It is not difficult to design keys and plugs that

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t all these devices orientation insensitive? It is not difficult to design keys and plugs that work regardless of how they are inserted. Automobile keys that are insensitive to the orientation have long existed, but not all manufacturers use them. Similarly, many electrical connectors are insensitive to orientation, but again, only a few manufacturers use them. Why the resistance? Some of it results from the legacy concerns about the expense of massive change. But much seems to be a classic example of corporate thinking: This is the way we have always done things. We don t care about the customer. It is, of course, true that difficulty in inserting keys, batteries, or plugs is not a big enough issue to affect the decision of whether to purchase something, but still, the 128 The Design of Everyday Things lack of attention to customer needs on even simple things is often symptomatic of larger issues that have greater impact. Note that a superior solution would be to solve the fundamental need solving the root need. After all, we don t really care about keys and locks: what we need is some way of ensuring that only authorized people can get access to whatever is being locked. Instead of redoing the shapes of physical keys, make them irrelevant. Once this is recognized, a whole set of solutions present themselves: combination locks that do not require keys, or keyless locks that can be operated only by authorized people. One method is through possession of an electronic wireless device, such as the identification badges that unlock doors when they are moved close to a sensor, or automobile keys that can stay in the pocket or carrying case. Biometric devices could identify the person through face or voice recognition, fingerprints, or other biometric measures, such as iris patterns. This approach is discussed in Chapter 3, page 91. CULTURAL CONSTRAINTS Each culture has a set of allowable actions for social situations.
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Thus, in our own culture we know how to behave in a restaurant even one we have never been to before. This is how we manage to cope when our host leaves us alone in a strange room, at a strange party, with strange people. And this is why we sometimes feel frustrated, so incapable of action, when we are confronted with a restaurant or group of people from an unfamiliar culture, where our normally accepted behavior is clearly inappropriate and frowned upon. Cultural issues are at the root of many of the problems we have with new machines: there are as yet no universally accepted conventions or customs for dealing with them. Those of us who study these things believe that guidelines for cultural behavior are represented in the mind by schemas, knowledge structures that contain the general rules and information necessary for interpreting situations and for guiding behavior. In some stereotypical situations (for example, in a restaurant), the schemas may be very specialized. Cognitive scientists Roger Schank and four: Knowing What to Do: Constraints, Discoverability, and Feedback 129
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