THE WHOLE WORLD ONE LETTER AT A TIME
I've been using a new web service called Yubnub for the past few weeks, and wanted to recommend it enthusiastically to power web users everywhere.
Sometimes technology like most other things in life goes around in full circles. The whole computing thing started for most people, power users or not, with the command line interface. The command line was around for years before the MSDOS driven Microsoft/IBM/Intel PC made it the universal way to interact with personal computers.
Most mainstream users have forgotten the command line interface, especially if they started using computers around the year 2000, when Microsoft stopped publishing DOS, relying fully on the Windows based user interface.
We've especially not had any use for command lines in the web era, where browsers (of any flavor) have become amongst the most widely used application by PC users anywhere.
Even in the world of tabbed browsers like Firefox (which I've raved about of late), users have to do some serious amount of mousing and windowing around.
Well, Jonathan Aquino executed a brilliant idea back in June in response to a programming contest. Done in 24 hours, he submitted a project called Yubnub, a (social) command line for the web.
Since it's launch, the thing has taken off amongst geeks, especially due to the "social" part.
For the idea behind yubnub is: allow users to create short commands that they can type into Yubnub and/or into their browser address line (after adding a "y" to activate yubnub as shown here), and quickly do almost anything on the web that they normally do, without having to point and click at a bunch of links and windows.
So, what does that mean?
Well, if you go to Yubnub, and type in "wiki" "command line interface", you can search the open-source Wikipedia encyclopedia for "command line interface" without having to launch that site in a separate browser window, and typing in the search query.
Or you can type in "weather" and your zip code to get the local weather.
Now, some of you may say, hey what's new about this? I can do the same thing on Google, along with a whole bunch of other types of searches using a command line type of structure.
True, but two differences:
- Those only work on Google, not across the whole web.
- Google determines which command line commands to introduce and when.
As an aside, if you like the idea of command line usage but don't want to do the "social" stuff like sharing your commands with others and using commands invented by others, check out the standalone application called Activewords, which is an application that lets you do some of this stuff in your own environment.
On the other hand, Yubnub is your very own erector set for commands to get at web stuff that you can both share and benefit from others sharing their commands with the world.
If you want to get see a list of the most used commands, take a peek here.
If you like that, and what do see some fancier stuff, take a look here, courtesy Jeremy Hussell.
For much more in the way geeky commands by the geek for the geek, check this out.
To keep up on all things Yubnub, take a look at the Yubnub Blog.
Now this is the kind of web 2.0 I'm talkin' about.
The site is young and is somewhere between a "proof of concept" and "a full-fledged service".
One of the biggest issues with it is precisely the open nature of the site, where anyone can create a command and point it to relatively nichey sites. This is eminently "fixable".
The issues is eloquently discussed here in this Slashdot comment discussion back in June:
Re:Interesting Concept, but needs moderation (Score:5, Interesting)
by AKAImBatman (238306) * on Monday June 20, @02:06PM (#12865075)
(http://akaimbatman.blogspot.com/ | Last Journal: Friday July 29, @08:48AM) What I mean by this is that the social concept of letting people add their own commands is the biggest draw, but the biggest flaw. Doing a quick ls on the site reveals such choice commands on the first page:
The solution to this should be obvious: namespaces.
i.e. Have a basic set of commands. These are available to all users. Then allow users to register accounts on the system. Each account comes with its own namespace. New commands can be created and shared with the world under your namespace, then can be promoted to the basic set when they become popular enough.
For example, if I created a command that searched the web for the best pepperjack cheese, I could share it as:batman:pepperjack
When it gets promoted to the basic set, then I can type:pepperjack