[Wikimedia-l] Apparently, Wikipedia is ugly

Mark delirium at hackish.org
Tue Jul 17 01:24:59 UTC 2012

On 7/16/12 7:43 PM, Andreas Kolbe wrote:
> We need to be a lot friendlier to the non-programming public.
I agree that's true, but I'd also be curious how we can do that without 
falling into the trap of the "user-friendly", invisible-interface 
ideology, which does it by assuming users are unable to meaningfully 
control computers, and therefore must be fed the correct results by 
experts who know how to operate computers. That way lies just a 
different version of stratification.

I'm somewhat partial to Jeannette Wing's view that "computational 
thinking" should attempt to decouple minutiae of programming (e.g. 
knowing how to debug C, which can be an expert skill) from the idea of 
being able to critically consider and control computers in the sense of 
executing processes (which needs to be widely available). The idea (as 
Ted Nelson also argued earlier) is to devolve as many tools as possible, 
to whatever extent possible, towards as many people as possible, which 
"user-friendliness" paradoxically doesn't really do (Lori Emerson has 
been pushing this argument, fwiw).

How that precisely should operate on Wikipedia is a tricky question, of 
course. I would personally like to see us better enable the "potentially 
programming public", for one thing, where "programming" is taken in a 
broad sense.


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