Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Where Lotus Went Wrong

Agenda, a very efficient and functional personal information manager, looked like this:

Lotus Organizer replaced Agenda. It was a definite step backwards in functionality with a corresponding new look:

Whether it would have been perfect, if it had stayed true to Agenda's principles and looked like this, I dare not say:

But the latter certainly would have been much better.

This will be the last post on the visual representation of metaphors for writing and note-taking for now. I hope I have made clear that this is not primarily an aesthetic issue, though it is that too.

As I wrote some time ago in the Outliner Forum: Are aesthetic considerations in personal knowledge applications really relevant?

My first thought was that they are not. To say that such an application doesn’t cut it aesthetically seems to me equivalent to saying that a blank canvas or a blank sheet of paper doesn’t cut it aesthetically. Neither canvas or paper is really meant to "cut it" aesthetically on its own. The finished painting or the finished text is meant to do so. The canvas or the application are meant to allow you to accomplish something that is aesthetically (or otherwise) pleasing, useful, or important. The application should not get into the way. It should serve as an affordance for your own achievement.

I still think that this is right. This is why I also think that a minimalist approach to aesthetic features is preferable and that "form should follow function."

1 comment:

cian said...

For what its worth, org-mode (a plugin for Emacs) is probably the closest to Agenda available today. Unfortunately for the non-technically minded its also very difficult to set up. But I think its the best application of its type available anywhere.