Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dan Bricklin and New Modes of Interaction

Dan Bricklin published a wonderfully thoughtful paper titled New Modes of Interaction. To best explain the post I will let his opening paragraph carry the load…

Every decade or so there has been a change in interaction styles between computers and their users. This change impacts both what the user sees and what the programmer needs to do when architecting an application. This change is brought about by innovations in both hardware and software. At first, mainly new applications are created using this new style, but as time goes on and the style becomes dominant, even older applications need to be re-implemented in the new style.”

Dan is addressing most of the things that have been rolling around in my head for the past couple of years as I have begun to understand just how much of a watershed we are at in computing.

Dan focuses on the technologies in Microsoft’s Natal and Google Wave. But to me his list of “other technologies” is the jewel in this paper.

Here is his list…

  1. Pervasive inclusion of webcams
  2. Online video
  3. Latency of responses using the Internet
  4. Ubiquity of access to shared data during conversations
  5. Screen size and number through price drops
  6. Acceptance of gesture-based systems
  7. Direct manipulation systems
  8. Movement away from using a mouse
  9. Real-time mixed streams
  10. Tagging
  11. Inexpensive disk and portable (flash) memory
  12. Consumer-level installation of IT infrastructure
  13. Notification in stream
  14. Seamlessly move to mobile
  15. Battery life
  16. Mashups
  17. Plug-ins and external APIs
  18. The decline of paper (and not just the newspaper) - Rather than having paper as the ultimate destination, the screen is now the ultimate destination

This is a heck of a list.

Towards the end of the paper, Dan mentions that "social" is a driving force and that "social beats out the mechanical."

To avoid simply repeating the paper, I urge you to take the time to read it. It takes a while. But if you are involved in where computing is going this is a goldmine.

To be clear on my thinking, I do not believe the goldmine is yet in the PAUI interface of the Natal technology. I believe it will be, just not yet.

I do believe the immediate future – 1 to 5 years – is in the need to create systems that work the same on all devices, especially mobile, and that are based on working from a single source document.

My small effort to contribute a tool to this new generation is SehHey. The touchstones I am trying to build on are these…

  1. A user is just a user is just a user. We are trying to build a tool based on people instead of documents and hierarchical structures.
  2. Who do you want to share / work / interact with?
  3. What do you want to share / work on / interact using?

Here is a 3 minute and 46 second video of where this effort is as of July 10, 2009. It is exciting to us. It has a ways to go. But what a thrill to be going.

You will notice another of our services in this video - Cap Dat ACORD. At the moment SehHey is an extension of this service. We will be breaking it out and creating API's to allow it to interact with any other system.

Thanks Dan for making me feel am not to far off.

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