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The software I love is ugly, greedy, and antisocial.

The great emerging technologies gurus have deemed Wikis to be ugly and RSS readers to be anti-social and greedy (I hope her talk was more interesting than the slides). I guess you can't move forward without burning the bridges behind you. Whatever, I love Wikis and RSS readers. I guess I can understand why some shallow person might be turned off by the uglyness of Wikis (no matter how much CSS is applied), but how can Meg say that RSS readers were not designed for weblogs? Weblogs are the very reason for the existence of RSS readers. UPDATE: there is some additional discussion of the Wikis are ugly topic on Joi Ito's site.


Hmmmm. Well, I'm flattered to be called a "social software guru"--I believe that's the first time I've ever heard it. A little _less_ flattered by the characterization of me as a "shallow person," based solely on that post, but I'll get over it. I should point out, however, that I'm the minority voice on the topic over at Many-to-Many, and that Ross posted a rebuttal to my original post. One argument against RSS readers in a blog context is that many people consider blogs to be more than just the words within them...their decisions about images, design, juxtaposition, blogroll, etc, all factor into the experience. Aesthetic experience isn't only for shallow people. Sometime context is an important part of content.

Posted by Liz Lawley on May 03, 2003 at 06:37 PM EDT #

OK, so that was not very nice. I should have found a better way to say what I was trying to say. I don't even know you, I should not have called you a shallow person, and I'm sorry. That said, I do think it is shallow to dismiss the great collaborative and information sharing value of Wikis just because they are not pretty. Nonetheless, you got my attention and now I'm one of your readers. Thanks for your comment and thanks for pointing out Ross Mayfield's response too.

Posted by Dave Johnson on May 04, 2003 at 12:38 PM EDT #

The problem with that line of thinking is that it's what software developers have used for years to dismiss users' needs and concerns. Usability matters. A great software concept isn't useful to the end-users if it's too frustrating for them to use. And to dismiss the users' concerns as "shallow" seems overly simplistic. I'm not dismissing the value and power of wikis--and I acknowledged that power in my post. I also noted that I use wikis for some projects. But I do it reluctantly, and I've had difficulty convincing non-early-adopter colleagues to use them. I've learned that when users resist a product, there's usually a reason, and that in the long run in will be easier to modify the product than it will be to modify the users. :-)

Posted by Liz Lawley on May 04, 2003 at 01:04 PM EDT #

Point well taken. As an open source developer, I value and criticism and complaints about software. Open source developers usually don't have access to a usability lab. Too often, users take it for granted that software is supposed to suck or they just stop using the software. When that happens, we developers don't get the feedback needed to improve. So, this type of criticism should be encouraged and not dismissed. I don't develop Wiki software, so there I am just a user. I've found that it is easy to adopt the WikiWay because the editing rules are so simple, but I'm a UNIX geek at heart - I've already been modified.

Posted by Dave Johnson on May 04, 2003 at 01:43 PM EDT #

I still hate editing wikis (okay, just started a few weeks ago on Roller's wiki), but I set one up today for Castor. I haven't gotten past that, however, as the sheer volume of work I face to make it look half-decent. While I love what you've done with Roller's wiki, the basic usability issues stink. And I find the "markup" rules strange - I'd have preferred something psuedo-html (except for the List syntax, that is well done).

Posted by Lance on May 05, 2003 at 01:15 AM EDT #

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