Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Where is the shift from OS 1.0 or 1.5 to OS 2.0?

I'm going to geek out on everyone for a bit. These are not well thought through ideas, just random thoughts. Any glaring holes in logic I blame on anyone else but me ;)

I have a bone to pick with makers of Operating Systems. It applies to everyone in the game, the makers of Windows, to the people involved with the Linux movement and everywhere in between. For a while now we have been involved, immersed if you will in the Web 2.0 movement. There are a lot of different variations on the differences between the Web 1.x and Web 2.0, let us assume for the sake of argument that the Web 2.0 phenomenon involves partially, or mainly the difference between a web that is content driven, and a web that is user driven.

In thinking about this shift and how it has impacted the ways in which I use the internet it got me to thinking, as many things often do, about the implications in user design and user experience design. Mainly in the ways that the role of the architect in Web "System" has changed. It used to be that the act of creating a site and regularly adding content used to be a difficult task. Then the web evolved a bit and server side scripting languages (PHP, ASP, etc) connected to databases came into fashion. They made things easier, but things like adding users, or changing site design quickly/easily were still challenging.

You see where this is going, many evolutions later and we have entire management system that make the types of things that Architects usually do to sites incredibly easy. Take for example this site (schwerzler.com) it is the first domain I ever registered and a site that I have managed since 2001. Some of the advancements in the site are easy to see, and a lot of them are direct results of my own learning associated with web technologies like css and html and php. At some point however I discovered a content management system (Joomla at the time) and it changed the way I thought about the web and the way as I as a sight owner interact with it.

Fast forward a few years more and I'm still using a CMS, one that works a bit better for me (Drupal, which is the same CMS I use for this site). Looking back I would have been crazy to include a tiny fraction of the features I have on this site or on Schwerzler.com onto my old 2001 site. With Drupal I can create content, add features and change the look and feel of the site all within a few moments, where with my limited skills as a programmer would have taken me weeks or months (or lets face it years) to implement. As cheesy as it sounds the CMS allowed me to focus more on what I put on my site and not how to put it on the site.

So what is my point right? I man the title of this post has something vaguely to do with Operating Systems right? O.K. I'll get to the point. In the same way that the Web 2.0 has revolutionized the ways that we interact with the web we need a similar kind of revolution allowing people to interact with their computers. Gone SHOULD be the days where I spend 70 hours in a weekend setting up Active Directory. Gone SHOULD be the days where after 70 hours I am still running down permissions issues (seriously, share permissions Vs. NTFS Permissions WTF?). Why do I feel like the girl in Goonies who is playing the playing the music and her every mistake brings the death of her friends ever closer.

Where is my nice interface, where is my UX? Why do I HAVE to have a degree (not any of the ones I have obviously) in order to understand the settings? Why does it seem like the Web is ahead of the OS market when it comes to giving users what it wants? This is NOT an OS specific issue by a long shot, Linux I knows carries many of the same problems, if not exactly then in close proximity) and I can only assume that a Mac has similar issues, if not I could probably find them.

I know that the setup and configuration of Active Directory is a complicated task meant for system administrators. I also know that MS has come a long way in progress to make the steps necessary to setup Active Directory much easier then it used to be, but come on people, these technologies were introduced in the late 1990's and the mechanisms to manage them remain stone age tools.

I know people will say I should have used this version (likely small business server, or the Linux equivalent) and I would have but those tools are honestly too broad and general for me. I don't WANT Exchange on my system... we use hosted email, I don't WANT WSUS, we only have a few PC's and WSUS is as prone to muck things up as it is to make things easier, I don't WANT a database on here, If I needed a database I will install one. I prefer to start from a clean base and add the few components that I need. Simple and clean. I want to be able to interact with the system quickly and efficiently, without feeling like a hacker.

My needs are simple, why aren't my solutions?