El diseño de las cosas cotidianas, 2

Un segundo pasaje de The Design of Everyday Things, de Donald Norman, que sigue una línea similar al pasaje anterior en la medida en que cambios en nuestro diseño tecnológico cambian aquello que priorizamos o en lo que podemos enfocarnos al realizar una misma tarea, pero en este caso enfocado principalmente en la tarea de la escritura. Es, en cierto sentido, mcluhaniano.

With changes in writing tools, the speed of writing increases. In handwriting, thought runs ahead, posing special demands on memory and encouraging slower, more thoughtful writing. With the typewriter keyboard, the skilled typist can almost keep up with thought. With the advent of dictation, the output and the thought seem reasonably well matched.

Even greater changes have come about with the popularity of dictation. Here the tool can have a dramatic effect, for there is no external record of what has been spoken; the author has to keep everything in memory. As a result, dictated letters often have a long, rambling style. They are more colloquial and less structured – the former because they are based on speech, the latter because the writer can’t easily keep track of what has been said. Style may change further when we get voice typewriters, where our spoken words will appear on the page as they are spoken. This will relieve the memory burden. The colloquial nature may remain and even be enhanced, but – because the printed record of the speech is immediately visible – perhaps the organization will improve.

The widespread availability of computer text editors has produced other changes in writing. On the one hand, it is satisfying to be able to type your thoughts without worrying about minor typographical errors or spelling. On the other hand, you may spend less time thinking and planning. Computer text editors affect structure through their limited real estate. With a paper manuscript, you can spread the pages upon the desk, couch, wall or floor. Large sections of the text can be examinated at one time, to be reorganized and structured. If you use only the computer, then the working area (or real estate) is limited to what shows on the screen. The conventional screen displays about twenty-four lines of text. Even the largest screens now available can display no more than about two full printed pages of text. The result is that corrections tend to be made locally, on what is visible. Large-scale restructuring of the material is more difficult to do, and therefore seldom gets done. Sometimes the same text appears in different parts of the manuscript, without being discovered by the writer. (To the writer, everything seems familiar.)

Vale la pena mencionar que las pantallas de las que habla son los monitores entre los años ochenta y los noventas (en la época en que fue publicado el libro), no las pantallas gigantes con interfaces gráficas a las que estamos acostumbrados ahoras.


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