My favourite ice cream parlour (which is the target of frequent weekend afternoon bicycle tours) is right opposite of the world’s first filling station (a pharmacy where Bertha Benz bought fuel). Today, for the 120th anniversary, a lot of veteran cars passed by.
They reminded me of the “horseless carriage” metaphor that Stephen Downes used to show how new technology often just emulates previous practice.
This is still the case with most productivity tools used for studying, where I regret it most. At heart, they still serve as typewriter, slide crayon, and library card finder. It is particularly the spatial visualization that disappoints me most. Why are the available tools so unflexible when you want to visualize the relationships of arbitrary text snippets using spatial arrangement on a large canvas and sticking connector lines?
- Either the text must be tediously copied from text applications to graphic apps,
- or the zooming between full text and abstract/ name/ handle is too disruptive,
- or the connector lines don’t stick when moving the items around,
or some other distracting usability obstacle prohibits to use the tool while thinking and studying.
Probably some vendors have the more sophisticated tools already available in their drawers, waiting for consumer demand. But if we are stupid enough to content ourselves with the emulation, there is no need to release them.