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Monday Morning NaN: Confirmable Experience with my Coffee

F09xx20-2009-05-11-0645-ThreadedTweetsDarren Rowse tweeted about Threaded Tweets, and I went for a look.  I can’t remember the last time I saw a NaN delivered up by a web page, and this may be a first.  I’m not sure whether 14996 replies is a very successful number, but I guess any thread that lives that long deserves some respect [;<).

There are three interdependent themes that I see around the development and sustenance of dependable systems: system coherence, confirmable experience, and trustworthiness.  These and dependability itself are not independent notions.

I think this one is about confirmable experience

Something odd is happening.  Thanks to screen-capture software, I can show you (and the producers of ThreadedTweets) what happened.  In fact, I will tweet about this and if the cycle of learning and improvement is operating, the Threaded Tweets folk will pick up on it, if they aren’t aware of the glitch already.

It would be fun to create a threaded tweet about this as well, but I am not about to provide my Twitter credentials to ThreadedTweets in order to do that (and you can see the reason for distrustfulness here even though they claim to be using OAuth to protect me, yes?).

There is a part of the confirmable-experience cycle that figure in trustworthiness that I can’t account for.  I have no idea how to the tweet threading folks are able to identify the specific difficulty, although it appears to be a stand-out no-brainer, so long as they can see the data on which the failed time-lapse calculation is being done.  Smells like there is a division by zero or a failed data conversion in there somewhere too.

But as an end-user, I don’t know about any of that and my speculation is not the same as having visibility on the process for confirming what is happening, as opposed to confirming how users experience it.  That’s the part I provide.  Also, I notice that the NaN message has disappeared in the past few minutes, possibly because the defect has been noticed, possibly because it is transient and difficult to find.

The tie-in to trustworthiness

ThreadedTweets has a feedback and a support link that I could use to communicate what I noticed to them.   Now that it the NaN is gone, I’m not sure whether that will help.  They want an e-mail to the support address.  I’ll send them a link to this post.

The tie-in to trustworthiness has to do with the demonstration of care for the adopters (a.k.a. users) by the producers of ThreadedTweets.  In this case, it is how friction is removed from the ability of adopters to communicate their experience to the producers.  The back half is how the producers demonstrate remedies or other solutions in a reliable way. 

Since I am very much into identification of confirmable experiences and occasions where system incoherence show up, I have a screen capture utility at the ready at all times.  This is necessary but not ordinary behavior required to to demonstrate what my experience is. 

An interesting problem for an organization that wants to be trustworthy in delivering a dependable web-based service is this: what can be done that would allow ordinary, casual adopters to convey their experience to the producers in a way that is confirmable?  That’s the question to consider.

And your assignment, if you choose to accept it …

That’s the bigger point of this tiny object lesson.   Look for more to come.  Notice ones in your own experience.  Collect the full set.  Entertain your friends. 

Most of all, begin to notice those little moments of truth where your experience of products raises “uh oh” and “ick” experiences for you.  What do you do about them? 

This is not a trick question.  I don’t do much about many that I experience.  It is valuable to notice and even question that, though.  What is it you are putting up with?

I arose at 5:30 am to be prepared for the 7:00 am Monday morning conference call of the OASIS OpenDocument Format (ODF) TC.  The cancellation notice went out about 2:00 am, my time, from Germany, and I had the opportunity to crawl back in bed after a poor night’s sleep or start my day early.  Oh wait, I can post on my much-neglected blog.   Aren’t you the lucky ones.

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