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Tag: silverlight

Rhizomatic strategies: MSFT, Silverlight, the Link, the Fragment

Gilles Deleuze

The giants, finding the limitations of growing to be the tallest tree, have started to look for other modes of expansion. Even the tallest tree can’t encompass the world.

Arborescent: growth by extension of mass and branching.

Rhizomatic: growth by linking and become part of the other.

From the definition on Wikipedia: “A rhizome works with horizontal and trans-species connections, while an arborescent model works with vertical and linear connections.” For near monopolies like Microsoft, companies that seemed to have the whole thing within reach, a new model of dominance has emerged. Google set the pattern, search is in the middle of everything.

The myth of the totalizing whole has been exposed. Not only is it not possible, it’s not desirable. For Microsoft to operate in the new order of things, they must accept a mixed operating environment. Rather than swallowing Yahoo whole, they must link to it and put themselves inside Yahoo as a fragment. Silverlight is the path toward that future because it doesn’t need to play Microsoft’s traditional zero-sum game. It can link to, and become part of, the other. The goal is to be the dominant fragment, the most aggressive weed in the garden.

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Design Thinking: Zeldman to Buxton to Gillmor

This thread of thought bounced from Zeldman to Buxton to Gillmor.

Jeffrey Zeldman wrote a post about how Apple should hire itself out to fix the awful state of user interface in a number of devices. My immediate reaction was that there’s no reason that good UI should be unique to Apple. Jobs and Ive just start at a different point than most manufacturers. The question really comes down to where the power lies with regard to design thinking in an organization, and at what level design decisions are made (or not made). At Apple the answer is very clear.

This lead me to a lecture by Bill Buxton at Stanford’s HCI program. I wasn’t able to attend in person, but a video of Buxton’s lecture is available through iTunes University. Buxton’s lecture provides the link between industrial design and software interface design– the interface is now part of the form factor. Buxton has been hired to change the design culture of Microsoft. That’s a tall order, but I give them credit for bringing Buxton on board. His ideas about understanding the transitions between states, and the journey from sketching to prototype are very important.

Steve Gillmor chronicles the transition of software applications from the hard drive to the cache / cloud. His latest prediction is that Silverlight will become the rich internet application runtime of choice for the new MacBook Air and the iPhone. Clearly it won’t be Flash or Java. The Ajax apps are already there, but more richness is always better. If Microsoft plays it right, they could find a path into their next incarnation. MS Office may be dead, but Ray Ozzie’s Live Office is yet to be born.

The reason that no phone or computer manufacturer can compete with Apple is they don’t understand what design thinking is or why it’s important to their organization. Phones are designed by a set of pipes, the telecommunications network makes the design decisions. Computer and software interface design is still dominated by the hardware, it’s designed back to front. Until the value of design is understood, and the hardware stops designing the software, Apple will have no competition. It’s all about the ratio of features to features used. Apple leads the field by a mile.

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