Ahead of the Marketers, Way Behind the Geniuses

by chromatic

Related link: http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/javascript/2002/01/01/cory.html

If his premise is correct (and I believe it is), he's found tremendous benefit from organizing his data in public in weblog format. Unsurprisingly, he benefits from the network effect of other people doing the same thing, each with a different take on the subject. Cast your data upon the water, and you will find it after many days. (Solomon knew a thing or two about my inbox.)

How collaborative! I was struck with the similarities to another system I worked on: Everything. To keep things running smoothly, the editors and developers of at least the two largest sites (Everything 2 and Perl Monks) take advantage of the nearly-automatic internal linking features. Hey, there are even internal weblogs (a somewhat stripped-down cousin of Slash) and wikis, for collaborative discussions, development, and documentation.

Though I first came to all of this through Everything (version 0.3), the ever-prescient Jon Udell pointed out that the concept could be traced further back to Wikis. By Ward Cunningham's recollection, that's seven years ago.

None of this would be news to the brilliant fellows behind Xanadu project or the Semantic web. Collaboration, rich, multi-directional linking, and myriad other buzzwords that still haven't lost their power. These promises all mean something that, hopefully, will someday come to pass.

So what's the punchline? The web begat interactive sites which begat message boards which begat Wiki which preceded weblogs. I found Slash (weblog), worked on Everything (Wiki on steroids), added extended link tags to Slash, added a Wiki to Slash, and now worry more about finding the right information than about how to present it, just as the marketing people are starting to jump on the weblog bandwagon.

I'm living backwards! At least it's nice to know I'm starting to ask the same questions as the really smart people. (Maybe someday I'll tell the story of how I fumbled Jon's 1999 idea of turning every desktop into a server. It followed Zope but predated Napster and .NET.)