Unpredictability and recognition systems

Unpredictability and recognition systems

Sunday, May 28, 2006

12:18 PM

In reading Jeff Hawkins book On Intelligence I came upon this great anecdote about developing Graffiti:


“I recognized that people were willing to learn a difficult task (typing) because it was a reliable and fast way to enter text into a machine. Therefore if we could create a new method of entering text with a stylus that was fast and reliable, people would use it even though it required learning. So I designed an alphabet that would reliably translate what you write into computer text; we called it Graffiti. With traditional handwriting recognition systems, when the computer misinterprets your writing you don’t know why. But the Graffiti system always produces a correct letter unless you make a mistake in writing. Our brains hate unpredictability, which is why people hate traditional handwriting recognition systems.” (Emphasis added)


To this day, I prefer Graffiti for PDA input, although I would love Shark/Shapewriter (which bolsters Hawkins’ point even further). On the other hand, I prefer the TabletPC’s TIP and correction UI to Graffiti; I’m not sure it’s faster, but the correction UI is good enough that using it is predictable. Voice recognition systems, though, definitely produce the “unpredictable == hateful” reaction in me.


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