So right, and so wrong

by Volker Weber

I have been kicking around Ray's piece on "Workspaces work" for a while, and I can't make up my mind how to express my difficulties with his view. He is right in many respects:

- E-Mail is broken
- Workspaces work

At the same time he is wrong:

- E-Mail is not broken
- Workspaces do not work

E-Mail is broken for various reasons. Too much e-mail, too much junk. And it still works to move around information, that can otherwise not be moved around easily.

Workspaces are also broken for various reasons. Too much fragmentation, too many workspaces, to much setup for various groups of people. Unclear processes.

It all depends on the processes. People who live in a workspace, work very well with it. We have numerous examples of applications that support their workers very well. They are usually very focussed on one task, or on one or very few projects.

But if you have a swarm of 100 people and more, who cannot simply share all information, you will have an explosion in the number of workspaces, or access control gets really complicated. You will have to set up a space first, communicate its existence. But the real difficulties start when the place is orphaned. Can it be torn down? What shall we do with the information inside?

We have been through all this with Notes. Then some organizations found out the hard way that Quickplace can mean a really quick explosion of places. How quickly can you say risk management?

Now Groove enters the stage. Even easier to create spaces. Even less control. Some users will like it. Others not. Because they think it is slow as molasses. Eats tons of memory. Makes their computer slow. Or does not even run on their system. Those who are not in the Church of Windows. Or in a corporate regime under Mordac, the Preventer of Information Technology. A single individual with these constraints within a collaboration group will stop the groove. I have seen this so many times that I have almost given up.

Yup, they need to collaborate too. Without a specific client. Neither Groove nor Internet Explorer. Really quickly, across all boundaries. With open protocols and lots of implementations. Like e-mail. Or something better.

It better be open.

PS: Boy, I wish I could discuss this in my own language. But most people west of the Atlantic would understand even less.


Auf Deutsch weiter bei Sascha.

Volker Weber, 2003-10-04

Some remarks on Groove:
A colleague of mine was recently collaborating with someone in Germany (working out of Switzerland). For ease of collaboration and due to lack of a common infrastructure, they chose Groove to do so. It was basically writing a scientific paper together, using mainly word plus maybe powerpoint for some graphic illustrations.
I, sitting in the same network segment as my colleague, fired up Word to also write something, all the sudden my personal firewall alerts me about a connection request coming from that colleague's computer, trying to connect to my word. I deny that. Contacting that colleague to ask what's going on (could be a virus), we realize, that the source port on his machine was taken by Groove. Not too long after, Groove started to broadcast packets (to looking for Word instances to respond...

If that's the way peer-to-peer collaboration works... well, no, that's not the type of technology I want to put my trust in...



Ragnar Schierholz, 2003-10-04

Announcing email's death is slightly premature and sounds quiet self-serving considering who those self-appointed prophets are...

Regarding "workspaces", I personally think they are the wrong answer to the wrong problem. And they inexorably lead to "fragmented, parochial content". Replacing "one generation of junk-making tools for another, one generation of data junkyard technology for another" seems to be a dead end.

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