Alternatives to the W3C

Bill dehOra Wdehora at
Thu Jan 20 10:47:05 GMT 2000

:  If you think about the early days of the web browser, many 
:  people said it was too hard to
:  use for the average internet user and that the internet web 
:  browser was only for techies.
:  Well the web browser since the days of Mosaic really has not 
:  come along very far from what
:  it did then and what is does now, yet many millions of 
:  people learn how to "surf" the web
:  in only a few hours. The core technology and user interface 
:  did not change significantly,
:  but the mass perception of the technology and user interface 
:  changed from something that
:  only rocket scientists could understand to something as easy 
:  as using a remote control.

It's difficult to agree that a mass perception shift has changed the
difficulty of web interfaces. Instead one might argue that the perceived
value of the Web has increased to the extent that people are willing to put
the effort into learning the interface sufficiently well to use it. The web
is not an easy place for non-technical users (read: people whose primary
interest isn't some form of computing), and needs much work to make it so.
In this context originality has limited value, unless you've got a good idea
for keeping it simple. or making something that people 'must have', such as
shopping or banking. Dave Winer's 'edit this page' is just that, for his
target of content authors. 

:  Of course when the VCR first came out, many people thought 
:  that using it was a complicated
:  task that only techie masters could ever understand, but 
:  somehow over the years even
:  though the same buttons are there, everyone including 4 year 
:  olds know how to use a VCR.

Lets qualify 'use a VCR'. If you're talking about playing a video, fine. But
many people have problems even with recording in real time. And as for timed
recordings and other advanced features, very few people use these. The
usability problems with VCR's are a well known in 3D design (read: cliche),
the definitive example of a cool product that people can't or won't use to
its full extent. With VCR's the value of learning how to do all that timing
stuff just isn't enough. But then again most products are feature driven,
not use driven. I'm including software here, especially browsers and

:  The idea of new types of user interfaces being "too" 
:  complicated is often a case of people
:  not having enough faith in people to learn new things. The 
:  entire world has been stuck in
:  WIMP land for over 20 years because firms and software 
:  companies are too afraid to go over
:  the head of their users.

Yes and many people still find these interfaces difficult to use. WIMP
interfaces are over the heads of many users already. WIMP in the abstract is
fine, but I have to learn a new interface for almost every piece of software
I use. WIMP is a concept not a standard. Even moving from Netscape to IE is
a pain. Anyone for interface namespaces? UI's today are like old old cars,
when each manufacturer had a different layout.

I'm not questioning the intelligence or ability of software users. I'm
saying that to apply their intelligence to  continuously changing software,
means learning interfaces again and again, which is a patent waste of their
time. And if it doesn't have 'that value thing', well...

:  P.S. - For the E-Commerce folks, if your users cannot afford 
:  to upgrade their 486 to a
:  modern 500 dollar computer so they can run the latest 
:  version of Navigator or IE, the
:  chances are they are not gonna spend a lot of money online 
:  anyways because the don't even
:  have enough money to upgrade their ancient computer.




xml-dev: A list for W3C XML Developers. To post, mailto:xml-dev at
Archived as: or CD-ROM/ISBN 981-02-3594-1
Unsubscribe by posting to majordom at the message
unsubscribe xml-dev  (or)
unsubscribe xml-dev your-subscribed-email at your-subscribed-address

Please note: New list subscriptions now closed in preparation for transfer to OASIS.

More information about the Xml-dev mailing list