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Re: "Do What I Mean" - a suggestion for improving

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg97193] Re: "Do What I Mean" - a suggestion for improving
  • From: Bill Rowe <readnews at sbcglobal.net>
  • Date: Sat, 7 Mar 2009 02:42:02 -0500 (EST)

On 3/6/09 at 4:24 AM, siegman at stanford.edu (AES) wrote:

>In article <goo7l7$shc$1 at smc.vnet.net>,
>Bill Rowe <readnews at sbcglobal.net> wrote:

>>I do not think it is even a good idea to attempt to make
>>Mathematica accessible to users with minimal computer/mathematics
>>experience/knowledge assuming this is even possible.

>I guess we'll just have to disagree -- vehemently! -- on this one
>(and also with great sadness on my part, if this should represent
>Wolfram's anything like Wolfram's actual views or objectives).

<snip>

>Besides the "chaotically differing" phraseology, it's the final two
>sentences that catch my eye.  Should Mathematica interface designers
>maybe be reminded that

>"it's the _usability_ of software, not just its _usefulness_, that's
>a critical component of software interface design"

>and even better

>"Simplicity, consistency, and rationality of software features **
>and the `human interface' that allows users to invoke them ** should
>be a high priority for software designers as they work toward the
>integrated services networks -- sorry, integrated software packages
>-- of the future."

I would expect Wolfram does strive to make Mathematica usable,
as simple as possible, consistent and rational. But this is no
way contradicts my expectation Mathematica is not designed to be
usable by users with limited experience with mathematics and
computers. Nor do I see an effort to make Mathematica usable as
equivalent to hiding important aspects of a computation from the user.

The difference in point of view I am expressing is not whether
Wolfram should improve Mathematica from a usability standpoint.
Instead it is a difference in opinion as to who the target
audience is. I don't believe the point of Mathematica is to
teach mathematics although Mathematica might be used as part of
a program designed to teach mathematics. Nor do I believe
Mathematica is designed to teach users how to use a computer or
do numerical analysis.

The point I am trying to get across is Mathematica is a very
rich and powerful toolset. Effective use of the power
Mathematica offers requires significant time and effort on the
part of the user to become proficient. All of the software
systems I've found compete with some aspect of Mathematica but
require significantly less time/effort to master are also
significantly less capable than Mathematica.




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