December 06, 2005

free me from menus

I was thinking yesterday as I was doing what I do a lot of - writing in MS Word - that my experience in 'browsing' over the last several years has made me tired of menus. Menus are so 1990s, and yet foundational applications like MS products (MS Word is the one that matters most to me) have changed very little in bringing a more web-like feel to word processing. And should we even call it 'word processing' any more?

Dear Microsoft: We could use some innovation on the destkop apps front.

Now, as I was writing something that required a little extra imagination yesterday, I decided to use a couple of the MS Word language tools that I don't use very often, one being "Thesaurus," and I realized after highlighting the word, that the menu item giving me what I need (essentially synonyms) is buried three levels down, right?

To get there, you select the Tools menu item, then you choose Language, then you scoot out to the right and pick Thesaurus.

I don't know about you, but by then I forget wtf I am doing because - thanks to the web - i have no attention span left.

Then I got to thinking if my 'word processing' tool were web-based, couldn't I just right click on a word and have everything I needed instantly available - synomyms, antonyms, origin, part of speech, pronunciation, spelling variations, related communities, related tags, who else used that word today on the net, common connotations, usage in a book title (via amazon), domain names associated, and so on. You could exclude words -- like articles (the, an, a, etc.) -- you could do lots of things.


In that way, every WORD (not just every link or every title or every tag) explodes into possibilites with a right click of the mouse button. That would tickle me pink: MS Word meets Google meets Wikipedia meets Friendster meets Amazon meets open source. The Best Part: I'm freed from the old Windows Menu, which I can't stand to drag my hand up to anymore, and my creativity soars exponentially as creative possibilities and storehouse entries of HOW I THINK multiply.

That's kind of what I was thinking about when Doc tackled monocultures and search recently and I responded about intitiveness and how search has to expand now to bring world of possibilities to us more intuitively than before, WAY more intuitively than me needing to frame a question or search phrase and reach to a menu or button to ask for assistance in finding some related stuff.

Okay--I ask, you answer.

That's how it works, right?

If you build it, at least I'll come. ;-)

If it's already built, someone tell me where and how much $.



Anonymous said...

Just try this little experiment in WORD. Highlight a word, and then right click on it.

Andrew said...

I like the way you think. You should design a browser-based software for writers.

AC @ bloggedy blog

P.S. - I linked to your post from my site.

Jeneane Sessum said...

Hey George--yes you can get to some stuff, but it's the wrong stuff organized the wrong way.

I don't want formatting stuff first up--I want web-back-to-me, rich information and something that also learns how I think and then intuitively understands that I most use "Relevant Conversations" off the word 'bastardization' because some stuff isn't in the theaurus and you reach a dead end--AND it takes a lot of effort to get to that dead end.

I don't want it to.


Anonymous said...

Depending on the version I guess ( I am using office 2003) you can right click on the toolbar area > go to customize and go to commands >rearrange commands and then add it to a toolbar or create your own toolbar


Jeneane Sessum said...

And maybe it's not a right mouse click, maybe it's a running sidebar that populates as you type, i dunno.

something's got to be better than this world we've been stuck in.

And as always, the classic design option is appreciated to those, uh, who cross the chasm a little behind some of us. ;-)

Jeneane Sessum said...

Hey Jeff--I can do that, but it doesn't get me off the desktop. Why does it have to end with my MS dictionary and language tools. Why does it have to end with what I'm trying to say--in other words, if google hearts microsoft and microsoft hearts google--OR IF GOOGLE BUILDS A WORD PROCESSOR which I would help them rebrand into a new category, then I'm there.

What I'm going to do though is change out my tools to customize (which I don't bother to do I confess) and see if I can get used to that path.

The thing is, I want the PATH to get used to ME.


Andrew said...

The thing is, I want the PATH to get used to ME.

Oh, you're so user-centric!


Jeneane Sessum said...