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Peopleware Papers: Notes on the Human Side of Software, The by Larry L. Constantine

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Chapter 51. Wizard Widgets

An axiom of science fiction is that any sufficiently advanced technology looks like magic to the uninitiated. Even to those on the inside, who know that it's all just floating point adds and conditional logic, computers can seem a little like black magic. Some software developers would make them seem even more magical by putting wizards and agents and active intelligence on your screen.

Like a cocktail-lounge mentalist, a software wizard asks leading questions, then jumps to conclusions. A wizard in a presentation package might ask what kind of talk you are going to be making, what the main subject and secondary themes are, who will be in the audience, and what you want to accomplish. Then the wizard picks a color scheme ...

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