Reading Usable Help
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Gordon R. Meyer
In writing about the future of the web, a Google executive offers some interesting observations and ideas about how people will access information and the challenges these present:
This means that every fellow citizen of the world will have in his or her pocket the ability to access the world's information. As this happens, search will remain the killer application. For most people, it is the reason they access the Internet: to find answers and solve real problems. [...] Why should a user have to ask us a question to get the information she needs? With her permission, why don't we surf the web on her behalf, and present interesting and relevant information to her as we come across it? This is a very hard thing to do well, as anyone who has been presented with a where-the-heck-did-that-come-from recommendation on Amazon or Netflix can attest to, but its potential is huge.
Anticipating questions that users will have is a key skill for instructional designers, of course.