Saturday, September 23, 2006

SocialText 2.0 is out.

Check out the screencast. Some nice work on the UI.

Here's what looks good to me :

* the automatic backlinks

* deciding you can be "expert" (an explicit recognition that SmartAscii mode corresponds to expertise),

* watched pages,

* the sortable table views of RecentChanges, watched pages and other queries. (I like this very much.)

What I'm still ambivalent about :

* "tagging". Why are tags special? Why are they not simply a convention on top of full-text search (as in CategoryCategory)? Maybe it's simple optimization. Faster to search an "index" of explicit tags. Maybe the flickr / folksonomic culture is too deeply ingrained to fight?

* they haven't quite got there yet with blog integration. As I'm always banging on about, the tough problem with wikilogs or blikis is that you have two incompatible addressing schemes : pagenames and dates. Deciding which addressing scheme you need for any particular item of information is difficult. As SocialText 2.0 allows everyone in a group to edit blog-posts as wiki pages, blog-items can blossom into full pages. What's not clear is how you can link to a particular blog-item, or how such an item could migrate out of the context of a specific conversation and become a more independent citizen of the wiki.

As always, the problem isn't technical but one of shared concepts. If you have two types of objects with distinct addressing schemes : temporal and permanent, how do you make sure that you and the rest of the community understand which information is of which type? Are people putting it in the right place? Are they looking for it in the right place?

I don't have any answers. But I'll only really get excited about a wiki that *also* provides blogging when someone finally does find a nice way to help the users navigate this conceptual gap. Otherwise, you might as easily use two different products. (Not trying to beat up on SocialText here. I'm just saying that this in one of the grand unsolved problems in the area, and they don't seem to have solved it yet.)

Why I'm still on the edge of my seat :

* WikiCalc? What's happening here? When will grids become first class citizens of the SocialText product?

Note here that conceptually, grids are much less trouble to integrate than blog-posts. Yes, they're technically very different from ordinary pages. But addressably they're the same kind of animal. Individual cells are perhaps more problematic, although the spreadsheet convention is very strong.

Given that Chris Dent's at SocialText, and EEK's involvement, do they (still / yet) have purple numbers in the SocialText wiki? Perhaps they do but that's too geeky for this screencast.

In fact we may see SocialText having to come to grips with questions about integrating four different addressing schemes : page-names, purple-numbers, cell-addresses and blog-items. I suspect proliferation of incompatible addressing schemes will be one of the major issues faced by wiki as it starts to take over the enterprise.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Very interesting.

Now HyperScope has been released, don't miss Brad Neuberg's great Screencast of Douglas Engelbart's Augment System

How much was SdiDesk influenced by Engelbart? Directly, not so much. But indirectly, obviously a lot. My direct influences were wiki, the Smalltalk environment, Emacs, HyperCard and the web-browser. Obviously, all, heavily indebted to Engelbart's work.