Distracting and annoying
So I opened a Google docs spreadsheet to see where my alma mater ranked (well enough, much good that it’s done me). I had to read the list holding a piece of paper over the lower right corner of the screen, where a pop-up was appearing every 7 seconds plus or minus 3 seconds, telling me
“Anonymous User 3324 has opened this spreadsheet.”
I thought, “Anonymous User 3324? Hey, I’ve been trying to get in touch with him. He borrowed my lawn edger.” But there was no obvious way to contact Anonymous User 3324, and then the pop-up disappeared. Never mind the lawn edger; will I ever see good old 3324 again? After a few seconds musing on the transience of friendship, a new message pops up.
“Anonymous User 7798 has opened this spreadsheet.”
It’s good old 7798, from down at the cafe; the guy with all the funny stories. But there’s no mail-to, or Visit Anonymous User 7798 on Facebook, nor even a Twitter feed. It seems like 7798 used to have a MySpace page, but Google can’t be bothered to tell me. Does he have a Blogger profile? No idea, because now 7798 is gone, and
“Anonymous user 4962 has opened this spreadsheet.”
No idea who that is. I might have asked 7798 if he knew 3324’s Skype name, but 4962 had to put his oar in; and now he’s gone too.
Okay, I made that up. My lawn edger is safe in the shed. I didn’t really think about the transience of friendship. I thought, “Are Google’s user-interface people insane? Get rid of this screen trash at once, or give us a big red off button.”