Notes on Interface


View of NTT Docomo tower from Shinjuku Gyoen, 26 March 2017. (Detail of photo by bd)

Okay, so, here’s the thing:

▸ The software feature that you want me to use requires that I select a photo.

▸ There are hundreds of photos in the uploaded library.

▸ Therefore, I am only allowed to see twelve photos at a time, in reverse chronological order.

▸ If the photo I would use happens to be, oh, way the hell down the list, that I must simply keep clicking and clicking in order to ask you to please show me more of my photos, that I might eventually select one to use for the software feature you really, really seem to want me to use, since, you know, you won’t shut up about it, I’m probably not going to bother, and would you please, then, shut up about it?

↳ Because your interface really, really sucks. The most obvious question in the world is why you would refuse to simply open the entire album. These pathways are deliberate; you do not accidentally design such an inefficient method, as the extraneity is by definition extraneous unless, of course, it is not actually extraneity. That is to say, there must necessarily be something you get out of it, but it would seem really, really obscure. (Hint for the gallery: To wonder why a publicly traded company would show off its incompetence or inefficiency is to look at it wrongly; the idea of efficiency on which such an outlook depends is consumer oriented. The wasted clicks make some other point.)

Anyway, yeah. It’s pretty stupid. Just sayin’.


Image note: NTT Docomo tower, from Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo, 26 March 2017. (Photo by bd)


Good Enough for the Software Industry

If ...?  Then ...?

I don’t think it is especially nitpickety to wonder what it is about software design for commercial purposes used by media research companies that this little outcome should occur.

“We appreciate your interest,” they politely tell us, “but unfortunately this survey is now closed”.

Just for that, I ought to put iModerate into my popup blocker. After all, I don’t mind the occasional survey request from websites I frequent; nor am I offended that this one launches in a way that evades the popup blocker in the first place.

But let us be clear: When N(sufficient) then stop launching the popup. That is to say, sure, I am not a computer programmer, but I still don’t see what is so difficult about a very basic if/then statement.

Instead, when N equals or exceeds the intended sample threshold for the survey, the subroutine simply changes the message to thank the user for their interest in a survey they did not ask to take and most likely would have bypassed, anyway.

And, yes, it is true one could run their browser with a less stringent cookie policy, so that the survey software might identify a user who has already answered, but that still does not explain the odd decision to continue launching the survey window with the new message. The nearest I can guess is that their unscientific poll might somehow or other have enough bad data that they might need to reopen the survey a couple days later. But even for marketing data that would seem a sketchy survey protocol.

So, you know … Just stop launching the survey when you have enough responses. Is this really so hard? After all, I will happily concede that it really does seem a strange thing to fret about. Then again, it happened, and I noticed, and then the question persisted. And, still, it persists.

It has long been said, “Good enough for government work.” But over the last twenty or so years, what has emerged is a business model that reads, “Good enough for the software industry.” This would seem just a particularly peculiar example of where that idea shows through.