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It’s easy to fall into characterizing certain design aspects, like visual features or fixed structures, as if they cater to human weakness. Even if you’re Esther Dyson, and you know better. Esther says I am weak; give me a little struGture please!. There’s nothing wrong with visualness, nothing wrong with rigid structures. In themselves.

These features leverage capabilities we had before we were born. They are resources for memory, for supporting long running activities, for allowing us to move without thinking about moving. And people are resourceful. (Gotta love Esther’s “delete and browse in trash” move.)

Do you think anybody really means it when she apologizes for her messy office? Here’s a picture of Esther in her office that I’ve used for near ten years [thanks to Stu Card from his early Web foraging.] Certainly she’s not thinking she’s weak.

esther.jpg

She looks perfectly happy in there, she can find recent documents and ten year old documents. She can find authoritative sources, she can find her phone (maybe). My, my, she’s even found a place to rest her bare feet. And Work gets done. Release 1.0 went our every month (almost). Now that’s an office. Usually people would see the picture and think I was going to talk about the problem. Information Overload. And I do, but then I get to a line like why can’t Microsoft Office be more like Esther Dyson’s office?

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