I don’t use GUI. Manly Men use SQL

GUI gets a bad rep because a lot of neophytes can get away with half managing systems via graphics. A lot of graphics are completely useless, distracting or worse misleading. On the other hand I have to smile when I hear this phrase “we don’t use GUI”.

It’s like badge of honor. Maybe that’s just the way I hear it. Maybe some of my friends really mean, “graphics are great, but the tools that exist are bad”. Then again, I know how to ruffle the feathers at a conference when I give a talk on graphics. If I’m talking about graphics all I have to say is “I bet there is no one out there in the crowd who would refuse to use a good graphic tool”. Typically half the crowd will shuffle in their seats a bit when I say this. I know what they are thinking … “I ONLY use SQL*Plus”.

It’s clear that graphic data is more powerful than textual data.
That’s not the question. The question, the issue, is access to efficient fast programs that display data graphically in an intelligent manner and  that allow easily asking new questions of the data and drilling into the data with new graphical representations. Oracle’s OEM performance page and top activity pages were a step in the right direction, but had limited drilldown (and slow) and no way to rephrase the questions a user might have.  A good example of a tool that shows data powerfully and graphically and allows rephrasing of questions and outputs answers in  new graphical presentations  is Sun’s (now Oracle’s) Fishworks.  Additionally there are things that I can’t see in text that I can see in graphics, for example check out these.

There is a time for text and a time for graphics. Graphics lead the way to the text that is worth spending time analyzing.

I just finished reading “Brain Rules” today and like these tidbits on Text verses Graphics:

p233-234

“pictures demolish ” text and oral presentations

“the inefficiency of text has received particular attention” … “reading creates a bottleneck” … “to our cortex, unnervingly there is no such thing as words”

“tests performed showed that people could remember more than 2500 pictures with at least 90% accuracy several days post-exposure, even though the subjects saw each picture for about 10 seconds. Accuracy rates a year later  still hovered around 63 percent. ”

“words are only the postage stamps delivering the object for you to unwrap” – George Bernard Shaw

Or as Einstein said it:

“If I can’t picture it, I can’t understand it”


by the way we do not use blogs either, checkout : http://www.wedonotuse.com/

(thanks to Wolfgang Breitling for the reference)



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  2. Wolfgang Breitling
    May 18th, 2011 at 02:22 | #1

    Wow, it didn’t take you long to blog this.

  3. May 18th, 2011 at 07:36 | #2

    It’s ‘Bad rep’. A bad wrap is a snack. A bum rap is an unfair arrest in 1970s TV cop shows.

  4. Kyle Hailey
    May 18th, 2011 at 13:40 | #3

    @The Phantom Nitpicker
    Thanks – Such word gaffes are another reason I like graphics :)

  5. May 23rd, 2011 at 12:59 | #4

    “I ONLY use SQL*Plus” – I can’t tell if those people are bragging when they say that, or are crying desperately for help. Probably both.

    I like tools that give you both. Back in the day, I used Reflections for FTP. Loved that it had a ‘GUI’ and a command-line interface, all in the same window.

  6. hdaz
    September 15th, 2011 at 11:51 | #5

    “tests performed showed that people could remember more than 2500 pictures with at least 90% accuracy several days post-exposure, even though the subjects saw each picture for about 10 seconds. Accuracy rates a year later still hovered around 63 percent. ”

    Test performed showed that computers could remember text and pictures with 100% accuracy one year or decades later. But running things from text was more productive for computers than running things from pictures.

    :)

  7. September 15th, 2011 at 15:06 | #6

    “Test performed showed that computers could remember text and pictures with 100% accuracy” haha :)
    That’s also the crux of the problem – since computers can do both well but humans can only do one well, then best outcome is to make the computers externalize the information graphically while computing things numerically/textually and allowing drilldowns from the graphics into the textual information once the area of interest has been differentiated from the rest of the data and identified.

  8. hdaz
    September 16th, 2011 at 12:27 | #7

    I’d like to know who these people are who did the 2500 pictures test…

    I would think taking 1000 random people from the streets of London, and asking them to remember just a pack of cards five minutes later would give less than 90%.
    Then ask them to come back one week later and that’s at 90% and a year later at 63%.

    Everything is possible text and pictures, look at all the people that read telephone directories and remember them.

    You say there’s a problem, I see one of the biggest problems in management as managing by pictures.

  9. September 16th, 2011 at 23:27 | #8

    Graphics verses text is something I’ve been meaning to blog more about lately.
    Humans on general remember 5-7 bits of textual information in short term memory, thus a personal will be able to easily buffer only small bits of data in a larger set of data ie non-narrative text, such as performance statistics (verses an evocative story). For example if I’m reading an Oracle AWR report, or my favorite example, the mortality of cancer by county in the US, then it will be extremely tiring and time consuming to find correlations in 10s or 100s of pages of textual data, but when shown graphically the data can be assimilated, buffered, in one fell swoop and correlations practically jump out in seconds. See http://www.wikiviz.org/wiki/File:Usa_map_cancer.jpg
    There is a famous set of data called Anscombe’s quartet. It serves to illustrate again the power of graphics and humans verses text and computers because the 4 sets of X and Y data all have the same average, mean, variance, correlation and linear regression so by using a computer to scan for the typical analysis techniques all 4 sets look exactly the same. As a human reading the textual data, again it will take me a while to buffer each 5-7 sets numbers, analyze and rebuffer each remaining set. Now graphically the differences and patterns jump out in seconds with ease: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anscombe's_quartet
    I see one of the biggest problems in management as failing to analyze data and situations in a manner, such as with graphcis, that affords understanding the larger picture and relative importance of the parts whether it be balancing the economy or tuning a database.


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