Search IconIcon to open search

Formality considered harmful

Last updated Nov 1, 2022 Edit Source

See also: cozy software

Paper by Frank M. Shipman III and Catherine C. Marshall with the same name. On experiences, emerging themes, and directions on the use of formal representations in interactive designs

The cause of a number of unexpected difficulties in human-computer interaction lies in users’ unwillingness or inability to make structure, content, or procedures explicit

When people use computer systems, their interaction is usually mediated by abstract representations that describe and constrain some aspect of their work or its content. Computer systems use these abstract representations to support their users’ activities in a variety of ways, like for information retrieval. These abstractions are frequently referred to as formalisms.

At the formal end of the spectrum, knowledge-based systems require people to encode materials in a representation that can be fully interpreted by a computer program.

A la Seeing like a State: excessive formalization may cause people to lose information that falls outside the prescribed structure, and in general require people to make knowledge explicit that may be difficult or undesirable to articulate

# Examples

# Fixes

# Tools for thought

I think this applies for thinking and note-taking too. My thesis is that having a scratch space be incredibly low friction to access (on par with or lower than Apple Notes) is incredibly important to cultivating good knowledge/deadline management. See: TabSpace