Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Monday, June 14, 2004day link 

 24-hour dotcom
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As an art and business project, some folks at a conference in Berlin created a dotcom company in 24 hours. Including a kick-off party, planning, nightly coding, various milestones, release, and a public IPO. I.e. they put the company for sale on ebay. There's still time to go and bid.

Well, it is in part performance art, but not altogether crazy. Why shouldn't it be possible? Getting the right people together, with a good deal of creativity, some intensive work, good promotion, no big reason it shouldn't happen really quickly. It is not really the time that matters, but whether they can come up with a unique product niche and selling proposition. I can't quite see what their product ended up being, and it is somewhat doubtful if it is useful. But the best of luck. The company is up to only $1225, so if it is anything at all, there should be possibility for some profit there. Now if that turned into a billion dollar company, that would be really fun.
[ | 2004-06-14 16:32 | 20 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Patterns and Knowledge Management
Denham Grey talks about patterns in the field of knowledge management:
Patterns when applied with energy, adequate social negotiation, critique and sensitivity, represent meta-best practices. They capture the best of the best. An assembly of patterns gives rise to a super language, a high level efficient and very rich discourse. Patterns are part representation , part knowledge artifact (thing), and part compact solutions. Patterns may represent strong reification, they carry meaning and an investment of energy (cathexis). They make for interesting objects and the pattern community displays very useful dynamics.
He links to some good pattern resources too. Patterns are cool.
[ | 2004-06-14 17:27 | 4 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Intimacy Gradient in Social Software
picture Adina Levin, part of the SocialText team, talks about Chris Alexander's patterns that relate to levels of intimacy, and how that might apply to social software:
Alexander writes about an "intimacy gradient". There are some areas in a house that are public -- the front porch; areas that are indoors and public -- the living room; and areas that are indoors and more private -- bedrooms and bathrooms.

The design opportunity is to create livable, workable, more-public and more-private spaces, using a "social software method" that focuses on helping people connect and collaborate with people in the least restrictive, most appropriately trusting way.

This is a different design philosophy than the traditional methods for setting levels of privacy. The underlying traditional assumption is that information should be available, and users should have privileges, on a "need to know basis." Individuals should have as little information and as few privileges as they need to do their jobs.

The goal of a tool for group work is to be able to restrict access with as much control as possible. Content and privileges should be controllable at a highly granular level. A work process should be clearly defined, to determine what users should have access to what information, and a given stage of a process.

This methods depend on a highly-structured, formal process. Analysts and administrators need to carefully define the types of information, to parcel out privileges, and to be able to monitor information access.
So, the alternative might be to not have complicated and forced privacy and sharing settings, but rather to structure things so that the right things naturally tend to happen in the right places, and the right things tend to be seen by the right people? I'm all for it.

I've often thought about it, for that matter. A problem is that the hyperlinking nature of the web short-circuits a lot of what works in architecture, which is Chris Alexander's field.

In a house, different sorts of activities naturally happen in different places. That is in part based on how deep into the house those places are. The entrance hallway is easily accessible and has a number of doors. Good place to say hello and share general messages, but it is superficial. One can go further into the house, into the living room, which is more sheltered, and have a deeper conversation there. The bedroom is a step further, and feels more intimate, as it takes several steps to get there. Now, there might not be anything that physically hinders some guest from storming straight into the bedroom without being invited there, and start looking through the closets. But everybody will notice that it doesn't feel right, and will deal with it somehow. And it rarely happens in normal homes. You start in the entry hall, and if you sort of pass that test, somebody will take you further into the house, and for most people it doesn't feel right to overstep the norms for how one behaves in somebody's house.

But a website tends to have the equivalent of links that say "entry hall", "living room", "kitchen", "bedroom", all appearing at the same level. And with Google's help, there will also be direct links to "bedroom closet" and "the reading material next to my bed". Which sort of kills the gradients of intimacy.

The problem is that parts of the net aren't working as much as *spaces* as we think they might have. It is really just a lot of information. And we'd like direct access to information, with deep linking, without anything annoying standing in the way, like having to register.

Doesn't mean we can't re-invent *spaces* as a parallel effort. To get to certain spaces, to hang out with certain people, it is acceptable enough if I need to jump through some hoops to get there. I don't know how to design those spaces so it feels natural, but that is potentially solvable.

As long as a certain chat room or wiki page is accessible directly with a deep link, it is going to be very hard to make it feel more intimate than any other place I can reach with similar ease. So a hierarchical structure of links doesn't do it. On the web you can't force people to accept your hierarchy if it is all just links.

One thought is that the spaces that need to be more intimate should not have permanent locations, but rather a dynamic location. E.g. if I wanted a certain type of conversation with certain people, I might have to go through those people and get their agreement that they're up for such an interaction with me today. Rather than me linking directly into it. Even if we had a very similar conversation yesterday.
[ | 2004-06-14 18:29 | 29 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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