May 2, 2006

Bricklin's Law

Dave Winer writes about the utter futility of geekness, in which he reiterates Dan Bricklin's emphasis on the importance of generosity of spirit in software design.

Instead of making you feel bad for "only" doing 99%, a well designed system makes you feel good for doing 1%. ... Another design criteria for a type of successful system [is] Guiltlessness. No only should people just need to do what's best for them when they help others, they need to not need to always do it.

Guiltlessness, beauty, continuous incremental advantage, depth: maybe we're getting somewhere with software aesthetics after all. Meanwhile, GoJobby has a useful rant about the limited place of beauty in good Web design, or why 'bad' graphic design seems so popular. (Skip the mostly useless comments)

As a side note, note that Winer is careful to use "geekness" and not the insulting "geekiness". Winer's word, which is comparatively rare, describes the things that 'geeks' have in common, their common nature. As Winer says, geeks (like other artists) spend too much time talking ineffectually about ways to make money. The more common "geekyness", on the other hand, refers to the geeky things that those unfortunate geeks enjoy: it's a term of abuse. Use it with great care unless you yourself are a very technical person indeed.

It's like telling Jewish jokes, an ancient and important art which requires the teller to possess either extraordinary tact, wit, and grace, or (lacking that) a Jewish mother.

Be very careful, too of the diminutive noun, "techie". When used by a manager, it's a fighting word. Don't do it.