Looking at Silverlight in the Air through a Prism

Posted: November 6th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Archive, Design & UX, Systematic Viewpoints | View Comments

Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe Air and Mozilla Prism, that is. I wish I were clever enough to fit Yahoo Widgets into that title, but my brain just didn’t go there. In any case interesting things may be going on with interfaces. There’s a sudden confluence of ‘solutions’ aimed at pulling experiences out of the browser. This has some positive aspects, the browser remains a page-oriented environment and it demands a degree of bending to it’s will. In the enterprise space, there is great appeal to detaching meaningful experiences from the monolithic approach that ERP delivers.

Is there a downside? I can imagine desktops becoming cluttered with multiple disparate interfaces (You are in a maze of twisty little GUIs, all unalike) with a lack of context providing the conceptual or actual relationships between them. Do people even want to have all these little bits floating about? The proportion of folks who are able to manipulate their computing environments remains low, and I for one don’t believe that Millenials are somehow naturally equipped or even inclined to be more than consumers of services. In some quarters there seems to be an almost mystical attachment to the idea that young-uns are deeply skilled laptop Jedis. I’d like to see some real-world testing, my gut says that they can easily learn to use new apps and devices but they’re just as inclined to ignore customization as us dinosaurs. I grew up on TV, that doesn’t make me an expert on signal propagation or any other technical aspect of the medium. Just a consumer, sorry.

That said, I’m thrilled to see interest in alternative interfaces at places like SAP. I believe the real benefits will come when the UX and design people get to apply their disciplines. It feels like we’re at the start of some innovative thinking around enterprise application interfaces, and it’s about freakin’ time.

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