Grease is timeless; software design not so much


My two year old has been showing a tonne of interest in singing and dancing lately, so my wife put Grease on for her tonight.


She was utterly transfixed.

She loved Grease.  Her level of excitement couldn’t have been higher if she had just discovered that she could fly, that there was in fact a fourth Doodlebop, or that she now would be allowed to swallow gum, rather than simply chewing it.

Immediately she was sitting five inches from the TV, swaying to the music, singing along . . . 

This lasted for ten minutes or so until, suddenly, she began to howl and scream and cry.

We leapt up and dashed over to her, thinking she had bonked her head, had her fingers caught in a drawer or perhaps, judging by the sheer volume and ferocity of the screaming, was having flaming bamboo jammed under her toenails by some unseen captor.

We quickly deduced that she was not, in fact, bleeding.  And when she was able to calm herself enough to take a breath, she told us what was wrong.

“Dancing . . . show . . . went . . . bye-bye”

We looked up.

Grease, being televised on a network, had gone to commercial.

Yes.  That’s right.  My daughter is so conditioned to watching shows on PVR (and to watching all the commercial-free kids shows) that she thought the commercial break meant that her show was gone forever.

This is terrifying on so many levels. 

(First, my daughter clearly gets too much TV and too much of what she demands.)

Second, it is terrifying because you think good usability is a challenge now??  How much more difficult is it going to be when my daughter’s generation – a generation who, as toddlers, will not stand for the unimaginable  inconvenience of the Backyardigans being interrupted, let alone the myriad Blue Screens of Death of the world – is working with our websites and our software?

Will she and her peers be likely to find, download, and install a plug-in just to make your software work?  Will she be willing to overlook your nasty 404s because of your ubiquitous “beta” label?  Will she spend half an hour learning how to interact with your product or will she just move on to something better?

Simple, intuitive, impossible-not-to-understand software.  We all realize that this is the path on which we must continue.

But we’d better hurry . . .

My daughter turns three in December, and for her birthday I’m buying her a laptop.

 The 100 Dollar Laptop

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