I’ve never met Joe Sixpack, but I keep hearing about him in “Linux isn’t ready for the desktop” rants. Apparently, Joe Sixpack never has to ask for help with Windows. He can do everything he wants without asking for help, because Windows has GUI (graphical user interface) for all the common tasks. Poor desktop Linux. Desktop Linux can’t help Joe Sixpack out, because there are some things in desktop Linux that Joe might need to use the terminal for. If only desktop Linux had GUI frontends for everything, then Joe Sixpack (who really knows only how to check his email, listen to music, surf the web, and type a Word document) would download and burn an .ISO, back up his Windows installation, repartition his hard drive, install Linux, and then troubleshoot hardware incompatibility problems.
I haven’t met this mythical Joe Sixpack. I have met plenty of everyday Windows users I’ll call Jordan Memorizer, though.
Jordan Memorizer has to ask for help. That’s the bottom line. It doesn’t matter that Jordan has used Windows for years, even decades. Nothing is intuitive, even if it involves a mouse and clicking. I encounter Jordan Memorizer at work all the time and have done so at the last three jobs I’ve had in schools. Jordan Memorizer memorizes steps, writes them down, needs constant reminders of how to repeat the steps.
How do I know this? Because I’ve had a lot of Jordan Memorizers ask me how to do a mail merge. Dude, there’s a mail merge wizard in Word. Just follow the prompts. It walks you through step by step. Do you want a label, letter, envelope, email? What list do you want to merge? What merge fields do you want to insert? Want a preview of your merge? Want to complete the merge? The wizard practically does everything for you.
And yet Jordan Memorizer needs to write down where to click and what to click next. Eventually, Jordan will have it all memorized. I know Joe Sixpack wouldn’t have had any trouble with figuring out the mail merge. After all, there’s a GUI for it. I just haven’t met any Sixpacks. The Beerguts I know are Memorizers or Figureouters. And the Memorizers are just as lost on a wizard as some of the Figureouters are with a command-line.
Wizards aren’t for Memorizers. Wizards are for power users—the Figureouters.