[FoRK] portals vs time

Strata R. Chalup strata at virtual.net
Mon Jan 31 13:10:48 PST 2005

The long thread of messages about Flickr and GMail and similar doesn't seem to 
include my main issue with JS portal-type sites, no matter how well-done, and 
that is LAG.

Sure, it's quick.  Sure, they have zillions of servers, yada yada.  But no one 
seems to take into account all the wasted time in *point and click*.

I can do any task on the command line in a fraction of the time it takes to nav 
somebody's portal site, upload stuff, etc.  All these tasks require me to pause 
between steps and wait.  Some of this can be solved by plug-ins.  However the 
plug-ins themselves are often to applications which in themselves are graphical 
point and click.

The real kicker comes in migration of data from one of these services to 
another, or from one's own computer up to the portal.  Moving things from portal 
to portal requires recreating the value added by the portal in the first place, 
eg the comments, or the grouping into albums, or whatever.   For most of these 
portals, any time I invest in adding value to my raw content is tied to the 
portal and lost.  For a few portals, like LiveJournal, I have the option to 
spend even more time massaging exported data to retain the value.  I'd have 
been, in some cases, better off just keeping entries as raw txt paras with 
minimal embedded markup and applying style sheets or my own PHP.  Etc.

XML is *not* a sufficiently 'portable' form, since essentially each portal site 
has its own flavor of schema.  What is truly needed is a base-level schema for 
peering/portal sites, so that people have mobility for data and there is 
opportunity for true data exchange.  Especially exchange with the user's 
computing base and the portal site!

I haven't yet found a portal that is worth long-term adoption when the long-term 
time penalty is factored into it.  The closest I've come is LJ, posting from a 
local client, and I'm finding that it's too hard to reply to comments when 
compared to email-- if the commenter is not a paid account, and thus has no 
user at livejournal.com address, the load/click/reply/view cycle to leave even one 
response takes the time of 2 - 3 email responses.

Give me flavored rsync, or a portal that supports cfengine, rather than all 
these 'elegant' interfaces, please!  Give me a pure email interface, with no 
webbyness required for interaction between portal users!  Perhaps I am a 
dinosaur, but perhaps I merely have perspective.  But as my friend JXH is fond 
of saying, "User suffering increases in direct proportion to knowledge of a 
better way."


Strata Rose Chalup [KF6NBZ]                      strata "@" virtual.net
VirtualNet Consulting                            http://www.virtual.net/
  ** Project Management & Architecture for ISP/ASP Systems Integration **

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