Why must computers make us feel blue, see red, turn white, and black out?

E. Ronald, M. Sipper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Why do we sometimes feel the urge to throw our computer out the window? Because we are human and we feel. We don’t (always) think or reason. Rather, when that demon in the machine really acts up, we may simply feel a compelling urge to throw the box-plus-demon out the window, and
be done with it.
Humans and computers are two alien races that often fail to communicate smoothly (or at all), despite one race having created the other. In their wisdom, computing professionals have not
failed to note this alienation problem. Entire fields—such as software engineering and computer-human interaction— have sprung up over the years to ameliorate this unfortunate alienation.
To make clear that this is a serious business, our fellow professionals coined the term “user,”
just as doctors refer to those to whom they minister as “patients.” However, if they ignore the feelings of their supplicants, both doctors and computer designers may be failing to take seriously enough their respective workplace oaths.
Over the past decades, as computers have moved from clean rooms to messy offices (and even messier living rooms), there has been a growing insistence on user-friendliness. Ah, what a euphemism for oftentimes surly, unfeeling behavior. How would you feel if a close friend
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-31
Number of pages4
JournalIEEE Spectrum
Volume36
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1999

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