Users Aren’t Stupid. You’re Being Smug.

Rising to the Occasion With a Bakery Chain

Q. What’s your best tip for other entrepreneurs?

A. It’s not about starting a business. It’s about solving problems. That’s what being an entrepreneur is. Find a problem that there’s a better way to solve. Get a vision of how it could work better, and stick with it.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Bob Lefsetz tweeted what I boldfaced yesterday as well as the article link.

That was the second time in one day I encountered the “Solve a problem” exhortation. The first might have been in one of several Paul Graham essays I was browsing through on my LifeDrive.

Ignoring that exhortation is why some people will always lose.

Ignoring that exhortation also leads to some of the absolutely staggeringly-clueless Comments my prior post has gotten about a recent encounter I had with Windows 7 and contrasting it to an iPad.

I recounted the problems I had. Commenters swept them aside. They don’t see that Windows 7 is a problem that the iPad solves.

When Douglas Engelbart created the first interactive system, NLS, he did it to solve problems.

What he didn’t realize is that his solution created a big new problem:

NLS, meanwhile, continued to add new features, including hypertext, multimedia, and screen sharing, but at the same time there were costs associated with the increasing power of the information tools. Every new feature meant added complexity and added training. For those who were part of the ARC group or committed to the Augment vision, the training was a minimal price to pay for the power that resulted. But for outsiders it presented an intimidating and bewildering array of commands to learn. NLS contained no “user interface” in the manner of modern computer graphical interfaces that are designed to make it easy for a novice computer user to master a range of commands.

For Engelbart, simple user interfaces were beside the point. At one meeting of the Augment programmers, he posed the question, “When NLS is complete, how many instructions will it have?” He went around the room and asked everyone to answer. They were, of course, all wrong. The right answer was that NLS would eventually have fifty thousand instructions! That would require learning a language a significant fraction the size of English.

What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry by John Markoff

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Some people reading this probably think anyone who didn’t want to learn fifty thousand commands was an idiot.

You will never succeed as a developer, a project manager, or creator. Please leave the stage now.

It’s not enough to create something to solve a problem — you must also not create a set of new problems.

When the Mac was first introduced, every DOS adherent — and some AppleDOS inherents — decried it as being for morons, for idiots, for people who didn’t want to “learn.”

Then Microsoft came out with Windows and suddenly all of that stuff was now OK to have.

This is why hardly anyone dares ridicule Mac OS X these days. The GUI has won, period.

But now people see iOS and ridicule it as being — repeat the chorus — for morons, for idiots, for people who don’t want to “learn.”

Yet iOS has had sales that every company — especially Microsoft — would rip all of its teeth — and employees’ teeth! — out to have.

This being “for morons, for idiots, for people who didn’t want to “learn,”” line of attack has become tiresome.

Instead of fighting the future, why not join it?

Keep it simple, keep it obvious, and solve problems.

Stop being smug.

The best way to gain respect for your intelligence is to make it invisible.

True expertise makes things look easy.


1 Comment

Filed under Friction, Marketing, Minimalism

One response to “Users Aren’t Stupid. You’re Being Smug.

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Users Aren’t Stupid. You’re Being Smug. « Mike Cane's xBlog --

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s