Reimagination

by Dmitry Kirsanov 14. September 2012 04:02

Alice is about to reimagine flamingoIn some future articles I am going to use this term, as well as you’ll hear it more often, because it may turn into a buzzword soon. So I’ll explain it to make sure we’re on the same page in the future.

People are habit-driven. We invent something and then we are just following the path. We are building paths for ourselves and for other people, depending from what we do. Manuals, instructions, laws and policies – these are perhaps the biggest examples of rules we make, but there are others, which you follow without consent. Why do you pour coffee before milk?

Some of the rules and habits we have are perfectly reasonable. Like when you are taking your umbrella when you are expecting showers. Or the way you are using the elevator or doing any other routine in never changing principles. However, some rules outlive the reason why they were created.

Some things are living with us for decades, although there are no reasons to keep them. And once a rule gets in place, it’s very difficult to eliminate, even though the reason for it's generation disappeared. Laws, ties, celebrations, beliefs – some of them are laughable today, but even in so “modern by definition” area as computing, we still have elements driven by traditions rather than efficiency.

Every rule can be challenged, except this one

There is saying, that better is the enemy of good. It’s commonly used to kill the innovation. Why would we change something, if what we have now is working fine? Especially hard would be to convince someone to perform a change in area he didn’t even challenge. Let’s take an example.

We all are using operating systems, all of which have more or less similar user interfaces. Aqua, Aero, KDE – they use the same principles, which some people take as granted and basis – like, for example, icons and windows, panes and menus.

If you’d take a look at MacOS, Linux and Windows, the differences between their desktops, you would see the scope of the changes that were made. The ones that were challenged by creators of alternate desktop environments.

Reimagination

Now scrap it all and do something different. Think about things around you and think how they would look and function better. Challenge their base parameters and functionality – can you imagine any other way of getting to the same result? A round microwave oven with no buttons? A kettle that starts making your tea when you are entering the yard of your house? A phone, which …

An effective desktop with no icons? No desktop, but still effective?

Reimagination is the process of challenging everything, and trying to reimagine the thing from A to Z. Like there was no yesterday. Like you’ve just learned that there is a problem that needs to be solved, and there are no rules other than you shouldn’t copy what was done before.

Reimagining Windows

As you know, I am going to discuss the software development in Windows 8, among other things, so it’s especially important to say a few words about the meaning of reimagination in the context of Microsoft.

Imagine, that you went to the street and suddenly realized, that there are no traffic lights, that they all were replaced overnight to something different. Like a personalized message in your language with information about when you’ll be able to do what you want, not necessarily limited to crossing the street or getting to work. The degree of such change would be dramatic, and that’s exactly what is happening at Microsoft at the moment. They are reimagining a lot of stuff and feel really free to do so. To better or worse is another (and very personal) question, what I am talking about is an impact at current users, including you and me.

We see reimagining all the time, with masterpieces, like Siri, eventually appearing out of nowhere. But when we are talking about reimagination, we are talking about changing the whole paradigm, the way we are doing something, and this also means a longer learning curve, where the price of rejection is staying in the past.

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