Why Johnny Can't Syndicate
In Why Johnny Can't Read: And What You Can Do About It, published in 1955, Rudolf Flesch argued that our method of teaching kids to read was wrongly denying them the pleasures of "Andersen's Fairy Tales or The Arabian Nights or Mark Twain ... or anything interesting and worthwhile." Instead, said Flesch, they get "horrible, stupid, emasculated, pointless, tasteless little readers." It wasn't just the lack of literary merit that incensed Flesch. He hated the rationale for those dumbed-down books. Vocabulary, it was thought, must only be introduced gradually. Nonsense, said Flesch. If you equip kids with the right conceptual tools they can read anything. But one fundamental concept -- phonics, the decoding of words by mapping symbols to sounds -- wasn't being taught.
Posted by Jim Zellmer at October 11, 2012 3:37 AM
In Why Johnny Can't Encrypt: A Usability Evaluation of PGP 5.0, presented at the 1999 USENIX Security Symposium, Alma Whitten and J.D. Tygar explored why people couldn't figure out how to encrypt their outbound email or authenticate their inbound email. If you've ever used PGP you won't be surprised by their conclusion: its user interface didn't present the underlying model -- which involves public and private keys, encryption and authentication -- in a way that made sense. Of course that was true, and remains true, for every implementation of the model. User interfaces are surely part of the problem, but not the whole story. Here's the question Whitten and Tygar asked:
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