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December 4, 2009 2:19 PM


As noted by John Gruber at Daring Fireball, the simplicity of a Twitter post opens up a lot of UI opportunities. As a result of that and available APIs, we are seeing more and more Twitter clients (I have four on my iPhone), but beyond that, we are seeing the start of the next logical step, convergence.

Socialite and Raindrop are the two best examples that I know. These are applications that aggregate your social footprint on the internet and attempt to wrap some meaningful UI around it all. Raindrop is still in early dev and requires you to be a bit savvy if you want to use it, but Socialite is (Mac only and) immediately available and is quick to set up, so give it a try.

Something worth looking at when using a variety of Twitter apps and these convergence apps, is how the designer has chosen to organize and present everything. If you boil things down a bit, a tweet, blog entry, Facebook update, Flickr post, rss feed and email, all have the same basic parts...

  • The person who sent it (which includes a way to reply, such as an email address or @twitter account)
  • The content.
  • A title/subject/name.
  • Some other bits of data, such as time/date, category names or tags, etc

With such a simple set of elements, there is a ton of opportunity to design a look and feel around them. The Raindrop folks have been sharing their design ideas on Flickr and you can see they have been exploring many ideas. It's not a surprise to see a 3 pane UI like you have in Outlook, and NetNewsWire.

Socialite has completely Mac-ified that experience, and while some folks think the UI is just too intense, I think it's done elegantly and sensibly. You can see though that there is a lot you can do in the app, especially on the right side of each entry. At times there are 5 icons and one of them has a menu with 15 actions you can take. But overall, the UI is based on a use case you already understand, email.

Back to Twitter clients, compare something like Tweetdeck (which is entirely consistent from iPhone to its Air counterpart) to something like Tweetie 2. The base philosophy of these two clients are very different, but they use the same source material. As Raindrop continues to develop, it will be interesting to see if they can find a different but equally (or more!) usable format than you find in Socialite.

For a good overview on Socialite, check out Mashable's article from last week.

November 24, 2009 3:35 PM

51042v3-max-250x250.pngWhen I started this blog in 2001 I had comments turned on and received very little spam, but of course, that didn't last. Even trackback entries were spam, so I turned it all off. It looks like the folks at TypePad have put effort into dealing with that issue, but I'm not ready to turn comments back on yet.

For now, if you have something to say, then say it via Twitter/Tweetboard. You can use the Tweetboard on the left side of the page. Just click the "tweets" tab and figure it out. If you can't make it over that low barrier, then chances are I don't need to know what you had to say anyway. Also, you get to say what you want, without me having any control.

May 27, 2003 8:50 AM

My daughter has an eye infection (her first ailment) that isn't serious, but bad enough to make us call the pediatrician for the first time. We had to leave a message and the on-call person called us back pretty quickly. She asked me what was wrong and asked that I describe the nature of the goop coming out of my daughter's eye.

Optimally, I could have used my digital camera to take a picture, and show it to the pediatrician over the good ol' Internet. Unfortunately, all of my gear requires physical connections to communicate, and compiled applications to pass files back and forth, and human intervention to route things appropriately. This is the first time that I have thought that the new breed of cell phones with crappy digital cameras in them would actually be useful.

Of course, the person on the other side of the equation needs to have the same carrier, or gear and/or level of comfort with the tech to receive the image and attempt to make something from it. Ubiquity is a long way off, and so are the systems/applications we need to allow folks like me to easily send useful info to particular individuals on demand.

March 3, 2003 2:55 AM

So, some kid submitted an essay in shorthand text massaging shorthand, and some wonk says...

a decline in grammar and written English was partly linked to the text massaging craze.
Duh. But really, it's the other way around, and only in that format. The text massaging craze leads to a decline in written english in that media transmission format due to the fact that the text entry interface, and the medium of reading it, is not conducive to prosaic dissertations. Paper written essays are not the place for l33tsp34k. Teach your students that.

The student was communicating effectively, but for a given media transmission format, and should be taught where that's appropriate. I'd give the kid a failing grade for being cheeky and for not effectively communicating (which is the point of excersize). Then I'd get right back to sending all of my IMs in lower case and sans punctuation. L4m3r.

January 28, 2003 9:19 AM

Dave Hyatt has been exploring RSS/HTML/Safari/NetNewsWire theory and posits...

One really good point several people brought up in response to my previous blog about RSS and Web browsers was that many feeds contain only article excerpts.

In other words RSS feeds seem to break down into two categories: feeds that contain only short excerpts of articles and feeds that contain entire articles. It does seem like integration makes less sense if the majority of feeds fall into the first category.

Then the RSS aggregator becomes useful as a filtering mechanism, with the Web browser being used only to view the articles that you ultimately decide to read.

<rambling intensity="turbo">

So, my RSS feed contains both an excerpt AND the full length version of the blog entry (RSS 2.0 baby!) and I think that affords the user a choice (choice is good!). You can read just the excerpt, or the full post based on your... choice! You can format the post however you want in your own home made RSS news reader, or see it how I present it (on the actual website). NetNewsWire happens to show the entire post if available. Other aggregators only use the excerpt.

If NetNewsWire integrates WebCore sometime in the future (chances are that it will) will there be a way for the user to apply their own style sheet to my posting? Or will I put more robust formatting in my CDATA'd posting text?

Will I own the presentation of my postings in RSS or set it free?

I have HTML to present my junk one way, and offer it up in a dead clean format for you to see it your way. Web Browsers are these things that we use to see what others have put on the web to be viewed in a specific way. That's why we have standards and rail on about horrible (and inconsistent) box model implementations.

I regret dragging Dr. Martin Luther King down to the level of mark-up pedantry, but he said in his "I Have a Dream" speech that he hoped "that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." HTML/CSS shows the color of the skin and RSS reveals the content of its character.

For now anyway.


September 24, 2002 9:12 AM

It's refreshing to see Dilbert explaining to everyone one else in the world that death by UI-designed-by-software-engineers is possible.

September 23, 2002 9:39 AM

And apparently sucks at it.

September 1, 2002 11:22 AM

I've seen the conversation about the next gen user interface ebb and flow for years. I think most of it is bullshit, including the argument saying the 'windows, menus and pointing' paradigm is over drawn, past its prime and about to die. The other end of the spectrum is cognitive and relational bliss, and is revolutionary, but what we need is evolutionary (imho).

Why do we need evolutionary progress instead of some bright new tomorrow? simple, millions of us use mice, type on keyboards, open windows and file things in folders. Millions of us are used to that, understand that and are productive with that. Throw it out? Boooolshit.

In spite of all that, Spring looks cool.

[via blackbeltjones]

August 15, 2002 9:11 AM

Today hits to '' passed the non-www version of the domain name. What's funny about that is I have never advertised the site with the 'www' prefix, ever. IMHO, that prefix is an anachronism (after all there is no ftp.inmyexperience or god forbid gopher.inmyexperience), and I find it pretty amusing that people depend on it so much (or perhaps it's Pavlovian).

The dependance on the 'www' prefix can lead to a certain problem I've seen at many sites. That is that the non-www version of the domain has no DNS record for the web site. So, if you hit the www version of the domain name with a browser, everything is cool, trash that prefix tho, and often, you'll get nothing. (my host) is great for the simple reason that they anticipate the user's/customer's needs by adding records for the www and non-www version of your domain name (and they do a bunch of other cool stuff too).

July 30, 2002 2:31 AM

Slashdot | GUIs for Everyone is a thread based on an article titled "generating the next-generation gui." Both the thread and article are worth a read...

We have "open source" development on Operating Systems in the attempt to utilize the minds of many super intelligent folks to develop the next-gen OS. The end-result is available for free (or close to it) and it takes advantage of the culimination of many great ideas into effect. While it's a little messy to install, it's faster and more robust than Windows and it's getting better every day. As a result, it has the opportunity to challenge the Windows Monopoly.

Unfortunately, something important is missing.

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