There are two ways of constructing a software design. One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies. And the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiences. -- Tony Hoare

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. -- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Yet still, there are those special secret moments in our lives, when we smile unexpectedly--when all our forces are resolved. A woman can often see these moments in us, better than a man, better than we ourselves, even. When we know these moments, when we smile, when we are not on guard at all--these are the moments when our most important forces show themselves; whatever it is you are doing at such a moment, hold on to it, repeat it--for that certain smile is the best knowledge that we ever have of what our hidden forces are, and where they lie, and how they can be loosed. -- Christopher Alexander (The Timeless Way of Building)

As for the Sun mouse, I'm not a big multi-button mouse fan, because I just can't remember which button to push when. I rather like the Macintosh system of using four modifier keys with the mouse. -- Bruce Tognazzini (interview in SIGCHI Bulletin, Aug 95)

For ethnomethodology the objective reality of social facts, in that, and just how, it is every society's locally, endogenously produced, naturally organised, reflexively accountable, ongoing, practical achievement, being everywhere, always, only, exactly and entirely, members' work, with no time out, and with no possibility of evasion, hiding out, passing, postponement, or buy-outs, is thereby sociology's fundamental phenomenon. -- Harold Garfinkel (Ethnomethodology and the Human Sciences)

The procedure of deciding, before the actual occasion of choice, the conditions under which one among a set of possible alternative courses of action will be elected, is one definition of a rational strategy. It is worth noting that this rational property of the decision-making process in managing everyday affairs is conspicuous by its absence. -- Harold Garfinkel (Studies in Ethnomethodology, ch4).

'Cognition' observed in everyday practice is distributed -- stretched over, not divided among -- mind, body, activity and culturally organised settings (which include other actors). -- Jean Lave (Cognition in Practice)

In this queer world as everyone knows.
Some have beautiful mansions
And are wearing beautiful clothes.
There are blue-blooded queens and princesses
Who have charms made of diamonds and pearls.
But the only thoroughbred lady
Is the Rebel Girl.
-- Joe Hill

Those who complain that sociologists are inclined to re-iterate themes unnecessarily are missing the point. Recursive rhetoricism is constitutive of sociology. The very stuff of the discipline is the work of repetition. To make the point absolutely clear, without the rehearsal of argumentation there could be no sociology. Indeed, and to put it another way, sociology is not in the loop, sociology is the loop. Theorists of Hypertext media have observed that Cut and Paste facilities derive their very meaning from the activities of sociology. In short, we do go on. We make no apology for this. -- Dave Randall

The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get for it but what they become by it. -- John Ruskin

I know of no academic discipline which has suffered more at the hands of its expositors than ethnomethodology. -- Eric Livingston ("Making Sense of Ethnomethodlogy")

The observer himself should play an active role in perceiving the world and should have a creative part in developing his image. he should have the power to change that image to fit changing needs. An environment which is ordered in precise and final detail may inhibit new patterns of activity. A landscape whose every rock tells a story may make difficult the creation of new stories. -- Kevin Lynch (The Image of the City)

When the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called "The People's Stick". -- Mikhail Bakunin (Statism and Anarchy)

Men make history, but not in circumstances of their own choosing. -- Karl Marx

I had never tasted anything so cool and clean. They made me feel civilized. -- Frederick Henry, on the Martini, in Hemmingway's "Farewell to Arms"


Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin cutting throats. -- H.L. Mencken

The relevance of the works of the Chicago sociologists is that they do contain a lot of information about this and that. And this and that is what the world is made up of. -- Harvey Sacks

Originality is going back to origins. -- Antoni Gaudi

Technology at present is covert philosophy; the point is to make it overtly philosophical. -- Phil Agre

Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real. -- Jean Baudrillard

Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man. -- Francis Bacon

Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language. -- Ludwig Wittgenstein

Few scientists would treat their cars as badly as they treat their conceptual schemes. -- Mary Midgley

You seem to have an endless supply of criticism. -- Melinda (to me)

You're pretty strong for a theory guy. -- Anthony LaMarca, to Marshall Bern

When I was younger, I made it a rule never to take strong drink before lunch. It is now my rule never to do so before breakfast. -- Winston Churchill

It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity. I bet this kind of thing does not happen to heroin addicts. I bet that when serious heroin addicts go to purchase their heroin, they do not tolerate waiting in line while some dilettante in front of them orders a hazelnut smack-a-cino with cinnamon sprinkles. -- Dave Barry

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a 'mouse.' There is no evidence that people want to use these things. -- John Dvorak

Q: So, has success changed you?
A: Yeah, it's changed me. You know how when you're eating pistachios and you find one that's hard to get the shell open? Well, I don't bother with them anymore. -- Bob Weir

Oh, yes, I've learned from my mistakes and I'm sure I could repeat them exactly. -- Sir Arthur Strebe-Greebling (aka Peter Cook)

When it comes to being slaves to fashion, American managers make adolescent girls look like rugged individualists. -- Geoff Nunberg

"Politics" is made up of two words, "Poli", which is Greek for "many", and "tics", which are blood sucking insects. -- Gore Vidal

When I was a young student in London I thought I should get a few tips from experienced fieldworkers before setting out for central Africa. I first sought advice from Westermarck. All I got from him was "don't converse with an informant for more than twenty minutes because if you aren't bored by that time he will be." Very good advice even if somewhat inadequate. I sought instruction from Haddon, a man foremost in field research. He told me it was really quite simple; one should always behave like a gentleman. Also very good advice. My teacher Seligman told me to take ten grains of quinine every night and to keep off the women. The famous Egyptologist, Sir Flinders Petrie, just told me not to bother about drinking dirty water as one soon became immune to it. Finally I asked Malinowski and was told not to be a bloody fool. -- E.E. Evans-Pritchard, describing how he learned to conduct field research.

If, as it is said to be not unlikely in the near future, the principle of sight is applied to the telephone as well as that of sound, Earth will be in truth a paradise, and distance will lose its enchantment by being abolished altogether. -- Arthur Mee (Strand Magazine, 1898).

I do not recommend any legislative action against hermeneutics. I am a liberal person opposed to all unnecessary state limitation of individual liberties. Hermeneutics between consenting adults should not in my view be the object of any statutory restrictions. I know, only too well, what it would entail. Hermeneutic speakeasies would spring up all over the place, smuggled Thick Descriptions would be brought in by the lorry-load from Canada by the Mafia, blood and thick meaning would clot in the gutter as rival gangs of semiotic bootleggers slugged it out in a series of bloody shoot-outs and ambushes. Addicts would be subject to blackmail. Consumptions of deep meanings and its attendant psychic consequences would in no way diminsh, but the criminal world would benefit, and the whole fabric of civil society would be put under severe strain. Never!   --Ernest Gellner, Anthropology and Politics,1995:20.

Academic environments are generally characterised by the presence of peole who claim to understand more than in fact they do. Linguistic Philosophy has produced a great revolution, generating people who claim not to understand when in fact they do. Some achieve great virtuosity at it. Any beginner in philosophy can manage not to understand, say, Hegel, but I have heard people who were so advanced that they knew how not to understand writers of such limpid clarity as Bertrand Russell or A.J. Ayer. -- Ernest Gellner, Words and Things, 83-84. Routledge, 1979.

So [ethnomethodology] would be the manner in which the subjective, 'Californian' mood enters the otherwise sober, scientistic, sociological segments of the groves of academe. If this social location of the movement is correct, it is dramatically symbolised by various external characteristics of the movement--for instance, its disctinctive lecturing style, which certainly owes more to Elvis Presley than it does to Talcott Parsons--the tendency to twist and writhe, to make love to the microphone, to convey by every gesture that spontaneity, subjectivity and self-generated continuity and flow are everything, as opposed to formal structure and extraneous rules. Or again, when I had the unforgettable pleasure of attending a Conference on Ethnomethodology in Edinburgh, it was noticeable, and I think significant that the quality and quantity of ethno-chicks surpassed by far those of chicks of any other movement which I have ever observed--even Far Out Left Chicks, not to mention ordinary anthropo-chicks, socio-chicks or (dreadful thought) philosophy chicks. All this must indicate that there is a great continuity between the culture of this movement and that of the rising youth culture, which supplies it with these perks. The movement has magic, and it has it for the young." -- Ernest Gellner, "Ethnomethodology: The Re-Enchantment Industry or The Californian Way of Subjectivity". Phil. Soc. Sci. 5(1975) pp. 431--450.

God has arrived. I met him on the 5:15 train. --John Maynard Keynes, reporting Wittgenstein's return to Cambridge in 1929.

The objective of hypertext research is to save the planet. -- Ted Nelson.

Economics is about how people make choices; sociology is about how they have no choices to make. -- David Hackett Fisher

The essential task of public relations in all its operations is to invent better ways and especially to devise better explanations and accounts for what has to be done; in short, its role is to transform expediency into altruism or even statesmanship. -- Robert Jackall, "Moral Mazes: The World of Corporate Managers", p. 173

Luckily, I remembered something Malcolm Cowley had taught us at Stanford -- perhaps the most important lesson a writing class (not a writer, understand, but a class) can ever learn. 'Be gentle with one another's efforts,' he often admonished us. 'Be kind and considerate with your criticism. Always remember that it's just as hard to write a bad book as it is to write a good book.' -- Ken Kesey "Remember This: Write what you don't know", NYTBR, 31 Dec 1989

For thirty years most interface design, and most comptuer design, has been headed down the path of the "dramatic" machine. Its highest idea is to make a computer so exciting, so wonderful, so interesting, that we never want to be without it. A less-traveled path I call the "invisible"; its highest idea is to make a computer so imbedded, so fitting, so natural, that we use it without even thinking about it. -- Mark Weiser, "The Computer for the 21st Century."

It is to Scotland that we look for our idea of civilization. -- Voltaire

What we perceive as the present is the vivid fringe of memory tinged with anticipation. -- Alfred North Whitehead (in "The Concept of Nature", CUP, 1920).

These ambiguities, redundances, and deficiences recall those attributed by Dr. Franz Kuhn to a certain Chinese encyclopedia entitled Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge. On those remote pages it is written that animals are divided into (a) those that belong to the Emperor, (b) embalmed ones, (c) those that are trained, (d) suckling pigs, (e) mermaids, (f) fabulous ones, (g) stray dogs, (h) those that are included in this classification, (i) those that tremble as if they were mad, (j) innumerable ones, (k) those drawn with a very fine camel's hair brush, (l) others, (m) those that have just broken a flower vase, (n) those that resemble flies from a distance. -- Jorge Luis Borges

The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run, we are all dead. -- John Maynard Keynes

I don't know anything about music. In my line, you don't have to. -- Elvis Presley

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. -- Albert Einstein

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. -- W.B. Yeats

One of the diseases of this age is the multiplicity of books; they doth so overcharge the world that it is not able to digest the abundance of idle matter that is every day hatched and brought forth into the world. -- B. Rich, writing in 1613

No one who spells their name "Jakob Nielsen" can be a "usability" expert. -- Ken Anderson