There is a noticeable trend in the software industry where products are dumbed-down and retrograded. That trend was already evident years ago in desktop products. But it is particularly visible in the shift from desktop to mobile. All standards seem abandoned. Good practices are thrown away with the abolition of concepts such as reliability, i.e. the reduction of failure, interoperability, i.e. good interaction with complementary products. No thought is given to usability or workflow. In other words, no attempt is made to be in the role of the user and anticipate his interactions and needs. Obviously the practice of gathering requirements directly from users is considered obsolete. Designers of the most popular software products prefer a more authoritarian approach where we get what they want and not what we want. Usually we get what was is half-baked, far-out, and shows how they despise us. They are also stingy on features. Simple features, such as Save, Undo, Find, are missing. Feature-rich software applications are a thing of the past. These software makers arrogantly show us how with limited features they look to maximize their already obscene profits. The most popular and most conspicuous feature has become the use of primary color blocks. The major companies lead that trend and force others to follow.
That trend is very obvious when comparing mobile products to their desktop predecessors. In fact, much defects and limitations seem to be built into a particular mobile platform. It just does not make products shine. Apps must deal with OS limitations built into the different standard phone menus and into the error-prone, frequently failing OS services. They are unable to do a roundtrip with the browser or with email. Users are not brought back to where they were and most apps must interact with these tools. Screen taps are sent to the wrong area. To type data users are at the mercy of the OS for a fickle keyboard that comes up and goes away when it wants.
The browser-based products don’t fare better. Defects built into the browser make it close unexpectedly. Besides there is a significant reduction of features in the browser from the desktop to the mobile. Browser bookmarklets and extensions were removed from the mobile. So were drag and drop features. The platform makes it inconvenient for app developers to design text highlighting features. Also, web pages are frequently refreshed upon navigation, data does not stick unless the programmer made provision for this on the web site. This could pose usability issues when users must navigate to other pages to retrieve data to enter on the page. The issue is not hardware limitation. This was a deliberate strategic decision to retrograde the technology.
If you are in a browser working with a web-based product, the OS might not keep a scroll action in sequence with a screen touch. It could send that touch to a different area of the screen to cause an unintended action. Because of this a screen touch could be sent with a delayed response after the browser already navigated to a different page. This seems to happen with products that live in the cloud and where each screen touch, each scroll action is sent to the internet before you get a response. This does not seem an improvement over the days when actions were kept in sequence and when the OS kept a working copy of a page to work with efficiently. Users got instant feedback after clicking on a page element. Now with the cloud, on the mobile platform, there is a significant delay before getting that feedback. The roundtrip between an action and the response could take long enough to make a web-based product unusable. The phone capacity is not an excuse to send out every screen touch to the internet and make the user wait for a response. In addition, back in the days when key clicks were attached to a page element, this sort of unreliability was prevented. If the browser navigated away from the page, the click could not result in unintended actions.
We talked earlier about the major companies leading the trend. They do worse, they quash technologies and prevent small companies from bringing them to users by forcing them out of business. One company seems to make a business strategy out of removing technologies out of the marketplace. That company single-handedly suppressed personal internet portals, Real Simple Syndication (RSS) readers, newsgroups, internet research products with web annotation. Then that company monopolized search technology only to degrade it and present skewed search results.
Personal Internet Portals
Personal portals gave users at-a-glance their own view of the internet. Users controlled the content to include: news, weather, financials, email, chat, video, online shopping, airfare trackers, calendars, reminders, to-do lists… Here are screen images of personal portals.
The igoogle portal no longer exists. There is still a netvibes dashboard but the company was forced to practically abandon the user portal to focus on business users. Compare the value and usefulness of these personal portals to the assortment of social networks that replace them today.
Finding a well designed RSS news reader now requires a lot of research. Some can’t load the feeds. Most limit the number of news items retrieved. Others won’t show you much beyond the title. Most don’t give you a convenient way back to the reader if you navigate to the browser to read a news article. Here is a screen image of Google Reader before it was discontinued.
According to comments read on the internet the original specifications called for users to be able to highlight web pages while browsing. Dark forces did not make it easy for that to become reality and when it did they held back and quashed products left and right.. WebNotes is a product that did the page highlighting that browsers would not do and went beyond to be a full web research tool with annotation, collaboration, and research note management. Here are some screen images some from the beta pre-release product.
WebNotes Start Page
WebNotes Organizer Sub-Panel
WebNotes Annotated Highlighted Page
Note: The WebNotes images are not rendered in this screen image. But the compilation of notes for the shared page is shown
Something seems to have highjacked search capabilities on the internet and is holding back search technology. You just cannot get at the information you are looking for whether this be on the search engines, a corporate site, an organization’s site, the apps, file system, browser bookmarks on your phone. You can only prove it by searching for information you previously accessed and that you know exists. In addition, most search products do not understand human language. They make no attempt to understand meaning. Consider this simple search on a major search engine.
To get the article with this quote:
‘Our times are shot through with self-contradiction. This is precisely what is being referred to as the new normal: double-talk, double-think, double-standard, double-bind, these four which I’ve previously called our own Four Riders of the Apocalypse…’ from “Knowledge, Power, Freedom, Responsibility”. https://longsworde.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/knowledge-power-freedom-responsibility/
double-standard double-talk double-bind
The results only show the article if you add ‘self-contradiction ‘, and search for
self-contradiction double-standard double-talk double-bind
The search does not show the article in the first pages for
self-contradiction double-talk double-standard double-bind
Evidently the priority for search technology is not to retrieve for you the information you are looking for, precisely and reliably. It is about returning any information skewed by a number of factors: ranking, advertising, political agendas…
Who knows what the internet could have been if it weren’t chained down by dark forces of the world. For one there would be sensible domain name categorization instead of useless extensions (.com, .net, .info) that are only meant to satisfy greed and serve no useful purpose.
Do not be fooled by all the buzz around artificial intelligence or machine learning (the powers that be can’t settle on a name). Don’t be too impressed with internet of things aka industrial internet. The dark forces of the world are significantly holding back technological progress. Have a critical look at the products in your life to uncover the bad design. The fuss around AI is about inventing spare brains for the rulers of nation who find themselves running out of IQ. Then IoT is about gathering enough data to feed to computers to generate this AI. There are more useful ways to better mankind such as providing solar power everywhere. Solar technology was deliberately held back out of evil and greed.
Be aware that the subtitution of mediocrity for good products is not limited to the mobile platform. For years this has also been a trend for the desktop. For one they make it difficult to get at and take your data with you. Then they limit features almost as much as they do on the mobile platform. They ignore users just as much in their design.
Open your eyes to what is happening in the high tech industry. Avoid being a mindless puppet heaping praise on low quality products designed to allure the eyes while helping chain down minds. Make your voice heard when the products fall short and prove that their creators have absolutely no consideration for the users. As for the trend of good products being yanked from users this picture speaks volumes about the entire free software industry.