Windows: Pushing the envelope – not

From Asymco:

Microsoft already has lost its position as leader in personal technology. The end actually came in about 2000. Once Windows became “good enough” and did not crash so much, they have had a hard time finding something to improve.

This isn’t altogether true in an absolute sense, but compare the leap from Windows 2000 to Windows 7 with where Apple has taken Mac OS X in the same time (just look at Lion). This is where Apple’s deep integration with hardware makes really *useful* innovation possible.

Footnote: see where Microsoft has taken Office in this same period, where it hasn’t needed to depend on hardware integration.

“But *this* mobile phone OS supports Flash!”

An Infoworld experiment with Flash on Android:

The UI turns into a tug-of-war between the browser and the Flash Player, where each touch produces varying effects, seemingly at random. Depending on where your finger happens to land — and maybe on your timing — one touch might be interpreted as a command for the browser and the next might activate controls in a Flash movie, while the next might do nothing. Adobe simply has not done enough to accommodate touch-based interfaces.

The conclusion?

If you were hoping the Flash player would enable a whole new world of content, you will be disappointed. Flash sites on Android devices are utterly hit or miss. And if you’re deploying Flex applications for your business to be accessed on mobile devices, my advice is to switch to HTML immediately.

Turns out there’s a chasm between “supports” and “works”.

You don’t need Assange to tell you this

Julian Assange, on the India cables and the reactions to them:

“First, they refused to comment at all, then to suggest the materials are not verified and no other government accepted it. Absolutely false…

“This is actually the behaviour of guilty men. Man who is innocent doesn’t tend to behave like that.

“That doesn’t mean people making those statements like Prime Minister Singh are guilty of this particular crime.

“It suggests something that how Indian parliamentarians and politicians respond to very serious allegations.They respond through indirection and attempting to cover up the issue for the public, rather than address it fully and frankly.”

via Manmohan Singh is misleading country:Assange.

What a mess. Is there anyone who believes anymore than we can rely on elected (and non-elected) representatives to do one thing that does more good than harm?

The unbearable burden of Facebook

From TIME magazine’s Person of the Year profile of Mark Zuckerberg:

“We’re trying to map out what exists in the world,” he says. “In the world, there’s trust. I think as humans we fundamentally parse the world through the people and relationships we have around us.

And you begin to understand why Facebook remains controversial in spite of its everywhereness. Mark Zuckerberg views Facebook as a digital analogue of our real-world relationships, and a way to make the Internet a better place because of those relationships.

But that is a huge responsibility to place on people. Your friend list on Facebook is likely nothing like ‘what exists in the world’ for you. Very few among you have enough self-awareness to know who you really have a relationship with. Fewer still have the strength of character to decline friend requests from your extended family, current and former colleagues, former batchmates, acquaintances from the city you used to live in, your old boyfriend or girlfriend – all people who you had some relationship with, perhaps a very close one, but no longer. And even fewer will un-friend people in your list who no longer matter (with equanimity, I mean. youdumpedmeyoupigunfriendthere doesn’t count).

Hence the different ways people use Facebook: a professional marketing tool for yourself or your company, or a way to peek into the life of your former crush, or while away boredom at work through gameaftergameaftergame, or to share random blurry photos from your phone camera, or channel every semi-conscious thought into a status update directed to no one in particular but one you always expect comments on. Ways of using Facebook which betray everything about you – desires, insecurities, biases, sparks of geniuses, likes – but rarely reflect your your real-world relationships.

It emerges in the article that Zuckerberg does possess such confidence, such self-awareness, such integrity. This is rare, and it is probably only such who can use Facebook as Zuckerberg intended it, with no conflicts – of privacy, time, expectation or obligation.

As the writer of the TIME profile points out, “Facebook is still a painfully blunt instrument for doing the delicate work of transmitting human relationships”. Indeed, we inhabit so many imperfectly formed, constantly changing personas (some of them semi-conscious) that any such Facebook alternative would have to be so complex as to be completely unusable. So like any sufficiently complex issue, we make Facebook a binary decision – log in or not.