Elite Irony

Eugene Leitl Eugene.Leitl@lrz.uni-muenchen.de
Mon, 21 Jan 2002 20:24:52 +0100 (MET)

On Mon, 21 Jan 2002, Jeff Bone wrote:

> One random thought about all of this:  isn't it ironic (as opposed to
> unfortunate, like Alanis Morrissette's misunderstanding of the term
> ;-) that the "consumer" user interfaces that the unwashed masses

"Point and drool", you mean.

> mindlessly embrace are far *more* complex and *less* usable than the
> simple, broadly-used metaphors advocated by some of the fringe CHI
> "elite?"  That they result in *more* balkanization of communities,

An ideal kernel is UI agnostic. It is even hardware agnostic, apart from
the minimal silicon it needs to run and communicate. Because, in a 1 kCPU
system, or a deep embedded there's no explicit user to talk to. You can
add any UI to this, it will wrap around the kernel in layers and layers.

The opposite, as exercised by Redmondware, is not possible.

> data and functionality, *higher* adoption costs over time --> slower
> adoption, and *less* Metcalfe-value created in all our computing
> systems taken as a whole?

95% ::= Dumbest Possible User.

> I'm hip to Tom's dream on many levels, but it seems to me that without

Sorry, but that dream is all hollow. I don't subscribe to it at all, for
the reasons I mentioned.

> an elite to safeguard the conceptual high ground, progress inevitably
> grinds down, innovation gets lost in the lowest common denominator,

It is time to drop the pretense for all-purpose, and diversify.

> etc.  I.e., "democracy" isn't always the best solution for every
> problem.  Sometimes --- far, far less often than is claimed, but
> sometimes --- maybe the geeks do understand what the users need better
> than the users themselves.

No, the users get exactly what they want, as much as they understand what
they want. Let users eat the cake they ordered.

> Sometimes.  Maybe.  And it's not a good proposition on which to build
> a company. ;-)

Elitism is fundamentally incompatible with a commercial system. Because
it's all about balkanization and locking the user base.

Um, I guess things aren't as obvious as I thought they were.