I believe a formal introduction is in order, as this is a shiny new blog. I haven’t blogged since high school, so bear with me as I reacquaint myself with the non-academic writing style of blogging.
Firstly, a short introduction about myself and what I’m doing. My name is Blair McBride, and I live in Dunedin, New Zealand. I’m enrolled at the University of Otago and I’m interested in amateur photography, programming, and making things easier to use. At Otago, I have completed an undergraduate degree in Computer Science, and continue to learn and work with computers outside of academia. Now I’m working on completing an undergraduate degree in Psychology, while also exploring other areas of study such as Art History, Latin, and Anthropology/Archeology. Computer Science and Psychology may seem like an unusual mixture, but I believe its important to understand how the brain works so that computer interfaces (and physical objects) can be designed for the people using them, rather than designed for computers/manufacturers.
This leads me to a topic which is likely to be featured a lot in my blog posts: Ubiquity. Ubiquity is a project from Mozilla Labs, the virtual lab responsible for various experimental browser addons such as Weave and Snowl. The principle aim of Ubiquity is to experiment with connecting the Web with language. In doing so, we’re attempting to find new user interfaces that could make it possible for everyone to do common Web tasks more quickly and easily. Instead of being forced to do things the way the computer thinks, it allows you to tell your computer what to do in the way that you understand it. In other words, it lets you control the computer, rather than having the computer control you. We recently reached the stage where Ubiquity could be useful for normal people, and so the first public release was unleashed upon the world. In conjunction with the official launch, Aza Raskin posted an introduction to Ubiquity and an more in-depth followup, each of which covers the basic concepts and usage. But as he explains, Ubiquity is more than just an interface – its also a development platform that lowers the bar for entry into augmenting the user’s browsing experience. In plain English, that means Ubiquity makes making Firefox addons easy. Really easy. Just be aware that Ubiquity is still in its early stages of development. There are bugs. There are things that will change, some drastically. But all for the better, because Ubiquity is going to change the way people interact with their computers.
I started contributing to the Ubiquity project sometime after the basic foundations had been laid. But since then, I’ve been able to find bugs, fix bugs, add features, contribute ideas, and meet some great people. And the development process is made as transparent as possible, so everything is public and anyone can contribute.