Thursday, November 09, 2006

Web 2.0: Is Converging Towards the Desktop Good?

Toolkits make us design Web applications like it was a desktop ...

"... I'm going to make an odd claim: interface toolkits on the web are starting to discourage innovation. In harnessing underlying web technologies in (admittedly) ingenious ways, these toolkits make it too convenient for us to fall back onto the desktop paradigms we know, simply because we aren't prompted by technical constraints to think of something different.

Marissa Mayer, the Google VP for User Experience, said it well:

"When people think about creativity, they think about artistic work -- unbridled, unguided effort that leads to beautiful effect. But if you look deeper, you'll find that some of the most inspiring art forms, such as haikus, sonatas, and religious paintings, are fraught with constraints. They are beautiful because creativity triumphed over the 'rules.' Constraints shape and focus problems and provide clear challenges to overcome. Creativity thrives best when constrained."

In 2004, Google chose to use one nascent technology, Ajax, to create an e-mail service: since there didn't exist any Ajax toolkits that allowed them to reduplicate the desktop on the web, they were constrained to think simply, "how can we work with Ajax and the web to make email humane?"

Their answer was something that was actually more humane than any desktop e-mail client already in existence. What's even more interesting is that traditional desktop developers had long been able to create an email client as humane as Gmail--but they never did, because UI toolkits made it so easy to create something that was familiar, that was the same, that was inhumane.

You cannot be better without being different."    (Continued via Humanized)    [Usability Resources]

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