Here is a permalink to something → What do you think this is? A comic of course. What else can you get from just reading the link?

Here is another link to some other thing →

Same, but more formalized

I obviously get why these obfuscations are useful but I hate not being able to understand the meaning of a link just by looking at it. I wish information pointers were more humane. With limited machine memories, I remember us relying on a lot of fuzzy semantic pointers like 'what was that puzzle with 3 vessels and 8 litre thing?'. These were contextual and personal, of course, but much quicker and easier to work with, most of the time. If needed, we could also invoke a very formal and unambiguous pointer to the puzzle.

With the fuzziness back in popularity again1, when I look at some sort of a pointer to an email, what I should see is something like "Reply from last night email to XYZ about ABC" rather than some arbitrary "Re: Some email thread I was pulled into whose title I don't think I ever looked at".

I know I am just reiterating concerns that drive the whole fields of information extraction and language processing. In fact, most of the developments in these fields follow this pattern of creating human accessible permalinks. All the fancy interfaces, tailored for all the fancy use cases, are essentially nicer ways to point at the highly obfuscated mess of information we have produced.

For general users, a lot has improved. Leaving unambiguous cases, where we have much easier applications to interact with, we are even resolving contextual ambiguities pretty well, for example, in conversational interfaces. Still I feel annoyed when simple, unambiguous and ubiquitous things, like functions in a JS file 2, are pointed to by using line numbers. I want these web URLs to hide behind and go away like cell phone numbers did. Do some client sided static analysis, do something, just give me better links to look at and share.



We are not expecting people to learn to use, say, email but just do the simplest, most intuitive thing using voice.


Okay, this is a rant.