On Jun 6, 2012, at 12:55 AM, Ken Friedman wrote:
> On this list, Terry referred to a silly rant as the basis of a PhD
> thesis. I said then and say now, “Come on!” Terry is widely
> respected as an extraordinarily sharp polymath. I enjoy Terry’s
> iconoclasm and willingness to challenge most conventions. But Terry and
> I differ on how much you can address to engineering and algorithms, and
> I suspect that Terry has been led astray by the style of the Henriquez
> rant. Henriquez seems to believe that everyone ought to do things as he
> does – and he seems to believe that if it works for highly skilled
> techies, it ought to work for the rest of us. This is not my view of
> things. If one is as ill-inzformed on human behavior as Henriquez seems
> to be, I can’t see why we should attend to his rant nor make it the
> starting point of any serious research project.
As much as I enjoy and learn from Terry, I'm not very skilled at separating his speculative style from his deliberate provocations from his deeply held beliefs so I don't know whether he was led astray by Henriquez' style or just using the article as a springboard. While I'm still not clear on what aspects of the whole superstition and ceremony view of human computer interaction has any value, there is something there. (The attitude of the article and the inflammatory and dismissive terminology are obvious dead ends.)
I'd go beyond your description--"Henriquez seems to believe that everyone ought to do things as he does – and he seems to believe that if it works for highly skilled techies, it ought to work for the rest of us." He made superstition into a general "bad" bin where you can dump anything you don't like. Such vague "bad" categories with very specific (but not specifically meant) names are common. Often the categories display social bigotries. For example, twenty years ago among American teens, "That's so gay" was a common dismissal of anything disapproved of (usually with no connection to homosexuality or homosexuals.)
The article used superstition in the same manner. Since we are of the Rational Tribe, anything that pisses me off must be dismissed as "That's so superstitious." No need to show that there is some mystical belief behind continuing to use the software that worked just fine two years ago, not upgrading regularly makes my job harder so it pisses me off. Thus, failure to upgrade is "so superstitious."
The article was a bundle of illogical dismissal of everyone else as illogical. It wouldn't be very fruitful to use it as a model for much of anything. If, however, we look to the core of the claim, there may be something interesting there: How does human computer interaction resemble religious or other ceremonial activity and how could such activity inform human computer interface?
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