A Widget in your BackPack
Apple’s Dashboard and widget’s may prove to be even more important to computing and design than Spotlight. I saw it this morning, when my daughter checked the weather widget to plan what to wear for the day. She also clicked around on a few others, including the time and creatures in my head. With widgets, all those little computer utilities are in one convenient place. That’s not a new concept, a desktop portal, but I think for the kids, it’s just click on this icon, and another, get what you want, and go about the rest of your day. There's a change in how we access information. It’s going to desktop portals and search and that’s going to impact the way designers think about information architecture, user experience, and design.
An example of this change in thinking is 37 Signal’s Backpack, a great new web-based PIM. I tried it out last week, clicked around for a few, and then thought that all of the meetings where I would use it are with clients and I don’t have access to the internet when I’m on site with them. A Backpack widget that I could use offline, then upload and share when connected would help me with clients, in meetings, and on the plane. Even better if that widget could be synced and Spotlighted. Then I wouldn’t have to search the Backpack site for my meeting notes, but could Spotlight them. Discussing this topic with me in an instant message, Nick Finck said, “information is going towards microinformation … when we want to know what something is we don’t want to have to dig through a whole encyclopedia. we just want the short 2 sentence result.” Right. Check the Web 2.0 article on Digital Web.
Note, Backpack is a great product that users are raving about. My thoughts aren’t intended to point out any defect in their product, but instead are forward looking. I’m also thinking about blog design in the same way. Will users want to click through your blog, it’s categories and permalinks, or just search for topics. Clip-n-Seal is included in a chapter of Scoble and Shel Israel’s blogging book and I can’t find it on their book blog. The chapter was there last week and it’s somewhere now, but it would be nice if I could search that site, rather than click through every page. When Spotlight is extended to RSS then we’ll really have something. As Nick continued, “imagine… search: kottke, independent … 6,200 results, here are the top 5 most popular ones verified and 1 through 3 are emails between you and him about it.. maybe 4 is a paypal receipt of the money you sent him.. and 5 is the original post he made on his blog about it.”
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