Questioning the medium
Submitted by Jonathan D’Mello (@jonathandmello) on Thursday, 31 January 2013
To challenge the current assumptions and dictums of software design. I will question the reason people use software and their ultimate goals.
"The programs we use to conjure processes are like a sorcerer’s spells." - Abelson and Sussman, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs(1986)
And like the sorcerer's apprentice, with limited understanding of the medium or purpose, we proceed to create software that self destructs rather than liberates. Software that is unhelpful and frustrating is now ubiquitous. Yet, it's importance to society has grown. Technology is everywhere, yet it is unusable, intrusive and repelling. For years, design gurus have offered the solution that the cure for unfriendly software is to add more friendly interaction. We have all gathered in the temple of interaction design, chanting the verses of gloriously delightful interaction.
I suggest that the root problem of software design is an unclear understanding of the medium and it's purpose. How does a person approach software? And why? How does this affect the way we approach designing a solution for them?