Something I think a lot about is contextual computing. (Here’s an MPU episode on the topic.) Put simply, our technology has advanced to a level where a mindful user should be able to get focused work done without distraction. As a few basic examples, you should not have to go to an email inbox to answer a specific email or a list of all your tasks to find only the tasks related to a particular project. And yet, too many software developers don’t consider this. Often the only way into specific data is first to wade through all the general data.
To use travel as an analogy. If you were in Los Angeles and wanted to visit Trafalgar Square in London, you’d have to get in a car, then on a plane, then a train, and then a cab. All the way, you’d have distractions that may delay or divert you from Trafalgar Square entirely. It doesn’t have to be that way with technology. Why not skip all that and zap yourself right to that data set you need.
I’ve slowly built my entire data management stack around this principle, and I can usually stay in context and on target. You should too. I’m going to be covering this in much greater detail in 2022.
In the meantime, I’m not alone in this belief. Cognitive scientist and Hook developer Luc Beaudoin has spearheaded a movement called the Manifesto for Ubiquitous Linking. Linking is the key to contextual computing. It is how we can skip the car, the plane, the train, and the cab.
There is no better place for this movement to get traction than the Apple developer community. So many Mac developers have already built linking systems already. We need them standards-based, not loaded with tracking garbage, and ubiquitous. There are many smart people behind this and I hope it gets momentum. There are plenty of problems in the world for us to tackle. Are we going to use our computers to do focused work and make things better, or will we use them to distract us from what matters? This is a good start.