[T]he desktop metaphor still required training. It further democratized computing, but despite its ease of use, many people then and today still find computers difficult to use. In fact, now they are even harder to use than before, requiring a longer learning curve because the desktop metaphor user interface is now more complex (and abstract) than ever before. People “in the know” don’t appreciate the difficulty of managing Mac OS X or Windows, but watching some of my friends deal with their computers make it painfully obvious: Most people are still baffled with many of the conventions that some of us take for granted. Far from decreasing over time, the obstacles to learning the desktop metaphor user interface have increased.
The iPhone is the information appliance that Raskin imagined at the end of his life: A morphing machine that could do any task using any specialized interface. Every time you launch an app, the machine transforms into a new device, showing a graphical representation of its interface. There are specialized buttons for taking pictures, and gestures to navigate through them. Want to change a song? Just click the “next” button. There are keys to press phone numbers, and software keyboards to type short messages, chat, email or tweet. The iPhone could take all these personalities, and be successful in all of them.
When it came out, people instantly got this concept. Clicking icons transformed their new gadget into a dozen different gadgets. Then, when the app store appeared, their device was able to morph into an unlimited number of devices, each serving one task.
In this new computing world there were no files or folders, either. Everything was database-driven. The information was there, in the device, or out there, floating in the cloud. You could access it all through all these virtual gadgets, at all times, because the iPhone is always connected.
I bet that Jobs and others at Apple saw the effect this had on the consumer market, and instantly thought: “Hey, this thing changes everything. It is like the new Mac after the Apple II.” A new computing paradigm for normal consumers, from Wilson’s Mac-and-PC-phobic step-mom to my most computer-illiterate friends. One that could be adopted massively if priced right. A new kind of computer that, like the iPhone, could make all the things that consumers—not professionals, or office people—do with a regular computers a lot easier.
The most logical step, however, is to follow the iPhone and the direction set by Raskin years ago. To me, the tablet will be the continuation of the end for the classic windowed environment and the desktop metaphor user interface. And good riddance, is all I can say.
This is the best Apple tablet article I have read, the whole thing is great especially the history of alternative interfaces at Apple.
We tend to forget how difficult computer use still is for many people. Each time I watch my mom or sisters or friends struggle with basic tasks on their computers I think about how so much of the confusion is caused by the outdated desktop and file system metaphor. These same people never struggle with a iPhone. An iPhone-like tablet will be the right primary computer for many people who will end up doing more, with less difficulty, on a semi-locked-down and more controlled tablet than they ever did on their old desktop or laptop. It will also be pretty cool for the rest of us as secondary (general or specialized task) computer option.
“It’s not that the Democrats are playing checkers and the Republicans are playing chess. It’s that the Republicans are playing chess and the Democrats are in the nurse’s office because, once again, they glued their balls to their thighs.”—Jon Stewart
Since 2002, TSA screeners have found more than 200 canes concealing either swords or knives. Many of these incidents involve elderly travelers who are just as surprised as the security screeners to find sabers hidden inside canes they may have inherited, found at antique shops, or received from charities.
I’m quite sure I could beat LeBron James in a game of one on one basketball. The game merely needs to feature two special rules: It lasts until I score, and as soon as I score I win. Such a game might last several hours, or even a week or two, and James would probably score hundreds and possibly thousands of points before my ultimate victory, but eventually I’m going to find a way to put the ball in the basket.
Our national government and almost all of the establishment media have decided to play a similar game, which could be called Terrorball. The first two rules of Terrorball are:
(1) The game lasts until there are no longer any terrorists, and; (2) If terrorists manage to ever kill or injure or seriously frighten any Americans, they win.