Disconnected from Reality

Disconnected from Reality
22 Jul 11

Being an IT technician by day, I get to see a lot of strange and sometimes interesting things. Things that make me think about the computer industry in general. On of these things that has popped up recently is how computer programs and systems are designed. I often worry about those who develop software are completely unaware about how the people who will actually use the software really work.

One example I can think of right away is that a lot of dentists offices will be getting a new computer system in the not too distant future. Depending on how this program is designed and what equipment is present, a lot of dentists could potentially be at risk of contracting back and neck injuries. How so do you ask? They would have to move back and forth between the patient, the information on the computer and the x-ray photos they need in order to do what they must.

I fear that a lot of essential information will go lost when we never truly understand the use scenario of the software. In real life, as it were. We need to see the whole picture, not just the spec sheet.

I’m not questioning the competency of those who actually develop the programs. I’m sure they are quite capable and doing the best they can given the specifications they have been given as a basis for their work. I’m more critical towards the nasty trend of someone who doesn’t really know what happens in real life sitting down, making a list, checking it twice and then sending it off to the lowest bidding developer. That won’t make the best possible situation for anyone in the long run and will most likely result in more money being spent after a while, probably nulling any savings made.

I think Taichi Ohno really saw something very important when he brought the newly graduated employees to the factory floor at Toyota and made them look at how things really worked. It gives you a different view on how things work, compared to what you can gather from just seeing a mass of text. A truer understanding of how things really work. An opportunity to interact with those who will actually be working with the software.

There are many a fine designer out there, quite able to whip up some really beautiful, truly wonderful interfaces and the underlying components that make it work excellently. But if there is no connection to reality, I see nothing more than a facade of incompatibility. Incompatible with how the humans in the process work, think and act. If anything, computers should adapt to us humans, not the other way around.

Another thing I have been wondering about lately is why some people put their desktop computers upside down on the table. Still haven’t found an answer for that one!

Robert Falck

Robert is a freelance tech journalist from Sweden. You can follow his posts here on Bagel Tech and on his site streakmachine.com or you can follow him on twitter @streakmachine.



Robert Falck


Avatar Murray Aulsebrook

Upside down desktops? Here is a thought; which way up are the USB connections at the front? On the Dell box I am shackled to at work they are upside down when compared to the diagram on the top of the connecting device cable. Knowing some of the users I deal with they would probably turn the machine over to match the device cable!

A very interesting thought! I just checked out most of the different models of machines we have out in service right now, and the USB-ports could very well be at least part of the cause. When the computer is in its regular position, lying down, the USB-ports are rather difficult to get to. At least when you compare it to if you put the box upside down.

I would have assumed it would make more sense to stand the computer on its side, like most places have them, but for some people I suppose it’s easier to just turn the whole thing upside down. Perhaps they just didn’t care for the aesthetics of the situation, not that there is whole lot of that going around these boxes…

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