The New Command Line

Erica Kastner · July 30, 2007

The wonders of “Web 2.0” and AJAX design have brought us back to 1979. The innovations of WordPress/LiveJournal, Myspace and GMail - social networking, blogging, and flashy interfaces - have paved way for a new old way to manage your life. You can now send SMS text messages to web applications like Twitter, a site that was intended to be a “microblogging” network. Some inventive people have written programs that will respond to messages you type into Twitter and perform certain actions. For instance, I have my Twitter account hooked up to Remember The Milk. At any time I can send an SMS message to Remember the Milk, say, “meet Joe at 5pm tomorrow” and it will add that event to my calendar. It can even manage shopping lists. Another program offers budget management. So, every time you go to Starbucks, you can type in how much you spent on Lattes and keep a tight watch on how much money you’re throwing at Seattle. Yet another program allows you to keep track of gas mileage by entering your car’s current odometer reading, how much gas you just filled it with, and how much you paid. Over time it will chart out your car’s performance. If you have multiple cars it can even guess what car you entered mileage for based on typical mileage, so you don’t have to specify which car you filled up.

It’s really amazing to see those text commands and how similar they are to those old DOS commands we used to type to start up a game or Windows 3.1. Of course, the command line never went out of style. All of us cool computer programmer types use it to perform tasks that would be cumbersome using a mouse or when toying around with Linux or Mac OS.

The question is, though, will this command line fad last? If more and more people buy phones with similar capabilities as the iPhone, we won’t really need the command line because it will be easier just to click (or, tap, I guess) around a web page.

I guess the Twitter integration is for those of us who can’t afford iPhones :(

Man, I want an iPhone!

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