From time to accessibility, or lack thereof


Rest assured that this isn’t turning into a linkblog – it’s just that time hasn’t been on my side again and I’ve had to let a bunch of things slide, including the umpteen drafts I have littered about.

Some time has been (somewhat) wasted in Facebook figuring out various interfaces to it – mostly mobile ones, since I’ve hardly had the time or energy to switch on a regular computer, and my cleansing experiment has been going pretty much OK – my main phone has been a BlackBerry 8900 for a few days now, and I’ll be posting a few notes regarding that (and other mobile-related stuff I’ve been mulling) soon.

In much the same vein, Twitter has been a time sink during commutes and miscellaneous downtime. But it isn’t all bad – you can use some GTD judo to turn your time sinks into noise filters…

My current method for dealing with social networking crap and news combined is to have EventBox running on my Mac displaying Twitter, Facebook and Google Reader, starring any newsworthy items that pop up for reading later, and thumbing “Mark All As Read” at regular intervals – this based on the assumption that If something is important, people will mention it often enough for me to get wind of it.

As a result, I end up with 10 or so interesting things to read at the end of every day during my commute or on the couch, and waste a lot less time for about the same degree of insight into what’s going on.

Think of it as social filtering – the people I follow through various channels tend to come up with more interesting and diverse stuff than I would have the time (or energy) to do myself.

Still, it’s amazing how much crap you need installed on a phone to keep track of it all.

I’ll reserve my critique of Facebook mobile UIs for later, but the Twitter stuff is quickly getting out of control, with TinyTwitter being nearly perfect for the BlackBerry except for its failure in handling links (it chops off the ends) and TwitterFon having just taken a turn for the worse and started wasting screen real estate with favorite buttons (ads I can handle, but waste of pixels on every entry is another matter).

This last one annoys me particularly because it was easier for disabled people to follow links on the previous version – mobile app developers (especially those targeting the iPhone) are paying very little attention to accessibility and usability in favor of neat and shiny, and it shows – reducing the clickable area for links from a full standard list entry (spanning the full width of the screen and with finger-sized height) to a variable-sized (but minimal) spot in a cramped “rich text” field may look better, but is actually a lot less usable.


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