HyperScope Sprint this Saturday in San Jose

Brad Neuberg, Jonathan Cheyer, and I will be meeting at Jonathan’s place in San Jose this coming Saturday, May 12, at 10am for an ad hoc HyperScope sprint. Please join us! This will be an outstanding opportunity to meet the team, learn about HyperScope, and help us move the project forward. If you’d like to participate either face-to-face or remotely, please drop me a line or RSVP on Upcoming.org. Hope to see you there!    (M8T)

Spreadsheets 2.0 and Transclusions

A few weeks ago, I had dinner with my old HyperScope buddies, Brad Neuberg and Jonathan Cheyer. We talked a bit about this Office 2.0 madness, and how a lot of these Web-based applications were disappointly uninteresting. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of really nifty hacking going on behind the scenes to make this all work. But in the end, all you have is a Web-based office application. Most of these applications do little to take advantage of the network paradigm.    (M2P)

A simple and extremely cool way for Web-based spreadsheets to exploit the medium would be to support Transclusions across multiple web sites. As I’ve observed before, spreadsheets were the first applications to popularize the notion of a Transclusion, even though they didn’t call them that. When I type =E27 in a cell, it displays the content of cell E27. This, in a nutshell, is a Transclusion, and oh, is it useful.    (M2Q)

With Web-based spreadsheets, if you made cell addresses universally resolvable, you could easily support Transclusions across web sites. In other words, I could transclude the content of cell =E27 from a spreadsheet hosted on my web site into a cell on a spreadsheet hosted on another web site.    (M2R)

Why would this be useful? Well, why is it useful to link to other web sites? Today’s Web-based spreadsheets are no more collaborative than desktop spreadsheets. In theory, they’re more convenient than emailing spreadsheets back-and-forth, but they’re no different in capability. Cross-spreadsheet Transclusions would break down silos and encourage collaboration.    (M2S)

I would start with spreadsheet-to-spreadsheet Transclusions with an eye toward supporting Transclusion of non-spreadsheet content using Purple Numbers or something similar. The main technical barrier is coming up with the right addressability scheme. Seems to me that the Simplest Thing That Works would be to use fragment identifiers (which is what we did for the HyperScope). In other words, cell =E27 on a spreadsheet at http://foo/bar would have the address:    (M2T)

  http://foo/bar#E27    (M2U)

Eventually, you’d want persistent, non-URL-based identifiers, but first things first.    (M2V)

Nonprofit Geek Trivia Winner

I spent two days this past week at Aspiration‘s Nonprofit Software Development Summit. I’ve organized several events with Allen Gunn (Gunner), so it was fun to take off the organizer hat and just be a participant. I had no agenda going into the conference, which was also quite pleasant. I attended because I love the people in this community and because Gunner asked me to facilitate a session on usability. The summit did not disappoint. I caught up with old friends, made several new ones, gave the ol’ noggin a vigorous workout, and had a ton of fun overall.    (LUH)

I ended up participating more actively than I had originally planned. It started with my usability session, which caused many to mistakenly assume that usability was my specialty. I decided to rectify this the following day by offering an ad-hoc skill-sharing session on throwing kick-ass collaborative events. We had a great group of high-energy people in that crowd, and the wisdom sharing was decidedly bi-directional.    (LUI)

At the last minute, Gunner asked me if I would do a Speed Geeking session on HyperScope. I was hesitant at first, because it had been months since I last spoke about HyperScope and because I had never quite gotten my presentation down to five minutes. The best I had done previously was half an hour. Plus, people were already confused enough as to what I did for a living. Nevertheless, the hesitation quickly dissipated. I live for challenges like this.    (LUJ)

It turned out to be even more difficult, because there were 14 presentations. For those of you counting at home, that meant giving the same five minute presentation 14 times in a row, with no breaks in-between. My first and last two presentations were mediocre — it took me a few rounds to get my pitch down, and I was exhausted by the end — but I had a nice little streak in the middle.    (LUK)

Here’s some cute historical trivia: I presented at the very first Speed Geeking session (at the first AdvocacyDev three years ago). In my commentary then, I expressed doubts as to whether Speed Geeking was a great format. Since then, I’ve seen it performed several other times, and I’ve watched it become popular in other venues, although I hadn’t participated in another one until this past week. I’m now a full-fledged convert. My original criticisms still stand. What’s swayed my opinion is that, when done right, Speed Geeking is all about movement and positive group energy. (Gunner, of course, always facilitates them beautifully.) When executed poorly, it’s an energy suck that degrades into hallway conversations.    (LUL)

Speaking of trivia, I couldn’t bow out of the conference without participating in the Nonprofit Geek Trivia Contest. Evan Henshaw-Plath, Michal Mach, Lena Zuniga, and I formed The Flying Luas and dueled several other teams over questions such as:    (LUM)

  • To the nearest power of two, how many kilobytes was the ROM BIOS on the original Macintosh?    (LUN)
  • Name the now-defunct U.S. branch of the Association for Progressive Communications.    (LUO)
  • And my personal favorite: What is a “link condom”?    (LUP)

Clearly, only the deeply disturbed had any chance of winning this competition. Guess who won?    (LUQ)

https://i1.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/141/399585464_384c7e0280_m.jpg?w=700    (LUR)

I’m on a bit of a roll with these things. My secret? I’m the John Salley of the conference contest circuit.    (LUS)

The last question of the night was a five-point bonus question: Write a haiku about data loss. I took a short video of the results. In our collective defense, we consumed much alcohol that evening.    (LUT)

Don Nielson on Societal Innovation

The HyperScope crew attended SRI’s 60th Anniversary celebration at the Computer History Museum last night. The main event was a panel discussion moderated by Paul Saffo. Participating were SRI luminaries Doug Engelbart, Phil Green, Don Nielson, and Paul Cook.    (LHD)

Saffo closed the discussion with the question, “If you had a large sum of money to change the world, what would you do with it?” Don Nielson had a wonderful response. He said that he firmly believed that it was impossible to do top-down social innovation. Societal change occurs when good people do lots of interesting things, and some of those things just happen to meet certain societal needs.    (LHE)

Jeff Shults and I made this same question the central exercise of our “Tools for Catalyzing Collaboration” workshop last April. Curiously enough, all four teams came up with proposals that were about catalyzing bottoms-up innovation. Several of our participants came from foundations.    (LHF)

It’s good to see this philosophy starting to spread, but it’s much easier said than done. By definition, creating an emergent space implies uncertain outcomes. People have a very hard time grappling with that uncertainty.    (LHG)

Tomorrow, I fly to Baltimore, then Raleigh for two projects that are very much about emergence. One of them is Imergence (formerly 1Society), which I still haven’t talked much about yet. Trust me, I’m not hiding anything, I’ve just been really busy, but I hope to write more about it soon. It’s been a very satisfying experience so far, not just because of the great people involved, but because of the opportunity to shape the proposal with ideas that I’ve been formulating and refining since founding Blue Oxen Associates almost four years ago.    (LHH)

Granular Editing

I’ve been working with Doku Wiki a lot recently — it was what we used for the St. Louis Collaboratory workshop — and it reminded me of yet another reason why Granular Addressability is more important than we think it is.    (LFO)

My biggest takeaway from working with Doug Engelbart on the HyperScope this past year: Addressability is for more than linking. Indeed, HyperScope takes advantage of addressability to support some powerful navigation capabilities.    (LFP)

Well, addressability can also be used for editing. And in fact, it is. Both Mediawiki and Doku Wiki support granular editing. The reason? Mediawiki is designed for encyclopedias (specifically, Wikipedia. Doku Wiki is designed for authoring documentation. In both cases, you end up having long pages. Editing long pages in your browser is a major pain in the rear. It’s much easier to edit specific sections.    (LFQ)

Augment, of course, also supports granular editing, except the granularity supported is much finer.    (LFR)

This is yet another example of the following law of Collaborative Tools, which I first mentioned in my manifesto:    (LFS)

Good ideas get reimplemented over and over and over again, often independently. It behooves us to identify these ideas, name them, and implement them interoperably.    (LFT)

(This is also the fundamental principle underlying Pattern Languages.)    (LFU)