John Markoff has a fun little story about the origin of the phrase What-You-See-Is-What–You-Get in his article titled The Real History of WYSIWYG.  WYSIWYG appeared on the scene 30+ years ago – it seems like the wikipedia page on it needs a little updating.

Now that WYSIWYG is part of our collective consciousness (and a deep expectation of most computer users, even though there are many apps that don’t quite cut the mustard), I’m less concerned with WYSIWYG these days. I’m more intrigued with WYWIWYG – “What-You-Want-Is-What-You-Get.” 

Come to Defrag on Nov 5 and 6 in Denver and talk to me (and a bunch of other smart people including folks like David Weinberger, Clay Shirky, JP Rangaswami, Jerry Michalski, Ester Dyson, Doc Searls, Bradley Horowitz, Paul Kedrosky, Chris Shipley) and a long list of others about WYWIWYG.

You know you’ve been thinking about registering, but your computer won’t do it for you (at least not yet.)  You still have to click here and type some stuff in.  Maybe someday WYWIWYG.

  • Some additional pointers on this topic:


  • When I was working on HomeSite, it was marketed as a WYSIWYN web authoring tool (“What-You-See-Is-What-You-Need”). Kinda goofy, but I liked that acronymn because it separated HomeSite from the WYSIWYG tools.

  • Back when I used to work more closely with developers I learned the important phrase “just what I asked for but not what I wanted”. I think this is what happens when WYW isn’t perfectly articulated- which is probably 99.9% of the time.

    If Defrag is about addressing that communication gap then I can definitely see the appeal.