Reviewing the progress of Ta-da List, Jason Fried talks about leaving flexibility for people to make what they will of the tool. I think this is a very important design approach. Too much software in the past has been feature-rich and usefulness-lite, in my opinion. This is why everyone has a favourite tool that they do most things in — the tool that allows them the most flexibility. If you just give your users room to manoeuvre, then they’ll do things you never imagined with the software you give them. And they’ll love you for letting them.

I’m up for a South African Blog Award. Craziness

Deane has some interesting thoughts about companies new to online publishing that just don’t understand that it’s different to hardcopy. He particularly cites the reluctance to push content frequently, which I would agree is an issue for many organisations. I think there’s a much bigger underlying problem, though, revolving around the way that businesses think about the entire web.

Firstly, let’s get back to reality. Businesses aren’t monolithic juggernauts — they’re made up of people. So what I’m really saying is that a lot of people just don’t get the web. This is very difficult for those of us who live & breathe HTML, get jittery if email goes unchecked for more than half and hour and barely recognise sunlight when we occasionally see it (OK, I’m stereotyping a lot here, but it’s fun and I do get email withdrawal ;-)). We don’t really understand how other can not understand. The web is so massive, so intrinsic to our lives, that we just don’t understand anyone missing the enormity of its importance.

So, we try and explain it to people. And I’m not saying that we don’t explain well, that the arguments aren’t well-formed or that we aren’t enthusiastic about it. What I am saying is that however much people understand the rational argument, the web is something that you have to experience before you really get it. Before the true import sinks in.

Instead of trying to convince people to do things differently just based on rational understanding of what this emergent and disruptive technology can deliver, it might just be a better approach to try and help them experience the web, so that they can really understand it. Then the decisions about what information needs to go on the corporate website will become no-brainers.

  • Rands describes his Nuke & Pave backup and reinstall approach. I think there’s a lot of value in this kind of discipline, which many of us (me especially!) just don’t have. That said, when I’m reinstalling an OS it’s often a crisis situation, so everything just gets backed up. I’m much better at Nuke & Pave in the real world — where it’s probably better described as Chuck Or Save.
  • There’s a great discussion over at WorldChanging about the dilemma of cheap computing power for the developing world. Especially interesting are the thoughts about taking modern cellphones and giving them more computing usefulness, rather than trying to furnish everyone with $100 laptops
  • In a Spolskyesque piece, Signal Vs Noise denounces Functional Specs. This kind of “heresy” is increasingly visible nowadays, as software development moves from a focus on process to a focus on product.
  • Lifehacker covers some cool Firefox extensions
  • Massive article on what makes a good games designer, from a programmer’s viewpoint — long, but interesting read; via Athena’s Legacy
  • Interesting article with the (female) lead designer on Playboy: The Mansion, including the fantastically apt comment:

    “If you’re going to animate breasts, animate them properly,” admonishes Brathwaite. “The breasts in the original Dark Alliance drove me nuts. If my breasts moved like that, I’d go to the doctor…or call an exorcist.”

  • Google’s 70-20-10 product formula. Interesting to see their “random experimentation” goal called out so explicitly as a percentage of total effort