Maybe have someone *other* than marketting write the descriptions RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • Just a quick comment.

    Here is how Live Mesh is described in this forum:

    Live Mesh puts you at the center of your digital world, seamlessly connecting you to the people, devices, information and applications you care about—available wherever you happen to be. Imagine all your devices—PCs, Macs, mobile phones—working as one to give you anywhere access to the information you care about. With Live Mesh, you can spend less time managing devices, and data and more time connecting with family and friends or collaborating with colleagues.

    This is a classic case of a description that does not describe a thing.  There is nothing in it that contains any meaningful information that is understandable *unless you already know what it is all about*.

    Being able to put yourself into the shoes of the person who has no context of a concept is tough, but is a requirement.

    At the very least I am thankful the industry finally stopped using the word "robust" in every sentence.  That was the postchild for words without meaning.  Description without description.

    Friday, January 2, 2009 3:20 AM

All replies

  • Friday, January 2, 2009 7:03 AM
  • Jamie Thomson said:

    What would you have written then?

    http://jamiethomson.spaces.live.com/ | http://blogs.conchango.com/jamiethomson

    I imagine it would look any number of ways, but it would require me to fully understand WTH mesh is for me to elaborate with detail.  I can however provide the fundamentals:

    Don't say something puts you at the center of your digital world "seamlessly connecting you", without immediate concrete examples of how this is done.  Otherwise you may as well be describing a cell phone, or a mind-reading technique.

    Don't say imagine all your devices working as one.  Huh?  How?  Say instead, Imagine seeing a option to select this or that and grab the information from your contacts to conduct an online meeting to (etc., etc., etc).  *OTHERWISE* there is no way for a person to "imagine" anything!  You need to supply the image concretely.

    *NOT* as a non-descriptive abstract.

    And "with LM you send less time managing devices and data and more time connecting with family and friends or collaborating with colleagues".  This also floats in space without a concrete example to anchor it to an image in the reader's mind.  Similar things have been said in the past about email (over hassling with phones and writing letters), and the personal computer (spending less time on the typewriter and more time productively communicating, etc.)

    Friday, January 2, 2009 12:58 PM
  • Granted. But (and I'm kinda playing devil's advocate here) you have to weigh up the advantage of providing as much information as possible against being as concise as possible. If you were to provide examples and such like then it turns into a piece of prose rather than a short, punchy, attention-grabbing, headline paragraph.

    If the intention is to get someone's attention quickly then (unfortunately) abstracts are the way to go. Presenting reams and reams of text doesn't grab people's attention - it sends them packing (I speak from experience).

    If I visited a previously unheard of site/service (or a web forum) for the first time then I quickly want to know (like, in the space of 10 seconds) what that service/forum does. I don't want to (and I'm not going to) wade through lots of text in order to find out. That's just me - others will differ. I don't think there's a perfect answer unfortunately - its impossible to present something that pleases all the people all the time.

    I absolutely agree that there needs to be much more information somewhere. I'm just not sure that that should be the first thing presented to someone, and I certainly don't think it should be at the top of a forum because the primary purpose of a forum is to enable people to ask questions - its not primarily to provide answers before those questions have been asked.

    Also, one would assume that if someone were visiting a forum about TechnologyABC then the majority probably already know quite a bit about what TechnologyABC is meant to do. Personally I would advocate getting rid of that text from the top of http://social.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/LiveMesh/threads/ entirely.

    I suspect you disagree (in fact I HOPE you disagree) :)    There's no right answer here!!!

    http://jamiethomson.spaces.live.com/ | http://blogs.conchango.com/jamiethomson
    Friday, January 2, 2009 5:08 PM

  • :)  Understood, but I doubt that there doesn't exist a few of the most important situational examples that could be consisely mentioned without detail-bloat.

    I suspect that the wording of the sentence ("imagine /this/") is an attempted targeting of the newcomer.  But if that's the case then it completely misses its objective.  It doesn't tell someone anything, who doesn't know what it already is.

    Let's take a vague step sideways here.  Among my bazillions of hats I wear, I've taught OO programming (Java specifically).  I received a lot of good feedback because (IMO) I was able to view the technology from the eyes I once had: the WTF-could-it-possibly-be state.  The very first introduction I gave was an example program.  >Splat<, detail landed on them from an airplane.  I did it just to give them an overall context and hopefully defeat the chickin and egg problem: how do you easily learn fundamentals without understanding the end result and vice-versa.  At that point I would then rewind to square 1 (or zero :) ) and start properly.

    As another example, when teaching multithreaded programming, I do not try to start with lofty notions of state.  I start right at the nitty griity of the mutex-style protection mechanisms.  From *there* you move on to abstractions.  You would not believe how much the well versed in OO will fight me on this!  It's as if most engineers SO lose their ability to see things devoid of what they've already learned that it escapes them how starting lofty isn't a good idea, and worse: that understanding that idea has become so much a right of passage that discussing it outright seems necessary.  Good grief what a mess they can make explaining something!

    That applies to teaching, but in the broadest scope I've faught this war over and over, and the biggest offenders /next/ to marketting are my own bretheren engineers.  Reading a functional spec produced by an /average/ engineer is most likely (IME) going to leave you stranded still with the question "what is this thing"?

    So I apply the notion of keeping the eyes fresh.  Try imagining explaining a car to someone 4 thousand years ago.  You'd have to avoid things like "A car is a wonderful method of transportation allowing you to spend less time traveling and more time collaborating with your friends and colleges."

    Friday, January 2, 2009 6:21 PM
  • Just to weigh in and say that I had a really hard time understanding what it was Live Mesh did from the Live Mesh website. While I understand the need for marketing speak, I was surprised there wasn't some in-depth techie page.
    Monday, January 5, 2009 8:20 PM