Some Tech Articles for You on a Saturday Morning

As many of my friends are cranking through the TripleByPass bike race and I prepare to go for a long run in the mountains near my house in Keystone, I thought I’d leave you with a few tech blog posts and articles I read this morning.

Too Much And Not Enough: Eric Norlin (Defrag) has a nice short piece on a phrase I’m hearing a lot these days. 

CrunchUp Live: Real Time Search Panel: More of “too much and not enough”.  Kimbal Musk’s (OneRiot) has the money quote of the panel: “Drinking from the firehose is a ticking timebomb.”

Has enterprise software has always been terrible? Gnip’s Eric Marcoullier says yes: Always one for a pithy quote, Eric Marcouiller (Gnip) got one in during his 30 minute panel (with 7 panelist – eek – just about enough time for one question for each panelist) at TechCrunch’s Real-Time CrunchUp.  The real idea is that Consumer Internet is now setting the expectation for how enterprise software should work (e.g. the UI / UX is so much better).

Ok – enough of that real time shit, time for some other stuff.

Technology Going Downhill: Great story about a mountain bike crash, some dislocated fingers, an iPhone, and presence of mind.

Welcoming Andreessen Horowitz:  The gang at True Ventures has a great essay on early stage entrepreneurship that ends with “If you are an entrepreneur today, this is an historic time to chase your dreams. With over $1 billion in fresh seed capital in the very early stage market, what are you waiting for?”

The Fine Line Between Informing and Spamming Your Followers: Fred Wilson talks about how he inadvertently spammed his 27,162 followers on Twitter, why that sucks, and how he tries to deal with it.

Playful New Ways to Waste Your Time: It’s fun to see how the mainstream media perceives the dynamic of social gaming.  I assure you that my endless time spent in front of FarmVille and Mafia Wars is research, since I’m an investor in Zynga.

Ok – time for that run.

  • sam

    The interesting thing about the Gnip guys quote is that he might have never had a reason to use enterprise software in his life – consumer UI is cute and good for surface level interaction – if you try doing a deeper, every day work using consumer UI, it basically sucks……try taking orders over the phone and schedule deliveries on Google Calendar – try to do it for a week.

    • If google calendar were designed to better suit the specific case of taking orders over the phone and scheduling deliveries, would that make it better software?

      The way to judge "better" is probably product-market fit (… ). This yardstick applies in both the consumer case and the enterprise case.

  • Sam — it sounds as though you think that I'm equating consumer software design with rounded corners and pastel colors. Let me clear a couple things up.

    1) I've used plenty of enterprise software, like anyone else who has worked in menial jobs like food, retail and customer service.

    2) My primary problem with enterprise software is efficiency. Ever go to an airline gate and ask to change your seat? The gate attendant spends four or five minutes clicking buttons and typing on the keyboard and eventually you find out whether there are any seats available. Compare that to changing your seat when you check in at a kiosk.

    Google Calendar is unlikely to offer the specialized fields required for a delivery scheduling system, but it's quite efficient at adding events with a single click.

    3) My premise is that this is because the software developer is so removed from the user. The feedback loop is broken. If something is inefficient, there is essentially no way for a user to communicate that to the software company. Compare that to a consumer site who gets constant feedback and has the ability to immediately roll out changes for testing.

    Looking forward to hearing your feedback.

    • I think "feedback loop" is a great way to sum it up. Looking at the trendy software development methodologies, or broadening even more to include "customer development" (… ), the common thread is adding, or tightening, feedback loops.

      The waterfall method is the one software people dump on and the reason is simple: no feedback loop.

  • sam

    Agree on the feedback loop – one of my own experience designing software is we retrofitted an enterprise application to be a web application and used all the latest techniques, rounded corners, dynamic tabs and it looked like any good consumer UI does.

    We took it to a friendly customer and asked their user to use the product for a day while we observed her. She hated it within first 10 minutes – she is used to taking orders over the phone with her left hand holding the phone and right hand using the keyboard to type in details. New system required her to use the mouse, since its the web interface ( and keyboard hot buttons were getting taken over by the browser – like Ctr+T for tabbing now creates a new tab in firefox ).

    she was happier with the green screen based on an AS/400 system and more productive – the web interface was a non starter for her.

    Different use cases require different user interaction – consumer UI is not suited for enterprises in majority of cases. When pe- Despiteople try to force web UI to enterprise software, they are trying to mimic desktop behavior on a browser ( a terrible idea ).

    Not sure if we can take airline agent's app, which is ancient as an yard stick of enterprise software quality – instead, measure the effectiveness of enterprise software by looking at or even Oracle Fusion interfaces that are coming out recently.

    • I think most of our problems with software stem from the "because we have always done it this way" mentality.

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