Today I recieved a couple queries from a reader, one I could answer moderately easily (“IS IT ILLEGAL TO COPY SOFTWARE AND HOW I KNOW WHICH SOFTWARE WILL WORK ON MY COMPUTER?”) and one that I thought I’d let you folks take a stab at as well…
“WHY GRAPHIC USER INTERFACE IS SO POPULAR?”
I’d say the answer to the GUI (graphic user interface) popularity is twofold
1. GUI’s are easier to learn. It can use a combination of both images based on symbols we might already know –such as an pencil for draw– as well as text to express meaning.
2. GUI’s are easier to relearn. The human memory is finite. Command line interfaces require you memeorize hundreds of unique commands, which, unless you use them daily, you forget. But GUI combines text with images, and allows for nice touches like tooltips to supliment the fallable human memory.
What’s the alternative to GUI? Command-line interfaces, where users must learn and memorize a set of commeands. Take Vi, a command line editing tool. I used to know it fairly well, and could edit html in it quickly. Now I barely remember the commands, but I do recall doign things like ctl-j to out two lines on the same line, or wq to save a file and quit editing it. It took me a long time to learn to use it in a limited fashion, I became very swift with it for a short time, and now I can barely recall it enough to use it (possibly not enough to use it).
Now that I think about it, it’s also possible that typing might be a piece. To use a command-line interface well, you must be a fairly swift and accurate typist. You can get away with being a so-so typist wiht a GUI. The mouse makes up for a lot.
Also images are pleasurable to look at. a GUI gives you words *and* pictures and humans like rich sensory experiences.
This is my five minute version– what do you all think?