Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What a tool!

I was just over at Scobleizer and stumbled across his latest post about ubiquity. Somewhere in the post, he starts to talk about people who "get it" and people who don't. Or as he puts it, passionates and non-passionates.

His rant goes on about people who won't be bothered reading the instruction manual and watch the training video, and because of this, only passionate people will use it.

Now, I think ubiquity is a nice concept rolled up into a geeky, non-usable form. Blaming users for not wanting to learn what is in effect a command line for the browser seems to be a bit off the mark. If you actually spend the time to even read the first page about ubiquity, it talks about providing the "Verbs" (actions) on context menus. This is where the future is. It provides the features you need where people don't have to remember all the possible things they can do.

So, I can understand someone which passion getting excited about ubiquity, but taking an elitest stand and saying that it's no good for anybody else is just a complete load of crap as far as I'm concerned. I think maybe a bit of critisism about the form it's been delivered in is probably a better approach to take than bagging people who prefer to use the mouse than type commands into a black window.

An example of what I think would work, is based on what is provided on the ubiquity page.

The scenario: A typo on a blog (ironic that this post probably has typos too..).. They highlight some spelling mistake on a web page and use ubiquity to highlight by typing in the highlight command. The next step is to select a larger amount of text with the highlighted part to give more context of where the mistake is. They then type into ubiquity "email too xxx".. This opens gmail and starts a new email filled with the selected text and the Send To address filled in.

How I think it should work:
Select the typo and right click. Select actions->Highlight.
Select more text and right click. Select actions->Email

This is what IE8 does through activities. The difference, it's not done in a non-user friendly way using a command line tool.

Anyway, time to stop ranting... Ubiquity is a nice tool, I just think it's not quite ready for normal users.

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