Monday, October 10, 2005

The 'Nudge' Button -- Somebody Please Invent It!

by Al Bredenberg

I love the "Undo" function. It doesn't always work the way you expect it to, and it doesn't always work the same from one application to another, but it's a great idea that helps the user in many circumstances in many applications.

I wish somebody would invent a similar function called "Nudge."

Does your computer ever get stuck? You know what I mean. The hourglass just keeps spinning, or the hard drive just keeps clicking, or the progress bar will only go so far and then it stops. You have a sense that the application you're using or the process your computer is executing has just reached an impasse of some kind. You're not exactly sure, though. Should you call up Task Manager and abort the process? Or should you shut down the computer entirely? Or should you just be patient and go take a bathroom break or get a cup of coffee? (That usually doesn't work, does it? You come back and it's still stuck.)

Well, the "Nudge" function would allow you to bump the process along. You just click the "Nudge" button, and that makes the computer realize, "Oh, yeah, I got stuck in circular thinking. I'm actually supposed to be doing some work here." Then it recovers and gets the process moving again.

It would be built into operating systems and APIs and would work in all programs and across all computing processes. Somebody else should probably decide what the icon should look like. Maybe an elbow?

AB -- 10/10/05

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