Interconnected

All posts made the week commencing Sunday 5 Oct., 2003:

Paul Thurrott on computer interfaces metaphors, on the subject of XP (task-based, iterative) versus Mac OS X (the desktop). The Mac interface is consistent with clear differences between applications, documents and the file-system -- but Windows is contextual and makes use of "special folders exposed through the Start Menu that make handling photos, music, and other documents simple. When you launch these (and other) folders--directly from the Start Menu that Mac users think to be so silly--you'll see good examples of the task-based aspect of XP in action. Select a photo, open a folder full of photos, or whatever, and you'll see a list of tasks applicable to those file types. Including print. You don't have to worry about the app. There's nothing like this in OS X, which make you think app first. An odd approach: Shouldn't the computer do the heavy lifting?" Wizards (Windows' iterative approach to common tasks) also get a mention -- the Mac has previously tried to make all tasks atomic so there's no special mode to follow a process (modeless interfaces being a good thing), but this is lapsing in recent years. Could the Window's alternative make sense?

I very much like that there's a clear interface design vision behind Windows. It's improving steadily, and I also like that it's fundamentally different from the Mac 'vision' (quoted because I don't believe there's currently such a deeply grounded one). I'm not a fan of the Windows vision myself, but so long as there are bright, deep-thinkers there, that can only be a good thing. Some of the roots of the recent direction can be seen in this 2001 article on Microsoft's Inductive User Interface as trialed on Microsoft Money 2000 (there are before-and-after screenshots).

Looking at what people really want, rather than just what they're doing to achieve that: Creating a Killer Product [via Erik Benson]. "Managers need to realize that customers, in effect, 'hire' products to do specific 'jobs.' That's one reason why retail formats like Home Depot and Lowe's have become so successful: Their stores are literally organized around jobs to be done." And specifically, a bunch of people who buy milkshakes not for the milkshake itself but to avoid getting bored during their commute: "The milk shake did the job better than almost any available alternative. It could take as long as 20 minutes to slurp one through the thin straw. That staved off boredom on the commute. It could be consumed cleanly with one hand, with little risk of spillage. The customers felt less hungry after consuming the shake than after using most of the alternatives. And never mind that it wasn't the healthiest thing to consume. Making you healthy wasn't the job the milk shake was hired for." The rest of the article is stuffed full of examples from Blackberry, Sony, Kodak.

A Brief Overview of Linguistic Features of the Blogosphere [pdf] covers some interesting topics, including some good definitions and a look at choice of words and language register, the role of hyperlinks in communication, and how language in weblog posts makes use of oral and literary features [via Tesugen].

Matt Jones is collecting timelines. Some additions:

(Nearby keywords: Time-binding (timelines as civilisation); Lifestreams (timelines as user interface); time as metaphors we live by.)