Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Open Doors

There is a lot to be said for universal conventions.

Faced with the door handle above, nobody would hesitate before pushing the handle down to open the door (Would they? Anywhere?).
If there had been a roundish knob, rather than a handle, few people would hesitate before turning it anti-clockwise to open the door.
Similarly for the lock below the handle.
Most people would expect to turn it clockwise to lock the door & anti-clockwise to unlock it.
If it had been an inserted key, rather than a fitted knob, I think most people would still expect to use the same rotational senses.

For the second illustration, where the door handle is near the left edge of the door, most people would, I think, expect all the above directions to be reversed.

There is no logical reason for this, but society seems to have automatically & universally configured door furniture as though it had a sliding bolt, operated by the top edge of the handle, knob, key, etc.
This saves a lot of people a large number of tiny fractions of a second, and tiny wastes of mental & physical effort, every day.
It makes life just a little bit easier & more pleasant, at almost no cost.

Why, oh why, oh why, then, have cars adopted the exact opposite convention?
Why do I still have to hesitate, try to remember, then usually still get it wrong & have to try again, every time I lock or unlock my car doors?
Which crazy idiot started this trend & why did anybody at all follow it?
How can we fix it?
Apart from remote opening devices, that is.

Parting thot: "The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking." - John Kenneth Galbraith

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