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Re: QED & Marshall McLuhan

From: Bruce Bailey <bbailey@clark.net>
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 12:10:48 -0400
Message-Id: <199906101617.MAA25535@smtp-gw.vma.verio.net>
To: "Ann Navarro" <ann@webgeek.com>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

I wrote:
> Windows is hard to use (that is, it requires literacy) because the
> best minds have not been able to figured out how to make it otherwise!

There was nothing in my original post (on this topic) that even suggested
that the Mac OS was more intuitive than the Microsoft Windows OS (except
that I mentioned "Windows" and "Bill Gates" explicitly).  I certainly
include Steve Jobs with the "best minds" working to make computers easier
to use.  I meant to paint all GUIs with the same broad brush.  Perhaps I
should not have used "Windows" as shorthand for that.  If you find the Mac
OS better, it is (for the purposes of this discussion) only marginally so.

The fact remains that literacy remains a prerequisite for ALL current
computer operating systems.  There are many good (educational) software
applications that do not require literacy.  Setting these programs up for
use by their target audience, however, requires a literate person (probably
a teacher or parent).  Setting up a computer so that it can be operated
independently on a day-to-day basis by an illiterate person requires
sophistication well beyond the average teacher or parent.

The establishment of model web sites that are useful to non-readers and
without training or orientation is a very worthwhile goal.  That is not
what this thread seems to be about.  I, for one, am not convinced that
http://www.pepo.com/ is an example of this.

Until computers are (somewhat) independently usable (in a comprehensive
way) by persons who are not literate, it is pointless to argue that the W3C
WAI WCAG should advocate that HTML be designed so as to be accessible by
the illiterate!

As an interested side, a few years back (1992) Apple created a publicly
available concept video of the Macintosh of the future called "The
Knowledge Navigator" (APL 706 / TRT 05:45).  At the same time they also
release a video showing how this machine might address sensory, physical,
and learning disabilities.  "Chapter 1" (APL 830 / TRT 10:46) includes a
segment where the computer guides a girl with profound mental retardation
through baking a surprise birthday cake for her mother.  The key to making
this work was, of course, an AI that could "see" and "hear" and "talk" just
as a person does.  Despite its age, the video remains valid as a concept
piece.  It remains a work of science fiction.

Bruce Bailey

> From: Ann Navarro <ann@webgeek.com>
> To: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
> Cc: bbailey@clark.net; w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> Subject: Re: QED & Marshall McLuhan
> Date: Wednesday, June 09, 1999 8:00 PM
> At 07:55 PM 6/9/99 -0400, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
>> I don't think it is quite so silly. I have spent a lot of time teaching
>> people to use "intuitive and easy to use" systems, because they could
>> not understand them without help. I think that there are features of the
>> graphical interface which need to be learned, in the same way as there
>> are features of a command line interface such as Unix or DOS which need
>> to be learned. The best systems are those which are most powerful and
>> require the smallest amount of learning in order to control that power.
> The part that was "silly" was the implied assertion that Windows are so
> unbelievably hard to learn compared to a Mac -- and that no one,even the
> "best minds" have been able to overcome that. 
Received on Thursday, 10 June 1999 12:17:44 UTC

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