Commit 19220b2c authored by colmoneill's avatar colmoneill
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roughness in chapter 3

parent 5b016623
......@@ -3,29 +3,35 @@ Date: 2017/01/04
# The user, the learning curve
There is one important constant in all of the development of computers: humans. The progress of computer sciences, but also of electronics and network infrastructures over the years are extremely important and key elements of this development, but it's the humans that make and the humans that receive development that are the reasons of and for the flourishing of computers as a cultural space.
Asking for interfaces to reveal the programs they use comes with requirements. Mainly the will to learn about these computer structures. The learning curve .........
![_playGnd](../images/_playGnd.png)
<figcaption>This interface enables the creation of 3d objects that can be easily embedded on web pages. The tool proposes to start with the graphical user interface, but each value that is changed or tweaked automatically updates in the code view the is flush left on the screen. This dual attitude of code and interface shows the user how each object is encoded and reflected by the interface, in the code. It's a great tool for learning the 3D web languages. (accessed March 2017) </figcaption>
![Inkscape's XML editor pannel](../images/inkscape-xml.png)
<figcaption> text describing inkscape xml (accessed March 2017) </figcaption>
![Firefox's 3d HTML view](../images/firefox3D.png)
<figcaption> text describing 3d view (accessed March 2017) </figcaption>
There is one important constant in all of the development of computers: the user focus. The progress of computer sciences, but also of electronics and network infrastructures over the years are extremely important and key elements of this development, but it's the humans that make and the humans that receive development that are the reasons of and for the flourishing of computers as a cultural space.
In that light, a simple structure of the “parties involved in the configuration of software, services and it's [...] implications on the world” is necessary for analysis. These are: “1) developers and operators, i.e. the parties that develop software, architect services and operate the cloud infrastructure. Typically, service operators themselves use other services for development and may integrate services into their offering to their customers; (2) Curators, i.e. the end-user-facing entities that integrate software structured as services into their own operations (they include so-called enterprise customers). Curators pick and choose which services to use with implications for their end-users. These curators can be IT departments, local web development teams or individual developers; (3) End-users, i.e. the individual users, consumers, employees, workers, students, patients, audiences, who are affected by the structuring of software as services.” (Gürses and van Hoboken, 2016)
Within this structure, I am the middle-man, the curator, and it is from this position that most of my thought development around the communications issues of interface have spawned. My work as an independent graphic designer and website developer involves the choice and implementation of pre-existing tools and processes for others to publish their content. I think it is important to restate my position here because all the subjects I've been looking at up to now in this dissertation are various constructs of related communication that give more or less access to culture and functionality. Related communication happens all of the time in interfaces. In fact, it is the basis of it, but the horizontal nature of this communication is for me the key to many issues I've looked at. In the last chapter I covered some examples of types of speech that exist in interfaces, short sentences that are statements of designed functions as facts, without any context to them. They also have signs of dialogue speech but with absolutely no way of identifying who the interlocutors are supposed to be. I'm finding that a lot of the communications in interface is left up to conventions, themselves not exactly well thought through methods. The tool tip here comes back to mind. It acknowledges the need for more extensive information of a tool, but bypasses all of the communication needs very rapidly. It's just a tip I suppose, but it acts more like a theatre prompter, just a few words to recite a text you're supposed to know from ulterior studies. I'm also finding that as software interfaces rely on a mix of visual and language to communicate, it never considers the job of teaching. Interface builds upon ideas, analogies, ease and experience, but it never acknowledges the fact that some of it's users are experts, and some are beginners. It's very inflexible as a two way machine.
Furthermore in the interest of experience and seamlessness, all interfaces end up looking like each other and adopting each others characteristics. Consistency is actively thought of and encouraged as a way *for users to be able to transfer their knowledge and skills from one app to another. The principle of consistency holds that an app should respect its users and avoid forcing them to learn new ways to do things for no other reason than to be different.* (macOS Human Interface Guidelines, 2017) But this is a teaching that assumes that predeceasing apps have gotten everything right, that all the knowledge that users need exists already. The fact that it discourages alternate approaches limits diversity which also raises a huge flag for me. The term consistency is one amongst many others within these guidelines: Forgiveness, Aesthetic integrity, Metaphors, Mental models, all of these principles are documented and spoken of as the singular way to make software interfaces. They exist within the world of macOS, which openly states that it believes that technology should be transparent. Meanwhile, my vision for the better communications of interfaces rely on visible seams. When OSx says transparent, they mean to make componentry invisible. I believe the opposite needs to happen, that we must make models that are heterogeneous, and build interfaces that make some homogeneity for functions. The confrontation in the video below makes these visions clearest, in the words of the company itself.
Furthermore in the interest of experience and seamlessness, all interfaces end up looking like each other and adopting each others characteristics. Consistency is actively thought of and encouraged as a way *for users to be able to transfer their knowledge and skills from one app to another. The principle of consistency holds that an app should respect its users and avoid forcing them to learn new ways to do things for no other reason than to be different.* (macOS Human Interface Guidelines, 2017) But this is a teaching that assumes that predeceasing apps have gotten everything right and that all the knowledge that users need exists already. The fact that it discourages alternate approaches limits diversity which also raises a huge flag for me. The term consistency is one amongst many others within these guidelines: Forgiveness, Aesthetic integrity, Metaphors, Mental models, all of these principles are documented and spoken of as the singular way to make software interfaces. They exist within the world of macOS, which openly states that it believes that technology should be transparent. Meanwhile, my vision for the better communications of interfaces rely on visible seams. When OSx says transparent, they mean to make componentry invisible. I believe the opposite needs to happen, that we must make models that are heterogeneous, and build interfaces that make some homogeneity for functions. The confrontation in the video below makes these visions clearest, in the words of the company itself:
<video controls="" poster="http://contemporary-home-computing.org/art-and-tech/not/material/mcluhnik.jpg" height="405" width="100%">
<source src="http://contemporary-home-computing.org/art-and-tech/not/material/09.webm" type="video/webm">
<source src="http://contemporary-home-computing.org/art-and-tech/not/material/09-web.mp4" type="video/mp4">
</video>
</video>
“The user becomes an object, but at a peculiar position in the hierarchy of others. It is excluded from the internal transmission of information, and instead allocated representations of elements of this information as interface. This information is allocated on the basis of how closely it corresponds to the 'tasks' that users have come into composition with the software to perform.” (Fuller, 2000)
Like sciences and politics, built computation systems have spread and infiltrated all dimensions of society, they are research and constructs built by humans for humans, on various degrees of thinking evolution. Computers software solutions and technologies are our modern culture, they are place for all sorts of development and progress. But they also are making themselves indispensable. Information systems now are main interim's for banks, governments and post offices to name a few. Because of IT network systems we interact differently with restaurants, by ordering remotely, with hairdressers, by making appointments online, I do not believe it is optional anymore to concern ourselves with the ways they work, and the ways they talk to us.
The most urgent need for broader computer literacy is to understand the dangers of the loss of privacy that widespread digital presence unavoidably means; there are not many ways in which the table can be turned to re-stabilise private and digital lives, so an understanding of how wide spanning the effects of a meta identity of ourselves online means is ever so urgent.
In and for all of this the *learning* aspects are key. I am weary of interface constructs that seem to make the learning of the behind the scenes elements harder because they make me think that there may be a hidden agenda for these people. This suspicion is probably more often false than true, but is a growing concern stemming from “the Agile Turn”(Gürses and van Hoboken, 2016) Confirming this statement is not an area I want to research, for fear of what I might find but the example of ways in which lack of functional computer knowledge is leveraged for a solutionist financial gain are innumerable. These are reasons why I advocate for wider spread knowledge of the functioning of information systems.
To state this opinion clearly: I am not holding the position that every human must learn computer architectures and programming languages. What I am calling for are interfacing methods that do not aim for seamlessness, that reveal their parts, toggling between heterogeneous and homogeneous displays, and that trust their users as equally smart as the software builders. I do not believe that everybody must be on similar technical levels of understanding computer technologies either, but I do think that a broader and better understanding of all of the types and all of the layers of abstractions that are needed for computers and networks to function is the best way forwards.
Apple inc encourages consistency for ‘user to be able to transfer their knowledge and skills from one app to another’ in their interface guidelines. They seem to confuse iterface knowlegde and computer litteracy repeatitly with this attitude. One may be able to re-use an interface trick from one app to another, but this is only ported conventions, not actual knowledge or skill. The consequence of the consistency of the interface conventions that are nurtured is regularity and therefor, a sense of comfort. I believe that a comfortable, regular interface destroys propencity towards digital litteracy. Comfort means that everything has been taken care of for the user, and she/he has absolutely no questions to answer or to ask. Comfortable interface accompliches the task of dissapearing completely and leaves no space for learning (apart from interface conventions) the litteracy of digital practices and crafts.
# References:
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