Journal: News & Comment

Friday, November 10, 2000
# 9:50:00 AM:

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Usability problems lead to chaos, and eBay benefits

Scott Rosenberg of Salon magazine has a good column on how usability problems with some ballots in Florida may end up costing Al Gore the presidential election. Usability is more commonly applied to Web design these days, but in all disciplines, it's the extreme situations (like elections in which a few hundred votes make a difference among tens of millions) where tiny usability issues can have enormous consequences.

Perhaps a result of those ballot usability bugs, and though the papers' editors probably dislike the infamy, early press-run copies of a number of newspapers that prematurely announced George W. Bush as the definitive winner of this week's U.S. presidential election (and then issued revised headlines later in their press runs) are now for auction on eBay. Shades of "Dewey Defeats Truman," the false headline which arose in part because, decades ago, a newspaper's non-union staff was rushing to try to get out an election-night issue while many unionized staff were on strike.


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