Answers, not information

Just thinking about yesterday’s blog (about how OSS will become Whole of Business Support Systems and what impact that will have on the UI) when something quite simple dawned on me…
In most cases, OSS should be designed to provide answers, not just information.

But in most cases today, the opposite is true. We have user interfaces that show truckloads of information (as per the tongue-in-cheek diagram below)… but not necessarily succinct answers. Working back from that, perhaps we don’t get succinct answers because we don’t have the mechanisms to actually ask human-language style questions.
Current OSS UI

If we’re to design a more intuitive OSS interface, then we must have an interface that allows us to ask questions and therefore receive valuable answers (assuming the tools are sophisticated enough). Not only that, but if they get really sophisticated (as per the predictive and precognitive buttons at the bottom of the diagram below – tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek sample again) then they’re telling us answers to questions we hadn’t even thought to ask yet. Now that would be valuable!!
A future OSS UI

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