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Collaboration Tools vs Idiots

from the friends-of-the-revolution dept

Question: How many times has someone replied to an email and said that they did not recieve your attachment but rather they recieved “garbage”?

Answer: TXTuRK<?@ ? ? ??-???K??R(}.??x?X?

Click below for the latest Friends of the Revolution

Hello... anyone there?
Why is it that there are all these new collaboration technologies but
there is such a shortage of people that are smart enough to use them?
Are the tools in their infancy, or are we working with cave men that
will soon be extinct?

I bring this up because I just read a review of Office 2000.  In the
review they discuss all the new capabilities of Office 2000, which are
almost entirely collaboration based (posting html to an intranet,
writing comments on other peoples documents, etc...).  Call me crazy,
but I cannot picture the average user actually using these features.
Wouldn't we all be better off if Microsoft put out a version that
simplified the stuff that already existed, or embedded training for
those who were having difficulty (not another agent please!)?

Real Answer?
So what to do?  I believe that the problems fall into 4 categories.

1. Software Stinks - Some of the collaboration software is so difficult
to use, I can't even figure out how to use it.  In other software (like
Office) the features are buried deep in a sub-sub menu that you don't
know they are there.
Solution: Write open-standards based easy to use software.

2. It is not 1999 - I think that most people do not believe that a
computer is capable of serious collaboration.  They believe that email
is possible, but voice or video over the Internet is a fantasy.
Solution: Awareness campaigns, advertising.

3. Lacking Equipment - Finally, since everyone is not fortunate enough
to own a Macintosh, they still struggle with things like installing a
sound card, video card, and a digital camera.
Solution: Buy a Mac!  (ha ha)

4. Open Standards - In order for true collaboration to happen, there
must be platform agnostic standards that will enable everyone to work
together (like POP3).  This has been very visible in the instant
messaging arena lately.
Solution: Open collaboration standards.

This newsletter was written in notepad, moved to unix and finished in

Friends of the Revolution
by Brian Day

A column that comes out every so often, and talks about something

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Comments on “Collaboration Tools vs Idiots”

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Lark (user link) says:

Open Standards

The problem is, large companies rarely move to open standards voluntarily. MS had a huge internal battle over the use of HTML (an open standard) as a format for Word docs in Office 2000. The reason is money. If you own the industry standard, you get money everytime someone creates a document or sends an email or whatever.

How many people will eventually upgrade to Office 2000 just because all their clients or collaborators are sending them attachments in the Word 2000 format, which can’t be opened by Word 97. That’s a lot of bucks in MS’s pocket, not because people wanted to buy Office 2000 for it’s features, but because people want to be able to read an attachment.

Charles-A. Rovira says:

Re: Open Standards

Open standards are a boon to me.

I write software in Smalltalk for a living and a lot of what I actually end up writing is code to transform data from one format into another.

For example, I recently wrote something to create HTML documents from object definitions stored in files of an entirely different format.

I have also been scanning HTML documents created by others to extract information from them and merge this information with structured data stored in a large SQL data base. This added value and gave us something new.

I once wrote software to read program spec.s and generate and execute Smalltalk code to ‘prove-out’ the design and spec.s of a large government accounting system which was being developed in COBOL. This was possible because the documents were in WordPerfect and the WordPerfect file formats were published and available.

Could I have done this with a Microsoft word file? No. Despite the fact that Microsoft does not own any of the content of my files, I would no more have been able to do this for my company than Microsoft seems to be able to do it with previous versions of Word.

Recently, Microsoft’s proprietary approach was hindering us in our work do we ended up converting all MS-Word documents developped by our technical writers into HTML (needed a lots of help because MS-WORD doesn’t do a terribly good job of it,) and ‘archiving’ the originals.

We can now do more with our documents than Microsoft ever envisionned. And that’s the point.

Without open standards, you’re limited to what the originator thought of and that’s as far as you’re ever taking your own documents.

“Where do you want to go today?” Microsoft asks.

Personally, I want to go somewhere where I don’t need Microsoft to lead me and somewhere where I’m not going to be looked at condescendingly by a large corporation that insists in getting in my way.


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