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Permanent link to archive for Saturday, December 01, 2001. Saturday, December 01, 2001

Two years ago today, we shipped Manila. Happy Birthday! 

Scoble: "McNealy? What's his dream?" 

MSNBC: Excite@Home starts cutting service

DSL Reports: "It appears that only AT&T@Home did not negotiate a temporary extension, and was shut down." 

If you're an Excite@Home user, please let us know if you're still on the net. 

Former Excite@Homers: Doug, Dori, JD

Heads up to xmlStorageSystem implementors (are there any?) -- today we added a new entry-point.  

Patrick Leahy: "First and foremost, as an American and as a Vermonter, I want to see us protected from terrorism. But I want it done in a way that does not diminish the basic protections of the Constitution." 

Steve Hooker invites you to create your own warblog

What is uServ? Great minds think alike. 

Got the blues? Here's a cure

John Van Dyk is learning RDF. 

Get better soon Dan

This blog may win the award for best blog-name of 2001. 

Another candidate. Look at the URL. 

Knowledge management 

At my first meeting with John Robb at the Hailstorm rollout at Microsoft early this year, we talked about the application category called Knowledge Management. I felt that our software could be positioned in that area, that people who were interested in KM would also be interested weblogs and outliners. But today I'm understanding the subject in a whole new way. We need KM at UserLand, desperately, always have, and knew it (without knowing what it was called), and didn't know that the philosophy of KM would offer us a way to get over this in the management of our own work.

Here's the problem stated from a UserLand perspective. When a developer starts working on a feature or a system, we get formal. The developer writes an RFC. It addresses issues like prior art, breakage, scaling (if it's a centralized service) and user interface issues (depending on who the intended user is). Most important, it helps the reader visualize the software, and this is relatively easy to do, because at RFC-time, the developer hasn't seen it, no one has. These documents are excellent, partially because the developer is communicating with friends, he relaxes, and the writing is good, even excellent.

But here's the problem -- when it comes time to write docs for users -- the system breaks down. The excellent writing is lost. The developer, tasked with explaining the feature to users and outside-UserLand developers gets "in his head" and the docs are incomplete, sometimes grossly so, and miss the mark. The problem is a KM problem. How can we get the excellent writing done at the beginning of a project to flow out to the users and developers when the project is complete?

See if this matches your experience with UserLand. How well are our systems designed? I think very well. Now, how much work do you have to do to figure out how to use them? Far too much.

We're still struggling with this. For our next ship I want to have complete docs, but I know we won't. At least I want a structure for docs so that as the early adopters get on board, we can answer the questions once and have those answers flow onto the record. We have a fulltime guy here who's main job is that. Flowing information from the team and users into a permanent structure of documents, accessible over the Web.

The frustrating thing is that we know now what questions people will ask. We even know the answers. The challenge is to get them where people find them. That's a total KM problem. Now of course once we solve the problem, we'll commercialize it, and offer it for sale. This is our business. As Doug Engelbart said so well, we want to augment human intelligence.

George Harrison 

Part of the sadness in grieving a death, especially someone you never met, is the part of you that's been dead, that the event reconnects you with.

Images. John, Paul, George and Ringo, on TV, being cool. In 1964 I was nine years old. I was in the hospital recovering from a ruptured appendix when She Loves You came out. Everyone was listening to it.

That's what the Beatles did, they got everyone to listen. Even my dad. He told me that they wore wigs, that no man really has hair like that. I knew better. (Of course like all kids, I had a Beatles wig. A perfect product for fathers who wanted to "prove" to their kids that they were just wigs.)

These are just words. Harrison's death is a real tear-gusher for me. What am I crying for? The little boy, me, who is still in there somewhere, who just got touched. Sweet and sad at the same time.


Last update: Saturday, December 01, 2001 at 9:15 PM Eastern.

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