Media Musings & Meditations

Observations and discussion about technology, culture and spirituality. As new technology developments and trends envelope the Internet and our "wired" culture we all need time to reflect and process the implications on our society, our relationships and our spiritual practices.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Plug and Play

A few weeks ago I decided to get an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed reader so that I could link to my favorite news and technology websites and get the latest information updates forwarded to me.

My first step was to look for a free/open source version of the tool I wanted for Mac OSX. I found one that looked impressive from the icon, that resembled a Mozilla/Firefox product, right down to the description and interface. The only problem is that I couldn’t figure out how to get the thing working. The functions were not easy or intuitive. I even stooped to reading the instructions! (I know, I know…) Even then, no light of understanding came on. I finally decided, in frustration, that there must be an easier product out there somewhere on the Web.

After searching some more I found an open source RSS feed reader called Vienna. The difference was “like day and night.” Vienna was easy and intuitive. I was up and running in minutes with no instruction manuals or tutorials needed. It’s simple, not all that flashy, but I love it.

I know you’re overjoyed that I can now accumulate and read my RSS feeds, but the reason I tell this story is to illustrate what I believe will be the key to software success now and in the future -- “ease of use/ease of learning to use.”

Our society has grown impatient with the complex voodoo language of technology from the days of Microsoft’s DOS code and complicated setting changes. We want the friendly, easy to use technology of Star Trek instead. That’s why Apple continues to gain customers. They have embraced the idea of making technology components all “plug and play,” that is you shouldn’t have to learn new languages and incantations to get to consumer electronic devices to work together, they just plug together and work.

In the software arena, we don’t what to have to take a 12-week boot camp workshop to learn how to use our new software programs. We want to be able to get on and figure out how to at least get started right away. Technology and software change too frequently now for us to have to employ Herculean efforts to learn to use programs. The companies that understand this concept and make their products easier to use, and will, in my estimation, start passing by the big, complex software dinosaurs out there that haven’t got the point yet. I am looking forward to a simpler future!!


Blogger purecanucks said...

[Cheers heard throughout the land]

You speak the truth in love.

6:57 AM  
Blogger Shieldmaiden said...

Oh, yes, Baby! Apple will always reign superior.

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Zaphar said...

Indeed plug'n'play is the way to the user's heart. Just remember along the way that you have placed all responsibility for security and safety on the part of the vendor. Plug'n'Play must be accompanied by sane and secure defaults. Apple has by and large done a good job of this so far. I'm still waiting for MS to wake up.

Another point is that plug'n'play in the enterprise can be a double edged sword. Many times Enterprise software needs to be configurable in a myriad of different ways but always centrally so that the common user shouldn't have to worry about it. This is an area that Apple is still lacking in by and large. OSS is slowly filling that gap for it though so the future looks bright :-)

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Alison said...

Happy Father's Day! You have a very sweet family who love you very much--- as they should!

2:13 PM  
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