In 1996, I was responsible for the “kiosk” in Diesel’s Covent Garden flagship store (a Mac running the Diesel website). I had to go into the store once a month to “fix” it.

On the website were two video ads and a handful of audio files. Netscape (1.2, I think) treated these links as “downloads” to be opened with a helper application. Every time somebody using the kiosk clicked on a video or audio link, a new copy of the file was “downloaded” (from the copy of the website stored on the Mac’s hard disk), and placed on the desktop. When I came for my monthly visit, the hard disk would be full, and the desktop would be stacked 6 or 7 deep with icons of the same few files.

My job then was to delete these files. Macs then (OS5 or 6 – or was it 4?) were a lot simpler than they are now, and I myself was no Apple genius. So I had to drag all 9-gazillion of the files into the Trash. Which was a problem. Because the Trash (and, indeed, the hard drive) was an icon on the desktop. And the Desktop was geological-layers-deep in icons. (And, because the Mac wasn’t totally locked down, the Trash icon itself could be anywhere on the Desktop).

And so I began an elaborate game of Towers of Hanoi. Before I could delete the files, I had to find the Trash. So I would painfully drag the files, one at a time, until I unearthed that little waste mpeg basket. After an hour or so of this, I would unearth the Trash icon. And then the work would begin all over again, dragging the files into the Trash and, finally, emptying it.

I’ve a sneaking suspicion that this may be what first triggered my RSI; and my hatred of drag-and-drop as an interaction mechanism; and, quite possibly, a lasting suspicion of all Apple products.

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