Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

The Sketchbook of Susan Kare

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the ideas-in-action dept.

Graphics 173

theodp writes "The Mac wasn't the first computer to present the user with a virtual desktop of files and folders instead of a command line and a blinking cursor, but it was the sketchbook of Susan Kare that gave computing a human face to the masses. After graduating from NYU with a Ph.D. in fine arts, Kare was working on a commission from an Arkansas museum to sculpt a razorback hog out of steel when she got a call from high-school friend Andy Hertzfeld offering her a job to work on the Mac. The rest, as they say, is UI history. Armed with a $2.50 sketchbook, Kare crafted the casual prototypes of a new, radically user-friendly face of computing. BTW, just in time for holiday gift-giving, Kare has self-published her first book, Susan Kare Icons. So, could computing could use a few more artists, and a few less MBAs?"

cancel ×

173 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

A few less MBAs.... (4, Insightful)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161236)

Is there any field that couldn't use less MBAs? It is a sort of community service to get the poor critters off the street, but they sure make a mess of things. Maybe we can find them a nice island somewhere.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (2)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161250)

I know. How about retraining them, if possible?

Re:A few less MBAs.... (0)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161292)

Like lawyers and advertisers MBA's and especially EMBA's can never learn anything new or be retrained.

They should be put out to pasture by the time they are 40 to minimize damage they cause. Preferably on an island. Maybe near Sarah plains bridge to neverland

Re:A few less MBAs.... (3, Interesting)

Keen Anthony (762006) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161702)

I realize you're just taking the piss, but as an MBA who has always understood technology, I've done fairly well. It's always fun to make fun of the MBAs when you're on the tech side, but the fact is, engineers don't know how to run companies. They don't know how to develop markets. They don't know how to sell products. Sure, they can make truly epic prototypes that look really awesome sitting in a private room. I've seen a lot of cool tech wizardry that went nowhere. Every successful example of computer technology has depended on a mix of both. But we can always do with fewer lawyers, totally.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162042)

Yea, it is legacy MBAs that was taught the horrible stuff that is the problem.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (4, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162106)

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Sergy Brin, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg... Not an MBA amongst them. Where are these MBAs that know how to run companies?

Re:A few less MBAs.... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38162218)

"The percentage of top 100 CEOs who earned an M.B.A. decreased from 37% in 2003 to 36% in 2004, to 35% this year [2005]. The percentage of all S&P 500 CEOs who have an M.B.A. has increased from 37% to 39% over the past two years."

content.spencerstuart.com/sswebsite/pdf/lib/2005_CEO_Study_JS.pdf

There are a lot of MBAs who successfully run large corporations, but I realize that its fun to hate on them here.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (2, Interesting)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162320)

You're missing what is in common with the names I mentioned. What percentage of people who CREATED successful companies are MBAs. How close to 0%?

Sure once the founders retire or die, the companies find new people to run them. At that stage MBAs seem like the right qualification. But those MBAs are invariably far less successful than the founders.

successful companies created by MBAs (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162426)

Have you looked at a Wall Street directory? I know they are all disgraces that would perform a ritualized suicide if they had an iota of decency. They don't, and they won't.

They are the product of the modern MBA, and until people get the balls to haul them off to jail (or the middle of the ocean), you will remain at the mercy of their childish schemes.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (3, Informative)

Keen Anthony (762006) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162312)

Seriously? The point isn't that people who hold Masters in Business Administration know best per se, it is that successful technology businesses are not the result of good engineering, but the result of a mix of engineering, good business management, and marketing expertise. This is traditionally the area of the MBA, but this doesn't imply that a computer scientist can never ever under any circumstances understand things like SWOT. It means that understanding how to make a business successful is separate from knowing how to make cool technology. You have identified four companies out of an entire industry populated by many successful tech companies operated by businessmen. And incidentally, Steve Jobs is not an engineer or a computer scientist. Nor are Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. None of these guys fits the profile of the typical software engineer. And Sergy Brin and Larry Page worked with Eric Schmidt who possessed executive experience, realizing the need for someone who understood how to run a business.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162396)

I didn't say anything about software engineers. Saying that MBAs are bad isn't the same as saying software engineers are good.

I wouldn't have included Steve Jobs on the list if I'd been making a point about software engineers.

Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg obviously are software engineers though, unless you're discounting them for dropping out to create companies rather than finish their studies. Which would be pretty silly because dropping out of college to create a company is an even bigger pointer to success than not being an MBA.

Thanks for bringing up Eric Schmidt. He too is a software engineer, not an MBA.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (1)

Keen Anthony (762006) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162584)

I was just using SEs as an example. Obviously, the industry has more engineers than just SEs. Again, you listed a handful of people who don't represent the bulk of the industry, and most of those you listed cannot be claimed by engineers as one of theirs if business admins can't equally claim them as one of their own just because of that education. Eric Schmidt is far more than than just a software engineer. Most software engineers, maybe not even many, have his executive experience. My point about proper executive leadership still stands. I'm not going to bring up a list of every Silicon Valley company that isn't Apple, Microsoft, or Google just to find MBAs who do a good job of running their companies.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163012)

I'm not going to bring up a list of every Silicon Valley company that isn't Apple, Microsoft, or Google just to find MBAs who do a good job of running their companies.

The fact that you'd have to scan a list to find some MBAs and I just listed the founders of the top tech companies says it all.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (0)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162648)

"Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg obviously are software engineers though, unless you're discounting them for "

I'm discounting Gates because it is a well known fact that he can't write software worth shit. Zuckerburg writes web apps so he likely has no ability to write real software either. In both cases their "success" lies not in their great business management expertise, but rather in their ability to be scumbags willing to sell out the good of the common user, leveraging those user's ignorance and naivete for their own personal profit.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (4, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163048)

I'm no fan of Bill Gates, but he did write the original Microsoft BASIC back in the mid 1970s, and fit it in 4K, the first person do do such a thing. Now, lots of people could do it, but then, with the tools and knowledge of the day it was quite a feat. He's certainly a software engineer, and a notable one at that.

I like to make fun of web app developers too. But in reality it is real software engineering, often with a greater variety of skills needed than classic programming. Not for the simplest web sites, but certainly for something like a social app.

I agree they are scumbags, but they are successful company founding software engineer scumbags.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (2)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162652)

dropping out of college to create a company is an even bigger pointer to success than not being an MBA.

That's only because you're looking at already successful companies and then looking at how they got started. What about all the kids who dropped out of college to start a company that failed?

Re:A few less MBAs.... (1)

Spaseboy (185521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162658)

I think that you will find in the technology world MBAs and the type typically destroy companies. Look at HP, Yahoo!, AOL...how'd them MBAs work out for 'em?

Re:A few less MBAs.... (1)

Keen Anthony (762006) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162742)

Sure, that's a fair point. As one person already, noted legacy MBAs can be problem. What it takes is business leadership by individuals who can see both sides of the coin. I'll mention Eric Schmidt again, but he might not be a good example if we consider the arguments that Google has become so focused on business performance that it's killing projects prematurely for failure to give an instant high ROI rather than nurturing those projects. Eric Schmidt is an engineer, formally, but he hasn't worked as an engineer in a while. He's been functioning an executive (an MBA so to speak) for years. I have direct experience with AOL. They can be difficult to work with because of, as you point out, all the MBAs at the company. There's a lot of middle management BS you have to put up with when dealing with AOL. For HP, I'm more familiar with Carly Fiorina's tenure. Some say she did great, but fought constantly with other corporate suits. Others say she was horrible. I just remember watching the quality of my HP consumer products nosedive between the early 90s and the 2005. Consider Zhentang Wang, CEO of Acer as a positive example of MBA leadership. He is a EE and an MBA.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163076)

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Sergy Brin, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg

One of these things is not like the others.

Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38162952)

Bullshit MBAs don't know how to run a fucking company.

Look at all the fucking MBAs on Wall Street, and what the fuckers did to the economy.

If your actually competent with the MBA, perhaps you're actually competent in spite of the MBA.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162976)

I know. How about retraining them, if possible?

You mean like... re-education camps? Hmmm...

B Ark (0)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161280)

Or just send them off with the telephone sanitisers.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (5, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161348)

It's less about having less MBA, and simply having less people telling actual creators and innovators what to do, and what not to do.

Our society is going nowhere if our developments and actions are being decided by people who don't understand what the things they're making decisions about.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161632)

Indeed, I think this is the root cause of all the buzzwords.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163248)

Indeed, I think this is the root cause of all the buzzwords.

We need a new term for that. I think we should call it "buzzwordification". It sounds much cooler than "buzzwordiation".

Re:A few less MBAs.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161812)

Half a decade before the Macintosh, a Harvard MBA named Dan Bricklin invented the first spreadsheet application, VisiCalc. It's not about having people with or without degrees, it's about having creative and innovative people, whatever their background.

causality. (2)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162340)

I don't think having an MBA causes incompetence, but like moths to a flame, the talentless are so drawn.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (0)

mykepredko (40154) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161398)

I know, let's tell them that the Earth is about to be destroyed and put them on a SpaceShip.

We could call it the "Ark 2".

Re:A few less MBAs.... (1)

mykepredko (40154) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161410)

Argghhh... Mucked up the reference.

Thanx Graham for getting it right.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161422)

Did you mean an island of MBA's across a small body of water from an island of Lawyers, and every full moon, one or the other jumps into war canoes and paddles across the body of water to the other island and wages a fierce battlle against the other side with major losses on both sides as a result? If thats what you meant, then how do we set such a thing up, and get tens of thousands to volunteer every year?

bait... (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162402)

Present a dumb-ass obvious ponzi scheme as a business venture that requires them to move to an island. Your only problem is finding a big enough island. You might get away with a photo of one, then they will all drown.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161432)

I think you mean fewer MBAs

Re:A few less MBAs.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161522)

MBA's are lesser, and we could do with a few fewer. I've worked with too many artists as well to want any more around me. Twenty-two years in the entertainment industry will do that to a person.

Re:A few less MBAs.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161892)

This made me laugh, because right before i read it i thought to myself 'is there any field that couldnt use more artists?'

Re:A few less MBAs.... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162024)

they sure make a mess of things. Maybe we can find them a nice island somewhere.

Unfortunately an MBA took over this island we call "America". Indeed, he did make a mess of things. I'm not inclined to give an island, or anything that exists in the physical world, to an MBA. How about we pair each MBA up with one of our surplus lawyers (we have tons of 'em where I live and I suspect that is the case in other places, too) and encourage them to sue each other? That should keep them busy for a while...

Re:A few less MBAs.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38163182)

one day you'll be finished with some great software and want to sell it. inside of two months you'll realize you don't know the first thing about that, and will want to team up. placing a small ad, you'll get a hundred resumes. not taking any chances, your first criterion will be whether the applicant has an MBA -- only 3 of your applicants do. out of the three, you pick the one that seems most intelligent and reasonable, sharp, has a proven track record. and the rest is history. soon, you're retired.

unless of course those three were on your hypothetical island. good luck sorting out the rest.

Icons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161252)

She was the first person to design icons ever?

Re:Icons (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161284)

Those Egyptians are in for a massive legal bill.... I wasn't even accidental - clearly they traveled through time to steal her ideas! Surely this shows intent?

Re:Icons (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161340)

Time travel? Don't be ridiculous. It was aliens [troll.me] .

Re:Icons (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161372)

She was the first person to design icons ever?

I think the point is "see women can do stuff too ... sometimes ... no we're not insecure about this, that's why we mention it and make a big deal out of it every single chance we get!"

Re:Icons (4, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163434)

She was the first person to design icons ever?

With the death of Steve Jobs, I believe we are going to see more early Mac artifacts like this one begin to emerge, forming the framework for what will be the fastest growing religion of the coming decade. File this one under, "Mac Nativity". Sketchbooks of ur-icons. Alchemical workbooks for the transmutation of blinking amber cursors into personal computers. Into the Macintosh.

Do you remember the articles that came out every day after his death for more than two weeks? "The Last Words of Steve Jobs". "The Death of Steve Jobs" by his sister. "What Steve Jobs said about (cultural item here)". "The Early Days of Steve Jobs", "Steve Jobs the Lost Years", "Steve Jobs on the Road to Damascus" and "Steve Jobs rides into Jerusalem on the Back of an Ass". His great sacrifice of his own health so the Company can bring forth the iPhone 4S. His vision, his time in the wilderness and his rise and ultimate ascension. It's as predictable as the Perseids: this is the first 21st century faith. He even knocked the trial of the killer of that other mythical figure, Michael Jackson, out of the headlines for a solid month. Television programming was interrupted to make the solemn announcement. No mere text crawl could be sufficient.

I'm setting the over/under on the first miracle performed in Steve Jobs' name at October, 2012.

I am not joking.

Oh come on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161264)

So basically you're just shilling for the book?

Aha (2, Interesting)

Compuser (14899) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161306)

So now I know who made the Mac so insufferably ugly. For me it was a retch at first sight. I think I may be the only one in the world but I have consistently hated every single artistic and stylistic choice Apple ever made with their GUI (their hardware designs sometimes look OK, e.g. iPhone 4)

Re:Aha (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161400)

So now I know who made the Mac so insufferably ugly. For me it was a retch at first sight. I think I may be the only one in the world but I have consistently hated every single artistic and stylistic choice Apple ever made with their GUI (their hardware designs sometimes look OK, e.g. iPhone 4)

That comes from being a heterosexual. You're clearly not their target demographic.

Re:Aha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161466)

Parent and grandparent express nerd rage. Proof they need to get laid.

Re:Aha (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162118)

What's your idea of good computer design? Let me guess... a teletype emulation?

Re:Aha (4, Interesting)

Compuser (14899) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162566)

I do not know why I got marked as flamebait. I clearly stated it was my personal opinion and I meant every word without intent of inciting a flamewar. Mods are on crack.
That said, to me the ideal design of GUI so far has been Windows 95, with toolbar autohide. Horrible OS but imho best GUI ever. Clean, simple, rectangular without the horrible rounded corners. Grey background, forgettable fonts, and equally neutral pointer shapes.
I have always hated icons and preferred text instead but I have yet to see a GUI with labels instead of pictures by default. Other than that - Windows 95 got most things right.

Re:Aha (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162912)

OK, I see what you mean. But even there, some icons are irreplaceable:
1) Close, Minimise and Maximise at the corner of every app window. How much more ugly and less usable they would be if they were words instead of icons?
2) What about arrows on the scroll bar ends? You can do scroll bars without them now, but back in 1995, many people were new to computers and needed the clue as to what that strip at the right of the window did.
3) In a file manager list, how are you going to distinguish between a directory and a file? In DOS, they were distinguished with a column with either

  • or blank. In what way is the icon of a folder worse than
    • ?
      4) What about a Win 95 choice field? What how would you indicate it opens up to give a selection without the down arrow icon?

Re:Aha (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163214)

Ah, screwed formatting by using angle brackets. Can't be bothered redoing it.

Re:Aha (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162452)

Yes, you are the only one in the world who has hated every choice Apple has made with their GUI. :)

I've disliked a lot of their choices over the decades, and I've got a BFA in design that supposedly means my criticisms have some validity. But Apple has gotten right far more than they've gotten wrong. For example, the rounded rectangle, which was the shape of the screen image in Finder 1.0, and available to programmers as a standard shape in its graphics routines (along with line, circle, and square), and which remains the standard shape of every window in OS X, every app icon in iOS, and nearly every Apple device... was a perfect cornerstone of design: tidy and clean without feeling mechanical.

So not everybody who did well dropped out... (4, Insightful)

fantomas (94850) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161310)

So not everybody who did well dropped out: a PhD in art history as well as a maker (her PhD thesis title "A study of the use of caricature in selected sculptures of Honore Daumier and Claes Oldenburg").

Nice to know it's possible to balance the two, it will make some of my PhD student friends very happy indeed :-)

wrong (2, Informative)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161312)

Shortly thereafter, Xerox doomed its chances to own the icon-driven future by pouring its resources into the Xerox Star, a product aimed strictly at the corporate market. Each Star purchase required an initial $75,000 installation and a network of external file servers, plus another $16,000 for each additional workstation (twice the price of a new car at the time). A digital revolution for the masses, it wasn’t.

No, Xerox didn't "doom the future", they just started with an expensive first product and then were driving the cost down. Apple saw this and started cloning it. Their first attempt also cost about $10000 per workstation. Then Apple cut a lot of corners and drove the price down further to about $2500 (about $5000 in today's dollars). Corner cutting involved getting rid of pretty much all the software infrastructure of the Xerox devices, stripping them down to a mere shell, a shell that looked nice but was hell to program.

Re:wrong (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161728)

Re "cloning" - Xerox got to buy pre-IPO stock for Apples engineer visits.

Re:wrong (3, Informative)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162140)

getting rid of pretty much all the software infrastructure of the Xerox devices, stripping them down to a mere shell

Yeah, right. "Stripping". By adding things like pull down menus and drag and drop. Things that didn't exist on the Xerox system. Things that didn't exist at all till Apple invented them.

Re:wrong (2)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162528)

Bullshit. Pulldown menus existed in many software products. What Apple 'invented' was a crippled little box with a collection of applets in it and no third party software for a year or so. The Mac 128 was a joke machine.

Re:wrong (3, Informative)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162834)

Bullshit. Pulldown menus existed in many software products.

Name a single one that preceded the Lisa. You can't because Apple did indeed invent the pull down menu.

Wikipedia even mentions it. Though they erroneously call them drop-down menus (which was a Microsoft variant) rather than pull down menus as Apple called them.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_graphical_user_interface [wikipedia.org]

I recognise your user name as someone who is very often wrong. I suggest you should do a little research before posting in future.

Re:wrong (1)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163066)

Lots of systems, including Xerox had things that were functionally identical to pull-down menus and graphically very similar. Furthermore, the idea of putting a menu bar at the top of the screen existed in several non-Apple software products. So, what you call "pull down menus" was a minor graphical variation on existing practice at the time.

It also ended up not catching on. Most systems ended up with menu buttons at the top of windows, not the screen. Even NeXT went back to copying Smalltalk's menu system for a while. On current Macs, the menu bar at the top is a usability problem and an anachronism.

Re:wrong (3, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163194)

Again, neither Xerox nor anyone else had pull-down menus nor anything like it. Xerox used buttons for commands. Either physical buttons on the custom keyboard, or screen buttons rather like a text button version of a modern day toolbar. Nothing like pull-down menus.

So, what you call "pull down menus" was a minor graphical variation on existing practice at the time.

There's nothing minor about it. The two dimensional menus within a menu concept was novel, new and is a central ingredient of most GUI OSs to this day.

Whether or not it's attached to the screen or the app window *IS* a minor variation, yet that's something you bring up in the hope of changing this from a discussion of fact, to one of preference.

Re:wrong (0)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163268)

Again, neither Xerox nor anyone else had pull-down menus nor anything like it.

Many systems had a global hierarchical menu, some put them at the top, some used vertically stacked buttons, some used a menu button. Apple's choice was a minor variation of these systems,

Whether or not it's attached to the screen or the app window *IS* a minor variation, yet that's something you bring up in the hope of changing this from a discussion of fact, to one of preference.

Yeah, you're just the typical Apple fanboy trying to rewrite history.

Re:wrong (3, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163580)

Many systems had a global hierarchical menu, some put them at the top, some used vertically stacked buttons, some used a menu button. Apple's choice was a minor variation of these systems,

I've asked for a specific example. The only one you've given is Xerox, and you're wrong on that. Give it up.

Yeah, you're just the typical Apple fanboy trying to rewrite history.

On the contrary. I've given the history. I've linked to Wikipedia to prove it. You're the one who's denying history, without a scrap of anything to back you up. And the reason you're doing it is you hate Apple. Grow up.

Re:wrong (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163140)

looked nice but was hell to program

Actually, it wasn't hell to program. By the standards of the day, it was really not bad. Its built-in toolbox managed many chores for you - want a window, one line and you got one. Compared to today it looks quite low level, but at that time it was very high level. The first app I wrote for Mac (other than "hello world") was a full multi-windowed, menu and event driven affair that responded in real time to emergency radio transmissions. There was no way I could have done it if I had nothing but assembler and no toolbox. My main gripe at the time was the small screen and lack of colour, but that was fixed within a year.

The limited memory, lack of multi-tasking and all the rest of it that people think were a major headache were simply not a problem AT THE TIME. It was only later that people wanted and needed more.

Re:wrong (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163168)

I should also mention that programming in pascal, something that also perhaps seems strange from todays point of view, was also a remarkably pleasant experience, coming from a background in bASIC and embedded assemblers of various flavours. Borland Turbo Pascal for the Mac was, in 1985-6, a very nice and fast environment.

Re:wrong (0)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163192)

Actually, it wasn't hell to program. By the standards of the day, it was really not bad.

When the Mac came out, Smalltalk-80 had been out for several years. Xerox Star had InterPress and object embedding. AmigaOS was right around the corner. LISP had CLIM. On Linux and UNIX workstations, you could get X10. On other platforms, there were high level languages, dynamic object systems, GUI designers, graphical debuggers, and IDEs.

Yes, even by the standards of the day, MacOS was a piece of shit.

Re:wrong (4, Informative)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163286)

No. You cannot compare it with anything that "was just around the corner" - it didn't exist yet. I don't recall AmigaOS being much ahead of the Mac (not "Mac OS", it wasn't called an OS for another 10 years), though it did have some nice features and eventually, some nice tools. Apart from Smalltalk, on which you might have a point, none of those other things would have been usable on a 68000 processor. It's questionable whether any sort of OOP runtime could have run on it. You could argue that the CPU was too small for the job, but the software was well tailored to the architecture they chose, for better or worse. The point is, it was a very productive way to program for a while. I'm not saying it was anywhere near perfect, but calling it a piece of shit is to judge it by the standards of today, not 1984.

that bitch! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161344)

so she's the reason computers don't make any sense and just have these stupid and non-depictive pictures everywhere?

Plato was the inspiration (5, Informative)

dak664 (1992350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161358)

The Plato IV protoypes used a plasma panel with touch screen in the late '60s, and had downloadable characters you could point to to activate different functions. Not a far reach to make those program and folder icons.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PLATO_(computer_system) [wikipedia.org]

Ugh, theodp non-sequitur (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161378)

I actually agree with the sentiment, but really? Did this article need that?

Do you realize who this is? (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161440)

Susan Kare is very well known in the visual design world. She is the world's leading icon designer. Not only did she do the icons for the Mac, she did some of the icons for Windows. And Autodesk products. And PayPal. And Facebook.

(If the Linux crowd had someone that good, Linux on the desktop would probably be a success by now.)

Re:Do you realize who this is? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161520)

She did the icons for Nautilus too.

Re:Do you realize who this is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161824)

Yes, this is mentioned in TFA.

Re:Do you realize who this is? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161876)

Have you seen the Faenza icon set?

Re:Do you realize who this is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161900)

(If the Linux crowd had someone that good, Linux on the desktop would probably be a success by now.)

Even if she decided to contribute, would project managers be willing to listen to her? Given that the usability of Linux on the desktop is actually devolving (cf. KDE 4 and Gnome 3), I don't think this would be the case.

Re:Do you realize who this is? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161916)

I've never understood the appeal of icons. I go out of my way to get rid of them on my desktop. I mean, what's the point? As soon as you open a window, they're hidden behind it. If you keep them in a toolbar or a dock instead and you make 'em they stay on top of application windows, now they interfere with the operation of those apps instead. Moreover, the pictures are too small to contain readable text, and if you want to know what an icon does, you have to hover until the tooltip appears. And that's usually cryptic too.

I can see how icons are an art major's wet dream, but for real work I don't see any point in having them.

Re:Do you realize who this is? (5, Insightful)

brantondaveperson (1023687) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162136)

You know your mouse pointer? You know, the one that changes to indicate what actions are available depending on what you're pointing at? They're icons too. Icons also take up significantly less space in a toolbar than text, and are much faster for the human eye to recognise. The world of icons is not restricted to what litters your desktop.

Also real work does not always == coding. Icons indicating which tool you have selected in photoshop (for instance) are most definitely used for 'real work'.

Re:Do you realize who this is? (2)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162640)

You know your mouse pointer? You know, the one that changes to indicate what actions are available depending on what you're pointing at? They're icons too. Icons also take up significantly less space in a toolbar than text, and are much faster for the human eye to recognise. The world of icons is not restricted to what litters your desktop.

It's interesting you should mention that. Are icons really faster than text to recognize? I doubt it. Humans are trained to read text from the time we start school, and we're really good at it for most of us.

In fact, I have no problem claiming we're better at it than recognizing icons. Here's an experiment for you to test this: Go to a Chinese takeaway (maybe not your regular one), and look at the menu. Read the words in English and on a blank piece of paper write down the dishes you remember. Now read the chinese characters, and on a blank piece of paper write down the ideograms you remember, and also the dishes they're associated with. I bet you do much better with the english text than with the chinese icons.

So what's the point of this experiment? Obviously we're more used to text than icons in the western world, so why insist on using icons in computing instead of text? We should play up to our strengths, not go out of our way to makes things more difficult.

Also real work does not always == coding. Icons indicating which tool you have selected in photoshop (for instance) are most definitely used for 'real work'.

And as far as a palette or a ribbon of icons for choosing actions in an app like photoshop or word is concerned, let's review the facts where speed really matters: gaming. Do you see a lot of gamers who like to click on large palettes of dozens of icons during their games, or do they generally prefer pressing buttons on the keyboard to change functions when they need it? Gamers care about speed a lot more than photoshop users do, so if your point had merit, why do games continue to emphasize keyboard interfaces?

I think icons sell computers, because they're novel and they look good in showrooms and adverts, and I suspect that's their main function in IT. It's an important function to be sure, since money's involved, but it's just marketing. Except for a few specialized applications, icons don't seem to *functionally* improve on text IMHO.

Re:Do you realize who this is? (1)

chilvence (1210312) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162884)

So what's the point of this experiment?

To prove that you cant read chinese?

I've been studying chinese glyphs in my spare time - even at a low level of experience, trust me, once their meaning is set in your head, they practically jump off the page. They are an example of a very abstract way of 'iconising' words though, not at all straightforward to learn. If chinese glyphs went back to being true to life, rather than extremely stylised and idiosyncratic, then we would see some intresting spread of chinese...

Re:Do you realize who this is? (0)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162954)

No, the point is that the vast majority of computer users have more difficulty with icons than text, just as the vast majority of Chinese take-away customers in America have more difficulty with Chinese symbols than with English text equivalents.

You're like the guy who trains himself to recognize hundreds of icons at top speed, and then claims if he can do that, then icons must be superior to text for everybody.

Re:Do you realize who this is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38163262)

No, the point is that the vast majority of computer users have more difficulty with icons than text,

That's funny. I thought the point that you were making was that poorly designed icons weren't very effective.

Re:Do you realize who this is? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163424)

This is a subthread about the claim that icons are faster to process than text. It's not my main argument.

Re:Do you realize who this is? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162176)

Your complaints only apply to badly designed icons. ...other than your complaint about icons on the desktop. I'd agree that they are a waste of time.

Re:Do you realize who this is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161928)

If the Linux crowd had someone that good, Linux on the desktop would probably be a success by now.

The Linux desktop's main problem isn't a lack of good icons and themes. That's the least of it's problems.

At the end of the day... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161442)

...the prices that Apple charge represent a self-imposed fine on stupidity. Who'd have thought that the technological equivalent of a designer handbag would take over slashdot! I'll look back in ten years if you're still around.

Do not forget Xerox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161600)

Let us not forget the early pioneers at Xerox: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_graphical_user_interface

Icons are a waste of time (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161650)

What purpose do they serve? Anybody using a computer here, who can't READ?

Icons clutter up your desktop and makes things MORE difficult to find. Unless you can't read, in which case, you probably can't use the program that the application refers to.

What's wrong with an alphabetical list of your programs? Too easy? Look at the ludicrous picture of icons in the article - spread all over the entire screen for something like 20 programs (I didn't count exactly), for what? Do you know what all your icons represent, without the text there to help you? The only place icons are useful is in the taskbar (but this could easily be replaced by a popup list of the program names...) and in toolbars (ditto, replaced with command names).

Re:Icons are a waste of time (0)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161700)

Do you know what all your icons represent, without the text there to help you?

Or, to put it another way, if your icon is incomprehensible without a tooltip or title, You're Doing It Wrong.

Now, maybe once you've learned that, for example, the small image of the man with his head up his ass represents "send message to upper management", it's easier to find the picture on the toolbar than to find the text on the toolbar if that's the function you're looking for. If that's the case, it'd be a small irony, as it'd be "text for the newbies, icons for the power users...".

Re:Icons are a waste of time (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161842)

Icons are faster than text if they are designed well.
Furthermore you do not need to translate them into other languages "when they have established themselves".
However, this is pretty hard. Look at traffic signes. There are only a few basic shapes and those are again accustomed by text. (Triangle, sitting on a corner, triangle sitting on an edge, octagon, square sitting on a corner, smaller rectangles with text for ranges or durations)
However if icons are more or less randomly created by programmers they most of the time make no sense at all. E.g. why does the "printer icon" on a windows toolbar behave different than the "File - Print ..." menu item? Who does still know what a disk is (as the disk symbol in save)? I usually use keyboard short cuts and/or menues only. If you can disable the toolbar I do so. The only toolbar I occasionally use us the Eclispe Run/Debug/Run External Tool ...

Unfortunately user interfaces become badder and worse from year to year. Just as if Susan Kare and Razkin et al. never existed.

Sure, iOs and Android is "nicer" but how long did you need to figure that the "sliders" on iOs to switch stuff on or off are no sliders but fancy looking radio buttons (or check boxes even). In other words: you can not slide them from off to on and vice versa, you have to click/touch them. Even worth: by looking at one you can not judge if it is in the on or off state. At least I mix them up all the time. Thinking an option is off (because it shows the neat little "o" to the left, and the slider is moved to the right) but in fact it is on (the little "o" is ment to indicate to move the slider to the left to switch it off. But that slider is no slider, ARRRRRRG!!!!)

Re:Icons are a waste of time (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161940)

Sure, iOs and Android is "nicer" but how long did you need to figure that the "sliders" on iOs to switch stuff on or off are no sliders but fancy looking radio buttons (or check boxes even). In other words: you can not slide them from off to on and vice versa, you have to click/touch them. Even worth: by looking at one you can not judge if it is in the on or off state. At least I mix them up all the time. Thinking an option is off (because it shows the neat little "o" to the left, and the slider is moved to the right) but in fact it is on (the little "o" is ment to indicate to move the slider to the left to switch it off. But that slider is no slider, ARRRRRRG!!!!)

I don't know about you, but iOS has always put "On" and "Off" in the little toggles. They're done that way for two reasons. First, it's a larger surface to tap on (checkboxes can be painfully small). Second, its state is readable at a glance.

I believe iOS also puts the "off" in a dimmed-grey while "on" is white-on-blue, making it more obvious what it means ("current state" rather than "this will be its new state when you tap me").

So there's two clues, and it only took me a few seconds to figure it out. iOS 5 improved its readability even more by making the flipping part smaller so there's more space for "On" and "Off".

I'm guessing you're complaining about Android, since the iOS toggle buttons can be tapped OR swiped since the beginning. In which case I can't really help you on that. (iOS has always said "On and Off" and never "o").

Re:Icons are a waste of time (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162490)

Sorry, my GFs iPhones toggles can not be swiped, they only can be touched. No idea why. As they clearly look as to be ment to be swiped I was pretty confused.
Also unlike the english version (someone linked some photos) the german version only shows an "I" and on "O".
So after trying to switch off some configurations and feeling pretty stupid not to be able to do so, I can affirm you the usage is not "intuitive" or "stringent" or in anyway sensible.
(You know, the "other" colour you only can see when you successfully switch to it ;D)

Re:Icons are a waste of time (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162258)

Re:Icons are a waste of time (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162446)

Well, on my GFs IPhone you can not slide the "switches".
Linking a page with over hundred iPhone images is no help either ;D

Re:Icons are a waste of time (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162992)

Linking a page with over hundred iPhone images is no help either ;D

It serves very well to show that the switch you described is not and has never existed on iOS.

Well, on my GFs IPhone you can not slide the "switches".

Given that real iPhone switches neither look nor work how you're describing, Clearly it's not an iPhone. Do you even have a GF?

Re:Icons are a waste of time (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163430)

Other languages use 1/0 for on/off in ios. Can't confirm slide vs tap behavior though, but my sister-in-law's phone did seem a little different In operation than an English iPhone.

Re:Icons are a waste of time (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163578)

Well, on my GFs IPhone you can not slide the "switches".

You sure it's an iPhone? I hear the Samsung Galaxy Android phones with TouchWiz look a LOT like an iPhone. I wouldn't be surprised if they copied that bit of the UI as well. (Gripe #1 - Google spent a LOT of time ensuring nothing in Android looked even remotely like the iPhone, and Samsung goes and throws it all away with their TouchWiz crap. It's not even a good imitation.)

Or is it one specific app? There's also a few web pages for iPhone that attempt to replicate the UI and do things like that. Then again, I suppose maybe it's a crappy theme applied to a jailbroken phone?

Re:Icons are a waste of time (3, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162374)

You simply don't know what the hell you're talking about. The normal human brain is very good a visual recognition of objects, and can find a familiar, distinctive icon for a program such as iTunes more quickly than it can find the word "iTunes". We recognize a red, hexagonal sign more quickly than we would recognize a white rectangle with black letters that read "stop". I'm sorry if the peculiarities of your brain development don't handle this properly, but don't begrudge the rest of us a UI that takes advantage of this.

Re:Icons are a waste of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38162412)

I work in a multi-lingual office. English is the official language, but all the people that work for me speak French as their primary language. About the _only_ way I can navigate around in their Win7 desktops is by looking at the icons.

Computing could use... (-1, Troll)

YouDieAtTheEnd (2471718) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162148)

a lot less artists, designers, MBAs, market analysts, advertising execs, outsourced manufacturers, and tin-pot CEOs.

Re:Computing could use... (0)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162324)

And the world could use fewer assholes. You're welcome to leave now.

History has the answers (2)

Man Eating Duck (534479) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162302)

So, could computing could use a few more artists, and a few less MBAs?

This is easy:

If you want to give people a system that works for every Joe Sixpack and is shiny and easy to use, but costs more: Hire lots of artists and designers, use a proven bulletproof backend, and keep a few brilliant devs on hand. Easy interoperability between your company's devices is king.

If you want to earn lots of money: Hire as many MBAs as you can get your hands on, put at least one of them in charge of each of your dev teams, and have an already established majority market share. Features before security and bugfixing is king.

If you want to provide the best system available, but the user might have to work for it: Who needs designers and artists? Upload the source code of your OS to an ftp server and let crowdsourcing do the rest. RTFM is... not "king", who gives a shit anyway, but RTFM is the only way to reach 1337-ness.

More BFAs (forget the MBAs) (3, Interesting)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162504)

As someone with a BS in Computer Science and a BFA in Digital Media and Illustration, I'd certainly like to have more of the latter working in computing. Visual trainwrecks like the Windows XP Fisher-Price theme, usability disasters like Microsoft's game of "Where's The Button (and Menu)?" in every software upgrade in the last decade, and the less said about the uncanny valley that gaming has gotten lost in the better... sometimes make me want to quit tech and become an oil painter.

Re:More BFAs (forget the MBAs) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38162668)

Maybe you should be an oil painter. With all those letters after your name on your resume why didn't you design the Windows XP theme? Where you too busy complaining on Slashdot? I find Microsoft's buttons and menus incredibly easy to find and rather intuitive as do millions of other users who are not Linux fanatics and Mac fanboys. You should go back to school and get your money back.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>