RE: Happy 5th Birthday!

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From: Jeffrey Kay (jkay@ENGENIA.COM)
Date: Mon Dec 25 2000 - 07:29:52 PST

As a new FoRKer, I thought I'd add a couple of comments.

First, I can certainly relate to this apparently small group of folks who
have nothing better to do today than work on software (admittedly, I'm not
planning on this for the entire day -- I'm going to take the mishpachah
bowling with other members of my synagogue).

Second, I've been entranced with FoRK for some time, first as a lurker on
the archive site and then as a member of the list. It seems like this isn't
quite yet the right time to fully disconnect FoRK, especially in light of a
recent conversation and fuss I made. I had the pleasure of attending the
W3C advisory committee where I commented on the nature of collaboration
(being a collaboration weenie, myself) in the working groups. I offered the
point that it seemed ironic that the World Wide Web Consortium used e-mail,
not the web, for collaboration. That comment evoked a wide range of
reaction, including one from TimBL himself. I think he agreed but felt that
the stage of evolution of the web wasn't far enough along to address the
full breadth of concerns associated with web based collaboration. But he
was willing to listen, so there's an opportunity to move that group along,
but in the mean time we're stuck with e-mail lists there. But it was
extremely revealing how many folks were entrenched in e-mail list-based
operation -- way more than I expected.

So what's the point? We all have better ways of doing what FoRK does today,
so we think anyway. But the vast majority of folks aren't ready to move
along to anything else, so I'd suggest evolution not revolution. Just as
USENET has evolved into web-based postings (for most users today, via Deja
and others), FoRK will likely evolve as well, perhaps with web-based replies
and then something entire new and better.

Two other interesting notes -- I recall my first foray into collaboration
systems was around 1982, when I built a system called 000sys (arcane name, I
don't recall the history of the name exactly) at University of Virginia. It
was built on an HP2000 computer system in BASIC and support single threaded
conversations, instant messaging, "pages" that people moderated and file
sharing. It was a remarkable system for its time and had hundreds of users
at UVa. Since the system wasn't accessible externally, only UVa users could
access it. The interesting point here is in the almost 20 years since I
built that system, very little has changed in the way we used computer
systems to collaborate. The technology has advanced, but the metaphors are
the same -- lists, instant messages, e-mail, pages. What I look forward to
most in the 3rd millenium (starting Monday, right?) is some way to break out
of that mold and really substantially change the way we collaborate using

The second interesting note is a trend I've noticed of technology versus
content. It seems that technology is inversely proportional to the amount
of content transferred. Consider the range of technology from face to face
conversations (lowest technology) to Instant Messaging (highest tech) and
the range of content accordingly.

Face to face -- low tech, highest content, including facial expressions,
voice inflections as well as the words themselves
Telephone -- higher tech than F2F, lower content, loses facial expressions
E-Mail -- higher tech than telephone, lower content yet, loses voice
Instant Messaging -- higher tech than e-mail, lowest content yet, loses well
thought out paragraphs of information (excluding this post, of course :-).

Hopefully we'll figure out how to use this technology to increase the
content of our collaboration, not continually reduce it. I don't know if
anyone else has coined this law -- if not, perhaps someone will be generous
enough to name it Kay's Law of Collaboration, thereby eternally having the
entire universe assume that it was Alan Kay that stated this :-).

Anyway, mazel tov on having reached FoRK's 5th birthday. Have a Happy New
Year and I look forward to an exciting year ahead --

-- jeff

jeffrey kay <>
chief technology officer
engenia software inc.

-----Original Message-----
From: Dave Winer
To: Rohit Khare;
Sent: 12/25/00 8:07 AM
Subject: Re: Happy 5th Birthday!

First, let me say that I love FoRK and its irreverance and intelligence,
I love Rohit for the same reasons.

Go forward and reinvent! There's a swirl of interactivity possible and
that blur, betw chat and email and blogging and browser-based editing.

Reinventing is good, but honoring the legacy is good as well. I've
this lesson well this year with all the michegas we did with Radio and
music. At one point I realized that we were reimplementing Manila on the
back-end. Since I plugged back in, things go more smoothly, dual
work better than incompatible ones. There's a natural desire to sweep
past aside, just as the users are getting ready to jump on board. I did
in the past, many times, nuking my old product, learning that they
to die on my command. I tried it with even less success with my
products. ;->

I hope you keep FoRK running as it is, for better or worse, it's still a
unique thing. When we got funded at LVT in 1983, I shut down LBBS, as
contemplating shutting down FoRK. If we had kept it running, with the
resources that a company has that individuals don't, we might have had
easier time bootstrapping the stuff we wanted to do but never did.
is the enemy of the software entrepreneur, it's done too often, and
in breathing your own fumes. Been there. Seen it done many times.

Mazel tov,


PS: I'm working on a whitepaper entitled "Decentralizing My.UserLand".
it. I hope to have a concise definition of The Two-Way-Web shortly. It
should come as no surprise, I hope, that it's an inclusive story.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Rohit Khare" <>
To: <>
Cc: <>; <>
Sent: Sunday, December 24, 2000 11:32 PM
Subject: Happy 5th Birthday!

> Five years ago, a lonely Rohit sitting at the office on Christmas Eve
> decided that it was too much trouble to be forwarding interesting bits
> to various folks by hand. 23,436 archived postings later, I can see
> that many assorted utensils beyond myself have grown in their own
> ways.
> Now, I can't say that five years later I have all that much better to
> do on a holiday evening than hang out on /dev/null twiddling sendmail
> config files.
> On the other hand, the "office" is considerably nicer, mainly by dint
> of it being my own, rather than MIT's. The downside, though, is that I
> used to work for a great guy and insightful mentor, Tim
> Berners-Lee. Now I work for this bumbling Indian egomaniac :-)
> Personally, I'd never have quite imagined I'd have succeeded with Adam
> in taking it as far as we have. We'll have a lot more to say next
> year, but for now, I'll note that it's been a month of being 26, and
> things are looking a hell of a lot brighter than they did at 25...
> For the last few days, I've been toying with shuting down FoRK. Today
> seems like an appropriate moment. I am about to be thrust forward upon
> a stage that no longer brooks long, brooding midnight posts. It's been
> years since the last VoIDpost, for example. And yet, however
> "successful" I might be so far, it's not nearly enough success to
> qualify for what Charles Ferguson so trenchantly termed "tenure in
> life". So I'll have to leave the soul-baring, frank-to-the-point-of-
> toasty, real-time software-CEO brain-dump thing to Dave Winer :-)
> It would, however, be the easy way out to merely shut FoRK off.
> Instead, I'd like it to transmogrify into a vast series of private
> subspaces reflecting the deconstruction of everyone's own FoRK. We're
> working on some new real-time information sharing systems that span
> buddy-list communities across email, IM, and the web. Blogging is too
> public; editing this page is too centralized. The day that system
> passes my sniff-test, it'll finally be a chance to see if "the dogs
> eat the dog food".
> So congratulations on another year without mailing-list software,
> Happy Holidays,
> Rohit Khare
> CEO, KnowNow Inc.
> 2730 Sand Hill Road
> Suite 150
> Menlo Park, CA 94025
> (650) 561 0246 (direct)
> (206) 465 4936 (cell)

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