Usability in the movies

I find it funny to see how people in the movies use computers, and it's outright hilarious too see the crazy fake user interfaces movie makers create. Would those computers and their UIs actually be usable in the real world? Probably not. And why don't people in the movies have to deal with the problems we have to deal with when using computers in the real world, like spam and tiny text?

In Usability in the Movies -- Top 10 Bloopers Jakob Nielsen lists the following unrealistic characteristics of computers used in movies, and answers some of those questions:

  1. The Hero Can Immediately Use Any UI
  2. Time Travelers Can Use Current Designs
  3. The 3D UI
  4. Integration is Easy, Data Interoperates
  5. Access Denied / Access Granted
  6. Big Fonts
  7. Star Trek's Talking Computer
  8. Remote Manipulators (Waldo Controls)
  9. You've Got Mail is Always Good News
  10. "This is Unix, It's Easy"

I'd like to add noisy pixels to that list. Picture a scene where the hero has hacked into a computer looking for clues that will help him or her solve the murder mystery. For every window that opens, every dialog box that appears, every line of text that is displayed, sometimes for absolutely everything that happens on-screen, the computer makes a chirping noise.

It reminds me too much of the faulty, chirping power supply in my PowerMac G5.

Posted on March 12, 2007 in Quicklinks, Usability