An artifact is a human-designed thing. When I use this word, I can refer to an mobile phone interface or a post office or a church or a law or a car. Artifacts have an intended purpose, even if it’s decorative or the result of a process that was the creator’s actual motivation. Artifacts may also have an incidental purpose dictated by the user and unanticipated by the creator. Usability refers to how seamlessly an artifact allows a user to interact with it, towards the user’s intended goal. Some artifacts are designed to be usable by more than one different type of user, or multiple user groups trying to accomplish different goals. And many artifacts are not designed with general usability in mind at all.
This post is mostly about how things that are patched together can become corrosive and dangerous.
The definition of kludge:
The dictionary tells us that a kludge is “an ill-assorted collection of parts assembled to fulfill a particular purpose…a clumsy but temporarily effective solution to a particular fault or problem.” The term comes out of the world of computer programming, where a kludge is an inelegant patch put in place to be backward compatible with the rest of a system. When you add up enough kludges, you get a very complicated program, one that is hard to understand and subject to crashes.
Kludge can happen largely for two reasons: because an environment is difficult or because the agents responsible don’t give a damn.Comments closed