The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

When Was The Last Time You Discovered Something For The First Time?
February 18, 2010, 6:06 am
Filed under: Comment


A word that the marketing community have grasped to their bosom and are not going to let go.

From Apple and Nokia through to Ford and VW, every new product has seemingly been designed with ‘human intuition’ at its core.

Now in many ways that’s a very good thing … and certainly life is much easier for it … however part of me feels society is losing out because of it.

We’ve already had people blame Google for supposedly destroying mankind’s ability [and willingness] to think… however if you think that’s true, I think you should also be pointing your accusations towards any brand that talks about ‘intuitive’ system software.

When I started using computers, I learnt through trial and error.

I didn’t have any lessons … I didn’t read any books … I just rolled up my sleeves and tried stuff.

Now I should point out, I’m not talking about technical stuff, I’m talking about everyday work software … however back in the early 90’s, that was like learning a totally new language and through experimenting, I got pretty fluent in it.

Here’s the thing …

Because I didn’t have any ‘rules’, I learnt how to use the software and do with it as I wanted.

Sure, some of the things could probably be done more efficiently and effectively than I was doing it – but it worked for me – which is why I can’t help but think this ‘uber-intuitive’ attitude being adopted by companies these days, is denying people both a sense of discovery and a willingness to explore.

I’m not saying companies should stop issuing ‘instruction books’ or make things plainly difficult to operate, however I do think making everything so ‘seamless’ is not always as beneficial as we may think and I also find it somewhat ironic that so many people think Apple represents the pinnacle of empowering creativity, when everything they do is so finely managed, that they’re basically controling you rather than the other way round.

Sorry Baz. 🙂

29 Comments so far
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on the bright side baz is so fucking small he cant hit you in the fucking face. have you noticed how fucking absent hes ben since the anticlimaxpad? poor fuck.

for once campbell im going to agree with you. too much spoon feeding has created too many idiots with delusions of brilliance but theyve achieved fuck all except follow the path that someone higher has decided for them and im not talking religious bollocks.

following the system that has been laid out for you is like being the puppet of a music producer and who the fuck wants to villi vanilla? they say youve got to know the rule to break them but too few fuckers have the energy to do that, they just like rehashing the past to look good but achieve very fucking little.

you cant call yourself a creative just because you have a mac, you have to do stuff but branding bastards have succeeded in muddying those waters which is why marketing “intuition” works because a bunch of lazy or talentless fuckers think its a short cut like appearing on american fucking idol.

intuitive tech is a tool, talent is what you do with it that affects people and designing a fucking birthday card on powerpoint with that wanker paperclip aiding doesnt cut it.

Comment by andy@cynic

I intuitively know that you are wrong on this.

Intuitive interfaces do not negate discovery – they are created by people who know the value of discovery and progress as motivators and are built to enable discovery.

It’s not prescriptive, it’s enabling. Whereas having to chance upon a less efficient and less effective method that works for you is the road, if not to mediocrity, at least to frustration and often surrender.

What you’re really complaining about is the lack of genuinely intuitive interfaces.

Comment by John

ok dodds i buy prescriptive versus intuitive but with a lot of tech the intuitive element comes after it has already been presribed and youve ended up using the fucker for years. its still about what you do with it rather than what it does to you, especially in creative circles.

and campbell is strange, he enjoys difficult, its why he loves working with me.

Comment by andy@cynic

Is it possible to develop a genuinely intuitive interface for every man, woman and child from scratch? Isn’t it a case of creating a basis framework and then improving via ongoing feedback?

I’m prone to agree with John’s view though I do agree with Andy that some of what we now regard as intuitive technology started off with a dictatorial approach to working.

Comment by Pete

Hello John …

Whilst I absolutely buy your point that despite the claims from manufacturers, there is a distinct lack of genuinely intuitive interfaces out there [though I am inclined to say both Andy and Pete’s views have merit] and when there are, they do “empower” people [or at least gives the illusion of it] to engage in activities that previously they would have been exempt from … which is a good thing, obviously … but that is not what I meant in this post, I literally meant that I believe companies are developing tech that isn’t making our lives easier, but lazier … resulting in a mass scale of reduced desire to learn, explore and experience.

Am I being generalistic?

Of course … and I also accept that when I say ‘learn, explore and experience’, I’m basing it on my definition, not necessarily everyone else’s … but I don’t think saying great tech has ‘inbuilt discovery elements’ is proving your point, because it implies even that has been pre-ordained by someone in the system development process.

Am I saying manufacturers are doing all this with the strategic goal to fuck society?

Doubt it though it’s certainly true some are trying to keep real user experimentation/discovery to a minimum [ie: many car manufacturers now require you to seek out an authorised specialist to perform the sort of tasks even the biggest car novice could have previously attempted at home] but at its heart, I would say this is more a society mindset … where they seek maximum impact for minimum effort and the “intuitive” [fake or otherwise] nature of tech development is only aiding in this delusion.

I absolutely agree there are more good things coming out of this than bad … and I also accept my way of ‘learning’ is a bit fucking sad … but I just feel what society defines as discovery, experience and learning is far less pragmatic, powerful and meaningful as it may be if they had to work a bit harder to achieve what was in their head.

How much harder is the issue … because as Pete said, we’re all different and so one person’s “stretch to achieve” is another persons impossible.

I know I haven’t made myself clear, I know I am probably contradicting myself throughout … I’m just saying that if everything we want/need is seemingly done for us, the desire to find other ways – possibly more effective or interesting ways – is reduced and people without a purpose tend to fade or promote mediocrity as genius.

Comment by Rob

I agree with you – I just think you were conflating a couple of issues and that its lazy product-centric manufacturers who fall short of providing aids to intuition who are at fault.

I agree with Andy – of course it’s what you do with the tools that matters – but intuitive interaction doesn’t eliminate that potential.

And I agree with Pete that you possibly can’t make something that is intuitive for everyone, but I also think there are people who shouldn’t be allowed to procreate. Truely intuitive interfaces don’t provide a one route fits all solution – and their encouragement of early discovery is key to that.

Lest it appear that I’m agreeing too much, I don’t agree with Billy.

Comment by John

didnt know you were italian doddsy.

disagreeing with billy doesnt count.

Comment by andy@cynic

i agree with all of whats been said. i ll elaborate why, in a second… my first computer was a keyboard with a floppy drive, came with a spiderman game, some other floppy disks, a mouse and a joystick. it is still sitting in the basement somewhere. i just checked ebay and i think it will stay in the basement for a couple more years. so after all, i now use laptops, had a desktop pc, knew what and where the motherboard, cpu or the jumper is etc pp. i know quite a bit about software stuff and how to use it. if something is wrong or i want it changed, i can google, help myself and fix it. but of course what i know is insanely little compared to a specialist. anyway, why am i telling you this…

well, i can only handle the things because i had to get involved with the ‘thing’ to make it work. trial and error. i wanted to work with the hard/software, which was not an intuitive experience as i did know nothing about it or why it worked like it did, except the very basic stuff they taught me at school, and the admittedly rather detailed stuff at uni. but that was later and i degress… i dont like reading manuals. now, i can intuitively work with hard+software because i already got experience. its all same same but different. i know the (techy) basics. whatever comes along is just an addition or change. i sense when something does not make sense. then i wonder why they did not make it more intuitive. after all, its just a tool… then i think of spss and am sure they just want people to shell out money for training… if we talk about websites, especially for public transport, i am all for intuitive and logic. i guess john agrees, ha.

this intuitive stuff is good and it isnt at the same time. while i like it if things are easy to use and make sense, i think it does make people stay on the surface, stopping them from discovering things, taking the easy road, not making connections how and why it works like it does. and in the end, the things you could do with it. the difficult thing is maybe that different people got a different sum total of experience… a long and warped comment. hope it makes sense.

and sorry, but i just finished typing this and see you wrote a comment there rob, which i havent read yet…

Comment by peggy

For me the intuitive thing is vastly over-rated. Putting creativity into practice comes from mastery. Guitar is hardly an intuitive interface – yet great guitarists express
seamlessly because they have mastered the tool.

I think where people are kidding themselves is in believing that computers don’t require mastery if you want to do something really creative – like produce great graphics, or photos or music. Apple’s genius is in doing a lot of the thinking for you, putting up limitations in a way, to keep you on the path.

And, thats where we rub up against the truth few people want to hear – great creativity usually flows not from complete freedom, but from limitations. Apple understand this, which is why they’re apps don’t give you every crayon in the box.

Comment by fernando

As long as the tech knows how to get me porn, I’m happy.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Thanks for adding to the argument Billy, very insightful.

I definitely agree with you Fernando that great creativity tends to flows from limitations or restrictions rather than total freedom … though whether Apple really understand that is open to debate … my view is they simply haven’t identified all the ways people may end up using it [the pro-discovers so to speak] because once that’s done, it’ll be incorporated in the next ‘edition’ … which has many positives, but also – as I have written and from my tiny mind – a few negatives as well.

For me it’s about where people want to go, not where technology allows them to go … and some don’t see/realise the difference.

Comment by Rob

The thing that makes mankind so kickass (never mind your recent tweet, Rob) is the fact that we often do our best work when things get tough. It’s how we learn and adapt and change things for the better.

If every thing was as “intuitive” as Apple wanted it to be the world would be a fucking boring place. That and we’d all unknowingly be locked intot being their slaves. Like The Matrix or even better, 1984, which is ironic as fuck if you think about it.

Sorry Baz.

Comment by Age

The last time I discovered something for the first time was over Christmas. We were up in the mountains of France snowboarding (something I’m not very good at but enjoy). I discovered deep snow. Snowboarding in deep snow.

Comment by The Kaiser

You sure you hadn’t accidently walked into Keith Richards dressing room?

Comment by Rob

Considering I’m the only person who actually answered the question I find you response a tad horrid.

Comment by The Kaiser

Are you turning into a client Kaiser?

[But thank you, you are correct in your claim and I am very grateful for it]

Comment by Rob

Andy – I find it amusing you are calling the device my colleague named “Best porn viewer ever” the anticlimaxPad…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

He’s brilliant even when he doesn’t mean to be. Damn him!

Comment by Rob

except this one on this comment.

Comment by andy@cynic

And to answer the question… I like finding new things all the time, it’s one of the joys of being a music lover and gamer; you get so many new experiences.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Late to this as usual. Don’t agree on this, I hated the days when software and stuff was really hard. I’m not a geek and have better things to do. Most people love the end result of the software, not the actual usuage, they just want it to work.
You only see the genuine use of stuff when you don’t have to think about it. Text messaging got appropriated by kids because it was simple, not because it was intuitive.
And while I’m here, I’m feeling feisty, I now work somewhere without tea pots

Comment by northern

I’m not saying things should be made fundamentally more difficult, I’m just saying that when things are created so they give the illusion of being seamingly ‘seamless’, the desire to explore and discover diminishes, at least with the passive masses who are in the main, ‘navigation sheep’.

Whilst I don’t totally agree that you only see the genuine use of stuff when you don’t have to think about it [though maybe you mean when something has become so established it’s use becomes 2nd nature] the SMS thing is a great example of people discovery … as is the point ‘simple empowerment’ has the potential to drive useage than ‘pre-defined intuition’ … but I’m late for a Red Spider bitch fest [ie: I’m bitching with Red Spider, not about them] so I’ll have to wait and see what people think when I get back.

Finally NP: no photo annnnnnnd no teapot? You should of asked our lawyer to negotiate for you.

Comment by Rob

if i hear the term ‘intuitive’ used one more time (referring to techno-gadgets) i think i’m going to vomit.

Comment by lauren

lauren talks more sense than all these fucking planners put tofuckingether.

Comment by andy@cynic

I want a counter intuitive gadget. Just like I want to start an Anti-social networking site.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I discovered the taste of a woman from Rome.

Comment by niko

i discovered that the day before valentines day ppl in the u.s. were on google searching “is it possible to be happy”. a day later, on v-day, there was “venereal disease” trending.

Comment by peggy

i discovered sad bastards. and charles frith 2.0 now called niko.

Comment by andy@cynic

I discovered that my comments never appear on time.

Comment by John

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