Archive for October, 2006

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OS, From Baroque to Bauhaus

Apple’s operating system may be the triumph of the Baroque. It appeals to us as the total aesthetic elaboration of a desktop centered universe. Should Google decide to create an operating system, it will be modern in the sense that it removes all detail from the desktop computer. The desktop migrates to the Webtop, and the computer will become a closed system.

The method by which you eliminate providing customer service for the desktop is by limiting the ecosystem to two elements: the OS and the browser. Everything else migrates to the network. As with Google’s server farms, when it’s broken, replace it.

UI Is A Conversation

The Cluetrain posited that markets are conversations. And this is coming true through the emergence of the two-way Web. Of course, the Web was designed as read/write from the beginning, but for many years the Web was a one-way street. Commercial interests modeled user interaction on the one-to-many broadcast model.

Now that “user-created content” is all the rage, the “write” part of the Web is suddenly in vogue. The economic model is still the same. Regardless of who creates the content, if an audience forms around it, sell access to that audience to advertisers. More accruately defined audiences create a better targeting opportunities for advertisers.

The User Interface (UI) has been like having a conversation through a translator. You tell it something, it goes away, decodes your input, and then returns an answer or another question. There’s no fluidity, no real conversation. With the emergence of XMLhttpRequest (AJAX) and some other UI technologies — there’s a chance that the UI could become a conversation, a fluid back and forth. To create that fluidity will require new interaction models that are easy for the user to learn. I don’t believe there’s such a thing as an intuitive user interface. Generally that’s what people say when they mean to say “good.”

In the current design and production process for Web applications, who looks after the conversation? Who acts as the host?

Reading Subscriptions

I’ve switched to Google Reader. On Windows I’d used Sharpreader and on Mac NetNewsWire. As I’ve become less attached to particular computers, I’m more interested in getting the same set of tools and data from whatever my access point. I actually hate carrying around a laptop. I’d much prefer to have a Network Access point available from where ever I go. I suppose one does get used to keyboards. It might be nice if I could point a personal keyboard and mouse at any CPU and get my Web desktop.

The Meaning Of Place

The recent purchase of YouTube by Google brings up an interesting point about “place.” Robert Scoble talks about it in terms of brand and community. From an engineering perspective Web applications can be duplicated. It’s entirely possible to build a Web site that does something like YouTube or Facebook. This is where the idea of “place” come in. Cyberspace, or the Network, has places — Places where people gather, places where some history has occured. Saying that you could build your own YouTube is like saying you can build your own New York City in the mid-West (because land and labor are cheaper).

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