disconnection Several people (cam and brig , to name two) are pointing to the latest DaveNet. I’m not sure I get Dave’s vision. He riffs on user interface design, and how it’s hard. I can’t argue with that. He then talks about making the user interface for web site writing easier. That’s where my disconnect comes in; ‘Easier for who?’, I wonder. I can imagine two distinct situations: sites with one or two people doing everything, and sites with a team (or teams) of people handling separate tasks: text, images, layout, serving. The tool he describes might help the small site some, but the time savings isn’t going to be all that large, and if you can get a site off the ground by yourself, and then keep it up, figuring out how to FTP files is just not an issue. This isn’t bad interface design; FTP uploads and keeping a site sync’d with a local copy aren’t hard to figure out, just boring.
Maybe the product is targeted at large team-produced web sites. A tool to help get non-technical writers into the web world. I can’t see this either. In my experience, as soon as a team gets formed to do something, the PHBs want to check the text before it goes live. The situation Dave describes, of seeing a problem, fixing it, and re-publishing the page won’t happen with a team-driven site, because the text is going to be extensively rev’ed before it hits the server. Once there, it’s not changing, and the PHBs aren’t going to like the idea of writers being able to arbitrarily tweak the text. So, the writer is going to write a draft, circulate it, make changes, and mail it to a server person. The server person checks it over, maybe grooms it with some Perl she wrote (because she’s the real geek in the bunch), and then puts it on the server. The geeks aren’t going to want the writers anywhere near the server either, because (1) the geeks see the writers as clueless luser bumblers who break things and (2) if the writers can do all the posting themselves, the geeks are out of a job.
It seems like this is a tool that small site owners might appreciate, but don’t really need, and one that large site teams might need, but won’t appreciate. That’s a tough row to hoe for anyone. Dave’s got the personality to be a good salesman, but the ‘you need to discard your existing tools’ approach isn’t going to win him any points. (Remember, only Microsoft can get away with acting with Microsoft.) People get emotional about tools, and they aren’t too thrilled with change. Instead of gutting the File menu and replacing it, why not add a Page menu, or a Web menu? Give me new options, but not by taking old ones away.
P.S. Hate hate hate the InterCapped.Com style of domain names.
lying down with dogs Nice little article on <a href= “http://www.the-scientist.library.upenn.edu/yr1999/may/gwynne_p1_990524.html”
the effects of industry sponsorship on academic research. Remember, boys and girls, the point of being an academic scientist is to ask questions and get answers, to figure out how stuff works. Prestige, fame, and money can be found more easily in other places. Signing non-disclosure agreements or secrecy pacts to get research funds is a Bad Idea.
dread Short update today. Had to go to bed early last night, because I have to go to the dentist this morning. Growing up, I had the Dentist from Hell. Consequently, I’ve got an absolutely unreasoning fear of dental checkups. Thinking about it, my heart speeds up, my palms begin to sweat, and I start to look for the exit. Not good. This also means the continuing slow-as-a-Mac-SE content update isn’t continuing, at least for today. Still haven’t heard from the genpage author, either.