SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: [Sigia-l] Windows wide open
Re: [Sigia-l] Windows wide open
I should have been a little clearer here; I think people certainly would
be more likely to multi-task if an OS supported it better. When it does,
I see students moving back and forth between tasks more frequently. For
example, they do frequently move back and forth between IM and whatever
core application they're using very frequently, very frequently in some
cases. Part of the reason, I think, is that IM windows are typically are
small and thin. They can be tucked over to the side of even a smaller,
single-monitor setup and accessed quickly (by directly clicking them, by
command-tabbing to them, or by pulling them up from the task bar).
Once people learn an effective workaround to the issue of window
management, as you said, the interface as a workspace opens up for them
into a larger, more complex cognitive space. It will be interesting to
see how MS implements its version of Exposť.
I have to admit, though, that I still don't use Exposť a lot, even
though I've had access to the feature since Apple began offering it in
OS X. I guess because I'd already developed a workaround (command-tab or
a quick trip to the Dock), since I've been using Macs 90% of the time
There's also, as I said earlier, the related issue of how work in the
interface has been structured by context: If a user doesn't have a good
reason to need to multi-task, or if they haven't been encouraged to do
so by someone else (a teacher, a peer, whatever), they probably won't be
likely to take advantage of it. I don't think it's direct
cause-and-effect, but more complicated; support from the OS is one key
aspect, but not the only one.
And like you said, I don't think this single-tasking focus is
necessarily hardwired into people's brains. We're only now starting to
see support for multi-tasking in major OSs. And for that matter, we
still don't know a great deal about the cognitive and contextual
structures and processes that could support multi-tasking. I keep seeing
studies that "prove" multi-tasking is detrimental to performance,
usually based on some artificial task like performing simple math tasks
while multi-tasking--not something most of us actually do very often,
but used as "evidence" that multi-tasking is evil, unfortunately. We
still have a lot to learn and develop.
> Johndan Johnson-Eilola:
>>Although there's been a lot of hullabaloo about multi-tasking and its
>>costs and benefits, most people I know are still pretty wedded to
> I'm not sure.
> As Conal pointed out, there may well be an issue of causality here:
> multitasking and multi-window management have not been elegantly implemented
> on Windows. So folks may be reluctant. And I think Flip is an acknowledgment
> of this fact.
> I know a Win2Mac switcher and a seven-year old who love and constantly use
> Exposť on OS X and thus seldom bother closing open windows. Window
> management has essentially ceased to be an issue for them.
> I have a 30" monitor and I watch a lot of webcasts. There's almost always a
> webcast or a podcast window open on the lower right-hand corner, plus iTunes
> and 6-10 apps constantly open. The OS and the laptop nicely supports this
> multi-tasking, multi-window environment. If it didn't, I'd be reluctant to
> have them all open.
> In other words, I don't think people have been given proper support for
> multi-tasking, so I wouldn't necessarily draw permanent behavioral
> conclusions from what Microsoft observed with 4-wins-max-open.
> Incidentally, students let you see the contents of their windows? Wow!
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: Wed Sep 14 2005 - 08:57:42 EDT