Today I have been in London attending Microsoft’s Designtopia conference. (In fact, I’m still there at the time of posting – come to think of it, I think this is the first post to be written about a conference during the conference and published whilst still attending the conference… ) The keynote walked through the various technologies Microsoft has been developing for building next generation applications (web-based – browser, and desktop clients) that deliver much richer visual user interfaces.

As at the Microsoft Digital Day event held last October, Microsoft chose to demonstrate the New York Times (NYT) reader as a flagship example of what’s possible with these new technologies. The NYT reader is a client application that visually displays news stories in a much more readable format than how they are delivered in a standard web browser interface.

But whilst the NYT reader does a nice job of demonstrating what the new technologies can do, it does a lousy job of demonstrating uses for the technology. The NYT reader is a classic Web 1.0 application. It’s purpose is to serve you static content to read, in a format chosen by the publishers, that includes losing blocks of screen estate to advertising. No interaction, no community, no participation.

If the news stories are to be believed, MS is frustrated with their lack of progress in competing against Google and other web-oriented companies taking advantage of social computing trends. Choosing to build alliances with organisations fighting to keep their traditional business models alive is unlikely to change the situation.

Show me a mash-up machine instead – something that feeds in news and provides a tag web of other sources commenting or reporting on the subject of interest, with the ability to stream in audio/video content as well as text and images plus upload my own opinions to add to the global commentary. I want the next generation version of productivity tools that makes it easy for me to create, mix and mash different media files and participate in conversations rather than just produce/consume content in an easier-to-read format…


And just to prove that I’m not being remotely original, as usual, with my opinions, I stumbled across the following paragraph reading ‘Wikinomics‘ during the lunch break:

…today’s most exciting and successful Web companies and communities are stitching together their own services from shared databanks and Lego-style pieces of Web software. Rather than define the user experience and publish information for people to observe, they use Web services to create platforms for people to cocreate their own services, communities and experiences… 2006 was the year when the programmable Web eclipsed the static Web every time…

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