Tuesday Aug 21, 2007

Something old vs. something new?

Today I am reminded how hard it is to communicate, and how much work there is in supporting communities. We are working on improving the support for several of our technical communities at Sun, and yet we are struggling with how best to communicate and collaborate within our own team.

Combined with that is the challenge to prioritize between bringing improved functionality (aka web 2.0) vs. addressing the "boring" old issues our users face every day - how do we help them do what they are doing today, while trying to also show them new ways which will some day be more useful?

 My concern is that it is very easy to see how much new exciting technology is out there, while losing sight of the users' everyday concerns. It's a version of the old "win the battle, lose the war" - we can successfully deploy new stuff which gets ignored or rejected because there is no obvious relationship to the old problems.

Maybe this will all look better after some lunch...


 

Thursday May 03, 2007

Web 2.0 - the rest of the story

If you saw this story in today's SF Chronicle, or in Linda Skrocki's blog, you will have seen the problems DIGG got into when it tried to censor something its users didn't want censored. Without getting into the discussion of DRM (digital rights management) and whether you agree with the recording industry being able to protect their content (a TOTALLY different topic, with lots of passionate opinions), I think this story shows something broader about Web 2.0 - what do you do when (or if) the crowd is not "right" or "wise"?

This has come up elsewhere in discussions of MediaWiki and how anyone can put erroneous information out there, and until now I had always bought the argument that the erroneous information would get quickly corrected by "the crowd" and therefore little harm done. But this incident points out, what if alot of people want to put out information "we" (whoever "we" are) don't want them to? You remove one reference, they add another. What if there are more of "them" then there are of us?

I guess it's just an extension of free speech, but the implications are vast. Because of the reach of the internet, a determined bunch of people can reach alot of folks with information we may not want them to have - such as how to build IEDs to blow up more people? (Probably already out there somewhere, but hopefully not easily found today?)

This free, unfettered access to the digital world may have some very mixed blessings... 

 

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