of course, a very bad thing, and being at least somewhat intuitive is a goal all software should share. However, software that places a marked emphasis on intuitivity tends to be problematic in that if you don't intuit something about the software, the software is unlikely to have explicit instructions on what to do. The two library catalogs at BU are an example. When dealing with something simple like checking out a book to a patron that I don't want to have to go through a whole series of text prompts to do, I'd rather use Millennium. On the other hand, if I'm looking up a bibliographic record, I use Anzio, the text-based browser. I don't want to have to scroll through a series of button graphics looking for something to press to get me to the previous page I was browsing. I don't want to have commands hidden in little tricks like right-clicking on a certain item to reveal a set of options. Anzio lays all my options out nicely at the bottom of the screen, and all I have to do is enter a single letter to activate them. Even though each system has its perks, I'm much happier dealing with straight-forward order than with something that's trying to read my mind as I try to read its mind and guess how it will interpret my actions. Like people. If I get cross and grumpy with those of you around me, that's probably what's frustrating me. Megan once told me how she had to have her braces put in twice, the second time to correct for the first time. The problem wasn't that the orthodontist made a mistake the first time; the problem was that Megan followed his instructions exactly. He had exaggerated what was needed in the expectation that she would follow his instructions haphazardly at best. Instead of clear communication, he was trying to predict her actions, whereas it didn't occur to her that he would give inaccurate information based on his mental model of a barely compliant youngster. No wonder folks with Aspergers have such difficulty socializing; it's all empathy-based mind games! Which, to bring us back to the original subject of this post, I do not want to play with my computer.
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