Monday, 14 November 2011

The internet and tasks

The web needs better collaboration tools. As illustrated in xkcd, "send a file" (if it's too big for email) is still a task that gets us scratching our heads, fumbling for some known hacks, then just copying it to a flash drive and taking it in person. Video chat is getting better, though, like text chat, it's still locked up in walled gardens of individual services. To get expert help on something, you either take your chances reading Wikipedia or find any number of domain-specific help forums, or perhaps Twitter. The massive proliferation of services and websites is part of the web's appeal - anyone from anywhere can set up and start reaching people online, any time - but it also means certain tasks are made more difficult for users.

Basically, the web is not designed for users and tasks. It's designed for websites, and most of the design decisions are built around the idea of getting specific website information to you as reliably as possible (though not necessarily as quickly as possible - that's another rant). Your task, as a user, is not "Facebook", but "interact with friends", where "interact" is made up of chatting, reading, updating, sharing and playing. It doesn't matter if Facebook is involved. Facebook itself is not the point. It is just the tool you use to accomplish your goals. You can go anywhere and do anything if there's a website for it, but how do you find out what you can do, or how do you go from a vague description of a task to finding a specific website to fill that need?

Mokalus of Borg

PS - You can probably find websites for specific tasks with Google.
PPS - But you can't easily find out what is possible online.

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