Photoshop and Micro-Management

First we need to think about: if micro-management of software kills creativity and productivity of developers?

The question I think is no. On the contrary, micro-management of software is convenient and still needs human control. And also, micro-management of software accelerates and extends human’s creativity.

One of the key uses of digital computers from the start was automation. Computers can be programmed to execute all the established instructions, aka algorithm, without human input. However, from the user’s point of view, this low-automation still requires human’s command of interface. Many software techniques which can simulate physical tools need the users to control them manually, but from a micro prospective. In order to produce the desired effect, human beings should micro-manage the tools in the software techniques and they can’t be seen as totally automated.

I used Photoshop for several years. For me, it is such a great software. It’s convenient not only for creating a picture, but also for retouching the pictures. When I didn’t know this software, I always use the drawing software in the Windows system. However, it is not very convenient to use and all the functions are simple. The whole pictures can only be seen as a whole. On the contrary, the pictures can be retouched layer by layer in the Photoshop and the functions are more complicated and convenient.

Photoshop can be an example of the micro-management of digital software. The user has to micro-manage the tool and direct it step by step to produce the desired effect. For example, the user need to control the cursor in a desired pattern to produce a particular brushstroke using a brush tool. This function is the same as the drawing software in the Windows system. The new digital technology and software is more convenient in its new functions and tools. It offers higher-level automation of creative processes. The user doesn’t need to control every detail. Instead, they can specify the parameters and controls and set the tools in motion. For example, when drawing a rectangle, the user needs to draw it in detail in the previous drawing software in the Windows system. However, with Photoshop or Illustrator, the user can set the length and width of the rectangle and the software will generate it automatically for the user.

My favorite tool in the Photoshop is the Magic Wand. Before Photoshop was invented, it’s almost impossible to move part of the picture to other places. However, with the Magic Wand, the user can easily choose part of one picture with the same or almost the same color. If the user set different tolerance parameter, the range is also different.

Photoshop can also be seen as an example of human-computer interaction. The users interact with computer over this software interface using the given input and output (I/O) hardware. As to the method of the interaction, it is about micro-management. The user interacts with computer by micro-managing the software and giving input to the hardware and then it will generate output automatically following established procedures, namely algorithm. During these processes, the human-computer interaction will give the users much more convenience.


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  3. Yong, K. F. (2014). Emerging human-computer interaction interfaces: a categorizing framework for general computing(Doctoral dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology).