Error Messages Are Evil

Dar Scott dsc at swcp.com
Sun May 11 18:41:04 EDT 2014


Ah, I have much to learn.

I said, “The house was painted red.”  

I should have said, “The house was painted redly.”  

Dar


On May 11, 2014, at 1:43 PM, Richmond <richmondmathewson at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 11/05/14 21:48, Alejandro Tejada wrote:
>> Recent article published by Don Norman.
>> http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/error_messages_are_e.html
>> 
>> "Error messages punish people for not behaving like machines.
>> It is time we let people behave like people. When a problem
>> arises, we should call it machine error, not human error:
>> 
>> the machine was designed wrong, demanding that we conform
>> to its peculiar requirements. It is time to design and build
>> machines that conform to our requirements.
> 
> Indeed: but how?
> 
> Mind you, if Donald Norman (who has been banging on about Usability theory and 'affordance'
> for years) wants to write about machine errors, he should at least correct his human error and
> get his English grammar sorted out:
> 
> "the machine was designed wrong"
> 
> is a simple grammatical error any person who wants to be taken seriously, and has any academic
> pretensions, should not make.
> 
> "the machine was designed wrongly"
> 
> Obviously Donald Norman doesn't know that verbs are modified by adverbs, not adjectives:
> that is HUMAN ERROR.
> 
> ---------------------------------------------------------
> 
> "It is time to design and build machines that conform to our requirements"
> 
> Well, oddly enough, all machines that I know of are designed by humans, and are very rarely,
> if ever, designed to annoy the people who use them, but in conformance to their requirements.
> 
> --------------------------------------------------------
> 
> Donald Norman started his career years ago by making some blindingly obvious remarks about
> door handles being put on the wrong way round, or on the wrong sides of door . . . and he did
> have a point; now he, as a "one trick pony" has extended that into areas which do not connect
> with door handles.
> 
> -------------------------------------------------------
> 
> What Norman might have done is criticise GUI, and in very many cases the criticism would be valid.
> 
> What Norman conveniently overlooks is that millions of people use computers with
> "badly designed" interfaces, "badly designed" keyboards (he had a right royal rant about the QWERTY
> keyboard) and don't seem to feel an urge to get up from their collective bottom and radically
> redesign everything.
> 
> The same could be said for the efforts of the late Jeff Raskin.
> 
> --------------------------------
> 
> Error messages are a necessity, not because computer systems are designed badly, but because
> humans and computers are completely different things that work in completely different ways.
> 
> If babies had error messages parenting would be 1000 times easier.
> 
> All an error message is is a computer's way of telling us it doesn't understand; because a computer
> is, frankly, a very stupid mathematical calculator, and we humans are not. If a computer did not
> throw up error messages we would never know when we were failing to get a machine to do what we wanted it to do: that would make life far more difficult than any error message.
>> 
>> Stop confronting us: Collaborate with us."
>> 
>> 
> 
> Computers never "confront" us; they are not capable of that. All a computer does is tell you it does
> not understand what you have told it to do.
> 
> Accusing a computer of "confronting us" is a socking great anthropomorphism which only serves to show that Norman has very little understanding of what a computer is and what it can do.
> 
> The fact is that a computer can ONLY do what we tell it to; and it ONLY "understands" a load of electronic pulses. Clever people have made our lives easier by designing graphical representations
> of what goes on inside a computer and nicer ways of getting a computer to do what you want it
> to. Some people are not quite as clever as other people, and they have designed less effective
> ways of getting a computer to do something.
> 
> ------------------
> 
> "Error messages punish people"
> 
> "punish" ; utter rubbish.
> 
> Error messages are more important than Norman realises.
> 
> Before he makes any further pronouncements of this sort Donald Norman needs to do the
> following to things:
> 
> 1. Go on holiday to a country where he doesn't speak the language and nobody there speaks his.
> 
> 2. Get time allotted to himself on a VAX machine (if there are any left) and learn a spot of
> Assembler language, and then try and type an e-mail message to his best friend using only
> Assembler language on the VAX.
> 
> ---------------------
> 
> It's amazing how purified I feel after a rant of that sort.
> 
> But, having had to read about 3 of Norman's book and attend interminable lectures on
> Usability theory at the "University" of Abertay I feel very strongly indeed about what he says, and
> have given it some considerable thought.
> 
> Richmond.
> 
> _______________________________________________
> use-livecode mailing list
> use-livecode at lists.runrev.com
> Please visit this url to subscribe, unsubscribe and manage your subscription preferences:
> http://lists.runrev.com/mailman/listinfo/use-livecode





More information about the Use-livecode mailing list