Posted by: Carolyn Stewart | October 22, 2008

convenience vs skills

so thoughts as i’m walking around today and again a second ago: i was unlocking the door to hall where my room is and you have to turn it one way and then back up the opp way to unlock (1st) and keep locked (2nd). k so it’s kinda hard though when you have only one hand cuz the other hand can’t hold the handle straight as you turn it back the other way, which it naturally does if you don’t keep it still.

anyway, point is, i’ve gotten good at it b/c of practice and just figuring out the best way/mechanics to do  it. so i guess that could be considered a skill just cuz you have practice it before you can understand how it works with one hand. right so then i thought about how they should change the lock so it’s a different kind that doesn’t make it harder with one hand–but then i thought how then it wouldn’t be as cool that i could do it anyway, you know? 

i think that opens up a bigger discussion about convenience vs skill. i think we should as designers should be concerned with making this world a less confusing/complicated and a better place for people. why shouldn’t things be easier and be thought about so processes aren’t unnecessarily hard. but i guess just an undertone to that is that we don’t wanna dumb people down. or make things so crazily easy that if they were somewhere where it didn’t have the technology, they wouldn’t know how to do it.

kinda like when you claw a cat—good but if they have to go outside/whatever, they’re effed.

example: a girl i was riding with (not a good driver) was used to using her little back up cam on her car but she was using someone else’s and hesitated for a sec b/c she was uncomfortable/not used to using her rear views to back up. also, i’ll never forget what david ringholz said about one of the projects last year with an auto boat docker. he related it to a project for a fire station that was designed by a famed architect and that featured a pull-through (kinda like circle driveway) passage for the trucks so they don’t have to back up. smart, right? i guess it could be wasted time/less efficient b/c of the backing up. however, the building wasn’t a success b/c the firefighters complained that if they went to anotehr station adn tehy weren’t “honed” with the skill of backing up that huge a truck. trade off right?

kinda goes back to things with trends in some sports/etc. simil,iar to the “snob” post i made earilier, but just how when you get really into some sport/interest, you begin to push the limit more and more. ex:

  • bike’s w/o brakes. yeah, it’s a useful mechanism to be able to stop when you’re riding your bike, but there’s a certain respect i guess that comes with people who can not only obviously ride braked bikes, but who can ride non-braked ones almost just as well. shows skill b/c you have to get used to it. 
  • ballet: not using toe pads inside b/c it’s more bad ass to just use your toes to really “feel the floor”
  • not taping up your hands/wearing gloves when you rock climb basic stuff (balance of being prepared but not overly/touristy/noob-like :))
some of those go more into not have protection cuz you’re too cool for it or wanna see/test your limits. but i guess i’m talking about that as well as just having too much technology that actually inhibits us or can if we go outside it. i don’t wanna be too dependent on technology that i couldn’t not have it. i wanna use it and embrace it but only at arms length b/c i have this strange independency with it that i’m still ok and capable with just my own two hands and my mind. tough balance.
cool if products/systems’s main purpose what to challenge and skill their users with things they already have–they’re just catalysts/vehicle for it. like you’re better after using/experiencing it than you were before.

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