I’ve been thinking about how we categorize software. Taxonomies always trip me up, and in most cases I end up falling back on a free tagging system. I want to create a set of terms that is curated, but so far my head is stuck in the normal categories: communications, entertainment, productivity, etc.
Okay, I wouldn’t ever categorize software as “productivity”, but the point is I am trying to break free from how those terms. For instance, when I think about “communications”, I am hard pressed to figure out what exactly a communication application looks like. E-mail, instant messaging and micro-posting all fall under that term, but I don’t know exactly how those are different or similar. At the basic level it is about moving data between different nodes, but nearly everything in computing is about that. Communication isn’t limited to what a human can say to another, or the format of the message, or the time, protocol, topology, or openness.
I will be fine, of course. What this illustrates is that we have always had curated lists of software, but there wasn’t a lot of assessment that went into it. For the last decade I’ve been amazed at the crap quality of software that is top-rated and recommended to people. I lucked out because I am a technologist, but we really don’t have anyone (that I know of) who looks critically at how people use their computers, and base recommendations on that.
Of course individual developers try to do that, but a single application or service is just a single part of a system, regardless how comprehensive it tries to be. I guess the closest thing that comes to it is Lifehacker, though not very focused on particular workflows.
Anyhow, this is just a random thought coming from my disgust of how the app/device scene is developing, with the concerns about privacy and such. One thing that I’ve found so far that is pretty neat is the F-Droid Repository. It is an app “store” that lists only FOSS. It is a start.