We’ve talked about it on the podcast at various points, but I’m still using a 2008 style flip phone. Like so:
|Inside, there’s a panel of 12 buttons, perfectly sized for infants and hobbits. Dialing a number on this thing is literally like trying to type with boxing gloves on.|
I did have a smartphone here that I used for testing the mobile version of my site (passed on by someone who didn’t need it anymore) but I never really learned anything about it beyond loading up a single website. (This one.)
But now my wife has upgraded her smartphone, and her old smartphone was passed to me. So I have officially joined the rest of the world:
|It’s an old model, but it feels like the future to me.|
I don’t know what kind it is, and I don’t even know how to check. In fact, after poking at the thing for half an hour or so my behavior was alarmingly similar to that of my grandfather when he was setting up a new VCR in 1987. I am spending more time being annoyed and perplexed than excited and amused. This is more worrisome than any of the aches and pains I associate with age.
I’d get on some screen, realize it wasn’t what I wanted, and then have no idea how to get back to where I just was. Eventually I gave up and used the “power” button on the top edge. It’s not a real power button, of course. It just turns off the screen and resets you to the front page. So I’d turn the screen off and on again every time I hit a navigational dead-end. I recognized this as classic old-man behavior, but I didn’t care. I was already busy trying to puzzle out three different things, and I didn’t want to drop all of those so I could figure out this new interface.
The answer, of course, is staring you right in the face in the screenshot above. In the lower right corner is a perfectly obvious back button. It took me a while to realize why this took me so long, if you follow me.
I’d mentally filtered out all of those edge buttons, with the expectation that the interface would exist entirely on the screen. I’ve spent my life ignoring the little buttons that frame a typical display. I mean, when I’m trying to figure out a website I don’t press the contrast button on my monitor to see if that does anything useful. The buttons on the screen are the interface, and the buttons around the screen are for manipulating the device itself. I was, without realizing it, using a wrong and inappropriate mental model for this new device.
Suddenly my grandfather’s flailing makes a lot more sense. He wasn’t dumb. It wasn’t that his brain has slowed down. (At least, not in 1987.) It was that he was dragging around six decades of preconceived notions and prior expectations and trying to fit this new thing into that old paradigm. I was a teenager. I didn’t have those expectations, and so I was open to possibilities that would have seemed unreasonable to him. What? You need to hold down two buttons at the same time to do one thing? Why? Also, I was a teenager with lots of free time, so I didn’t resent confusion as a drain on my precious few days off.
My experience with this device is full of moments like this. Most of them don’t take me a humiliating half hour to figure out, but they still happen. It does something other than what I expect when I poke an icon. When I drag the screen. When I hit the back button. The problem isn’t that I don’t know how the interface works, the problem is that I expect to know how it works and keep discovering I’m wrong.
Amazingly, this phone costs me the same as the old one, even though the old one didn’t even do text messaging and the new one is more or less a full internet device.
This is an interesting little adventure. I’m doing my best not to mutter at it while I figure it out.
Even allegedly smart people can make life-changing blunders that seem very, very obvious in retrospect.
Silent Hill Origins
Here is a long look at a game that tries to live up to a big legacy and fails hilariously.
Resident Evil 4
Who is this imbecile and why is he wandering around Europe unsupervised?
I'm a very casual fan of the series, but I gave Civilization VI a look to see what was up with this nuclear war simulator.
Black Desert Online
This Korean title would be the greatest MMO ever made if not for the horrendous monetization system. And the embarrassing translation. And the terrible progression. And the developer's general apathy towards its western audience.