Wednesday, 19 December 2012

When is "Okay" not Okay?

Twenty (or more) years ago, I worked with a software development kit that demanded that I click "OK" every time it crashed (which was at least once a day). I wanted a "Not OK" button  – not because it would have a different outcome, but because it better expressed what I was feeling at the time.

Now I find that Facebook puts the same socially inappropriate demand on the user:

This dialogue box uses socially appropriate terms such as "Sorry" and "Please", but I want to say "I've noted the problem and what to do about it", not "Okay". The software developer presumably regards the requirement to click "Okay" as as simple acknowledgement that "something went wrong". And at one level that is all that can be said: no amount of ranting will change the system. But "Okay" usually means something stronger: that I accept the behaviour, and don't mind if it happens again. It presupposes that the individual has choice: to accept or reject the behaviour. And implicitly that the other agent will take note of the response and act accordingly in future. In this case, of course, there is no such learning, no such evolving relationship between user and system. It's a pseudo-dialogue, and actually it is not "okay" at all.

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