So tonight is the "Launch Party to end all launch parties" and I can't help but wonder if that phrasing is meant to be said with a hopeful glint at the end? Or is it just me?
I'm going to vote with my feet by helping to end launch parties in general. By not attending.
Unless I'm invited. In which case, RAWK!!
Today, David sent me a link to "UNO", a program which fixes the theme mess on OS X.
My desktop is so much better now. Thank you, David.
A copule of days ago I had lunch with a bunch of my co-workers at Jot (Scott, Michael, and Ryan) and I brought up the subject of tagging as a cop-out for search. Not surprisingly, most everyone disagreed with me to some extent. But as we talked it through, it became pretty clear that there was none of the "taxonomy vs folksonomy" debate in play.
Instead, people defended tagging from an interaction perspective. It seems that tagging feeds a need to feel organized in some sense. People at the table got a "solid" sense when they tagged a thing, regardless of its search utility. Better yet, people find tagging to be indistinguishable from social "trail leaving" (think del.icio.us), despite that their correlation is only an artifact of UI decisions.
It's just as simple for someone to click a "bookmark this" button as it is a "tag this" button, but somehow tagging has a more productive feeling for people. Tagging is a great way to entice users to provide other kinds of metadata, which is often significantly more useful.
Tagging is useful, but not for any systems reason. It's just a better UI experience. Who woulda thunk it?
So this morning I was looking at the website for the "Web 2.0" conference that ORA puts on. The speaker list looks great, the registration is booked full, and I'm sure it'll be blogged to death. Another smashing success.
But then I noticed this quote in eye-catching green text at the top of the page:
Web 1.0 was making the Internet for people, Web 2.0 is making the Internet better for computers -- Jeff Bezos
The rotation of supposedly incisive quotes from people who are most notable for being..erm..notable seems like an apt metaphor for what "Web2.0" really is: unspecified. That they rotate is the most fitting thing about them.
Now, I don't know anything about Mr. Bezos' programming or HCI acumen, but it would seem to this developer that if Web2.0 is indeed about making things better for computers, then we're all (collectively) f'd. If that's the goal, I want off the train. Perhaps the quote is out of context, but nevertheless it outlines one of my biggest fears with fads like tagging and overloading of RSS for any-and every-thing, which is that we are now celebrating the failure of systems to make user's lives better as the indomitable march of progress.
Lets take tagging for example. Tagging is the pet rock of such "Web2.0" companies as Technorati and Flickr. With Flickr, it's almost excusable since the problem of creating relationships between images requires both more space as well as some sort of synthesis into a format that is more easily handled (i.e., text). But then why provide stricter organizational tools as well? Is it unstructured or structured? And if structured, why can't the metadata be mined to remove the burden to users without fobbing the work onto them?
And what's Technoratis excuse? That other things support tagging and therefore they use it? Sorry, but that's just sloth. I already typed in my search term. Isn't it a search engine's job to synthesize context out of raw data? If so, why are we then jumping up and down about something that lets us, the users, do the job of a search engine for it? Color me unimpressed.
And it's just one example of where real improvement (REST web services APIs, machine learning) are being conflated with ideas with marginal end-user utility (microformats and tagging) as somehow being ambassadors for "Web2.0".
We should have learned something from Web1.0. We should have a higher bar for allowing memes into the party this go 'round.
As has been repeated ad-infinitum elsewhere, there new MS Dev Toolbar for IE has made it much easier to get to a lot of the things that were previously buried under endless tabs and dialogs. It's almost at parity with the Mozilla equivalent (which is good, since its feature set seems to be a direct rip). But there's one place where I wish MS's slaving copying hadn't succeeded so well: the clear cache option.
On Mozilla/FF, the web developer extension pops up a dialog to tell you that it actually did what you asked it to. This dialog needs to be dismissed by hand in some way (enter, click on "ok", etc.). The "sheet" that this shows up as on Mac is noticably slow to appear, needlessly drawing out the process even further. IE now does something equally useless by prompting you to confirm that the action you just explicitly requested is actually what you want to do. Gratefully its asinine "look! I did it!" dialog auto-dismissed. Small comfort when your workflow has been completely destroyed by the previous dialog.
Why are these tools putting all of this in our face? Who cares enough that it actually cleared the cache to want to "confirm" it? Just freaking clear the cache already and let me get back to doing real work.