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XML: A Move Torwards Context-Centered Computing (Part 3)

My first encounter with a computer was with an Atari 520 ST, a machine I still own. I exited the app I was using accidentally and tried to get back in but the exact method escaped me. The double-click of a mouse was beyond my skills at the time. Instead of getting back in the app, I deleted it.Context could have made starting an app clearer to me, a computer novice at the time. The sacrifices made by me and others will force context clarity on the future. The many threads spun by unconscious millions in pursuing computing meaning point toward persistent themes in computing context:
  • Computers exist to finish stuff by eliminating redundant mental and physical action. It shouldn't increase redundant mental and physical action. Like inciting a user to toss the computer through a window.
  • The computer's digital. The user's analog. Digital's the future, analog, the past. But a computer's only as fast as it's slowest part, the user. To increase user speed, good analog's needed. In human-computer interaction, analog wins.
  • Make what it's done with second to what's done. How a computer works doesn’t matter. How it’s used does. Computer's must pay more attention to being a good tool than being a computer. You shouldn't have to know how a computer works to use it. The more invisible the computer, the better.
  • No innovation without need. The short history of the computer industry is littered with products that pioneered a market 20 years before it existed and died. If something exists, it should have somebody to use it with an actual need for the product. Those who inspire have a vision of the future. Those who succeed have a vision of the possible.
  • The tool should fit the task. Many of today's computing tools come in huge, bloated apps. Most only use 10% of the features in these apps, leaving the rest as dead weight. App vendors defend the fat by saying you need it to cover everyone's different 10%. But what's needed isn't more bloat but a better way to fit the tool to the task. The 10% of tools should only appear when what the 10%'s producing comes up.
  • The world is flat. From a user perspective, nothing on a computer should be buried more than 3 layers deep, if that. All needed computing tools should be exposed for immediate access. Buried treasures are exciting, in anything but computer use.
  • From the many, one. From the one, many. Use should follow a consistent method. It should reflect the multiplicity of users and uses a computer's subjected too but in a consistent way. A single point should be home base, where users step up to bat and where they run back to after scoring a run.
  • Go with the flow. Most people work in straight lines. Even those who don't are forced along a straight line since that's the way time moves. Give use a dramatic thrust. That's the most entertaining way to do it.
  • It's all about juggling. Everything on a computer is in flux. 1 rarely noted aspect of a computer is its ability to maintain something through changes in time. This is why where's based on when instead of hardware/directory/file obsessions. Stuff on a computer divides into the new, the used and the tossed.
  • Who is you, why's the task's purpose, what's the task, when puts the task on a straight line, how is a tool reflecting how it moves toward why and where's what + when. You reach your end with tools reflecting what they're used for in what what you’re working on when you’re working on it.
  • Clarity before simplicity. The simplest task can be confusing without a clear explanation. Some topics will remain complex no matter how much reduction for simplicity's sake is done. Simplicity's important but clarity's even more important.
  • Make it like something that humanity's encountered, but in a way that counts. Humanity's existed for eons. That experience counts. If it's used in a way that counts. Make sure a pointer points if it's meant to point. It even helps if it looks like a pointer.
  • In other words, computers should promote understanding as their first job. Computer's must conquer 1 major hurdle: fear. Most reservations about computer use come from people's fears. They're afraid the thing's smarter than they are. They're afraid of the steep learning curve. Most of all, they're afraid they'll break the damn thing.


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