Four Pillars: Nickieben Bourbaki Rides Again

Thanks to David Terrar for pointing this out to me. Great article on The New Laws of Digital Technology from The Pfeiffer Report.

The Laws in brief:

  • More features isn’t better, it’s worse.
  • You can’t make things easier by adding to them.
  • Confusion is the ultimate deal-breaker.
  • Style matters
  • Only features that provide a good user experience will be used.
  • Any feature that requires learning will only be adopted by a small fraction of users.
  • Unused features are not only useless, they can slow you down and diminish ease of use.
  • Users do not want to think about technology: what really counts is what it does for them.
  • Forget about the killer feature. Welcome to the age of the killer user-experience.
  • Less is difficult, that’s why less is more

Read the original for yourselves, it’s worth it. Even if you don’t agree with it, it may help you figure out what you do agree with. And this is an important subject. Simplicity and convenience are must-haves rather than nice-to-haves, and we have a lot to learn about how we provide them.
On the day I saw David Terrar’s post and the link to Pfeiffer, serendipity meant I had my copy of Richard Gabriel’s Patterns of Software with me, for a short time between one borrower and another. And that reminded me that I should re-read Worse Is Better (is Worse) (Is Not) in all its forms and arguments. For those of you interested in reading the papers, I’ve linked to a Gabriel article that points to ALL the pdfs here.

I will comment later on all this, but felt it was worth sharing the originals with you as soon as possible. The key for me? The Law that states

Any feature that requires learning will only be adopted by a small fraction of users.

And, in my own warped way, I love the corollary that it suggests to me. Any feature that does not require learning will be adopted by a large fraction of users.

Generation M comes trained to expect things to work certain ways. They don’t recognise DRM and IPR and Identity and the dangers of multispeed internets and the problems with badly implemented IMS and the evils that can be done under the guise of privacy and security.

Privacy is important, security is important. When applied to the individual. Not when used as an excuse to create lock-in.

Thank God for Generation M. They may be able to achieve things that we haven’t: to take on lock-in specialists and win.

Let me know what you think

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