I've been helping my mother with her blog for the last couple of years.
Because many of her posts consist of photos, we focused on making it easy to upload pictures. She does that via email, using GMail, because they have a relatively easy way of attaching photos to email messages. And she didn't have to memorize the magic mail address, she just types the name of the blog and GMail figures out what she means.
Now she's doing another project, and needs a presentation editing tool. She's part of a group at Hoftsra University of seniors who are mostly retired from professional, business and academic careers. These are people who, like my mother, are researchers and teachers, and there's no reason to stop just because they're retired.
She doesn't really understand the ways of the computer, and there are a lot of scary moments when I think she might be doing unsafe things, or gets locked up in weird modes with the computer, even her Mac. The simpler and more direct each step of the process is, the higher the likelihood of success.
Today when I visited it was clear that her Windows machine is now completely infested with viruses. I totally recognize the problems from past experience, screen shot, but am also completely unequipped (and unwilling) to deal with them. I've been here. It's time to get her off Windows. When I left I took the Windows machine with me. I wanted it out of her house and off her LAN. Who knows what kinds of malware got into her house that way. Hopefully all of it left with me today.
I suggested she use Google Docs for the presentation. They have a very simple version of PowerPoint. The simplicity of this software was an eye-opener for her. She asked if we could drop a picture of a flower on one of the slides. I said I didn't know, let's find out. It was very easy! In fact everything we tried was easy.
And something clicked for her that never had before. That there's a method to the madness of computers. That there are some things that work the same across-the-board. This clicked on when I showed her that she could view thumbs of pictures directly in the file-selecting dialog. This was something that didn't work in Windows but works in the Mac. This took a huge amount of complexity out of uploading pictures. Not to be underestimated, when the whole process is too much for you to comprehend.
Key point: If you wrote down the steps it took to do these tasks in both Google Docs and WordPress, you'd see that Google Docs is technically fewer steps to do the same thing. That's how you achieve simplicity in software.
2. And while Google's presentation tool is very nice, it's very limited on where input can come from and where output can flow to. Not a problem, given that it's task-oriented, and more options would make it more complex. But there needs to be browser-based blogging software that can also do presentations. There's an area of utility that is not currently being addressed that would be very powerful. And the power would be multiplied with the ability to customize the flows.
That's the 50,000 foot view of things. Dropping down to a more pragmatic level, I would love to use a browser-based presentation app that can take OPML input, preferably dynamic, so if I make a change to the outline, the presenation changes, without having to re-import. Then we would have something very nice. I know, because I used to use an app that did exactly that. And as far as I can tell, there is nothing like it in the current environment.