Hello World v.s. the Twitter App
I’ve been to two separate technology demonstrations lately wherein the presenter has eschewed the generally well accepted Hello World program as a first example in favor of something different. As you know, for many years the K&R example has reigned supreme (along with the tea pot) as the canonical first first principles example. The presenter usually creates a Hello World program, then goes about the business of explaining all the plumbing that is required to get two words onto the screen -- leaving to the imagination all the cool stuff that could be created from there.
But, instead, both these guys dragged a few controls onto a design surface, copied some code from the toolbox and proceeded to show the ability to modify their status on Twitter. This got me to thinking in a No Silver Bullet way “has something changed?” I think it has, but not necessarily along the lines that one might think. You see, Hello Twitter still takes about 10 lines of C# code. So, it’s not as simple as Hello World. But, in a previous post, I argued that users are changing the way they want to experience information. Could it be that the concept itself has become so simple as to become universally and immediately understandable? That is, that the concept of writing an application that will use some means to call out to a web service, send some data to that web service and receive a response has as clear and as simple of a meaning as writing a line of text to the screen.
If indeed the average web consumer has become so savvy, it truly behooves us as experience delivery professionals (designers, developers and architects) to understand the true nature of the sea change that is before us. If the least common denominator of how a web consumer sees the world is what we would call a Web API (they might have trouble putting into words, but know it when they see it), we need to be delivering experiences that are at least up to the measure of that LCD (think math, not the screen). Again, we circle back to the notion that simply having a web site is not enough.
Quick side story … during college I had to take a chip design course. I enjoyed it. But, during one of the lectures, the professor admonished the class that if he ever discovered that one of his alumni’s skills had been put to use to “design another remote control” he would be very disappointed. I took his meaning to be that the design of a remote control was not a challenge worthy of his students’ talents.
Similarly, it’s getting to the point where if I see an experience delivery professional (TM) (If you use this, you have to PayPal me $0.05). simply designing a web site, I will also be disappointed. We need to start taking into considering not only what our customers are trying to accomplish, but help them discover who their community is, how we can enable multiple experiences for that community and how we can create additional revenue opportunities based on that thinking. Otherwise, it’s just boring.