On Andrei’s On Jakob

Andrei’s post over at Design by Fire is an excellent deconstruction of Jakob Neilsen’s recent useit article. It seems that, to the extent that Andrei deconstructs, Yakob’s offering was the last straw.

For me, the previous useit article was the last straw. It caused quite a stir here between the people who are more the ‘academics’ and we lowly practitioners. I wrote my own deconstruction of the article, but upon re-reading it I thought: what’s the point? The post is still sitting in draft mode and I doubt I will publish it.

I do appreciate, and agree with Andrei’s deconstruction of Yakob, but I ask with genuine desire to know: what’s the point?

In many ways (qualitatively speaking of course;) I wouldn’t have the job I do now without Yakob’s work. But, as with all things that time affects, there comes a point where those who follow become those who lead. I look at the alertbox as the rocking chair on Yakob’s porch. Just replace the traditional, “Get off my lawn,” with “Make everything usable!”

Sitting on that rocking chair, Yakob still has much to offer in knowledge and wisdom, but I think he has yet to realize that he is sitting on the chair. We should go to him when we need something specific, something that he can answer, but for the most part we’s all grown up now. We can do the research on our own. We can design beautiful and usable things, and we know when to put the emphasis on preference and when to put it on performance.

I suppose my open letter to everyone is to let it go. Yakob seems to piss off people disproportionately to the issues he raises, or more often than not, misses. Take Yakob’s articles with a truck load of salt. Look at them solely as “opinion pieces.”

Yakob is deserving of our acknowledgement, but rarely will he be deserving of our energy beyond that acknowledging nod.

4 replies on “On Andrei’s On Jakob”

  1. Pingback: Design by Fire
  2. I can understand that maybe some of us should let it go. But that misses a key point I made in my article.

    Nielsen gets a lot of attention, and in doing so, has been having an significant impact on designers in the high-tech field and how they are supposed to approach their work. Since Nielsen is himself not a designer, and seemingly proud of that fact, I find this situation intolerable.

    Further, I think folks in the usability crowd really need to do what you say, but be much more vocal about it. If the usability crowd continues to let Nielsen act as some sort of representative without changing his ways or his method of communication, what does that say about usability?

  3. I guess I would rather see the energy put into tearing down Jakob, put into identifying and promoting designers and usabilityers that are leaders in their fields.

    To me, ripping Jakob falls under the heading, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” It keeps him in the spotlight and I would rather that spotlight shine on others who are more deserving.

    I really do think you are right, Andrei, but what is accomplished by posting an open letter on your site, other than “riling the troops.” Unless you did send the letter to Jakob too. I might have missed that.

    Also, perhaps you should open another thread for people to “sign” the open letter in support of your stance? Just a thought.

  4. I guess I would rather see the energy put into tearing down Jakob, put into identifying and promoting designers and usabilityers that are leaders in their fields.

    My intent is not to tear down Jakob, but to hold him accountable for what he does in the field. I think its very important that people who put themselves out there in leadership roles be held accountable for their behavior and what they provide to the community. Notice, I tried as best as possible not “rip into him” but to critique him.

    Having said that, I agree that we should also find ways of promoting other leaders in the field, especially those looking to make a positive impact on the field by inspiring all of us to do better work.

    I really do think you are right, Andrei, but what is accomplished by posting an open letter on your site, other than “riling the troops.” Unless you did send the letter to Jakob too. I might have missed that.

    I haven’t sent it to him yet. I might, but I’m not sure that’s really neccessary. This is just a first step in what is a far reaching strategy on my part to help move the field of design forward.

    All things worth doing take time. 8^)

    Also, perhaps you should open another thread for people to “sign” the open letter in support of your stance? Just a thought

    That’s a good idea. I might just do that.

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