MastHeadRamana Rao's Home PageRamana Rao's BlogRamana Rao's TrailsRamana Rao's Sensemaking

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Item Flows
Friday, November 25th, 2005

Recently I’ve been thinking about the infrastructure for sharing information and coordinating activities in an open world where everybody chooses their own email, writing, blogging, wiki, calendar, etc. tools. And more or less it seemed that many others would be thinking about this right now, with all the web2.0 weblets (e.g. numsum, writely, backpack, kiko, timetracker) evolving and slithering up from the Internet swamp (oops, I mean infrastructure).

And voila!, here is Ray Ozzie leading Microsoft with ideas that ring truly against these thoughts.

As an industry, we have simply not designed our calendaring and directory software and services for this “mesh� model. The websites, services and servers we build seem to all want to be the “owner� and “publisher�; it’s really inconsistent with the model that made email so successful, and the loosely-coupled nature of the web.

And particularly resonating is the idea that RSS with very little change can support information flows amongst people as information peers as they share information items or actions rather then in directional roles of publisher/subscriber (writer/reader). Some, including the credible Sam Ruby, are skeptical, because this is afterall, the Microsoft doing the embracing and extending, which leads to the usual calls of extinguishing to come. Nevertheless, methinks, the analysis in Ozzie’s post is dead on, as in right on, not as in extinguish.

Wiki Essence
Friday, October 14th, 2005

What makes a wiki a wiki? (Or, not everything is a wiki!)

(I love the hunt for “essences.” The “essence” of a very long comment thread like the one on this excellent posting is that it becomes less about the posting and more a continuing expression of comment-thread-ness.)

Recently, I’ve been using wikis furiously, and not because of the hype, but because of a need to work irregularly at a fine-grained level with separate sets of others. It’s about having so much to do, and surprise, no great expanses of time for it all. It is about capturing combined effort, quickly turning rooms into pages. Not as things to do that get stuck in email, but as word-thought-action-stuff that gets riffled in the right direction over time. It’s about drafting and finishing many small pieces and few larger ones through iteration, about holding the state of simple tasks and longer activities and so on. A little while ago, I cornered these same turns on wikis.

It’s not hard to see the essence of a wiki in this, at least if you already know it. (It’d be equally not hard to sense the essence of blogs of an account I’ll spare you.) Essences aren’t about semantics or definitions. Essences aren’t about all the whys, or the detailed mechanisms, but about whyness and howness in a, well, essential kind of way. They are about a sense for the heart of the matter and of its primitive beating.

Another essential point, I understand by now, that many people don’t give a damn about essences.

Search specializing …
Tuesday, June 21st, 2005

Opinion Column by PC Magazine: Web Shopping’s New Wave

Web searching is evolving much as magazines did. The early days brought broad titles like Look, LIFE, and The Saturday Evening Post. But over time the magazine world developed into thousands of specialized titles. Will Google and Yahoo! follow Look and LIFE into oblivion?

The Truth is at Both Extremes
Thursday, September 2nd, 2004

Technology Review: The Myths Of Growing Up Online

Alarmist and polarized rhetoric is distorting important new findings about the risks and benefits of children’s use of the Internet.

This article besides being an excellent article about findings related to children & Internet usage and about how old (/traditional/big) media exhibits its same old properities even when covering new (/internet) media (no surprise), also rings against a pet theme.

When can you point at what is true not false about the positions on the outside? The popular phrase is that the truth is in the middle, but the middle is often more about indifference. Witnessing two extremists arguing, both talking, spit flying, most would walk away uninterested (or else remain watching, but not really listening).

The idealized middle would rather be the balanced position constructed from attending to the truths and ignoring the lies at the edges. As I love to say when talking about my Environmental Issues chapter in Understanding USA, the cornucopians and catastrophist are both right, the sky is falling and people are clever. We designed the debate blocks at the bottom in service of the theme of truth at the edges. [download the PDF to read my pages, lots of fine text meant for print]

Moving to MoveableType
Friday, May 16th, 2003

Moving to a server-based approach and MT seemed the choice to try now. Were it only written in python, but the reality is that time is too thin to be hacking anyway.