I'm trying to work out the vision thing right now, thinking about how to create web application services that people will pay for. What do I expect? What are some of the things I wish I could do with the internet, but can't?
Foundations of successful online applications
What do I expect, at a minimum, from web services?
- Availability: always on and never bogged down.
- Internationalized: instructions and administrative forms can be in English, but the presentation engine needs to be capable of rendering any language. Full UTF-16 support isn't just a goal, it's a necessity.
- Consistency: looks and works the way you expect it to in all situations. Simplicity is an important part of this.
- Customization: in direct opposition to consistency above, power-users demand the ability to present their information in the most personally-compelling way.
- Community: the fundamental reason to put something online is to get attention from others.
- Interoperability: the foundation of the internet, and the bootstraps of the semantic web, is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Fostering connections between data nodes is what this game is all about.
- Respect: includes documentation, privacy guarantees, well-defined terms of service, protection from abuse, open code, and good information stewardship.
- Collaboration requires a social contract: this is a meta-requirement, really.
What are the things I wish I could do, but can't yet? I've got a digital camera, broadband connection, loads of mp3s, a few videos, and family and friends scattered around the globe... what do I need from the internet?
- Slideshows -- the good old-fashioned slideshow is the medium of choice for family communication. Mix in audio and video if you like, or limit it to professional looking bullet points, but people like sequential presentation of discrete blocks of info. Documenting events.
- Scrapbooks -- another familyroom meme that has yet to find it's way onto the web. Solo (as a multimedia diary) or collaborative (as an illustrated family bible) or something in between. Documenting memories.
- Timelines -- you'd think this was just a slideshow in chronological order, but you'd be wrong: it's all about the line. Documenting change over time.
- Mapped spaces -- this is a fun one, truly a child of new media. How do we document a space? The virtual world concept suggests a first-person navigation interface: move up, move left, move down the hall. The tough part is creating and mapping nodes in such a way that a) intermediate nodes can be added as more information is collected, and b) the creator doesn't need to spend hours mapping the space out but can concentrate on actually depicting whats there. Documenting surroundings.
- Sharing -- The internet is a distribution medium, and the perfect way to share the books, music, images, and movies that move you, despite what a handful of corporate media giants have to say about the practice. The rules are tricky, notions of intellectual property must be respected (share actively, not passively; and privately not publicly). Popular culture defines us to the degree that we consume it. Documenting influences.
- Mapped objects -- I think it was Bruce Sterling who said that the future belongs to the toy-makers, the people who create interesting little distractions that help us see something in a new way, play with it, understand it. In much the same way that mapped spaces document a place, mapped objects document a thing. But not just statically. Scriptable actions are implied by this interface, the ability to turn knobs and push buttons. A construction set for virtual machines. See Squeak. Documenting possessions.
Time to break out those anthropology texts and see how the experts deconstruct it. I'm not so interested in macro-culture (cosmology, technology, language, society) as I am micro-culture (environment, influences, history, daily life, family and peer-groups).
By Psydeshow on May 13, 2003 at 12:53am