India Uncut

This blog has moved to its own domain. Please visit for the all-new India Uncut and bookmark it. The new site has much more content and some new sections, and you can read about them here and here. You can subscribe to full RSS feeds of all the sections from here. This blogspot site will no longer be updated, except in case of emergencies, if the main site suffers a prolonged outage. Thanks - Amit.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Time for an upgrade?

The always insightful Joel Spolsky has yet another lovely piece on software here, in which he writes:
People, for the most part, are not playing with their software because they want to. They’re using the software as a tool to accomplish something else that they would like to do.


Unless they’re software reviewers for a living, they don’t really care about the software itself, and the more they notice it, the more annoyed they’re going to be.

Choices, therefore, can be good or bad. They’re good when they support the task the user is trying to accomplish fairly directly. [...] They’re bad when they represent an intrusion into the user’s actual DNA-replication goals. Every few days some crappy software I can’t even remember installing pops up noisy bulletins asking me if I want to upgrade something or other. I could not care LESS. I’m doing something. Leave me alone! [Emphasis in original.]
Precisely. Too much software is too intrusive these days, and I hate it when I'm in the middle of writing a post, searching hard for the precise phrase that will express how I feel (like "immense joy explodes" or "I'm a huge fan of..."), and a stupid bubble pops up saying:
It's time for a completely useless upgrade to a new version of Blubbety Blubbety Blobetty. Would you like to start downloading now? Heh.
And in the time that I've figured out what Blubbety Blubbety Blobetty is, the phrase I was just about to hit upon has taken a U-turn and left forever, and the rhythm is gone, and everything is screwed, and the world is a terrible place. Spolsky is bang on.

Spolsky's larger point is about the difference between the good kind of simplicity -- elegance and ease of use -- vs the bad kind -- a lack of features or power. The bad kind is startlingly fashionable, as he writes here and here.
amit varma, 1:26 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

I recommend: