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Who is this, by the way?
But based on this post though, it sounds like your schema for user interface design is kind of backward. Assuming I understood you correctly (which I'm admittedly not confident about), you were attacking the field for trying to tell people how to use things. The reason I say that's backward is because a user interface designer will make suggestions based on the different ways users are using the product, as opposed to just jumping to designing and then dictating. User experience design is all about enabling people and optimizing their experience. With respect, any notion of user experience design as something that hampers people or doesn't evaluate how users operate is simply inaccurate.
But again, I worry that I've misunderstood you. It hasn't "clicked" yet for me, so for all I know, we might be saying the exact same thing in different words. But I don't know. You tell me. :P
First of all, the pressue we're talking about is definitely internal. It's psychological. Instead of blaming and cursing modern technology, we should realize that we don't have to let other people "make" us feel pressure, and that we can be in control of ourselves and learn to use and enjoy technology in a psychologically healthy, happy way.
Next, you say that you think we're talking about the same kind of profound satisfaction. It sounded to me more like you were talkin gabout the satisfaction of finally grasping the fruits of technology that are on branches so high that they're out of most people's reach, whereas I was talking about the satisfaction I feel when I hold the branch down so that everybody is able to enjoy those fruits. Both are valid and respectable, but I don't feel like the kind you were talking about should be the only one. That's all.
After that, you said "Exactly" in response to me saying that if you and the Gentoo devs had your way, very few people would be able to use technology. Ya got me. I lol'd. Thanks for that. XD
Back to serious business though! Your next point relies on an incorrect interpretation of something I said. When I wrote that the harder a computer is to use, the more of an obstacle it is to accomplishing things with them, you seem to have confused that for an assertion that abstraction equals ease. I certainly agree that's not true, and never suggested otherwise.
Alas, the idea of "abstraction" is something we should stop for a moment to talk about. I've noticed that computer programmers have a have a habit of forgetting that command-line interfaces are abstractions too. Since they (correctly) see mouse-clicks as triggering the exectuion of lines of code, they feel like graphic user interfaces are more abstract. To the human mind though, it's much less abstract to do things with a graphic user interfaces. For instance, it's much more natural for our minds to "move" a file by "grabbing" and then "dragging" it to where we want it to go.
Before you even say it, don't worry! I definitely agree that there are a lot of cases where it's more efficient to enter a command than use a GUI. And hopefully you'll also breathe easier when you read that I don't think we should get rid of these advanced techniques just because they're less intuitive to our human minds.
That leads to another whole area that's worth talking about. You've probably noticed that right now, a lot of designers have a phiosophy that everything should be as simple as possible and that the way to achieve this is by removing things that are difficult or complicated. I think this is lazy. A good designer won't disable features, but instead, will find a creative way to keep the features while solving the difficulty problems. This way, power users aren't arbitrarily disabled, and Average Joe can get the most out of the tool too. It's harder for the designers to go this road, but that's the design philosophy I practice.
Lastly, you agreed that there was something good to be said about the increased usability in sites like Wikipedia, but said that the upsides came at a price, and extrapolated with a few examples. I'll address the two examples that aren't already covered by the paragraph about pressure: the displeasure at finding out about your brother's wedding via Facebook, and the fear of plans for kids to learn from software instead of teachers.
I agree that finding out about your brother's wedding via Facebook seems a bit impersonal, but that's not Facebook's fault anymore than it would have been the telephone's fault if he had decided to call, the answering machine's fault if he'd left a message, or the sticky-pad's fault if he'd used one of those.
I urge you to reconsider your negative view of learning software though. I agree that teachers are generally preferable to software, but remember that in much of the world, knowledgable teachers just aren't available. I totally support travelling teacher organizations, but they don't fill the gap. Learning software doesn't completely solve the problem either obviously, but it's been a huge boon for a lot of communities, and they're definitely making it so that the next generation will have more teachers and other improved socioeconomic conditions. That's why I think learning program developers should be commended.
If we keep this conversation going, let's try to shorten our posts, okay? I suffered from an episode of lose-everything-and-rewrite-it for this post, heh.
I don't follow your complaint that it's not "fair" to debate what the use case of a computer should be. My belief is that if people want to use a system that intentionally eschews user-friendliness, then that's fine, but this shouldn't be forced upon people, and furthermore, I believe that there's something wonderful about making all the benefits of modern technology accessible to everybody. Could you rephrase or explain your disagreement for me, please?