Bill Gates as usability rabble-rouser

A Seattle Post-Intelligencer blog posted this email sent by Bill Gates to various Microsoft employees in which he details, with clear irritation, the usability issues he encountered in trying to download and install some Windows software.  Aside from the clear amusement factor, the email and Gates’ response is also fascinating in providing a glimpse of someone who views his job, as The Man in Charge, to advocate for usability. Strangely enough, this is part of what I think librarians do, too.  We advocate to all those companies that make all those fancy databases to keep the end user in mind.  (The end user being, in our case, everyone that comes into Snell and tries to find an article in, say, Lexis-Nexis.) So if something is hard to use, let us know.  Sometimes research is complicated, period.  I daresay that will never change.  But sometimes research is complicated because the tools are poorly designed.