Engineered Eloquence

Think Critically, Write Things Down, Repeat

The Need to Simplify Tech Workflows

December 19, 2018

Yesterday, I realized I needed to simplify my workflows. I have to believe that the need is a commonality amongst technologists. Let me set the stage with a look into an iMessage conversation.

This set of messages was followed by my colleague sending me a message that simply read, Hold on. I have to go read your novel.” But this is my thinking out loud face. 😝

The key is that last line: if I used email like a normal person… Replace email in that line with many other possibilities and you have a clue into the common plight of tech journalists who try to replace their laptops with an iPad for a week in name of reviewing the device. Honestly, though, this has everything to do with the complexity of computer workflows the technology world over, instead of some oversight on Apple’s part. (Perhaps it’s a little of both.)

In the case of email, the normal person uses one app to deal with email; the normal person doesn’t really care about the naming conventions of their email Archive; the normal person doesn’t care how many messages are sitting in their email Archive; (maybe the normal person doesn’t even use the Archive); and the normal person would never think of moving messages between email services or applications.

Me, on the other hand: I have emails dating back to my college years; I have emails from multiple email accounts consolidated to one, using a combination of folders and labels to differentiate; I have app preferences based on email platform, OS platform, and screen size; and those apps don’t always match up or sync using the same technology.

Email, like RSS or Calendaring, is a bit of a different situation than some others. You literally can’t have multiple Facebook clients or Twitter clients with feature parity. The point of email technology is its openness and ability to connect to so many different applications with so many different things built in or on top. In other words, the complexity may be a thing that has been weeded with time on other services or service types.

But email is a microcosm of so many other parts of a technologists daily work. IOS is a great platform, my platform of choice even; I work predominantly on an iPhone and an iPad. And as more and more capabilities come to these devices, the list of reasons some people stay on other platforms will dwindle. However, there are histories that come with cruft; there are workflows that need reimagining or from-scratch innovation.

Younger generations who start with fresh slates will find it hard to believe the technologists-of-today dealt with the complexities of older platforms for the sake of window positioning or pixel-level mouse-pointer accuracy.