Monday, June 25, 2001

Why command line interface can be good
As I wrote on Friday, I am thrilled with my new Web brower Opera's "command line" address bar interface. Instead of going to the Google website and typing in my query, I can just enter "g" and then the search term. The brower will automatically submit this to google, and display the search results.

In practise, this saves me about 1 second. Not a huge win, you might say. However, when doing work, it is not the raw time that makes a different, but rather the length of uninterrupted worktime where individual productivity really soars (and all the real work gets done). Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister make this point in Peopleware years ago, and of course it is still as true today. Infact, the importance of response time was noted way back in 1968.

When I conduct a search on the Internet, something I do all the time, having that function hardwired into the browser (at the command line level) has made it as thoughtless as exhaling. The way I use the computer is different, and I can squeeze more value from the Web than I ever could before. The future of productivity from computing will be based on this idea: making computers invisible so users can work directly on the data.

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