Good Devices are Invisible (23rd March 2008)

Metal cutlery is a good device. Using it makes eating easier once you develop basic coordination and motor control. You don’t even realise you’re using it.

Plastic cutlery is a different story. It rarely fits nicely in your hand due to thick reinforcing beams running along all the outside edges. Despite these, it will bend and flex alarmingly when trying to eat. The knives are usually blunt and if you use more force they are liable to snap.

Eating becomes a worrisome balancing act between making progress through your food and avoiding mechanical failure. Bad cutlery turns a simple meal into a Grand Prix endurance event!

A good device like the metal cutlery becomes invisible because it works for the user. A bad device like the cutlery becomes obvious and annoying because it works against the user.

This applies to all devices. The difference can be as simple as choosing a different material. In software, it can be as simple as using a different control for a particular action.