Friday, February 10, 2006

Does Notes really suck? And either way, who says it does?

A posting entitled "I Love Lotus Notes" got my attention last month. Here was a guy willing to stand up and counter many of the anti-Notes comments that are out there in the blogosphere. As we all know, Notes has long been a "love it or hate it" app - one that developers and administrators have loved, and some users have hated.

Now, my view (as someone who has at one time or another sat in all three camps) is that there are indeed things to dislike (I still think that "sucks" or "hate" is too much, and is disrespectful to those who have spent lifetimes developing the product, or implementing it at your site) about Notes, but there are no more things to hate that in any other significant software product - Outlook, IE, Word, Photoshop, Oracle etc. etc. They all have their pros and cons, their standards and quirks, their intuititives and their gotchas - that's just how it is.

This is the way of life - if I went back through the cars I have owned or driven in my adult life, each one of those would have features that were standard and intuitive (pedals, door handles, sun visors) and those that were irritating, niggly or nonsensical (switch positions, useless stereos, appalling tyre wear etc.). The same could be said of houseold appliances, computers generally, or my VCR! Technology is an inexact science, things aren't perfect and in all likelyhood, never will be. Users have different expectations, likes, wants and needs, which will never be fulfilled by one product, vendor or technology - if that wasn't the case, then the technology wouldn't be the vibrant sector it is and CES and other trade shows wouldn't have the thousands of stands that they do.

So given all that, we end up with sites like Notes Sucks, as well as blog entries saying "I hate Outlook" and thousands of others. Richard Schwartz has conducted an interesting piece of research on just how many of these sites are out there. That's the power of the Internet I guess - everyone gets to say their piece, to vent their frustration and to kick out at others or products that they perceive to fall short of the mark. Free speech is a double-edged sword.

My reason for writing? An article in the Guardian yesterday entitled "Survival of the Unfittest", extolling the author's perception that Notes is "used by 120 million people, of whom about 119m hate it", and proceeds to use dubious and ill-judged journalistic licence to prove his point, mostly by cutting and pasting from sites such as those listed above.

I will leave it to others such as Ed Brill and Ben Rose to tackle this article itself (please make sure you read the comments on each page), but my stance is that personal views are one thing and every user is entitled to hold, discuss and argue them to others. Where a journalist crosses the line and misuses and abuses his position in the media to not only state his own opinion, but to claim to voice the opinion of 119m others on the basis of a few anecdotes, rants and blog entries then he deserves to be hung out to dry.

Who knows how many other more serious Guardian artcles have been thrown together in this way? I for one will not be buying the Guardian again...


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