October 25, 2008
I like what Mark’s saying.
- A lot of people do not understand folders…at least, not the same way most of us do. Even if they do, they may not be fluent enough with the folder structure to particularly want to dig around looking for things.
- A fix that’s not at the Freedesktop.org level will be confusing…at least, in some situations
Its great to see people getting hungry to hack on the main shell. Here’s some thoughts…
Content doesn’t exist.
- Q: Dude, what are you up to? A: Editing content, brah.
- Q: Fuck we got back late last night, you go straight to bed? A: No, I had to download a bunch of content before my flight.
Content is a bullshit word that means: “I admit there’s stuff that’s more important than my program and should be the focus, but I haven’t thought about it much“. Interesting note: outside the application programming world, content is also a bullshit word. E.g. in sales content means “that important stuff we’ll insert here or write later to make people agree with us“. E.g. in web development, content means “that important stuff I’m going to try and create a framework/layout/appearance/whatever for without having to specify“. Content is from the language of weasel-ese.
But I’m too hard on the word, there’s really nothing wrong with it, and I appreciate the implicit recognition contained in the word about what’s really important to users. This is a long-winded way of stressing (and I can see there’s lots of this going on already)….
THINK ABOUT THE DESIGNS THE WAY USERS WILL THINK ABOUT THEM
And because the way we talk about things influences how other people think about them….
TALK ABOUT THE DESIGNS THE WAY USERS WILL TALK ABOUT THEM
I suspect an abstraction/metaphor for dealing with content will only go half-way, because the rest of the distance is gotten by specifics, some of which are do-able without AI, and some of which are not.
An image is a very different beast from a song. A photo I took myself is a very different beast from a logo I downloaded from images.google.com. A photo I just took is a very different beast from a photo I took 4 years ago. When I’m emailing my grandmother, a photo I took this morning of her eating cheesey poofs is a slightly different beast from the 400 photos I just copied from my camera.
Its simply not possible (and hence, not a good idea to even try) to do the ultimate interface…. “give me that thing I want right now”. I’m not a big fan of automatically populating lists according to some fancy algorithm that doesn’t really know enough to get things right, and hence results in unpredictable results. That just gives me more things to skim through before I have to fall back on manual categorization.
Even relatively simple algorithms like “most frequently used” (e.g. in the Windows XP start menu) can be, at times, annoying. Its all about balance, balance, balance, and good taste.
I’d suggest making a long list of magic that you’d like to see in an interface. Some of it you can do, and some of it you can’t, but its cheap to dream bigger, and you’re more likely both to notice where abstractions (of any sort) will be limited and specific if…then statements are in order, and to improve the relevance of your abstractions. The point is not to support everything on the list, even if it were technically possible, there’s no good UI for most of these without un-doable-AI. The point is… feed your super-smart pattern matching brain with specifics so it comes up with GOOD generalizations.
- If I just edited a photo in gimp, I’d like it to be really easy to attach (woah! idea, what if the file dialogue had a “stuff that’s currently open in another program” section with little thumbnails??? maybe it’d make for great workflows… you’d open a document (see my hands are dirty too! document is no better than content) once, and then it’d be stinking easy to get at in other programs… see, typing out these lists is already giving me ideas)
- If I’m an active google doc user, I’d like to have google docs easily available in OO, maybe even interspersed in my open file list. Maybe it’d be cool if all my OO documents available in gdocs too, dunno.
- If I just uploaded a bunch of photos from my camera, I’d like them to be really easy to get at when I use gimp
- I want to be able to read any web pages I browsed in the past week offline, which is sort of a BS generalisation, but in particular I want to be able to read any stuff pertaining to API references, so when I’m programming in the park I can still get at all the great tutorials I read earlier
- I want new music I add to my computer to immediately show up in my music player, maybe the same way itunes deals with a CD…. maybe I don’t want it added to the library, but I want a “New Music” section or something that I can click “Import” and “shwooosh” its copied to my library.
- …and on and on….