If you are strong, you always welcome more choices.
Many people complain about the choices provided by new tech, such as wasting time checking emails every day. I don’t give it a damn. I came from the third world. When I saw kids kneeing before me begging money in train stations of China, I wish they had a choice. When I went to college and had to live for 4 or 5 years with some strangers arranged by the school, I wish I had a choice (although I enjoyed very much my days with my roommates). When I had to take classes that totally don’t make sense to me, I wish I had a choice. My father got distributed by the government to where he was supposed to work after his college graduation. I wish he had a choice. My mother, an outstanding high school student (she went to the key school in the area, a much better high school than the one my father went to), couldn’t go to college because of culture revolution, I wish she had a choice. My aunt, whose eyes need a very small surgery (and a very cheap one), had to wait for her eyes going almost blind because she couldn’t afford the surgery. I wish she had a choice. My cousin, who wanted to go to college very much herself, had to work to make money for her brother to go to college. I wish she had a choice.
Only losers complain about too many choices.
Just happened to get this article from Joel On Software: Choices=Headaches (http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2006/11/21.html). He got his points. But my take on interface design? Use the most commonly used feature as the default and allow it configurable so users can configure it to display differently if they really need. If there is no choice, that should mean that you can only shut down you computer. That is it. No other options. So what Joel want is really not less choices. He wants more choices: a choice to make no choice by default, but still able to reach for choices when needed.
The long time online vs. offline debate is the same thing. I don’t care online or offline. I use whatever is best for me. There are things that are better done offline. There are also things that are better done online. A simple example is that so many people are so unprepared when coming to a meeting. Why not do something online before the meeting so they can be more prepared? For a lot of meeting that people don’t actually need to get together face to face, we can just save the time and use that time saved for meetings what we have to be face to face. The same applies to elearning. Sometimes, offline is still needed. Anyway, you have the choice.
Whenever I heard of people talking about too many choices, I feel they don’t know how they get here. They don’t know what the life is when there is really no choice. I guess we should send those people to some third world countries, so the world can be more balanced. If you are not strong and don’t appreciate the choices you have, then you really don’t have a choice. In that case, you are better off to be sent to some third world country to learn to be strong.
In my personal life, I try to get as many choices as I can, then happily decide which one to pick.
Below added on Nov. 29th:
To me, it is always better to have a choice to not have choices than not having a choice to have choices.
Collectively, given more choices, human being will be more likely to live out of its true values. I guess this is what life is about. Given more choices to develop in various ways, life is more likely to display its true values and become more beautiful. In human world, given more choices, things that really reflect true values will win out. I guess the saying that variety is the spice/source of life is based on the same reason.
In this sense, software, Internet and Web, by breaking many physical barriers, offer more choices, and thus gives human being the chance to become more fully developed and more beautiful.
This is also the reason of my fundamental belief in openness, more choices, freely accessible resources when it comes to human environment for individual development. I believe that an individual, in pursuit of his own happiness, should be allowed free open access to all kinds of resources. Every individual has the responsibility to open himself up to all info and opportunities.