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Re: Structure in $HOME



> > I think this is based on a misconception... User's do not function best
> > with a black box that has simple GUI interfaces to everything. This is a
> > minimally useful interface. User's function best with an interface that
> > helps them develop a Conceptual Model of the object they are trying to
> > manipulate. This is much better served by an accessible filesystem than
> > by a slew of specialized interfaces.
> 
> I have to bow to your superior usability knowledge here, but most
> non-geek people I know use a computer by remembering where to change
> things in the GUI.

But I think that's precisely because that's the interface that Windows
and GNOME/KDE/etc have been foisting on them. My whole point is that you
see many Macintosh users able to do and understand these things in spite
of the fact that many of them are much less computer indoctrinated than
their Windows peers. (I should mention btw, that I'm not arguing that
the Macintosh is right because its the Macintosh way, its merely a
useful illustration of how this stuff plays out in the real world).
Note, btw, that I'm not suggesting the primary interface to preferences
be through the filesystem :-) And for example, it would be appropriate
in the font selection preference page to have an "Open Font Folder"
button (which GNOME does).

> But they might learn that files can be saved by going
> file->save, and loaded by going file->load, but they have no idea where
> the files are being saved. When it comes to trying to copy these files
> onto a floppy disk, they are stumped. Basically, I don't think a file
> manager is the best way for a lot of people to use a computer.

In Windows most people don't know anything about the filesystem
precisely because in Windows the filesystem has not been made accessible
or friendly to users. It is a complex nightmare filled with frightening
things like "C:", "regedit32.dll". Microsoft has been improving lately
(once again by making hacked out shortcuts and stuff, but it is
improvement). Still, users have already been conditioned to avoid the
filesystem like the plague.

My claim is mostly that "intermediate" Macintosh users are able to
accomplish much more than "intermediate" Windows users in a number of
domains because of a filesystem structure choice. Certainely there are a
great many users, even on Macintosh, who don't understand the idea of
folders, where things are stored, etc. As far as they know the File Open
dialogue is a simple list of all the available files on the system. But
they probably aren't going to be considering copying files to a new
computer (or installing fonts) anyway. However, if they were, I think
the filesystem way would be easier to learn.

-Seth





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