Saturday, November 3, 2007

Paper Security Blankets

On October 28, 2007, my local newspaper printed a book review by Monica Hesse that originally appeared in the Washington Post. (No link as the Washington Post requires registration to use.) Ms. Hesse was noting/reviewing four new books aimed at helping people successfully use YouTube, Second Life, MySpace, and the iPhone. The last book wasn't mentioned in the review -- it was cut in my paper from the longer original -- but the cover is shown along with the other three covers in an accompanying illustration. The book is many times larger than the iPhone itself.

The review quotes Don Norman, author of "The Design of Future Things" as saying "Technologies really are being packaged in a way that's not intuitive or usable to the consumer." Ms. Hesse goes on to say "Call it the Case of the Missing Instruction Manual. New technologies have always needed some sort of user guide. In 1532, the hand plow was sold with one." (Who knew?)

On the one hand, it's reassuring to know that I'm not the only one that finds things on Web 2.0 (not to mention the rest of life) non-intuitive. (See previous posts about trying to figure out our new phones at work.) On the other hand, if I were interested in Second Life, or considering an iPhone, knowing that books have been published to explain how to use them just might reinforce my feeling that either or both are beyond me. And on what is now the third hand (I always think of the Hindu goddesses at this point, although they have an even number of arms/hands,) I can feel comfortable with my lack of interest in using any of the four items the books cover.

(Title of this post is from Ms. Hesse's review: "Though studies have shown we retain information learned online as well as that learned onpage, we still appreciate a paper security blanket.")

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