Mon 15 Nov
Over at Ars Technica, there’s a terrific review of Delicious Library, the hotly-tipped new media collection management software just released last week. It’s actually a fantastic review, the kind that manages to give a larger context to its subject, and shows how Delicious Library is a testament to the dramatically different mindset of Macintosh programmers. I wish I could find the time and the skill to write that kind of review, but in fairness to myself, John Siracusa’s many other articles for Ars Technica clearly demonstrate that he has a singular and probably God-given talent for ambitious, far-reaching essays on technology. Some geeks get all the breaks.
The release of Delicious Library was accompanied by a heck of a lot of fuss and hype within the Macintosh community, of which Siracusa’s article was clearly a part. I’ve yet to try it, both because I have found myself painfully short on free time the past ten days and because I have yet to find enough cause to warrant buying myself an iSight. Apple’s top-shelf Web camera, when used with Delicious Library to scan bar codes and automatically recognize the DVDs, books and CDs you own, constitutes the software package’s non-essential but ostensibly irresistible hook. It’s a neat trick that purports to turn the otherwise laborious act of cataloging your software into a nearly trivial exercise.
All the same, I remain nonplussed. I would like to catalog my collection, sure, but as Siracusa suggests, it’s not necessarily the kind of thing that’s particularly necessary. And, jeez, I get enough flack from friends and family for being overly organized and anal-retentive — having a meticulously inventoried database of the recreational media I own would be a kind of affirmation of my own hopeless drift towards obsessive compulsion.
All of which is an extremely roundabout way of getting to my point: the publishers of this program, Delicious Monster, have an awesome Web site. It’s just the best software site I’ve seen in years and years. The reason I say this is because it finally makes a convincing case for breaking away from the seemingly compulsory Apple.com-esque look — no carefully silhouetted and beautifully burnished icons here, no slavish devotion to white space.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the Apple.com style is gorgeous, but it’s become so commonplace among software developers that it’s become a kind of boring orthodoxy — and, to be clear, I certainly don’t exempt my own attempts at emulating the style from this orthodoxy.
Delicious Monster’s site, on the other hand, is brazen and self-indulgent and supremely memorable. Its designers, Capacitor Design Network use animations and illustration for no apparent purpose other than to evoke a mood and to make the whole affair fun — in many ways, it stands directly opposed to the kind of work I’m trying to do, but I can’t help but admire it more for that. Of all the marketing sites that have tried to capitalize on the independent spirit of Apple’s 21st Century renaissance, I have to say that this one is among a very few that actually manages to think different. How’s that for giving a bigger context?