Steve Krug’s Book on Life

The title for Steve Krug’s book is “DON’T MAKE ME THINK Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web and Mobile Usability”.  Ignore the subtitle, it is a genius book on life in general!  In his book, Krug teaches how the main idea of constructing a website or app is to not have to make the consumer think. Make navigating the website and completing the task at hand as easy and expedited as possible.

This does not just apply to websites and apps though; “Don’t Make Me Think” applies to books, scholarly articles and much more.  Usually, historians and scholars are writing for their brethren; people that already know what to look for and where to find it.  Therefore, they do not (usually) follow Krug’s guidelines for consumer usability.  Books and scholarly articles are usually very dry.  They require in depth reading and are usually time-consuming. It is much harder to facilitate usability on a hard copy rather than a website.  When a book or article is written well, it usually allows the person of average intelligence to utilize the subject at hand without causing too much trouble.  Books and scholarly articles can accomplish this by having a strong and easily understood table of contents, a clear title, and a concise yet informative preface or summary.  If historians and scholars want their material being accessed by the avg. person, they need to follow Krug’s usability rule.  The problem for these people is that usually their work is NOT intended for the avg. person.  Academic writing is meant to be all-encompassing and very thorough.  This requires time and thinking; both concepts that Krug rallies against in his book.

Creating a blog is exactly like creating a website.  Its main goal is to garner attention and views.  In order to fully achieve that I would utilize Krug’s book and make a few changes to my blog.  The first change would be having a main page.  Currently, all of my posts are on the same page which appears very busy to the average user. Another change would be trying to keep everything in the same font.  Open up my blog and you will see at least four different fonts.  This too is distracting and makes people think about what they want to click on.

All in all, ” DON’T MAKE ME THINK” is an excellent book for learning about designing a website or app, but its use does not stop there.  Historians and scholars can use it to extend their knowledge upon the average person by making their work easier to locate, easier to understand, and keep it more concise.  For the future, I will definitely be utilizing Krug’s knowledge.  He has taught me that by simplifying ideas, they are more easily internalized by others.  I will also make sure to keep everything in the same font and appropriate sizes so as not to confuse my targeted audience.  Thank you Steve Krug for making me think on how to not make me think.

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Wikipedia: Boon or Bane of Society?

I want to discuss more the ethical problem of lying or falsifying information to further enhance security rather than just Wikipedia specifically.  First though, I will focus on the subject matter at hand, Wikipedia.  Wikipedia as mentioned by many professors is a great site.  Not so much for actual historical research but rather getting one’s feet wet in their chosen subject and/or where to find more information.  Imagine though if Wikipedia became a scholarly source.  If the editors of each subject were professionals on the matter and could verify all information submitted.  This could be a “Wikipedia 2.0”.  Unfortunately though, we are not there yet and many submissions are false or lacking truth as much of the internet is.  This is where Professor Kelly and cybersecurity hackers come in.

Professor Kelly wanted to show the world how simple it can be to trick the internet into believing something that was false.  Much like cybersecurity hackers who report their findings to the government or the company they hacked, professor Kelly did not want to harm the internet but rather show its vulnerabilities.  This is a truly ethical question and one that does not have a simple and clear answer.  Is Wikipedia good, sure!  Is it 100% true, no.  It has promise and yet it also has drawbacks.  Professor Kelly wanted to show the world these drawbacks and for that, he is not allowed to teach the course anymore.  Another ethics conundrum… lovely.

Evolution or Revolution? The age old question; is this new idea (in this case: digital technology) just an evolution of how we will do research and go about learning or is it something entirely new i.e. a revolution. I believe it is a little bit of both. In regards to research, technology is as much of a revolution as the car is to the horse. It was going to happen sooner or later. Humans are always looking to make places, ideas etc. more accessible. So when the internet was born, was there even a question in anybody’s mind that it would change the world, no. The people who believe this are the ones who embraced technology; they merely saw this new digital age as an evolution to brick and mortar libraries and old, dusty books. For the people who loved the dust on books, this was a scary Revolution. As Cohen and Rosenzweig point out, these people feared it would make us lazy and eliminate brick and mortar libraries and schools. To me, I believe both happened. Yes, there are now online libraries and online schools but we still have their brick and mortar counterparts too. Are we in a digital Utopian society where everything is online, no; but neither are we still neanderthals being forced to go across country or the world to study a text. Life (and history research) due to technology is good right now and it is only going to get better!