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Adobe Robohelp

Are We Moving Toward GooOS, the Google Operating System?

Jan 30, 2007 • general

Joining the other online tools is Cellsea, an online photo editor. Now if you use Cellsea with Google Docs you can use an online word processor, a online excel spreadsheet, and an online photo editor (replacing your Snagit or Photoshop). Your WordPress blog is online, your banking is online, your news is online, your gmail is online, your photos are online with Flickr, your videos are online with Youtube. Now even your movies will be online with Netflix. What do you need your local harddrive for anymore?Google Operating System

I found Cellsea intriguing, but not smooth enough to make me a convert. As bandwidth speeds increase, though, I think we'll see more online applications emerge. This is only the start. Many people think Vista will be the last operating system installed locally. Then Google will emerge with an online operating system, called by some GooOS (click on image at right to see full view (note — the image is from this site). The online operating system would not only be convenient, it would also have more information about users than ever before. Here's an excerpt from Jason Kottke's post:

So. They [Google] have this huge map of the Web and are aware of how people move around in the virtual space it represents. They have the perfect place to store this map (one of the world's largest computers that's all but incapable of crashing). And they are clever at reading this map. Google knows what people write about, what they search for, what they shop for, they know who wants to advertise and how effective those advertisements are, and they're about to know how we communicate with friends and loved ones. What can they do with all that? Just about anything that collection of Ph.Ds can dream up.

Think about all the data Google would collect if they ran an online operating system. Microsoft currently collects data from users if the users choose to participate and allow their info to be submitted (or so MS says). But Google saves information about every search and link and surfing pattern. You can watch the top keywords searched, or view trends. Apply that to the desktop environment, and you could collect some amazing data about how people use computers.

How does this apply to technical writers? You could analyze how people are using the applications you document. You could watch usage in real-time. You could apply heat maps to applications to see what areas users are clicking. You could really get inside the users' brains — if users had a little webcam, they could just flip it on and you could watch them use the application with their face in one corner of the screen while you observe their mouse moving in real-time. In short, it would make us technical writers a lot smarter about our users.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.