Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Entropy and the degradation of matter

A subject that I feel needs attention is the process of all things to break down to their elements. Everything ages. While the timeline may vary from a fast decay in things like fruits, or slow like the erosion of a mountain, there is no denying the effects of aging on all things. This is something that has always fascinated me, though I have more interest in how USE causes these things.

My computer keyboard has a shiny space bar because my thumb taps it a lot. (I would think the delete key would be equally shiny, but its not.) The carpet on my stairs are worn in the middle, but nearly untouched on the sides. Everything gets a wear pattern from use over time, except software. Software doesn't appear to show that the save option gets used a lot, you can look at someone's copy of photoshop and see if they use the pencil or the paint bucket often. Surely there is some wear somewhere right? The DLL feeding these tools gets read more often, so it is inclined to be read more often and thus likely to get corrupt or damaged from graceless shutdowns? I mean, you can tell that Windows is not a fresh install pretty early. Old installs of Windows tend to be kinda crufty with registry entries and unnecessary duplication or overwriting of DLLs and source files. Can you track or recognize such behaviour in other applications?

I would love to see a background application that has a near transparent footprint but can watch everything you do. I don't want big brother doing this, I want to see it myself. I can then check the client periodically and see where the patterns fall. It would need to be smart enough to say "used Paint bucket, spent 3 seconds in this tool" and do that for all software on the computer. I want to be able to see those reports for each application and for every tool or function, including the application itself. If not for the whole system, please someone make this tool and turnkey it to all of the big application makers. If users can volunteer that information back to the manufacturer then it would be a tremendous tool to the designers who are making the next version. (Microsoft recently announced a dramatic UI change to Office based on this type of information.)

It isn't ground breaking, though it is generally feared because people thing the software developer will take things they don't want them to see. Nobody wants Microsoft to know that you're using OpenOffice for everything but Spreadsheets, well... maybe they don't care, but people don't want their porn discovered or their cracked software spotted. People have been conditioned to fear the big software companies. This needs to be a trusting relationship where both sides feel that they have somehow benefited and helped the other. It shouldn't be that hard.

If we can watch our software age, or see the wearing down of different tools in our applications. I hereby coin the new term... "ShareWEAR"


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