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Situated software: personal from its inception

April 15th, 2004 · No Comments

I enjoyed this article by Clay Shirky on Situated Software that I found via Amy Wohl’s blog

Part of the future I believe I’m seeing is a change in the software ecosystem which, for the moment, I’m calling situated software. This is software designed in and for a particular social situation or context. This way of making software is in contrast with what I’ll call the Web School (the paradigm I learned to program in) where scalability, generality and completeness were the key virtues.
Situated software isn’t a technological strategy so much as an attitude about closeness of fit between software and its group of users, and a refusal to embrace scale, generality or completeness as unqualified virtues. Seen in this light, the obsession with personalization of Web School software is an apology for the obvious truth – – most web applications are impersonal by design, as they are built for a generic user. Allowing the user to customize the interface of a Web site might make it more useful, but it doesn’t make it any more personal than the ATM putting your name on the screen while it spits out your money.

Situated software, by contrast, doesn’t need to be personalized – – it is personal from its inception….

Tags: geek