[Edu-sig] Computer Hatred

Jim Harrison jhrsn at pitt.edu
Wed Sep 24 11:45:07 EDT 2003

>> I am trying to discover such basic things as why it is so much easier to
>> press 2+4= on a calculator than =2+4 in a spreadsheet. Or for that matter why
>> typing 2+4 at a >>> prompt is so much harder than pressing 2+4= on a
>> calculator.

An additional element that may contribute to this is the perceived risk of
inadvertent error. In a setting like Excel where a large number of options
appear to be available, you not only need to know how to accomplish a task,
you also need to know how you could mess it up in ways that aren't obvious
(such as a proportional font space in the wrong place). From the user's
perspective the large, unknown (and hence essentially unlimited) number of
possible errors means that if you care about accuracy you're going to have
to check the results using a method you trust anyway. So why not save the
time and aggravation, and use the trusted method first?

Jim Harrison
Univ. of Pittsburgh

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