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on using each input method properly


This is a tidbit from one of the spaces mailing lists that I thought was interesting. James has started a conversation thread in the spaces-dev mailing list regarding proper support of keyboard navigation in spaces. His suggestions were excellent. When I said so, he said:

Yay! The last time I asked someone they said, more or less, 'Why?'

My reply was:
I'm not surprised. I think that kind of response is based on the idea that whatever "new" user interface exists is best. Look at the pattern: when Voice recognition became relatively usable, *everyone* wanted to build a voice-only UI, (dreams of Star Trek...), which is ludicrous since machine don't have enough context to make that usable (maybe in a few years...). It was actually Steve Jobs (visionary as usual) that started this trend when, as the Macintosh was being designed, he pushed for a keyboard *without cursor keys* (Why would you need the cursor keys anyway? You have a MOUSE!). Luckily cooler heads prevailed and the cursor keys were later added to the final design. :))

To me this approach of "one interface fits all" is wrong (to put it mildly). The key IMO is to build good *mixed-mode* interfaces, optimizing tasks for each input method. Additionally, each input method should be optimized as much as possible, as long as it doesn't interfere with the basic program design. For example, when I write documents, I barely touch the mouse. I am *typing*. I don't want to move my hand away from the keyboard every other second. Pressing Ctrl-Shift-Whatever is just fine, thank you. Of course, other people do prefer using the mouse, that's fine too. But one thing should not preclude the other.

Which pretty much sums up how I feel about pretending to obliterate one input method, or user interface, with another that is supposedly "better"...

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on January 22 2003 at 12:09 AM

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