Gaps and Anomalies: 11-15

This is a continuation of the series started here:

11. Reading distance. Why can't I see how far people have read? If I write something, when do people lose interest? If they read a book, at what page do they put the book aside? It's not necessary to get the precise word or even sentence, but it seems odd to me that people write long articles and have no idea when people get bored and tune out. Imagine if this were the case for conversations: If I am talking to you for 15 minutes straight, I will probably notice if you start looking around anxiously after a while. In this regard, we haven't gotten very far, especially not with the possibilities for electronic text and tools like time on screen, scrolling, selecting text that you are reading etc.

12. Dependency graph of big decisions. Moving to a new country requires a lot of things. Phone contracts, bank accounts, proof of address. These often have the characteristics of a dependency graph, as in: this thing has to be done before this thing, and this is how long it will take. Why is this dependency graph not explicit? Tens of thousands of people move to big countries every year (USA, Germany etc). This is a usability problem.

13. I like cities, not countries. Cities are organic, whereas countries are largely artificial constructs. Why do I have to deal with the country aspects, when what I really care about is the city? This is, from a my point of view, arbitrary and outdated. Some cities are on their way to this, but the progress is - as usual - very uneven.

14. Effort to work from coffee shops. I want to work in coffee shops, especially when I don't have a permanent working place. The criteria for this are pretty simple - open, wifi access, not too loud or crowded, well-lit and reachable power outlets (roughly in that order of priority). These are not unique criterions to me. What often happens is that I wander around some popular area looking for a place, and eventually decide to take a chance. I order my coffee and sit down, only to notice a problem - all the good tables are taken, the wifi is slow, there's a loud group of people, there's no power outlet. In that situation, am I supposed to get up and leave? This requires a lot of time and effort, which isn't proportional to the problem at hand. It shouldn't be exhausting to select a place which is good enough and be able to count on that.

15. Phone contracts silliness. Why do phone contracts require a bank account in that specific country? This is patently silly. World is global, a VISA or Paypal and possibly some proof of identification should be enough to get a decent deal. If I don't pay, just shut the phone off, just like any other web service.

Please let me know if any of these things bothers you too, or if you have ideas for how to solve them.