Gordon Moore (the man behind Moore’s Law) said, “You never leave a recession on the same technology that you entered it”. It looks like this is happening with software as well.
Like a lot of people in this industry, I’ve been following the new changes in UI development with respect to search and “task-based’ computing, looking at Apple’s new Dashboard idea (which reminds me of good ole’ Sidekick on DOS), and thinking about the fact that everyone is doing search technologies these days (Google Desktop, Microsoft Desktop Search and Spotlight). I have also enjoyed RSS for quite a while now (mostly reading it, but also producing some), and XUL and its friends are able to provide a richer UI experience inside HTML real estate, sans plugins. All the pieces are there for an entirely new way of computing, where most tasks can be started by just typing a word about what you want and get all kinds of options of tasks to do with such a word, from editing documents to looking up on the web, buying related things or finding articles. Incidentally, looking at Martin Fowler’s Semantic Diff idea makes me think that automated version control and RSS may eventually make it into filesystems, so that software handlers for different file types can feed the search database semantic diff deltas when a file is overwritten, effectively allowing you to search for refactorings or RSS subscribe to specific types of content changes on your computer.
It certainly is an exciting time.