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The Association of Yale Alumni recently asked graduates of Yale to update their entries in the alumni directory. The questionnaire also had optional items about income and wealth, information which "will not appear in the directory," possibly to the regret of our more competitive graduates. Theoretically requiring information from a few alumni accurate to 8 significant digits, the categories offered are not modest:
-- Edward Tufte
I like the user interface of this form. Instead of circling or checking the correct answer you look up the corresponding letter and copy it into the little box. If I had $100 million in net worth I would rather save time and effort by simply circling the words "100 mil". As a great man once asked (in a great book #3), "Why can't the information be the interface?"
-- Philip Greenspun (email)
Yale alums with negative net worth? How about a recent Yale graduate struggling to pay back their Yale tuition on a teacher's salary...
-- Philip Flip Kromer (email)
Interesting. Yale may be the province of the best and the brightest, but its questionnaire designers still clutter their work with unnecessary asterisks, fill-ins instead of check boxes, and meaningless strings of parenthesized numbers (convenient for the few analysts, clutter for the many respondents).
So: Yalies may enjoy high income and the ease that brings. But they are not spared the pain of poor design. Conclusion: Poor design, like McDonald's, is an agent of democracy. ;)
-- Susan Grodsky (email)