Tuesday, December 4, 2007
And its not the technology. Really, 1980s computing and networks could get halfway there. Its us. The people who specify, design and develop software and systems. To be clear, ubicomp -- to me -- is not just the state (which we're already in) of computers embedded in every device, or the almost-there step of them talking to each other all the time and being aware of their surroundings, but when the communication and awareness with which each device or process is endowed can work to actively help us out. Us, as in "the humans." Lets take the dead-simple, totally mobile-free example that spurred this post. I copy a link from Safari (apple product). I immediately go into Mail.app (apple product), type a short message, maybe even with the word "link" in it, then fail to activate the "paste" function before I send it. Why, oh why doesn't the system ask me if I forgot something? It doesn't even have to be interruptive, just disruptive; a status message blinks next to the send button, reminding me. Or, maybe a prominent paste button conditionally appears next to the send button. Or... whatever. This is the core of my issue. Software from all one vendor, one one machine, cannot work together to solve (much less /prevent/) something that has happened to everyone I know, dozens of times. What hope is there for a sea of mobiles, or PAN-connected peripherals to help you accomplish your daily tasks? Unless we all apply ourselves to the problem, and think of users, usefulness and usability, instead of making users bend to the will of the systems.