The Way We Interact With Computers Sucks. #
ASCII art morphing by Tim Holman
What do you see when you sit down to work?
Is your space actually comfortable?
Does your keyboard feel like it was actually designed for human hands?
How do you access information?
How do know that information is reliable?
How do you store information in a way you can retrieve it easily later?
Do you have good tools for making content?
If you’re reading this, I’d wager that you’ve at least thought about these things a little. Maybe you’re a Linux user, deep into the tiling window manager rabbit hole. Maybe you already have a fancy keyboard, monitors surrounding you on all sides. But I’m here to tell you that no matter how hard you’ve tried, what you’re using still probably sucks.
I think we, as individuals and as business, need to invest more in our work spaces, probably well beyond what most people would even consider. I’m not talking about adding a third monitor or giving everyone an artistic environment. I’m talking about setting up a work environment that’s conducive to productivity as instead of merely being the medium on which it takes place, the work environment should actively contribute to finding, accessing, retrieving/storing, consuming, and creating. - where data can be anything: art, documentation, code, whatever.
Please, throw out your preconceptions about what this means right now.
I absolutely do not think this means that we should all strap VR headsets to our faces, no matter how much money Facebook (or Meta, whatever.) throws at that future. I also don’t think it means sticking to the normal keyboard and mouse for as much as we do now either. Maybe something like Dynamicland is the future, but I’m also not about to bet on any particular technology. So, what is this then?
These pages are about acknowledging what we’re doing wrong, why we’re doing it (mostly because it’s cheap and normal) and how we can do better to make real, human oriented (Yes, I know that term sounds like marketing speech) ways of using technology. Ultimately, this is just a really long post about HCI.
Human Computer Interaction or HCI is an interesting topic to me. So many people spend a crazy amount of time in front of a screen , you’d think we’d have some damn good hardware and software to use while we further deepen the permanent butt-shaped indentation into our seats, but alas, instead most people use ˢʰᵘᵈᵈᵉʳ Windows.
Back in late 2018 I wrote the first version of this post and basically everything in there has been restated here but better. Since then, I’ve talked to many others about this, read many other blog posts, and just generally done a lot of new things with computers and learned a lot, so here’s HCI2: Electric Boogaloo.