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[VM] The "Google docs" paradigm

From: Uday Reddy
Subject: [VM] The "Google docs" paradigm
Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2012 08:04:40 +0100

A major shift in computer technology over the last 20 years or so is the
simplification of user interfaces allowing more people can use the systems
in an easier way.  Unfortunately, some simplifications come at a price.  The
older methods might have had flexibility or reliability that the newer
methods lose.

One of the shifts that is occurring at present is what I call the "Google
docs" paradigm, which says that you don't need a 'Save' button.  A variety
of other tools are coming on the scene too, like dropbox etc., which do
automatic synchronization between clients and servers.

As emacsers, most of us probably believe in a 'Save' button.  It allows us
to load a file or mail folder into an Emacs buffer, work with it, and save
it only when we are confident that all the changes need to be made

Well, what if you forget to hit the 'Save' button?  Or, your system crashes?
Or, you run out of battery?  Or you had to shut things down to go and catch
a train (or an airplane)?  Emacs introduced an autosave facility to mitigate
against that.  However, Emacs was designed when people mostly used single
servers, typically from single clients.  We are now a lot more networked.
So, having lots of copies of the same file/folder in different places with
slightly different states adds considerable complexity.  Newer generations
of users that are brought up on 'Google docs' will tend to think we are

So, the question is, should we minize the use of the 'Save' button?  Or, at
least provide a way to do automatic synchronization between clients and


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