Shirky: Situated Software: Stimulating essay. Reminds me of CGNET's helpdesk. And what we'll do as programming gets really cheap. "Part of the future I believe I'm seeing [in my students' work] is a change in the software ecosystem which, for the moment, I'm calling situated software. This is software designed in and for a particular social situation or context. This way of making software is in contrast with what I'll call the Web School (the paradigm I learned to program in), where scalability, generality, and completeness were the key virtues. .. Situated software isn't a technological strategy so much as an attitude about closeness of fit between software and its group of users, and a refusal to embrace scale, generality or completeness as unqualified virtues..
We constantly rely on the cognitive capabilities of individuals in software design -- we assume a user can associate the mouse with the cursor, or that icons will be informative. We rarely rely on the cognitive capabilities of groups, however, though we rely on those capabilities in the real world all the time. .. There is another strategy, however, analogous to asking the user to recognizing icons; the designer can simply assume the group has a certain capability, without needing to recapitulate it in code. If you have an uncollected payment in a communal buying pool, the software can kick out a message that says "Deadbeat alert. Deal with it." A real world group will have some way of handling the problem ..
So what happens next? If what I'm seeing is not transitory or limited to a narrow set of situations, then we'll see a rise in these small form-fit applications. This will carry some obvious downsides, including tying the developers of such applications to community support roles, and shortening the useful lifespan of the software made in this way.
Expectations of longevity, though, are the temporal version of scale -- we assume applications should work for long periods in part because it costs so much to create them. Once it's cheap and easy to throw together an application, though, that rationale weakens. Businesses routinely ask teams of well-paid people to put hundreds of hours of work creating a single PowerPoint deck that will be looked at in a single meeting. The idea that software should be built for many users, or last for many years, are cultural assumptions not required by the software itself. " 11:45:09 PM
: Search audio and video with speech and video recognition. CPU-intensive, possible grid application. "StreamSage's Audio/Video Search Engine finds relevant content and displays it in a prioritized list of search results. Whether the content is a news story, training presentation or web conference, StreamSage automatically identifies the precise intervals of content that are relevant for every topic addressed in the media file. The resulting index of "Relevance Intervals" allows you to quickly find the information in audio/video content that you need." Example: NASA indexes a lecture series
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