Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Fitness to purpose

Interesting to compare adaptation in nature -- fitness to purpose -- with usability's fitness to purpose. I recent bought a wind ornament of a Pukeko, an interesting New Zealand bird. An interesting quote from Charles Douglas, a 19th century explorer, that came in the box:
The Pukeko can fly, walk, dive and swim, but can do none of them tolerably well. It flies with a contorted, jerky motion, but only for a short distance, alighting on any tree handy, and staggering among the branches as if intoxicated. It walks as if troubled with corns, and running it often stumbles. When swimming it looks like a domestic fowl tumbled in a water butt and wanted some kind friend to rescue it. It's diving is still more absurd....It goes down, with a disordered splutter of legs and wings, coming up at once with a jerk like a cork.

Imagine designing an interface that managed to do everything, but nothing well. Sounds like Microsoft. They are still around, too.

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