The Complexifying Instinct

Sometimes I wonder about the complexifying instinct.

Entropy for software isn’t disorder—it’s more features. It’s caused by people wanting more features. And wanting them quite reasonably and intelligently: wanting good and useful features.

Think of the initial appeal of Blogger: you type into some little text field, and it appears on the web, and everyone can read it. Easy and delightful.

But blogging didn’t stop there, because people quite reasonably wanted to have titles. Sure, titles, of course, we need titles, I agree.

And then, of course, Slashdot had departments, so don’t weblogs need categories or something like that? A weblog is a kind of knowledge management app, after all, and categories are a pretty lightweight addition. Okay, sure, categories, let’s add ’em.

How about summaries? Sure thing. And hierarchical categories? Trackbacks? Ja. A setting for enabling comments. A setting for appearing on the home page. Sure, sure, everything’s reasonable—everything’s needed, even. Extended entries. Tags. Enclosures. Yes.

The only thing that’s lost is the sheer delight of that simple text field for posting to the web.

So then there’s Twitter, which is, basically, a service where you type into some little text field, and it appears on the web, and everyone can read it. Easy and delightful.

Sometimes I see feature requests for Twitter, and this makes me nervous. I hope that it adds zero features.

Even if weblog writing has turned baroque, there should be space for at least one thing on the web that stays simple and fun.

If weblogs are the city of the web, then Twitter is the lone tree on the prairie, cool for just standing there among the grasses, a home for birds.

05 Apr 2007

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