Remember the obnoxious, hyperactive paperclip that popped up in Word when you were trying write a letter? As soon as you typed "Dear," up popped up Clippy:
It looks like you're writing a letter.
Would you like help?
You'd been writing letters for decades, but Microsoft insisted you needed what they called "proactive help." And there was Clippy insisting he could show you how to do your job better. No matter how many times you clicked "Just type the letter without help," Clippy would pop up again, insisting you must need help.
Your train of thought melted as you tried to remember how to get rid of the dorky paperclip.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal , Stanford professor Clifford Nass reports, "One of the most reviled software designs of all time was Clippy, the animated paper clip in Microsoft Office. The mere mention of his name to computer users brought on levels of hatred usually reserved for jilted lovers and mortal enemies. There were 'I hate Clippy' websites, videos and T-shirts in numerous languages." Nass observes that "Clippy's problem was that he was utterly oblivious to the appropriate ways to treat people. Every time a user typed "Dear," Clippy would dutifully propose, "I see you are writing a letter. Would you like some help?" --no matter how many times the user had rejected this offer in the past."
And he wouldn't stop smiling. You're pounding the keyboard trying to find the "DIE!" function but he keeps smiling.
YouTube offers a hilarious "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" audio segment on the death of the reviled Microsoft mascot. Listeners voted this the funniest segment of all time. The show host Peter Segal says, "One day the engineers at Microsoft said, you know, the people using our products, they're frustrated, they're angry, but they're not insane with rage. How can we focus their rage? How about if just in the middle of doing something, an animated paperclip pops up on the screen and says: 'Can I help you? What are you doing? Oh, can I see?'"
The segment includes the Bill Gate memo titled "Clippy Must Die."
But now, teachers across America are discovering that Clippy has been reborn--with Gates barnstorming the country with pronouncements about effective teaching. Never mind you've been teaching for decades, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is there popping up with compulsory proactive help, insisting they can show you how to do your job better. No matter how much you beg, "Just let me teach," Clippy Bill is there insisting you must need help.
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