Some of them are quite tools!
How much are you dependent on productivity online services and tools? For how long can you work productively without internet connectivity? Nice questions, eh? Well, if you said “Not dependent” or “Forever”, I salute you, buddy.
So what is it that today’s internet provides besides Trolls? Almost everything, from tips on buying PC’s to books on system hacking to videos on GTK programming to online tools. Screw the first three, let’s focus on “online tools”, online services, and cloud computing.
YouTube is one heck of a tool, I believe. Google docs, Gmail, WolframAlpha, Facebook/Google+, and bunch of others are all online services that are used daily by millions of anxious people. But the question is: should all of these services be online in the first place? My answer is simple for all social networking, blogging, micro-blogging sites and forums, “yes”. I’m not supporting socialization, it’s just what the internet really is for! Now, what I think that shouldn’t be provided online is all that has nothing, and exactly nothing, to do with the internet. You’re safe Gmail. ;)
Let me pick some examples to turn the nimbus cloud into cirrus.
- WolframAlpha, one of the most powerful tools I’ve ever seen online. Solves all kinds of mathematical problems almost instantly! I love it and I actually rely on it heavily. However, this is one example I think that doesn’t belong online. Yes, I know, it’s Mathematica, but still, such tool is for productive work which is most likely not linked with internet connection availability. I personally think depending on such awesome tool is wrong simply because one is most likely to need calculations when he’s not surfing the net. This is one reason why I want to learn how to use wxMaxima.
- Google Docs, I was against the its initial concept: cloud computing. However, after providing the ability to work offline via Google Gears, I was a bit satisfied. Unfortunately, recently they had to remove the offline feature, so I don’t think it’s useful anymore. When a person needs to work on some documents or on spread-sheets, is there any reason to be connected to the internet? To get distracted every second and not achieve anything? There’s no reason to be online when working on documents – unless you’re plagiarizing. Not saying people go offline to work, but internet connectivity should definitely not hold anyone back from documenting! And if you disagree by mentioning collaboration, well, that part comes later in this post.
- DeviantART Muro, you probably haven’t heard of this one. Basically, it’s a graphics painting web application. You see, people who do art, or just doodles like the one on top, create their stuff on InkScape, oops, I mean on their favorite application and then upload it. From my point of view, such web-apps should not exist. Not that I don’t like it, I do, but it’s just one thing one would never depend on, seeing that it’s online and art usually takes hours; it’s risky!
The web applications mentioned above are all great, the performance and usability are fantastic. Kudos to the developers. However, I still would never come close to liking the fact they’re online tools and they shouldn’t be. Offline Google Docs? That would probably take both MS Office and LibreOffice down. Oh, just think about it! … Okay, enough day-dreaming and let’s get back to the subject. The fact that they’re there is globally acknowledged, but the question is: why do people use or depend on them?
One main reason would be: Collaboration. Well, … STOP RIGHT THERE!
Now, what I think that shouldn’t be provided online is all that has nothing, and exactly nothing, to do with the internet.
As I said earlier, I do not oppose that, I in fact use it myself. Now another reason would be availability and quality, now that’s one powerful reason! One online tool might not have an equivalent application of the same quality on other platforms! Taking video editing as an example. YouTube created their video editor because there is a lack of free decent video editors. Another obvious reason would be the quality. For example, some people hate the not-so-native GUI of Open/LibreOffice so they turned their faces to the other free alternative with appealing GUI, Google Docs. Or another example, a decent font creator. FontForge is not that decent nor any other free font creator I tried, therefore one made this. Last obvious reason to me is the quickness, many people do not have powerful PC’s to render videos or calculate/plot obfuscated functions in a flash.
So here’s my question to the developers: why develop those? … Wait, I can answer that on behalf of them. “We’re too lazy to support all OS’s. Do you not want this tool to be accessible on your linux box?” … okay, fair enough. But hey, cross-platform languages are for that; You don’t have to use .net, use Java or Adobe Air! “Air is no longer supported on linux.” …use Java?
I know this is a huge subject and I know I’ll get many disagreements, but hey, it’s exactly what I want, your thoughts.