This morning I saw the following Tweet from Robert Hoekman, Jr. (@rhjr):
Things, WriteRoom, and Fluid are my new best friends. At this moment in time, they’re game-changers for my productivity.
WriteRoom is a simple word processor that takes over your entire screen to let you focus on, well, writing. By default you get a black screen with green text and you can make the font larger or smaller with a simple keyboard shortcut. It reminds me of the old days, circa 1990, when word processors were dedicated machines that did nothing else.
At first glance, it looks like the perfect word processor for your grandmother, and it is, but it’s also an ideal word processor for practically everyone. After all, what’s the most important task in writing? Choosing a font? Inserting a graphic? No, it’s the actual writing itself. WriteRoom lets you focus on the task of writing with nothing else to distract. In short, it’s an elegant solution and it struck a chord with me since I’ve recently started reading In Pursuit of Elegance by Matthew May.
Obviously, a big advantage of this app is the removal of the windowing environment. All of those windows represent opportunities for distraction, especially in this modern age of instant and near-instant communication. How many times have you started working on a document only to be distracted by your inbox, your browser, an IM message or the latest string of Tweets? Another advantage is the removal of all menus and palettes. (Note that this application still has a menu of simple options, but they are hidden away unless you need them.) How many times have you started working on a document only to spend all of your time fiddling with fonts, colors and the like? No more excuses. Now you really have to write that blog post.
If we observed first, designed second, we wouldn’t need most of the things we build.
— Ben Hamilton-Baillie
Of course, this is all a bit comical. WriteRoom solves problems of our own creation:
1) In the race to differentiate, products often compete against each other using a matrix of features, rather than their ability to make people more productive.
2) In the race to improve productivity and make the Internet social, we have created a multitude of distractions that threaten the very productivity we aim to increase.
With software like WriteRoom (or hardware like the Flip video camera) we’re beginning to see the product arms race turned on its head. There is tremendous utility, value and competitive advantage in purpose-built, simple tools that let users complete the task at hand.
There are a lot of things missing from WriteRoom and that’s a good thing but there is one feature missing that, in my mind, is not so good: the cloud. I would love to see this interface in the cloud or integrated with Google docs, WordPress, Gmail, etc. Come to think of it, this would make an excellent AIR application. Hog Bay Software, are you listening?