draw a robot!" said my young cousin to the first computer he had
ever seen. (Since I had instructed it not to listen to
strangers, the computer wasn't receptive to this command.) If
you're like me, your first thought would be "how silly" or "how
funny" but this is a mistake. Our educated and modeled brains
have learned how to work with computers to a certain degree.
People are being educated to accommodate computers, to
compensate for the lack of ability of computers to understand
humans. (On the other hand, humans can't accommodate very well
themselves, but that's another story.)
This little story is relevant to the way people instinctively
work with computers. In an ideal world, that spoken command
should have been enough to have the computer please my cousin.
The ability of technology to be user-friendly has evolved very
much in the past years, but there's still a long way till we
have real intelligent computers. Until then, people need to
learn how to work with computers - some to the extent that they
end up loving a black screen with a tiny command prompt on it.
Not incidentally, the computer-working habits of many are driven
by software with user interfaces that allow for intuitive (and
enjoyable) human interaction. This probably explains the
popularity of the right mouse button, the wonder of fancy
features such as drag and drop, or that simple text box that
searches content all over the Internet for you in just 0.1
seconds (or so it says). The software industry (or the
profitable part of it, anyway) has seen, analyzed, and learned.
Now the market is full of programs with shiny buttons, icons,
windows, and wizards, and people are paying a lot of money
for them.Read the chapter in full: AJAX and the
Future Of Web Applications [0.5 MB PDF]