The Hyperlink: the power of simplicity
I recently came across the Ubiquity plugin from Mozilla labs. This project is championed by Aza Raskin, son of the late Jef Raskin of Mac UI fame. The Raskin legacy is a powerful one, and I’ve found personal inspiration on the pages of his site (Update: the articles on Jef’s personal site seem to have been removed).
The ideas embodied by Ubiquity are powerful, however looking at the demo video on the Mozilla labs site I realized that I don’t really care about embedding maps in my emails. Pasting a single hyperlink is like dropping a bomb. By virtue of a pass-by-reference call mechanism that is understood on nearly every modern computing platform, you are able to convey a world of information with just a single line of text. If I want to send a map, I can send a link to Google maps. The most significant advances in usability seem to be ways to convey information with less explicit effort rather than more.
Nowhere is this idea more evangelized than among the Linked Data supporters. Linked Data is a sub-topic of the Semantic Web movement. The idea with Linked Data is that a simple hyperlink is enough meta-information to create powerful data graphs that make small bits of data more useful than they could ever be as standalone information. We are generating more and more data on the web, and much of it is realtime and segmented in nature. These messages have little meaning on their own without a world of context to set the stage for them. Fortunately we have a solution for building context on the web: the hyperlink.