April 30th, 2004
The more I read, the more I'm becoming interested in the concept of the user interface, regardless of the operating system. I'm rereading Neal Stephenson's excellent essay "In the Beginning Was the Command Line", and with the words of Jef Raskin and Doc Searls still echoing in my head, am rethinking my whole attitude toward the UI. As has been said before, for many, the UI is the computer. For a lot of computer users, both at home and in the corporate environment, what they see as they sit down at their computer to read their email, surf the web or do their work is all they know of their computer. I know some who can't even differentiate between the desktop, browser and internet. It's all the same to them. And these are the same people who rely the most on the UI. So the UI is important, but are those who use it being provided the best UI programmers can develope? I don't think so.
Meanwhile, a quick thought I had today over lunch regarding the most recent batch of virus writers. Many people I know have nothing good to say about new computer users. You've heard all the same rants against these clueless, hopeless, point-and-click addicted users who don't understand a thing about computers beyond email, browsing and how to turn the thing on and off. But it seems to me that those who are causing the greatest harm on the web these days are those who are at least somewhat familiar with how computers work, and how to gum them up. Your average clueless newbie isn't the person writing viruses. I'll take someone who needs help logging onto AOL over someone who wants to use my connection to launch a DDoS, or spread a worm, anyday.