100,000 words in a cunning order
I've been reading The Salmon of Doubt, a collection of the last works of Douglas Adams. It's an excellent book (thanks Ed!) not because of the story it contains -- the title story was barely half-finished when he died, and the rest of the book is small articles, one-liners and e-mails by Adams and friends -- but because of all the ideas it contains. Adams was a really clever guy, really well-read and thoughtful. In particular -- and it was a surprise to me to discover -- he was very interested in technology, and was surprisingly knowledgeable about it. For instance, the HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy now really exists as H2G2.com, a sort of everything-style community-edited encyclopedia to life, the universe and everything (and arranged into those categories).
He also had a lot to say about my favourite topic, user interface design. I get really unbelievably snotty about user interface design these days, mainly because it's so awful. So it was refreshing to find out that Adams thought exactly the same things, and had the same sort of intolerant attitude towards it: why should the tool I'm using make me feel stupid? I'm smart! If I find the tool difficult to use, it must be because the tool is poorly designed. Things should work exactly the way I expect them to, and if I've never used something before, it should be obvious how to use it. Adam's guideline on that subject is somewhat strict, and I'm unsure of whether it really can be applied all the time: if it needs a manual, then it's still too difficult to use.
Either way, he (and/or the lack of caffeine) has inspired me to get further along today with the design of the new back-end that will power Seldo.Com 3.0, so maybe in the coming weeks I'll actually get somewhere with that. If only I could decide what I want the front end to look like....