MIT researchers argue that computers need to become as easy to use as those yellow sticky notes.
Office workers are like electricity: When they want to get something done, they follow the path of least resistance.
Which is why, say researchers at MIT, the Post-it note continues to flourish on every surface of the contemporary office, despite all those expensive computers ready and willing to help.
David Karger helps lead a group at MIT exploring the way people work with computers. A recent paper from his team chronicled the attraction of “information scraps” like Post-Its, which, says Karger, are actually near-perfect data base tools. They’re accessible and easy to use, and they take advantage of the brain’s facility to remember an object’s location in the three-dimensional world.
All goals, he adds, to which a well-designed computer program should aspire. “A lot of people spend a lot of time trying to figure out cool new things for computers to do,” Karger says. “What’s more interesting to me is figuring out how to get the computer out of the way.”