“The only intuitive interface is the nipple. After that, it’s all learned.” -Bruce Ediger
By releasing the iPhone OS, Apple is putting a bullet in the head of a long standing convention that most folks could do without. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The Phrase “Blood is Thicker Than Water” is Creepy
A few years ago, I got tired of fielding support requests from family members and started making them an offer instead.
I began telling them that if they would buy a Mac, I would give them 24/7 tech support without complaint. Initially, they scoffed, but as the Mac became fashionable, I had more and more family members calling to let me know they had switched. Now, most of them are Mac users and the rate of support calls have dropped from several a month to several a year.
These days, tech support calls involve questions of how to do stuff these folks like to do. Because they can now actually use their computers instead of simply restarting them, I’m able to better see how they use them. And the one commonality I’ve seen is that no one knows how to use the file system.
Unfortunately for the average person, the file system is so complex that everything outside of the desktop and the documents folder appears to be a vast labyrinth which most likely hides booby traps and minotaurs.
Q & A
At the end of every year, the major search engines release their list of top search terms for the year.
In 2008, Ask.com was criticized for releasing their list with no Britney Spears or Obama to be found. And where was the sex? Some even went as far as accusing Ask.com of filtering their results. In reality, Ask.com was NOT filtering their results.
Here’s their 2008 top 10:
- Online degrees
- Credit score
Anyone who watches this video will know exactly what’s going on here. The average non-techie folks don’t know what the address bar is and they simply don’t care. All the slashes and colons are just another labyrinth to them. It’s another place that developers have exposed the file system and made things more difficult. Instead, the Google search box provides a simple, reliable command line that gives them exactly what they want. Except when it doesn’t.
In Which Apple Gets All Japanese-y
In Japanese aesthetics, one of the most striking things is the focus on negative space. The Japanese concepts of “Ma” and “Wabi-sabi” put as much focus on what is omitted as what is added. The result is beautiful art and architecture that invoke a sense of peace and stillness.
Apple is doing something rather daring with their new iPhone OS. They are essentially omitting features that people once took for granted in a typical computer. And one of the biggest things they’ve omitted is the visual file system. Instead, in the iPhone OS, the concept of the file is essentially gone. It’s been replaced by “apps and their stuff.”
The end result is that regular folks are happier with their computers and that geeks are pissed that Apple has “dumbed down” the computer. Geeks bemoan the lack of the file system in the iPad. When they criticize it for not being a real computer, this is what they’re talking about. Well, so be it.
I’m hoping that devices like the iPad and iPhone contribute to the demise of the visual file system. I think its death in consumer devices will lower the bar for folks who just want to do stuff and get the computer out of the way.