“I’ve figured out what clocks with hands are for,” said my Patient Husband.
Since I’d always figured they were for telling time, I paid attention. “Go on.”
We were driving. He said, “You don’t need to pay attention to the precision of an analogue clock the same way you need to pay attention to a digital clock. With a digital, you need to focus on the numbers and decode them, whereas a clock with hands can give you a general idea of the time without your having to stop in order to process the full degree of precision.”
I said, “I just think they’re more elegant.”
He continued, “If that’s one thing that working at Angelborough Geekery Incorporated has taught me, it’s how difficult it is to provide enough information to the end users without overwhelming them. In a digital age, all too often we reduce all our information to a series of numbers that need to be interpreted in order to acquire the information we want to obtain, and it’s delivered at a degree of precision that’s not always necessary. But a clock with hands is a well-designed user interface.”
Kiddo#1, from the back, said, “Are we supposed to understand any of what you’re talking about?”
“I never thought of a clock as having a user interface.” I paused. “But if you think about it, even if one of the hands falls off, or the numbers, you can still get a very good idea of the time from what remains. And if you do need a higher degree of specificity, you can add a sweep second hand or even the kind of hand they had in Cheaper By The Dozen, where the clock hand made a full revolution every second.”
My Patient Husband said, “See, that’s what I mean. It’s not only a well-designed user interface, but it’s fault-tolerant as well.”
From the back of the car: silence.
This is how geek parents embarrass and shock their children.