Thursday, September 8, 2011

The easy and the difficult

This observation has been running through my head for several days:

What a technology makes easy to do will get done; what it hides, or makes difficult, may very well not get done.

Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things (New York: Basic Books, 2002). Originally published as The Psychology of Everyday Things (1988).
A word-processing app makes it easy to play with fonts and margins and spacing but more difficult to see a document as a whole so as to make useful revisions. Apple’s iTunes makes buying music easier than ever, but learning something about that music is not nearly as easy. I’m happy to have a files-only version of The Incomparable Ethel Waters (a 2003 CD, out of print). But when were these seventeen tracks recorded? Who’s playing on them? Who knows.

A related post
Don Norman on Google’s users

comments: 3

Pete said...

I hear you, on both counts. I can only do heavy editing to my manuscripts on a hardcopy printouts, and though I like the convenience of buying albums on iTunes, I really miss the liner notes. I just bought a Vulgar Boatmen album that was released in Europe in 1995 but never in the U.S., and have no way of figuring out the credits.

cz said...


Michael Leddy said...

Pete, my wife points out that some companies keep liner-note info online. That seems to be the case with classical music. But even then, as companies fold and rights change hands, the survival of such info seems in danger.

Thanks for the links, cz, but neither one offers the discographical info I crave.