graphics considered harmful (was Re: NYT on Rick Adams and Microsoft)

Daniel Yee (
13 Feb 1995 17:32:13 +1100

Please narrow followups if appropriate.

In article <>,
Barry Shein <> wrote:
[ why command line interfaces are so powerful ]

>These are powerful concepts, they both allow and encourage the
>formation of new "sentences" to describe new tasks not originally
>specified by the designers, just as makes a human language powerful.

[ comparison with alphabetic vs pictographic languages ]

Think about it like this: many primates are just as good visually
as H sapiens, but even the best-trained chimpanzees can't approach
our language competency. Cable TV is not just a silly idea, it's
*evolutionarily regressive*; GUIs are for the monkeys. (+)

For all the talk of "Information Superhighways" in the media, the
change from what we have now to terabit backbones isn't going to be
as significant as what we've already done. USENET and the WWW (*)
are potentially revolutionary, but "virtual reality" and "real time
video" are just glorified TV. And as far as conveying information
goes, there's only a few things which can be covered better on TV
than in text: natural history, art, architecture, geography,...
Far too many documentaries spend all their time with fancy pictures
and mood-creating soundtracks, while conveying almost no information.

And no, I'm not eating sour grapes while sending this from a slow
serial connection to a Unix shell account -- I've got 4+ Mbps all
the way from my desk to the NSFnet (=), and there's a Macintosh and
an Xterminal in front of me.

Danny Yee.

(+) Insert about a quarter of a smiley.
(*) There are no pictures on my Web server; not one solitary inline image.
(=) Ok, ok, so I'm sharing the 4.5Mbps trans-Pacific link with everyone in