The “WEB is special” syndrome

I do fail students in the university exams quite rarely, I prefer to try to know them well during the semester, check progression and problems and have the last exam as a final confirmation test.

Many years ago I was professor of “Bioengineering applied to blood circulatory system” at the school of vascular surgery of the Milan medicine university.

I remember very well some students that failed the exam with the same wrong and, to my opinion, not acceptable answer.

In the eighteenth century Daniel Bernoulli, a swiss mathematician and physicist born in Holland, has written a formula around which hydraulics was born: it state that, due to the fact that energy cannot be created or destroyed, motion of fluids can be described in term of energy transforming itself from one type to another.

The sum of energy due to speed, to pressure and to gravity is, under ideal conditions, a constant.

Vascular surgery often changes the shape of the tube where patient blood is pumped, Bernoulli's principle is the most important law that makes possible to predict how the system will work after modifications and for this reason was one of the most important subjects of my semester course.

Hydraulic is not so simple and intuitive so several times student went into confusion especially in exercises. Some of them after having the errors pointed out had the bad idea of justifying themselves telling “is a biological alive fluid, it is special, normal laws of physics do not work”.

I gave to this totally wrong attitude a name: the “we are special syndrome”.

As a matter of fact the being alive of blood does not make any difference, some difference may come from the presence of solid elements like blood cells, but at a macroscopic level this does not make any real difference.
I have seen in my professional experience this syndrome several times but as soon as I have begun to work on web sites usability I have noticed that in this area is a very common syndrome.

If we try to simplify the concept web pages usability is the application of ergonomics rules to design of page elements to communicate messages and get order to and from a user brain via a sensorial and motor human system.

A page is an object, physical or virtual does not make a big difference, with some elements, the eye is an eye and the brain is a brain.

There is NOTHING special, maybe we need some small adjustments, some tricks but 99% of the concepts are the same! WEB is NOT special.

Doing special things is fun and makes people happy, but this is not the case: start form the idea of being unique is not only a lie, is a very dangerous attitude.

This syndrome is a VERY dangerous one and has been the cause of several business tragedies: the new economy bubble is one example, I remember very well how I was considered stupid for trying to tell the the new economy gurus the economy fundamentals were there even for Internet ventures.

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