|| Ah... La Mode!
I see design principlessoftware designall around
me. They must be following me. The last time was at the library,
the brick-and-mortar place with dusty tomes lined up in rows
and columns. I was searching for a map of Ernest
Shackleton's* ill-fated Antarctic trip.
I found in my library's computer three in-stock books. One
I located on the shelves; two I couldn't find. I got a librarian;
she wrote the Dewey decimal numbers; she looked; she couldn't
find 'em either. Defeated, she noticed the numbers included
a pre-fixed "J," and sent me at last to the "Junior"
In the junior section I found only book #2; I asked the junior
librarian for help; she couldn't find book #3; I eventually
noticed book #3 on prominent display above the shelves... promoting
itself to browsers yet hidden to those using the Dewey decimal
mode ("card catalog system" for you old folks).
The problem is equivalent to one of "modes." In
his book entitled Humane Interface, Jeff Raskin rightly complained
that modes of operation are usually problematic. They hide
whole aspects of functionality, confuse the user as to which
active, and wreak havoc when you are unintentionally in the
wrong mode. The solution in the library is to use a single
sequence that encompasses even junior books. Never mind that
I didn't spot that "J"I'm blind to that sort
of stuff 'cause I'm rigidly structured... the librarian didn't
even spot it until she was frustrated. Modes cause blindness
of unfamiliarity and disbelief because systems make us machines,
usually for the better... until the modes break our sense of
structure. Then books can't be found, computers don't work,
and planes even crash.
So I walked out of the library amazed that I had to contend
with three retrieval modes: adult, junior, and display.
A final note to the story, I had actually started my quest
seeking a fourth book, one I had previously borrowed from the
brick building. Alas, it was not even listed as a resource
at that location (on hand or not)... yet it showed up at others.
My point is that the library could have listed it as discarded.
I looked in the giveaway box at the front door and there was
the book I wanted... stored in mode #4!
*Shackleton's shipwreck is by my reckoning "Man's Greatest
Story of Survival and Rescue." They lived for 16 months
on icebergs, traveled 800 miles in a dingy across the Cape Horn
Rollers (the only seas on the globe where the lines of longitude
are uninterrupted by land mass), traversed an uncharted 6000
ft. glacier mountain with a 50 ft. rope and a Sterno can, and
made four subsequent voyages to rescue their crew left behind.
Tell me a