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Apparently I drive a car the way I use a computer

by Brandon on April 2nd, 2009

Last week Raymond Chen posted about how he drives a car the way most people user computers.  His point was simple: he doesn’t care about the “driving experience,” he just wants to get from point A to point B.  I like the computer analogy he made, as it makes sense to me that normal PC users simply want to get something done, and they don’t want to understand the technology or the operational subtleties of the tools they’re using.

I’m not in the same bucket at Raymond.  He doesn’t like driving a manual and doesn’t care to improve his ability at doing so.  However, when I bought my car I had a choice between the faster dual-clutch race transmission that Audi calls “S-Tronic,” (which can work like an automatic or be controlled via paddle on the steering wheel) and a regular old-fashioned stick shift with a clutch pedal.

I chose the stick.  It’s what I was used to from my previous car, and it makes me feel more in control of the vehicle.  It wasn’t a simple choice, because the S-Tronic isn’t a regular automatic.  It’s lightning fast, way faster than I ever could be.  But ultimately I decided against it because I didn’t like having control and information taken away from me.  With an automatic I can’t just disengage the clutch and let the car roll forward or backward.  And with the paddle-shift option, I can’t easily tell which gear I’m in unless I look at the dash.  With a stick, I know just by feeling.

Taking that away would be like taking my debugger, my command line, or some other source of control or detailed input which I’ve come to rely on.  If you’re going to do that, you better offer something awfully compelling in return.

  1. Guess they do pay nicely in Microsoft, an Audi… not bad.

    I would have thought a developer would prefer the s-tronic, cause it is smarter, faster, more advanced, saves more fuel and you can still control it with the paddles.

    Nice post.

  2. Loved the post. I’m with you on the whole I like control and information. I installed a tachometer in my old truck for that very reason. ; )

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