ARCHIVE: November, 2005

More Flash vs. Ajax

Jonathan Bouttelle has an insightful post about the question that will only be asked more and more:

Flash or Ajax?

Google Base Item Types

So Google Base launched today. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s been called an eBay and Craigslist killer among other things. Whether or not you believe that Google Base will have that effect, the anxiety it produces comes from the “item type” feature, which I find fascinating. Item types are simply content genres, or […]

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Ebay to Make API Free

Huge Web 2.0 announcement: eBay to make APIs free to developers All barriers to information are barriers to innovation…

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Jon Udell on Simple Online Word Processing with XML

Jon Udell thinks that XML formats will rule the day:

“There’s no doubt in my mind, however, that online forms will continue to transform our means of gathering information, that hypertextual XML will make page-oriented technologies such as PDF obsolete as a means of publishing it, and that blogs, wikis, and their successors will become our primary means of collaborating around shared information.”

Tim Bray agrees, but says that easy-to-use word processors are hard to make:

“I’ve used a lot of different programs over the years, and written some myself, and I’ve never seen software, designed for use by human authors, that has good usability and isn’t a great big honking monster. And usually, they’re not only big, but they take years and years to get working properly. So I really hope Jon’s right, but I’m not holding my breath.”

Jon responds by talking about user experience, but not in so many words:

“For a decade I’ve been pointing out the vast gulf between TEXTAREA and Word. Analysis of a representative corpus of business and web documents should enable us to define a target set of features, and scope the difficulty of the problem. In this case, the right thing to do with the long tail is chop it off. Most of us don’t need that stuff most of the time. We do quite desperately need a widget that does the five or six or eight things we all do all the time. And we need it to do those things in a way that’s standard across browsers and operating systems, produces valid XHTML, and is cleanly extensible. The W3C isn’t the right venue for this work, but something like the WHAT-WG might be.

Analyzing the right document corpus might also dispel some of the MSXML-vs.-OpenDocument fog. Goverments and citizens need technology that’s lightweight, ubiquitous, and good enough for everyday use. Defining what’s good enough for everyday use would be a great contribution to the debate.”

In the usability/user experience world this finding out what is good enough is known as field research. I think Jon’s right, we need some serious field research to see what people are actually doing, so we don’t smother them with features.

But we can’t get carried away and simply make Notepad on the Web (unless those features are what people actually use). Instead let’s shoot for the Einstein quip: “make things as simple as possible, but not simpler“.

Why Should I Trust Microsoft with My Attention Metadata?

Update: Robert Scoble has addressed my question in a post this evening. He says that I’m asking the wrong question, but then goes on to say that Microsoft should become more trustful anyway…(so apparently my question wasn’t completely wrong). It is certainly the right one for me, anyway. I think I get his point, though…that […]

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Dave Digs Subscribe

RSS man Dave Winer considers “subscribe” to be the word of choice. Cool!

Hey Dave, check this out: Interface Elements for Providing Feeds and Having People Subscribe to Them

The main reason why we all agreed was this:

“It’s pretty clear that syndicating a web site is what developers do, and subscribing to a site is what readers do.”

Having Fun with APIs

PHP creator Rasmus Lerdorf on the new Yahoo Maps API (via Jeremy Zawodny):

“There is of course the fancy new site which is fun, but as far as I am concerned the killer app here is the geocoding platform that drives this. And it is completely accessible for anyone to use. It’s also a sane API that anybody can figure out in minutes. Here are a few tips for using this API from PHP 5.”

This demonstrates why simplicity on the Web as Platform is a big deal. The guy who created PHP just helped thousands of developers build their own Geo applications, and it wasn’t because he had a great amount of time on his hands. It was because the API was simple, approachable, and fast.

The simplest, most useful API wins.

Update: Closely on the heels of Yahoo’s new API comes this: Clone the Google API. This is about the Search API, but it deals specifically with ease-of-use for developers…

AttentionTrust – Returning Attention to its Rightful Owner: You

Herbert Simon famously once said: “What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.” This quote is turning into one of the mantras […]

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Moving From Average Value to Personal Value in Search/News

A great discussion came out of The Testosterone Meme by Shelley Powers, who wrote about her lack of confidence in the new aggregation service Memeorandum. Shelley (and several commentors) noted that the posts that become popular on Memeorandum tend to be A-List bloggers. The A-List bloggers tend to be men, and they tend to have […]

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