For the last several months I've been working on a new open source project that I've been calling SynchroEdit. SynchroEdit is a browser-based simultaneous multiuser editor, useful for "same-time" collaboration. The basic concept is that it allows multiple users to WYSIWYG edit a single web-based document, all at exactly the same time. SynchroEdit continuously synchronizes all changes so that users always see the same version. They can also see each others' changes as they type, see where each user is currently editing, and see each others' changes by color.
A blog on social software, collaboration, trust, security, privacy, and internet tools by Christopher Allen.
ExtrapolateTo infer an unknown from something that is known; conjecture.-- The Random House College Dictionary Mick LaSalle, an acerbic movie reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle, writes a regular column "Ask Mick LaSalle" in the Sunday paper, where he sometimes allows others to vent their displeasure at his movie reviews. In this week's column he says something that I find very accurate to my experience with the online medium: As for why people get hostile when they hear a differing opinion, I go back to Spinoza's definition of love and hatred.
I've been working on an ambitious list of topics that I'd like to cover over the next year. I offer them to you here so you can have some idea the areas that I am thinking about. Office Architecture for Innovation -- Over the years I've built or converted three offices to my specifications. From this I have learned a number of things about about how to create a productive environment innovation-oriented businesses.
I'm a keynote speaker for the FVHA (Future of Voluntary Health Associations) Conference in Atlanta today. My job is to give to this community a gentle introduction and overview of concepts and products related to Social Software and Social Networking. (My slides are here - 6.6MB .pdf) In my research about this community, I find that they have some unique and interesting problems. The attendees of this conference are a collection of VPs and national directors from major Voluntary Health Associations such as American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, March of Dimes, etc.
As a former Macintosh developer, I've always been disappointed with the user-interface of web pages. The state of the art of UI design moved backwards with the advent of the browser -- we traded connectivity for ease-of-use. With the advent of pages written in Flash, some better user-interfaces were created, but at the important cost of things like being able to copy text, have semantic and meta-data information imbedded in web pages, searchability, etc.
The term 'social software', which is now used to define software that supports group interaction, has only become relatively popular within the last two or more years. However, the core ideas of social software itself enjoy a much longer history, running back to Vannevar Bush's ideas about 'memex' in 1945, and traveling through terms such as Augmentation, Groupware, and CSCW in the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. By examining the many terms used to describe today's 'social software' we can also explore the origins of social software itself, and see how there exists a very real life cycle concerning the use of technical terminology.
Joe Kraus, one of the co-founders of Excite, and new blogger has long been rumored to be working on a new wiki tool. Today at the Web 2.0 conference Joe finally unveiled JotSpot, a new type of wiki that they have named an "Application Wiki". JotSpot appears to be not only an advanced wiki, but it also moves the predominantly text-based wiki toward being able to handle structured data and web application development.
A number of my posts have been about integrating different domains of knowledge in order to better understand how human behavior should be incorporated in the design of social software. I found The Dunbar Number in sociology, and both Four Kinds of Privacy and Progressive Trust come from my work in the cryptography field. The topic of this post comes from the field of architecture. In order to provide for Progressive Trust, you need to establish what is known as an "
I've not just been spending time looking at social networking services, I've also been digging deeper into wiki. I've still got more to go, but some of these will be of interest to you if you are considering implementing a wiki for your community, or if you are a wiki developer. Zwiki is based on Zope, and thus has a very interesting feature set. One of the more popular features is the topic mappings that it creates.
I've been working today on understand the Design Pattern Language behind the Wiki concept. I've been making some postings at the Meatball Wiki site on this topic. These are the new topics that I have finished today. Category of Wiki Design Patterns Pattern: Cheap and Easy Collaboration Pattern: Simple Text Formatting Pattern: Character Formatting Rules Pattern: Paragraph Formatting Rules Wiki Design Patterns Meta Commentary I've also been doing a survey of the features of various versions of Wiki that have evolved over the years, and have started posting some of them at the bottom of the pattern documents.
I have been working on some code for experimenting with some of my ideas regarding the future of wiki's, at EditThisPagePHP which is hosted at SourceForge. At this point it is just a trivial application -- it just lets you edit remotely a single page. I'm trying to slowly add in elegant features without compromising on this projects essential simplicity. Longer term goals are focused around trying to figure out better solutions for the RefactoringWiki Problem, which might include such future features as proposals, voting, different commenting techniques, different versioning, etc.