Error Messages Are Evil

Dar Scott dsc at
Sun May 11 21:04:28 EDT 2014

Long ago, deep in a previous century, I set up a Cromemco or MITS Altair for my secretary to do some word processing while I was out.  

When I came back, she was in tears.  The computer told her, “Invalid!  Jump to!”

I looked at the screen.  At the bottom was the line “Invalid jump to 0000.”  

I hadn’t emphasized that programs crash and what the crash might look like.  I had neglected to say that if something goes wrong is was unlikely to be her fault.  

We have come a long way, computers and I.  


On May 11, 2014, at 12:48 PM, Alejandro Tejada <capellan2000 at> wrote:

> Recent article published by Don Norman.
> "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. 
> Stop confronting us: Collaborate with us."
> --
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