SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: POWERPOINT IS 99% BAD was Re: [Sigia
Re: POWERPOINT IS 99% BAD was Re: [Sigia-l] Macromedia and Jakob Nielsen team up ?
From: Lane Becker (lane_at_monstro.com)
Date: Mon Jun 10 2002 - 15:10:19 EDT
Alas, I disagree mightily. Nielsen is the worst thing that could possibly
happen to Macromedia and Flash, at least at the product level.
While it's a big marketing ploy for Macromedia, certainly, and I admire them
for that -- full props for pulling off this PR coup, Ms. Or Mr. Senior VP of
Marketing -- if they actually pay attention to Jakob's pronouncements and
bake them in at the software level, they're screwed.
See, I think Nielsen's approach to usability has no appreciation or respect
for the value of intelligent, creative, and *beautiful* design (if you don't
know what I'm talking about by "beautiful" here, spend some time with a
smart graphic designer or at least pick up a copy of "The Non-Designer's
Design Book"), and I truly believe that the Web, with or without Flash, has
the ability to deliver an experience that can best balance utility with
beauty. In fact, I think it may be the ideal platform for doing so, since
the Web is an intimately communicative medium, one that requires on the one
hand simplicity, clarity, and utility -- because at the individual computer
level it's so very one-to-one -- and yet also encourages experimentation and
cleverness -- because each browser page is basically just a blank slate on
which you can do pretty much anything you want.
Flash, like the Web, is a platform that allows -- indeed, encourages and
requires -- much, much badness. Bad design, ugly design, unusable design,
maddeningly incoherent design. Along with giving many of the folks on this
list a paying gig and a reason to get up in the morning, this design
platform we all work on is all about trial and error, and Flash just takes
this to the next level. You can do really stupid, stupid things in Flash,
things that waste my time and what little energy I expended getting to that
particular Web page. And somewhere in the middle of all that, the same
design freedom that allows so many bad Flash Web sites to roam free also
results in some really impressive design work, both usefully beautiful on
the one hand ( http://praystation.com/ ) and beautifully useful (
http://reservations.broadmoor.com/ ) on the other.
If Jakob somehow manages to convince Macromedia to constrain the
possibilities inherent in Flash by building his brand of "usability" into
this design tool, odds are that his willingness to constrain will inevitably
end up constraining a lot of good, smart, innovative design as well. If I
were a Flash God, I'd be pretty worried right about now. Unless it turns
out to just be a marketing ploy (All sound and fury, in which case who
cares? Powerpoint is 99% bad and Peter deserves all the fat wallet he can
bank by saying that), Jakob's "one true way" is going to make the Web less
interesting for everybody.
Nothing I'm saying here hasn't been said before, and better, by others --
see http://www.shirky.com/writings/nielsen.html. It's just sad to see that
folks on the list ca'tn seem to get past the whole idea that Flash must be a
bad tool because the people who use it aren't using it *right* -- and get
excited when they learn that Macromedia might start building a product that
stops all those people from trying to do things all wrong. It's the
opposite of the attitude that we need to have if we're going to be
successful as designers of any stripe, because you can't "fix" something
unless you understand why it went "wrong" in the first place.
(Follow-up: I just read the "addendum" Jakob added to his article, after
Christina pointed to it, where he says that his goal is not to change the
software, but instead the people *using* the software. That, of course,
makes me feel MUCH better.)
Partner, Adaptive Path, User Experience Design
// New site: http://adaptivepath.com/
// With essays: http://adaptivepath.com/publications/essays/
// And we're going on tour: http://adaptivepath.com/events/
On 6/10/02 11:00 AM, "Anne Hjortshoj" <anne_at_optical.mindstorm.com> wrote:
> Well, if your opinions on PowerPoint had the power to affect sales,
> Microsoft would be well advised to (a) listen to them and (b) make an
> effort to get you to stop badmouthing their product. The nice way to do
> both would be to form an alliance where both of you would benefit, a la
> Nielsen and Macromedia.
> I'm not sure where the "impropriety" is in this alliance, by the way,
> unless people are assuming that Macromedia will not respond to Nielsen's
> suggestions, and will simply pay him to not write about Flash anymore.
> Macromedia has a very strong incentive to address Nielsen's concerns.
> Here's hoping that it turns out to be a constructive alliance.
> On Mon, 10 Jun 2002, Peter Merholz wrote:
>> Dear SIGIA-Ellers,
>> I'm hear to write to you that PowerPoint, Microsoft's industry-leading tool
>> for corporate presentations, is 99% bad. It encourages laziness,
>> incompleteness, time-wasting, and a lack of depth.
>> I now await Microsoft's offer of many thousands of dollars to have me
>> "consult" on how to improve PowerPoint.
>> Thank you,
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Christopher Fahey [askrom]" <askROM_at_graphpaper.com>
>> To: "'sigia-l'" <sigia-l_at_asis.org>
>> Sent: Monday, June 10, 2002 9:49 AM
>> Subject: [Sigia-l] Macromedia and Jakob Nielsen team up ?
>>> How much do you think Macromedia was willing to pay to silence Jakob
>>> Nielsen's anti-Flash tirades? We may never know, but I wonder how much
>>> loot NNG makes from deals like this:
>>> While deals like this make me question the ethics of the whole usability
>>> consulting industry (there is *no* direct evidence of impropriety, but
>>> it's absurdly easy to imagine that this relationship is just mutual
>>> backscratching), I can't hep but be glad - perhaps this relationship
>>> will benefit us all in the end: First, Nielsen might stop his
>>> under-informed and over-influential bashing of Flash. Second, Nielsen
>>> may actually help macromedia improve the usability of their products.
>>> [christopher eli fahey]
>>> art: http://www.graphpaper.com
>>> sci: http://www.askrom.com
>>> biz: http://www.behaviordesign.com
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