The Daily Parker

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User Self-Blame

Microsoft's Scott Hanselman blames us computer professionals for users thinking they don't know computers:

In my recent podcast with UX expert and psychologist Dr. Danielle Smith the topic of "user self-blame" came up. This is that feeling when a person is interacting with a computer and something goes wrong and they blame themselves. I'd encourage you to listen to the show, she was a great guest and brought up a lot of these points.

Self-blame when using technology has gotten so bad that when ANYTHING goes wrong, regular folks just assume it was their fault.

This harkens back to the middle ages when the average person couldn't read. Only the monks cloistered away had this magical ability. What have we done as techies to make regular folks feel so isolated and afraid of all these transformative devices? We MAKE them feel bad.

This on the same day that Jeff Atwood tells us our passwords suck (and he's right):

The easiest way to build a safe password is to make it long. All other things being equal, the law of exponential growth means a longer password is a better password. That's why I was always a fan of passphrases, though they are exceptionally painful to enter via touchscreen in our brave new world of mobile – and that is an increasingly critical flaw. But how short is too short?

...[Y]ou can't really feel safe until the 12 character mark even with a full complement of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters.

This is also a UX failure, but of a different kind. Until two-factor authentication becomes ubiquitous—and until users start accepting the need for it—passwords are going to be the chink in Smaug's armor.

Of course, it doesn't help that users typically don't have accurate conceptual models for things. The number of times I have explained the difference between authentication and authorization (which is a necessary conceptual model for understanding why you should never, ever give your passwords to anyone)

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