It took more than 15 years, but I have finally read an article criticising the mouse that is as stupid as one I read back in the 1980's. The original article was written before Bill Gates thought the mouse was okay, so knee-jerk idiots tried to explain to us Mac users why mice didn't work. Let's just say they were full up with excrement.
To a large extent, it takes even more stupidity to say, 15 years later, after even Bill worships it, that the mouse is (to say the least) counterproductive. Perhaps it never occurred to you that the KEYBOARD might be counterproductive and the mouse is fine? In fact, check out www.halfkeyboard.com, and that might be your solution right there. There are probably several keyboards in addition to that one which greatly improve speed of use - some allow just one hand!
Nevertheless, this awful context switching you claim kills the mouse as a productivity device just does NOT happen when intelligent people use intelligently designed programs or operating systems (maybe your OS and programs were not designed properly). The big reason for this is that most users also have a BRAIN in addition to two hands. That BRAIN is a big LEARNING tool.
When we first use a system or even a program, we're more productive out of the gate because we use the mouse to explore and find the options. Then, because most programs (especially on the Mac) are similar, we learn them quickly, and most of our common actions take place on the keyboard, where intelligent designers put them in addition to the GUI. Hence, our most common tasks in many programs use the keyboard almost exclusively, but we know the mouse is there if we want to explore.
Graphics generally work the opposite way. We typically use the mouse almost exclusively in a highly graphics-oriented program (WEB BROWSER, ANYONE?) and occasionally touch the keyboard.
Oh, and when Apple and Xerox were doing the REAL WORK of developing a GUI, they conducted their own studies, finding just the opposite of Bloor's claims - isn't that interesting? They had to cram objective science down people's throats just to get them to stop using DOS! Of course, that didn't happen until Bill invented Windows 95 and the Macintosh at the same time.
The biggest problem with the keyboard and the mouse is that many people just don't know how to use them. Designers don't THINK about how they should be used, and users don't RTFM (read the manual) any more. And if you think about it, you can guess why - THEY HAVE A MOUSE, so they feel less need for the manual, as they're comfortable finding most options on their own.
Thank you for giving me an excuse to go several minutes without touching the mouse!
Really, you're amazing!
From John Goodman
You've really missed the point of using a mouse. Many software applications pioneered by the Macintosh, such as page layout and drawing, can't exist without a mouse. Plus, concepts like drag and drop (at least on a Mac) provide an invaluable sense of direct manipulation to the very abstract world of data and storage.
I have my own objections to the mouse, but only because it is the only realistic alternative to the keyboard. I would like to see more of the knobs andswitches of the mechanical world applied to computer data handling. I still find the keyboard to be a horribly limited way of controlling a computer.
The options are slowly increasing; the stylus has found a niche, and joysticks have advantages for gamers. In fact, game players have developed a numberof novel input schemes. For more general use, Griffin Technologies has introduced something which they call a PowerMate. This is nothing more than a knob with a USB cable and some driver software, but I think it could be revolutionary.
Perhaps for your work, a keyboard is enough. But as long as it is, computers will never break out of the desktop word processing/spreadsheet straitjacket. Ihope for more.
From Julian Patterson
A mouse is not a productivity tool. It is a navigation/contol device with very limited input capability.
You do not need three hands to use one. Simply remove one hand from the keyboard and use that. Most people don't need to type and navigate at the same time. Except show-offs.
Next week we look forward to reading about the design faults that make wooden spoons useless as medical instruments and why man may never learn to fly a wheelbarrow.
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