What is Software Good For?

Saturday, February 23, 2008
Kicking around ideas this morning it occurred to me that software is a hard sell, even though it's a huge very profitable industry. Contrary to belief on the DailyKOS and similar places, it's hard to get people to buy things. Even when those things are basically good for them. Why not just get your software for free?

There are many websites that make money, but largely they're just new-fangled versions of magazines. They're interesting because of the story they tell, perhaps with interactivity, but fundamentally interesting because of their daily newness, provided by human beings, not because they are on the internet or have anything to do with "high-tech".

So that got me to wondering: what exactly is software good for? It seems to me that software is only valuable ipso facto when it provides a new dimension to life, one that could not have existed in plain magazines, and that new dimension occurs because of its interactivity and automation. Automation is only useful when there are large volumes of things to do repeatedly, which only benefits large organizations for the most part. What about interactivity? I can only think of the following categories: games, education, conversation, creation, organization, and gambling. Games are obvious. Despite years of promise (and, let's face it, hype), the education market for software has never been very successful. Generally, the interfaces are too difficult and the benefits too small. Conversation includes blogs, IM, etc. Creation includes Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Powerpoint, while organization includes Outlook and MyYahoo among others.

Here's my question: does this cover the gamut? Is my thinking clear here?


Luther McLeod said...
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