[Fwd: [emacspeak The Complete Audio Desktop] Emacspeak WebSpace --- Interaction-Fre...]

Hans Zoebelein hzoebelein at gmail.com
Thu Mar 6 18:23:43 UTC 2008

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	[emacspeak The Complete Audio Desktop] Emacspeak WebSpace --- 
Resent-Date: 	Thu, 6 Mar 2008 10:26:00 -0500 (EST)
Resent-From: 	emacspeak at cs.vassar.edu
Date: 	Thu, 6 Mar 2008 07:25:58 -0800 (PST)
From: 	T. V. Raman <tv.raman.tv at gmail.com>
To: 	emacspeak at cs.vassar.edu

A few months ago, I started an Emacspeak module called 
|emacspeak-webspace| that is now ready for wider use. The goal of this 
module is to unobtrusively fetch useful information from the Web and 
communicate it at those times that one is context-switching among tasks. 
I gave a talk on user interaction at the last Hackers Conference 
<http://www.think.org> in November; in the same session, there was 
another talk whose gist was a plea for /less/ human-computer interaction 
--- motivation: User Interfaces are nice, but wouldn't it be nice if one 
didn't have to /explicitly/ interact with the machine to get 
information? The speaker coined the term /Zen interfaces/ in that 
context, something that stuck in memory long after the talk.

I built that thought into module |emacspeak-webspace|. Conceptually, it 
consists of /smart fetchers/ that fetch information asynchronously from 
the Web, and /smart displayers/ that communicate this information at 
/appropriate/ times. These are detailed below.


There are two fetchers at present:

    Fetches current weather conditions for your location.
    Fetches headlines from a customizable collection of ATOM and RSS feeds.

Note that this module is not intended to be an RSS or ATOM feed-reader; 
for that, use module |greader| --- an API-based Google Reader client 
that is bundled with Emacspeak.

      Communicating Useful Information Usefully

With the information in hand, the next question is how does one 
communicate this information /usefully/, and what does /at the 
appropriate time/ mean? Things to avoid:

    Do not require explicit user action to hear the information.
Avoid Chatter
    Avoid creating an auditory user interface that chatters at the user
    all the time.

These are conflicting constraints. Notice that in a visual interface, 
one can meet the /interaction-free/ requirement by displaying the 
information in a toolbar or sidebar and allow the user to ignore or 
absorb the information at will.

Emacspeak uses Emacs' /header-line/ to display the continuously updating 
information. This meets the /interaction-free/ requirement. The header 
line updates every time Emacs updates its display, and automatically 
speaking it would produce too much feedback. But Emacspeak doesn't 
automatically speak the header-line; it only speaks it when there is a 

      How To Use

Here is how I am using |emacspeak-webspace| at present:

    Activate weather display in the |calendar| and |scratch| buffers.
    Activate feed headlines in selected |shell| buffers.

You hear the updated information when switching to buffers where the 
webspace display is active.

      Activating WebSpace Displays

Webspace displays are activated via the following commands; all Webspace 
displays will be placed by default on prefix key |hyper-space|

    * |emacspeak-webspace-headlines|: |hyper-space h|
    * |emacspeak-webspace-weather| |hyper-space w|

Share And Enjoy, And May The Source Be With You!

Posted By T. V. Raman to emacspeak The Complete Audio Desktop 
at 3/06/2008 07:25:00 AM
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