Four Pillars: On usability

I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that the first law of usability is “Words matter”.

The kernel for this post was a piece in Ed Cone’s Know It All blog, pointing me at an interview with Jakob Nielsen in the Wall Street Journal today.

Now Nielsen is someone I like and trust, but the tone of the article surprised me. It is almost as if the article was summarised and quotes taken out of context in order to provoke and excite comment. Well, if that was the case, the article succeeded.

Read the article for yourself. My takeaway is simple. Don’t say blogs and wikis and IM. Say conversation. Say chat. Don’t say RSS. Say syndication (or in Nielsen’s preference, news feeds). And so on.

Largely I agree. Four Pillars is based on using more consumable terms. But I’m happy with Syndication Search Fulfilment and Conversation.

Where I disagree is that RSS is just for news. Or that blogs are the playground of those on the edge. Syndication is the disaggregation of publishing, and not just about news feeds. And I meet people every day who read blogs (including, occasionally, mine :-) ). You can characterise me as edge if you want, that’s your prerogative. But that’s not a reasonable stance to take for blog readers in general, not even for bloggers.

Today, generation M blogs. They needed Flickr and MySpace before they took to it, but blogging is now part of what they do. I expect to see that within six months, Pew Internet reports that fully half of all new blogs are authored by Generation M. And they’re not one night stands.

Calling bloggers “edge” is unreasonable, does not reflect reality.

More later.

Thanks to Ed for the pointer.

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