Saturday, November 18, 2006

Features: "A Collection of Hacks"

Great article about the creator of Firefox's next project -- untangling the loose alliance of applications and hacks that hold the web/desktop interface together to create a more unified system.

Thought this was appropo and similar to Google's approach of making what they have work together better.


The answer, he and his programming partner, Joe Hewitt, decided, resided in the gap between the desktop and the Web. “Right now, people want to shuffle around content,” he says, “but the world’s fused together by a collection of hacks.” Something that should be simple, say, getting photos from a digital camera onto the Web, is a Sisyphean task for most people. “Step back and ask, ‘What’s wrong with this picture?’” Ross says.

The problem, according to Ross, is there’s no simple, cohesive tool to help people store and share their creations online. Currently, the steps involved depend on the medium. If you want to upload photos, for example, you have to dump your images into one folder, then transfer them to an image-sharing site such as Flickr. The process for moving videos to YouTube or a similar site is completely different. If you want to make a personal Web page within an online community, you have to join a social network, say, MySpace or Friendster. If you intend to rant about politics or movies, you launch a blog and link up to it from your other pages. The mess of the Web, in other words, leaves you trapped in one big tangle of actions, service ­providers, and applications.

Ross’s answer is named Parakey. As he describes it, from a user’s point of view, Parakey is “a Web operating system that can do everything an OS can do.”

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