37 Signals

August 10, 2005

Salon’s technology writer, Farhad Manjoo, has a very good overview today of Chicago software company, 37 Signals.

In recent weeks, I’ve been talking to many clever people who are using creative programming techniques to build a better World Wide Web. The online experience they envision is more responsive than the Web we use today, and it’s more useful and fun, too. On this better Web, you can drag and drop items to rearrange them, see a search box fill up while you type a query, and prompt an action as soon as you press a button. The model works, in other words, as intuitively as the best software in our lives. You’ve likely seen bits of it already. These new techniques power Gmail, Google’s fine Web e-mail system, allow you to drag maps in Google Maps, annotate pictures in Flickr, and use your mouse to reorder your movie queue in Netflix.

In addition to better software, I discovered something else about the new Web: Creativity is back. The idea that the Web is a giant get-rich-quick vehicle no longer pervades the business. Instead, recalling the mid-1990s, a host of truly talented people are looking at the Web as a canvas for their creativity. And there’s one small company that’s emblematic of this effort to build better applications, and, indeed, is pioneering an entire business philosophy designed to make the Web great. The firm is called 37 Signals, and if you’ve never heard of it, don’t worry. You’re likely to start using its software any day now.

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