[LINK] literacy (not computer literacy) and GUIs
Wed, 14 Nov 2001 22:09:56 +1100
On Wed, Nov 14, 2001 at 10:40:38AM +1000, Chirgwin, Richard wrote:
> In the CLI versus windowing argument, though, I will toss an
> incendiary comment in: there seems to be a belief abroad that you're
> somehow slacking if you don't want to study computers. "Point and
> Click equals illiteracy".
no, it's not absurd...and it's not exactly what i said.
illiterate & semi-literate people *prefer* GUIs because they replace
complex and confusing words with (allegedly) simple icons.
literate people tend to prefer CLIs because they're comfortable with
words and appreciate the flexibility that a literate interface gives
another way of looking at this is that some people are visually oriented
(i.e. pictures make sense to them in ways that words do not) and some
people are textually oriented (i.e. words make sense to them in ways
that pictures do not)...and of course other people are neither or
something different again.
personally, i change the preferences on all GUI programs that allow it
(e.g. my web browser) to use a TEXT only button bar - because i can read
and understand an unambiguous word in a fraction of the time it takes
me to decipher some cryptic icon. my usual reaction to icons is "WTF
is *that* meant to be?".
(that's the primary reason, anyway. a secondary reason is that an icon
button bar takes up at least 3 times the vertical space on a screen than
a text button bar does)
in short: words make intuitive & instant sense to me. pictures require
interpretation and deciphering.
now the big social problem with the current over-emphasis on GUIs is
that the computer industry is effectively saying "words are too hard
for you, pretty icons are more your speed". that may be OK to do for an
adult who has already decided that they don't want to learn (although i
think that too is highly debatable) but it is a reprehensible thing to
do to children learning computers for the first time - it's equivalent
to saying "reading is too hard for you, here's a picture book" to a
normal kid in grade 1.
that's why i said that GUIs are not only *FOR* the illiterate, they also
> Really, that's silly: it's saying "I enjoy this hobby, therefore those
> who don't are somehow less than I". Nice fantasy, but I don't see
> any reason to assign a value to someone solely on their command of
nice strawman. that wasn't at all what i was saying.
> A previous post said:
> >GUIs are for the illiterate....but it's even worse than that.
> >GUIs actively promote & create illiteracy by attempting to
> >make literacy an obsolete skill.
> ...it left out an adjective. "Computer-literate" is not equal to "literate",
it didn't leave out an adjective at all.
i was referring specifically to literacy, not to "computer literacy".
of course, GUIs also promote computer illiteracy because they
deliberately obscure the actual workings of the computer and disguise it
with cargo-cult mumbo-jumbo.....but that's another issue altogether.
craig sanders <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Fabricati Diem, PVNC.
-- motto of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch