The Utopian UI Architect [the power of representation]

The Utopian UI Architect by John Pavlus.

Following all the links and projects mentioned in this post will take some time but the concluding paragraph will provide enough incentive:


“The example I like to give is back in the days of Roman numerals, basic multiplication was considered this incredibly technical concept that only official mathematicians could handle,” he continues. “But then once Arabic numerals came around, you could actually do arithmetic on paper, and we found that 7-year-olds can understand multiplication. It’s not that multiplication itself was difficult. It was just that the representation of numbers — the interface — was wrong.”

Imagine that. A change in representation changed multiplication from a professional activity to one for 7-year olds.

Now that is testimony to the power of representation.

What other representations, common logic, RDF, category theory, compilers, etc., are making those activities more difficult than necessary?

There are no known or general answer to that question but Bret Victor’s work may spark clues from others.

A must read!

I first saw this in a tweet by Max Roser.

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