December 05, 2005

Adding external links actually not difficult.

I've added ten external links.

They didn't show up until I clicked the refresh button in my browser.

This is the point where power users who take computer experience for granted and snarky geeks all laugh. Because obviously it wasn't any problem with the coding at blogger dot com.

But this is exactly the sort of complex breakdown I meant: There's a system that has a hundred different subsystems to it (power hookup, monitor, keyboard, mouse, operating system, browser, screen saver, internet service, etc.) and no one who gives instructions for what to do with one subsystem really cares whether the instructions work for users who aren't experts on the other subsystems. Experienced users laugh at new users who don't know what subsystems within subsystems they're supposed to have: "It's your own fault if you don't have antivirus software and adware scanning and a firewall and . . ."

The obvious buttons and instructions on editing links make it look like you're supposed to hit the republish button, then view the republished blog with the new links by pressing a button labeled View Blog or in new window. What they don't tell you is: Your browser has no special way of knowing that you've just altered the contents of a webpage, so if it usually loads pages from a cache when they're called for repeatedly within a few minutes, it'll do that to your blog page, and you won't see your alterations, until you hit refresh.

I think most people go through these sort of hassles all the time while using computers, and assume that that's what using computers is all about. (That and crashing and restarting for those of us still using Windows.) I'm just being extra sensitive and careful to notice the precise details of what happens, not because I think any of my reports are going to help the programmers and instruction writers make things work more smoothly, but because it's illustrative of how civilization works and breaks down.

Everything gets more complicated until it takes years of education or training to run things that were supposed to be conveniences. Not necessarily blogs, but certainly some aspects of using computers turn into occupations in themselves. Then a move to break out and do things more naturally and directly has a chance of being competitive.

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