Mozilla gives the passionates one with Ubiquity

Mozilla just ensured I won’t use IE8 because it released Ubiquity.

What is it? It’s a box that lets you ask different questions and get answers. It’s sort of like search. But far more powerful.

It’s not for non-passionate Internet users. They won’t get it. It takes some time to learn how to use this feature. (To get what I’m talking about when I use the term “passionate” you should see my previous rant about passionates vs. non-passionates).

To really learn about how to use Ubiquity you need to:

1. Watch the video.
2. Read the instruction manual.

How many “non-passionates” will do either of these?

But for someone who is radically passionate about the Internet this is a feature that’ll keep us all using Firefox and will deepen the divide. I was talking with a group of journalists from USA Today and Business Week here in Berlin and they admit that most of their readers are on Internet Explorer. One told me that his family members didn’t know why they should use Firefox and don’t care to learn about it. They’ll just stick with the defaults on their computer and not question them.

I doubt I’ll show this feature to too many “non-passionate” people. It’s too hard to explain.

But when I get to a group of people who want to more productively use the Internet? You bet!

Oh, and Microsoft, you could easily do something similar and not just for Internet Explorer, either. Look into ActiveWords. Hook that up to Web services and you could have the same thing.

Why hasn’t Microsoft purchased ActiveWords? For the same reason they won’t do something like Ubiquity in IE8. Microsoft doesn’t really care about the passionates anymore and cares more about the people who read USA Today.

Oh, Over on FriendFeed they are talking about Ubiquity.

Ubiquity is also at the top of TechMeme
, which shows that passionates are the ones who still control that tech blogging site.

UPDATE: Brandon LeBlanc disagrees with me about IE8 and says that its “Activities” feature is proof that Microsoft cares about passionates.

97 thoughts on “Mozilla gives the passionates one with Ubiquity

  1. I’m curious why you suggest Ubiquity and products like it currently out and those in development to launch in the future aren’t intended for “non-passionate internet users.”

    The popular opinion looking at the future of the internet (or whatever we’re going to call it in 10+ years) is that everything without a digital signature today will be connected by then. So, someone won’t be given the choice of a red pill or a blue pill but be asked to choose to live within the world or live in a bubble.

    Rather than suggesting this product is for a segment of society, wouldn’t you be better regarded (and the product receive greater support) if everyone embraced it and not a passionate few?

  2. I’m curious why you suggest Ubiquity and products like it currently out and those in development to launch in the future aren’t intended for “non-passionate internet users.”

    The popular opinion looking at the future of the internet (or whatever we’re going to call it in 10+ years) is that everything without a digital signature today will be connected by then. So, someone won’t be given the choice of a red pill or a blue pill but be asked to choose to live within the world or live in a bubble.

    Rather than suggesting this product is for a segment of society, wouldn’t you be better regarded (and the product receive greater support) if everyone embraced it and not a passionate few?

  3. Yawn. Emacs did this years ago.

    No, emacs doesn’t handle images all that well, but given all the other things that it does (browsing was just a minor add-in) ….

  4. Yawn. Emacs did this years ago.

    No, emacs doesn’t handle images all that well, but given all the other things that it does (browsing was just a minor add-in) ….

  5. Pingback: Extendably.com
  6. The mail functionality did not work. I use Firefox 3.x on a Mac OS X (Leopard). I type in “mail this to amy” and it does not find her in my contacts, or anyone else for that matter. Also, since installing Ubiquity I am no longer logged-in to my Google Bookmarks. Arg!

    I REALLY rely on my Google Bookmarks, so bye-bye Ubiquity until this bug is fixed.

  7. The mail functionality did not work. I use Firefox 3.x on a Mac OS X (Leopard). I type in “mail this to amy” and it does not find her in my contacts, or anyone else for that matter. Also, since installing Ubiquity I am no longer logged-in to my Google Bookmarks. Arg!

    I REALLY rely on my Google Bookmarks, so bye-bye Ubiquity until this bug is fixed.

  8. Also, a browser addon called Hyperwords adds this hypertexting feature of ActiveWords to web pages, and Hyperwords is authoring a Windows version also.

  9. Also, a browser addon called Hyperwords adds this hypertexting feature of ActiveWords to web pages, and Hyperwords is authoring a Windows version also.

  10. Office also faced the challenge of giving access to too many commands through one UI. They developed the ribbon.
    This is just another way to try to overcome the same challenge.
    I prefer an idea like accelerators in IE8 more but I can understand that some people will prefer a keyboard driven command center.
    There have always been those who like to click and those who prefered typing.

  11. Office also faced the challenge of giving access to too many commands through one UI. They developed the ribbon.
    This is just another way to try to overcome the same challenge.
    I prefer an idea like accelerators in IE8 more but I can understand that some people will prefer a keyboard driven command center.
    There have always been those who like to click and those who prefered typing.

  12. Please do not encourage Microsoft to buy Active Words. That will be the end of innovation for Active Words. Do you really want a VistaActiveWords? Really? No, really????!!!!!

  13. Please do not encourage Microsoft to buy Active Words. That will be the end of innovation for Active Words. Do you really want a VistaActiveWords? Really? No, really????!!!!!

  14. Microsoft could make Activewords by themselve if they want but they do not want to destroy the utility market. And Activewords look very Windows 95.

    Yoshio

  15. Microsoft could make Activewords by themselve if they want but they do not want to destroy the utility market. And Activewords look very Windows 95.

    Yoshio

  16. Hi Dawn – actually, that makes a lot of sense, thank you – good examples :) I think it could be ‘interest-based’ – I like food, but wouldn’t want to read a gardening manual (can’t I just put the seeds in the ground?). Similarly, I’d rather watch the news on TV than read it in a newspaper. But – if I bought a new PC game, I’d happily read the manual – and it actually puts me off buying when a game doesn’t come with one (yes, thank you The Witcher team. Enormous RPG, manual in .pdf. Well done, you’ve spoiled it all).

    So I don’t think ‘passionate / nonpassionate’ is a suitable term either. And I don’t think it’s geek / nongeek either (I still think geek has offensive connotations here in the UK) because that also still implies technology, and I think we’re looking at something wider.

  17. Hi Dawn – actually, that makes a lot of sense, thank you – good examples :) I think it could be ‘interest-based’ – I like food, but wouldn’t want to read a gardening manual (can’t I just put the seeds in the ground?). Similarly, I’d rather watch the news on TV than read it in a newspaper. But – if I bought a new PC game, I’d happily read the manual – and it actually puts me off buying when a game doesn’t come with one (yes, thank you The Witcher team. Enormous RPG, manual in .pdf. Well done, you’ve spoiled it all).

    So I don’t think ‘passionate / nonpassionate’ is a suitable term either. And I don’t think it’s geek / nongeek either (I still think geek has offensive connotations here in the UK) because that also still implies technology, and I think we’re looking at something wider.

  18. Robert,

    I’m re-posting from that train wreck over at Mashable. That’s my last comment over there for a while. My comments on the video will go to your pay gig website shortly.

    So… [snip]

    Somewhere along the way, you became and are now a meta-reference (like it or not). [theme song to Fame plays softly in the background]

    The passionate vs. non-passionate thing just made lose my patience with all of this when is was sucked into a Ubiquity discussion.

    My take on it was that it was “Ubiquity is like Greasemonkey and Quicksilver and Enso all put into a blender with a shot of Mozilla protein powder. Slick!” [1]

    http://twitter.com/qthrul/sta tuses/900109207

    I know a lot of very passionate users that don’t use Firefox. Yes. Shocking. They use Safari. They use IE. Opera! Yet, they still manage to run circles around most of what you appear to classify as “non-passionates”.

    People that are mono-thinker-platform tend to be asses when they are viewed by the larger community. We all know one. Heck, we might be one in certain areas. It’s a bit like snobbery but uniquely finicky and frankly… (p)assionate.

    -Jay

    [1] I too am prone to assery.

  19. Robert,

    I’m re-posting from that train wreck over at Mashable. That’s my last comment over there for a while. My comments on the video will go to your pay gig website shortly.

    So… [snip]

    Somewhere along the way, you became and are now a meta-reference (like it or not). [theme song to Fame plays softly in the background]

    The passionate vs. non-passionate thing just made lose my patience with all of this when is was sucked into a Ubiquity discussion.

    My take on it was that it was “Ubiquity is like Greasemonkey and Quicksilver and Enso all put into a blender with a shot of Mozilla protein powder. Slick!” [1]

    http://twitter.com/qthrul/sta tuses/900109207

    I know a lot of very passionate users that don’t use Firefox. Yes. Shocking. They use Safari. They use IE. Opera! Yet, they still manage to run circles around most of what you appear to classify as “non-passionates”.

    People that are mono-thinker-platform tend to be asses when they are viewed by the larger community. We all know one. Heck, we might be one in certain areas. It’s a bit like snobbery but uniquely finicky and frankly… (p)assionate.

    -Jay

    [1] I too am prone to assery.

  20. I started to hear the buzz about ubiquity earlier today on twitter. Ok, so I read some of the blog posts and web pages about it. It sounded really interesting. Then I thought to myself, how powerful my iphone is, and how easy it generally is to use. And I put my ubiquity research on hold and went on with my busy, passionate life. Ubiquity might have a lot of uses for me, and I am probably shooting myself in the foot for not trying it, but dont want to spend the time. Maybe thats human nature, maybe thats just waiting to see if it comes back on to my radar again.

  21. I started to hear the buzz about ubiquity earlier today on twitter. Ok, so I read some of the blog posts and web pages about it. It sounded really interesting. Then I thought to myself, how powerful my iphone is, and how easy it generally is to use. And I put my ubiquity research on hold and went on with my busy, passionate life. Ubiquity might have a lot of uses for me, and I am probably shooting myself in the foot for not trying it, but dont want to spend the time. Maybe thats human nature, maybe thats just waiting to see if it comes back on to my radar again.

  22. > Why hasn’t Microsoft purchased ActiveWords?

    Come one, I appreciate that you feel the constant need to support your Activewords buddy but you can answer that one to yourself as you worked for Microsoft:

    Activewords has not a single useful patent, it has not a single unique idea and there are and were dozens of programs which do/did the same before and are even free or open-source. Microsoft could do such thing in a snap if they really want to. There would be no value in a acquisition.

    Examples?

    1. PhraseExpress (My favourite. The video demo is a must: http://www.phraseexpress.com/demo.htm )

    2. Autohotkey (Open Source and kind of geeky but very powerful scripting for the tekkies)

    3. Direct Accelerator (Smart .NET user interface but a memory hog)

    4. Ghost Typer XML …

    5. Launchy for the program launcher part

    And so on.

    Ubiquity looks fancy in the video but I doubt that users will find the right trigger words to do what they want to do. You need to know exactly what you ‘can’ type but I will certainly check it out at v0.9 :-)

    Smare from Sweden

  23. > Why hasn’t Microsoft purchased ActiveWords?

    Come one, I appreciate that you feel the constant need to support your Activewords buddy but you can answer that one to yourself as you worked for Microsoft:

    Activewords has not a single useful patent, it has not a single unique idea and there are and were dozens of programs which do/did the same before and are even free or open-source. Microsoft could do such thing in a snap if they really want to. There would be no value in a acquisition.

    Examples?

    1. PhraseExpress (My favourite. The video demo is a must: http://www.phraseexpress.com/demo.htm )

    2. Autohotkey (Open Source and kind of geeky but very powerful scripting for the tekkies)

    3. Direct Accelerator (Smart .NET user interface but a memory hog)

    4. Ghost Typer XML …

    5. Launchy for the program launcher part

    And so on.

    Ubiquity looks fancy in the video but I doubt that users will find the right trigger words to do what they want to do. You need to know exactly what you ‘can’ type but I will certainly check it out at v0.9 :-)

    Smare from Sweden

  24. The simple fact is that Ubiquity merely brings a stripped down version of the functionality of applications like Launchy or Find and Run Robot to the browser.

    There is nothing new about a command-line launcher. They’ve been around for years. And 90% of what Ubiquity is promising can be accomplished with tools that are already available.

    Ubiquity users are Early Adopters? Hardly. More like just catching on.

    BTW: Acting like an ill-informed snob is not the same thing as being passionate. (Besides, we have Penn Gillette anytime we want to listen to that sort of nonsense.)

  25. The simple fact is that Ubiquity merely brings a stripped down version of the functionality of applications like Launchy or Find and Run Robot to the browser.

    There is nothing new about a command-line launcher. They’ve been around for years. And 90% of what Ubiquity is promising can be accomplished with tools that are already available.

    Ubiquity users are Early Adopters? Hardly. More like just catching on.

    BTW: Acting like an ill-informed snob is not the same thing as being passionate. (Besides, we have Penn Gillette anytime we want to listen to that sort of nonsense.)

  26. This is like looking at the first model-A. Something big is happening here. At first blush, it is not that impressive or a big event, but I do see this in the next few years becoming a major thing. Someone will come along and connect the dots with regard to the interface and make it into something that people will use.

    It reminds me of the mouse. At first, the mouse was a weird device that only a few people used. “how could you not use the keyboard for everything?” was the word of the day…here we go again. I am excited…

Comments are closed.