raven ioctl

jan's fridge door.

ioctl.org : jan's home page : fridge door

The serious bit

Computers, now that they are commonly networked, are vastly more groovy than in the old days (where a null-modem or midi cable connecting you to a pal's machine was a great idea, but there wasn't much software to let you use your newfound network unless you wrote it yourself).

One of the most important impacts of computer networks is often said to be the way that they permit such hitherto-unheard-of levels of communication between people.

This is not true.

By "communication", people usually mean "the ability to frag your office worker at Quake when you should be working".

Personally, I like networks for their own sake. That's an incredibly geeky attitude, but I think computers are vastly more exciting when they can talk to each other. Maybe it's just because Quake makes me motion-sick. Anyroadup.

Saying that "networks are good because they enable communication" is the IRC-spodding, junk-email-forwarding net addict's version of my "networks for their own sake" attitude. It's an excuse, an apology for their addiction.

Networks are good because they enable collaboration, not communication. Communication is merely the TCP/IP layer of collaboration. And collaboration's what I'd like to see more of. Yes, I'm talking about groupware, but not the shoddy excuse for groupware that nobody manages to get to work properly these days. Collaboration is hard; groupware (in whatever form, and I'm including such excellent things as CVS here) has a learning curve. I'd like to see that learning curve made less steep.

Yes, communication for its own sake is good too, but it's normally called "gossip". Don't get me wrong; apparently 90% of what we say is gossip. This fact is only unbelievable in as much as it's hard to imaging what we spend the other 10% of our time talking about, if it's not who is sleeping with who and/or did you see how fat/thin/ugly/rich so-and-so was. (And here I have done you a favour; husbanded carefully, the "90% of talk is gossip" meme ought to be able to stretch to at least 4% of the shortfall.) Chit-chat is very important socially; it helps us to refine our model of the world and find our place in it. It's about people, which ultimately most people would say is just about the most important subject there is. (Apart, of course, from the geeky ones who would offer prime position to Metadata, or Perl, or XP.)

When it comes to collaboration, however, there is still a lot of ground to cover. And here I hope to make a small contribution with what I consider to be an intuitive interface. So intuitive, in fact, that I offer no further explanation, apology, or instruction.

Call it a multi-person collaborative whiteboarding environment if you will; I prefer to call it...

jan's fridge door

Nothing to see, everyone go about your business.

Caveat emptor: as is usual with these "productivity tools", prolonged use will send your productivity through the floor. You have been warned.

And no, I have honestly no idea how to spell "collaboration"; if you do, drop me a line. fridge@ioctl.org

Actually, some measure of pre-emptive apology is probably called for. If this doesn't work then it's down to one of four things:

Encourage me do do more of this stuff! Follow the link provided for more web tat.

There's more. Buy _all_ your books through here. For every copy of the Encyclopaedia Britannica you purchase, I get to go on a sunny cruise in the Bahamas! What could be better...

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