The band above tries to make it work for them in media. The film “Cat
People” on the other hand explores the notion that we are, after all,
fairly primitive and that beneath a thin surface of civilization we are
nothing but crude animals – at least some of us. Below the soundtrack -
watch it on Youtube - it's so nice you have to click twice!
“See these eyes so green...” And yes - most of us are “green”
in the sense that we are rookies when it comes to handling software.
The film “Cat People” explores the notion that we are, after
all, fairly primitive and that beneath a thin surface of civilization
we are nothing but crude animals – at least some of us.
But don't we have quite a sophisticated world with amazing tools,
science and software that can send rockets to the moon and beyond?
Yes we do have created a world that perhaps would appeal to a
Renaissance man like Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo was of course no
ordinary guy but had extraordinary talents. On the other hand, it was
much easier to be a Renaissance man in the actual Renaissance than it
Today we have built ourselves a context that is so complex that it
goes far beyond anything Leonardo would have imagined - and he was
fairly imaginative!But we are trying to demand from every person
that he or she should be able to do everything. Only in the workplace
we should all be doing creative work, administrative chores, sales,
marketing AND handle all the technical stuff we have around us -
including the software. In order to save money on specialized staff
of course. But on the other hand everything is also going in the
other direction forcing us to be more and more specialized. You
should have your niche and stay there too. So we get Social Media
Specialists, Stylists, Communication Strategists and Future Managers.
But the Social Media Strategist has to be good at admin, sales and
perhaps even taking out the garbage. And this is only in the
workplace. At home the complexity continues, but let us not go there.
Let us instead take a dive into software. In a world where
everyone should do everything, everyone is also at one point meant to
tackle all the different kinds of software in the office. And
we have a situation where we are flooded with huge amount of
information through a blizzard of information sources. I have said it
before, but it seems the more information we are exposed to the less
knowledge we get out of it.We have more information than ever and
know less than ever.How about if we ask our colleagues then?
Let's face it - we have enormous amounts of communication channels at
our disposal today: e-mail, phone, Skype, MSN, SMS, MMS, Facebook,
Twitter, letters, faxes and stuff. But somehow - I have mentioned
that earlier too - the more channels the less actual real
communication. We have more communication channels than ever, but
have never felt more alone.
So here we sit in our office starting up our laptop because we
have to make a little change in one of the files in a project.
We know that humanity has learned a lot about the human brain, the
human psyche and human reactions, feelings since the days of
Leonardo. Naively we actually do believe that all this knowledge
actually is built into the software we are about to use. But no!
Leonardo himself might not have immediately understood how to use the
software let alone a poor colleague that is not a full time
programmer. In short - most software today are too complex and too
comprehensive to be as intuitive as we would like.
There are numerous examples of software that really are too hard
to learn. AutoCAD, MicroStation, ArchiCAD, 3D Studio, Photoshop and
Microsoft Word are only a few of them.
First we might think a Manual would do
the trick or a Training class. But Manuals are harder and harder to
find and many software producers produce less and less Manuals. Most
Manuals are digital too – you have no book to have on the side as
you had in the old days. But the Manuals we do have do not do the
trick anyway. They are full of terminology and are so lacking in
padagogy that you have to know the answer already to be able to find
it in the Manual or help section. Another thing about Manuals is they
always focus on a single tool and how to use that. The Manual never
tells you WHEN or WHY or in relation to WHAT or even HOW to actually
set the tool up to actually produce the desired result. So the Manual
is not it. And neither are the vast amounts of so called “Bibles”
or the “All-in-One-Books” or the “Whatever for Dummies” that
are all designed to make money for the publishers. The Manuals are
like Manuel the Bell Boy in the British TV-series “Faulty Towers”,
never having any information and causing confusion. But this time leaving us to
Then we would guess that the Support
department for the software would be able to help us. If we are lucky
we actually get a living person on the phone that even speaks our
native tongue. Then we have to explain the situation to that poor
Support guy for him or her to guide us. Imagine a seven year-old boy
inside a 747 trying to explain to the air traffic controller that he
needs to land the plane and imagine what the controller is in for at
that moment. Not an easy situation to be a Support guy.And there
are too few of them heroic types to go around. Support – I don't
But a Training Class using course
materials for three or four days then? Well, the software is usually
so complex that four days would only scrape slightly on the surface
of it. And even if the trainer is the “Deepak Chopra of Software”
chances are that the students forget 75 percent of what they might
have learned after about five weeks. And the course material will
most lightly suffer from the same “disease” as the Manuals and
the “Bibles”! So training might not work so well either.
What then remains is the actual
software in relation to us humans.As most of us are neither
rocket scientists nor Nobel Prize winner material - but only users
who want to know how to design a house, a bridge, a chair or
something – we need a software that is simple to use, intuitive and
consistent. But a quick look into several software products reveals
that the software we have to settle for today is nowhere near our
The first problem is the complexity.
Just as people today are faced with the impossibility of being good
at everything, software suffers from the same target. Every software
is trying to be a Jack of all trades. Every simple drawing software
tries to be both Disney and Pixar too and every word processing
software seems to have the nee to produce websites and newspapers
It is simply too much. And the cause of
this has nothing to do with user needs. It is all about competition
for market shares.
Other issues, perhaps caused by the
complexity, is inconsistency, lack of logic, lack of pedagogy, too
much special terminology and too many ways to do the same thing.
There are examples of software features named one thing in one place
and named differently in another place in the same software. There
are also examples of cases where there is no way to actually even
guess what the software wants you to do at a specific moment. There
is no naming standards either so terminology used in different
software can mean different things. There quite a few instances where
the chosen term in the dialog box does not make any sense at all. The
only way to learn is to make repeated errors, talk to others who have
don that too plus to call for Support.
It seems like there is no real
fruitful connection between programmers, users and the real world. There seems
lack quite a bit in consistency checks and pedagogic checks.In short – we need a software
revolution! As we can conclude, there are no “CAD People” - no
people made for software. So we just have to start making software
made for people instead – let us make “PeopleCAD”!
Or shall we continue doing things like
we have always been doing - “...putting out Fire – With