Yes, no, and maybe

As someone who writes frequently about online technology and user experience, I feel both entitled and obligated to try out all the new stuff.

Speaking of new stuff, Blogger is now officially out of beta. (There’s a great “out-of-beta” logo on the log-in page.)

After starting out blogging six years ago with Dave Winer’s ground-breaking Manila software, I began using Blogger in 2003. It’s a balanced mix of attractive design, friendly user interface, and innovative features, including complete freedom to edit your own template code. It grabbed me the way Mac OS software does. I’ve since flirted with other well-known blogging apps, and while each one has elements I liked better than Blogger’s, each one turned out to be unacceptably lame in at least one major area. Blogger, bless its soul, is all-around adequate.

I mention my Blogger experience because it’s typical of the way I relate to new software, online or off. If it doesn’t grab me in the first 15 minutes, I am, as they say, so out of there.

Flickr grabbed me; Webshots didn’t, thanks to some of the tackiest, most outdated visuals on the web. And Flickr has kept me via new features and clever, to-the-point communication (greeting me in foreign languages, etc.).

Side Job Track grabbed me. Despite narrow options and a bit of a fussy user interface, it does what it does (keep track of freelance hours and billing) brilliantly. In a word: convenience.

Second Life
grabbed me. World of Warcraft didn’t; WoW was like meeting an interesting but intense and overpowering person at a party.

Currently I’m re-exploring Pandora Internet Radio, Twitter, and (maybe) Saft.

Pandora starts with a recording artist you enjoy and creates a radio channel of similar material, allowing you to tailor the channel content with yes and no votes. I’m not sure if this is going to fit into my life because I listen to music on the iPod rather than on the computer. (Computer = work, iPod = workouts and travel.) But, nice idea.

Saft is a Safari add-on that provides a searchable history and full-screen browsing, among other features. But some of the VersionTracker user reviews blame Saft for screwing up Safari. That sort of thing is a dealbreaker for me. I don’t install “improvements” that can make a key piece of software (that currently works adequately) not work at all!

Twitter, as its name suggests, is social software. In a sense, it’s an extension of the little tagline you get in the iChat (and presumably also in the AIM) interface, that lets you see what your friends are doing. But Twitter takes it further, integrating the information into blogs, and making it accessible via cell phones. At the moment, I’m seeing Twitter as just another piece of desktop clutter, but I’m quite sure I’m not the target audience. I mean, do you think of me as someone who twitters, or someone who blogs?

What software is on your current evaluation list? (And can anyone reassure me about installing Saft?)

Author: Karen Anderson

To paraphrase Mark Morris, "I'm a writer; I write!"

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