Context is key

September 22nd, 2011 § 0 comments

So as y’all probably already know, I started at Pollenizer some weeks ago. This meant transitioning to a Mac as my work computer.
I get the machine, take a deep breath, and scroll down. I mean up. I mean… I don’t even know anymore.

I ranted about it on Twitter, and my helpful Twitter peeps helped me find the settings for it and turn it off. *phew*

But I couldn’t get it out of my head. Why? Why would Apple add that as a feature?
I get that it’s the same action we’re all used to performing on our smart phones. You move your digits in the direction you want stuff on the screen to move in. And it’s intuitive, and perhaps understandable to take that and say, well, why do we use the opposite behaviour on our laptops? All interfaces should be the same! Eureka!

I’ll tell you why not. Context baybeh.
The smart phone is analogous to reading a newspaper lying flat on your breakfast table. As you scan down the paper, you move it up with your hands. So you’re scrolling up to move the media up.

Now, visualise this – Child dek scanning down a list of names engraved on a wall so she can find her grandfather’s name (which the temple put there cos he donated some dough to its building fund). I was a kid and there were many many names cramped in, so I used to put my finger on the wall and move down the list of names.

Something like this image below:

Tanjore temple_inscriptions in Tamil

On this media, you scroll down to ‘move the media up’. And I think that is the context of scrolling on a laptop. Your laptop screen is a wall in this context.

And I think that is why I struggled so badly with trying to work with the new scroll system on the Mac. It was hard to change a learnt behaviour not just because I’m an old dog, but because the context didn’t suit it.

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