|Dial 1 For... Hey, Wait A Minute! rev. 12.26.2009||Back to Lessons|
I just came back from shopping at a local electronics supplier. One of the employees was griping that recently, their software was updated to require the customer to "press 1 for English" on the touch-pad before starting a credit card transaction. One of the other employees reported that he'd heard a lot of complaints at another location when this change was implemented.
It got me thinking about "default values."
In programming, a "default value" is the number or letter or word which is pre-inserted into a variable's field at the beginning of the program, subroutine or whatever.
In your car, the "default position" of your directional signal is neither "left turn" nor "right turn;" its "off."
If you step into an elevator, the default button that's already been pressed for you is: "none;" it's not the next floor up or down.
We're used to dealing with "default" situations every day, all around us.
However, today we also find that the "default" for "what language do you want to continue in?" is not English. It's nothing. You have to specify by pressing, typically 1 for English, 2 for Spanish, etc.
I think this is fundamentally bad thinking and should be corrected.
The default in the United States should be what has traditionally been the "default language" for the United States: English.
To proceed in any other language should require action on the user's part, as in, "Press 1 for Spanish," "Press 2 for French." "Press 3 for Italian," etc.
But there should be no requirement to "press anything" for English.
Think about it.