Technocentric Thinking

Chad writes:

I know their “motto” is “Don’t Be Evil” .. but I think it should be “Don’t Be Smart” instead.. this is some dumb thinking from Google. Trust me.. I know better than Google on how I want to download and install my software.

This is just the latest in a whole lot of similar statements I’ve seen from many people across the web in a variety of situations talking about how “I know how to manage my machine”, with the underlying meaning being something like “You should act as if people who are working with your software know how to work their computers.”

When I put it that way, does it really sound right? Is there anyone who thinks that the *majority* of users of Google Earth actually know how to run their machines? Is there anyone who thinks that it makes sense for Google to build and QA two different install mechanisms — one for technical users who know what they’re doing, and one for those who don’t?

Very few companies the size of Google do anything on a whim. I expect that some thought went into the development of the Google Earth downloader. The fact that the thinking is not centered around technically competent users is just evidence that Google doesn’t need to target the early adopters; it’s not a sign that what they are doing is ‘Bad’ or ‘Stupid’.

Technical users are few and far between in the mass market. Google Earth is targeted towards the mass market. Just like all software that is targeted towards a mass market, there is nothing ‘stupid’ about removing tools that the majority of users don’t need or care about: By doing so, you limit the number of people who are going to end up confused by your tool, and that’s not a bad thing when you care about the majority of people instead of a technical elite.

4 Responses to “Technocentric Thinking”

  1. Frank Taylor Says:

    Excellent points Christopher!

    And the truly technical elite know how to get the install without the downloader. 🙂

  2. Chad Says:

    I find it hard to believe that 30+ years of having an “Advanced” button on an install had brought down mankind.. But then, maybe you back up my claim that Google is the new AOL..

    Sorry, I still go with the “It was a bad idea”.. and I uninstalled GE from that computer because I don’t want apps on my 10GB OS partition.

  3. Morten Says:

    It’s not like downloading and running GoogleEarthSetup.exe is much different than downloading and running GoogleUpdaterSetup.exe, so I fail to see why they think this is so much smarter or easier on the user? Furthermore allowing the user to select where to install it has been solved by everyone else (enter a default value and let the user hit next) and people are used to that – even the novices.

  4. Bill McGonigle Says:

    Perhaps both are right, and it’s symptomatic of a bulloxed installation landscape. This whole “everybody writing an installer” think is just a waste of time and creates opportunities for disagreement. apt-get/yum/emerge/ports have the right idea; typical users can use the GUI, advanced users can do anything.