Anyone who’s worked with UserTalk, Frontier, Manila, or Radio knows that there’s a lot of impressive power packed into these tools and also a lot of idiosyncrasies. The software is ideological in the sense that it reflects the choices and preferences and decisions of mainly one programmer and software architect, Dave Winer:
In software your tools get better over time, esp if you’re like me and you’ve devoted a good 75 percent of your career to honing the perfect tools and the rest to applying them. Today I have a built-in database, outliner, full verb set, networking stack, you name it, everything built into the environment I work in, it’s perfectly tuned to my mind, my game. A younger programmer, even if he or she were smart enough to choose this environment over a less powerful one, would still have to learn how to use it. That’s why if you put me in a head-to-head with a programmer at any of the campaigns, for example, I’d teach the young whippersnapper a thing or two.
For anyone who thinks like Dave or works like Dave or who can learn to and wants to, an outliner, database, scripting language, etc., tuned to this mindset is an amazingly powerful platform.
Perfect is defined here as “perfect for Dave.”
For myself, though, I’ve found that I’m not script-y enough to get the power that I want out of these systems and that my own user-interface needs (yes, and ideologies), don’t fully jibe with it. That’s fine. It’s a relatively free market, right?
For instance, Dave prefers the all-in-one-webpage weblog-style news aggregator interface and makes strong arguments for why it’s the best way. Radio works this way. Other news readers might have the email-style three-paned interface that Dave decries.
I’d rather have choices. Give me the option of viewing my news feeds either way. Don’t lock me into your preferences because you think there’s an moral, ethical, or ideological benefit to doing so.
I’d like it if NetNewsWire could give me the all-in-one page approach (it kind of does, but not really), and if Radio could give me panes (no pun intended).