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I think “Undo” is one of the best features we have in many desktop applications. I am not going to get into details of individual applications, but I used quite a bit of “Undo” in Visual Studio editor, Word, and more recently “System restore” on my Windows XP box. There are two reasons we need “Undo”, first we as human beings make mistakes all the time; secondly the application or system also makes mistakes from time to time. Real world is not perfect. By the same token in softare development world we usually use version control, i.e., we check in working code to repository every day (or a few days) so that we can roll back if we find the latest (and the greatest code) is not working.

Unfortunately in the real life there are no magic “Undo” buttons. For instances, if we get angry at people we know (I know I have been treated unfairly), the recepients can remember the incident for a long time. Human beings are not computers, the bad memory on human mind (or heart) are not easy to erase. It’s not that human beings are not forgiving (I know I am very forgiving :-), but forgiving does not mean forgetting. On the other hand, I think we can get smart on things, because we are smart than computers. Now that we know there is no magic “Undo” button, let’s think about it before demage is being done.

1 comment

  1. Very interesting perspective. In a similiar vein, we all wish there would be a “delete” button in our system. Once that was clicked, all bad memories would be erased permanently.

    However I do believe there could be such a button in one’s mind not necessarily as a result of a kind propensity called “forgiving” but a result of having neural or low expectations. For instance, if one has done a favor towards another individual, one would get upset if the result was not anticipated, arising from having high expectations of believing that the other person would return the favor or at least express a certain degree of gratitude. Because that would be a logical thing to do. However, more often than not, that logic doesn’t work for us human beings. Worse yet, certain human beings have the tendency to resist the sound proposals made by others for no apparent lgical reasoning.

    To be forgiving is a sign of having tremendous internal strength….and setting neutral expecations is a way of balancing external stress and exercising internal control.

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