Re: Nautilus 2.6 - We're going all spatial

Nitpicky term definition:
Conceptual model is the understanding a person developers of how
something works. Design model is what designers *intend* people to pick
up as their conceptual model. In reality, people's conceptual model
differs from the design model.

On Mon, 2003-09-15 at 22:14, Ettore Perazzoli wrote:
> On Mon, 2003-09-15 at 23:58, Seth Nickell wrote:
> > Using a navigation ("browser") model means:
> > 
> > 1) People will not understand Nautilus as well and will instead rely on
> > memorized scripts for accomplishing tasks
> You are claiming that most Mac users and Windows users don't understand
> the conceptual model behind their file manager?

Yes. I suspect that this is the core of our disagreement: you do not
believe that people have trouble using existing software. I believe they
get by, but could be doing much better.

Most Windows users have not developed a useful conceptual model of their
file managers. Many more Mac users have. I have observed a big
difference between how much Mac users use their "filesystem" and how
much Windows users do. I haven't had the opportunity to observe lots of
naive MacOS/X users (several, but not enough to substantive draw
conclusions), so I will be interested to see how things work out there.

 - Most Windows users do not open files from their file manager but use
 - Many Windows users will get very confused if the location that
File->Open goes to is not the default. They have learned to use the list
from File->Open to double click on the name they want, not the idea of
browsing around the file tree. They simply know jack-shit about actually
using the file browser.

 People are very good at working around things they don't understand and
finding other ways to do it, or if worst comes to worse developing (by
trial and error, or by observing somebody else) a script (in the cog
psych sense, not a shell script) that accomplishes the task they need.
Learning to use File->Open list to compensate for a shaky conceptual
model of the file browser is a good example of this.

Of the people who do get the design model behind the Windows file
browser, many of these people are not comfortable enough with them to
use the file browser freely. If they have to, they can manage, but its a
task that takes thinking and work. There's not some binary on/off switch
between "can do" and "can't do". Things can be harder for people without
being impossible. You see this all the time in user testing because you
are asking ("ordering" in some sense, there's a lot of social pressure
to not look stupid and do it right which we try to alleviate but you
can't make go away). People will be extremely frustrated. Ordinarily
they would simply give up and not do the task. But if you push them,
they'll actually do the right thing. They simply aren't sure enough of
their conceptual model to act on it unless they really have to.
Otherwise, they'll avoid (people are great at avoiding).

> > Spatial model (more typically called object model unless you are an Ars
> > Technica writer ;-) says "here is an object". Navigation model is more
> > precisely called a mediated navigation model (the "mediated" part being
> > the crux of the problem) and forces you to add "here is a viewer, it
> > lets you visualize an underlying set of objects in different ways". This
> > adds a layer of indirection to a commonly used piece of the desktop.
> Well, the viewer model is common to 99% of the applications on the
> desktop.  Picture viewers, word processors, music players, paint
> programs, pretty much everything uses a similar model: you have a frame
> in which you display things, and you can browse through those things.

Yes, those are actually aspects of these programs which are regrettable
and make them harder to use but there aren't really good ways to work
around it. People's models for how things work are... fluid. Particular
cognitive views are applied as necessary (see "view application") to
solve problems. When a model doesn't intersect with a particular task
(especially if the task is common and they're not learning how to do it)
people are quite likely to ignore it (on the other hand, this doesn't
always happen and you can get interference: both in terms of negative
transfer and confusion in the problem solving by applying an invalid
cognitive view).

> If that model is so complicated, how do people manage to use computers
> at all?

People are *capable* of handling some degree abstraction, and it is
necessary in many places. I think perhaps you are imposing "can use",
"can't use" as binary conditions that are too strong. 

> > 2) Many of the people who do understand Nautilus will use it less for
> > simple tasks
> Have you tested this?

User testing is not a particularly good technique for determining this.
It is simply one HCI technique out of many (when its useful its a good
technique because its comparatively easy, cheap, and fast). A long-term
use study would be much more appropriate. Have I conducted a long-term
use study? No.

> > >       * You are actually making the Nautilus model more complicated (not
> > >         simpler) by exposing the user to two completely different kinds
> > >         of windows, for "object" and "navigation" purposes.  This seems
> > >         to defeat the basic premise of making the model easier to learn.
> > 
> > It makes the Nautilus model more complicated for users who choose to
> > work through the navigator.
> Then it would be nice to have at least some proof that those users are a
> minority.  As far as I can see, the overwhelming majority of computer
> users out there very happily uses the navigation model.
> Even better, Windows and Mac used to have an OO model, and both switched
> to a navigation model.  Did they do that just for fun or was it a
> horrible mistake?  (And if so, why aren't they fixing it?)

Windows never had an OO model. "Open in New Window" does not mean OO
model dude. Windows had a totally confused mix between models that was
worse than any single model.

> > >       * If "navigation mode" is only available from the menu bar or a
> > >         right click menu and everything on the desktop opens in "object"
> > >         mode by default, then users who prefer the navigation mode
> > >         (which might even be the majority of them :-)) 
> > 
> > I don't believe its going to be anywhere near a majority (I would expect
> > it to be substantially less than 10%) if you're looking at using GNOME
> > as any sort of corporate desktop. 
> Most corporate desktops out there run Windows, and Explorer uses the
> navigation model.

And most Windows users do not have a particularly good handle on the
windows filebrowser....

> > Furthermore, I believe there's very
> > strong overlap between people who prefer navigation mode and people who
> > don't and won't use Nautilus to a significant extent anyway, preferring
> > the terminal.
> All the Windows users I know (who don't even know what a terminal is)
> happily and proficiently use the navigation model.  Same for the Mac
> users.

MacOS/X uses a still different mechanism. MacOS9 was OO based. "Knowing
what a terminal is" is the test between an extremely advanced user and
an only advanced user.

> > This was probably the largest design trade-off
> > that the web made (for technical reasons, and because the web is a
> > fundamentally different problem from navigating a smaller set of objects
> > that are already in a tree structure). The design flaws (even if
> > necessitated as part of an overall package of tradeoffs they are still
> > flaws) of the web should not serve a pattern to be replicated :-P
> What is the design flaw of the web exactly?  Would you rather have every
> link open in a new window?

Nothing so simple. As I said, design is a series of tradeoffs. Even if a
certain choice was *justified*, this doesn't mean that its not a flaw.
Its a problem that we may have to accept to get the benefits of other
parts of the design. I do not believe you understand what is entailed by
the OO model if you think its "open in new window" as many of your
comments seem to imply.


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