Programming Tools and People's Needs

Request for startup: Notion / Coda built especially for programmers Another way to put it: cloud-based emacs A third way to put it: an app where PowerPoint, Excel, all the MS Office / Google Drive apps were a single app (the concept of app was blurred) (...)

the notion backstory is that it tried to be a "programming for everyone" product, that failed (for tech + market reasons), and the successful product is the result of a big scary pivot toward "what the world wanted"

In the first go-round — Notion beta — Ivan and Simon made a programming application that was easy to use even if someone didn't know how to code. It turned out, people weren't interested in that.

  • this might be related to Spreadsheet for End-User Programming Might be a Wrong Model
  • turns out people might not want programming tools after all
    • more so tools for thought - I'm curious where the programming ends and thinking begins, and if programming is even needed at all
    • related to notation problems, and mention that programming is just a small specific case of a broader concept, tools for thought seem to be bit "higher" than tools for programming
    • I'm starting to think that "programming for everyone" is not a real thing - people don't seem to have "big problems" that they would solve if they just could program ("problem-finding" is a skill in itself)
    • most people seem to want proper, well-built tools to do their job, not to be able to build their own tools
      • counterexample is something like a woodworking setup, where tools are created ad-hoc

I think it is a platitude that learning to code gives you agency over computers and lets you solve problems in your life, and it's not actually that true

— Omar Rizwan -

Szymon Kaliski © 2021