Mutually Assured Collaboration #3 - what I would like

thumb_white.gifThis is the third and last entry in the MAC series and with this entry I will try to describe the environment that I for one would like to work with.

The world of collaboration is quite complex right now, if you use the metaphor of an old fashioned desk which would host in-trays and out-trays, a desk diary, telephone, calculator, work pad and drawers for filing – your mind-picture will be one of a failry simple and inutiuve enviornment (even if it needed a lot of manual input). The in-tray would have comprised of memos, letters, forms and reports to be read, How these were dealt with would have been on a case by case basis, some going to the bottom of the pile but others being dealt with on a sequential basis. 
You did not have to move to a different desk to deal with different forms or memos, but in many circumstances that is what we ask our users to do today.
I am stretching the metaphor a bit, but today we often need to to move to different applications to process specifics types of input.  But why?
What can’t I simply work in a single space which transforms itself on the basis of the input, an email, form or word processing UI depending on the source content. If I type To: Fred Blogs, then an email environment should be presented, if I type @Fred Blogs then an instant messaging environment should come to the fore and maybe if I type Dear Fred then a word processor with a letter template kicks off.
My vision is of one environment morphing itself depending the context of either the input or output required.
I want to get rid of the clutter of clients, portlets and applets, I would like to see users, power and basic alike, working in an environment that focusses them on the tasks not the software – I not sure it is ever going to be possible but we should at least attempt to deliver this sort or simplicity. There will always be room for specialised applications but I would hope these would be the exception rather than the rule.

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