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Selling Points

Features sell. Software reviewers stress features and highlight them in neat comparison tables packed with check marks and dashes or circles of various shades. Vendor advertisements vie for the most bullets on the function list. Consumers learn to discriminate at a glance between a “full-featured” personal information manager and one with only limited functionality. Most buyers will never use more than a small fraction of all those options and operations, but it's a comfort just knowing that they are there against some unlikely and unanticipated need. After all, more is better, right?

Creeping featurism is a chronic degenerative disease. The syndrome is defined not by the number of features but by how they are acquired and by how they are embodied in the software and presented to the user. Creeping featurism results from the slow accretion of capabilities and is reflected in a bumpy and irregular user interface marred by idiosyncrasies and special functions that seem to grow like warts or carbuncles in the oddest places.


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