Open cooperative R&D on the web

Blogs are not always very efficient means of communication for development purposes; the kind of discussion of ideas and possibilities as outlined in my effort at summarizing the discussion so far on blog tag exchange and navigation, emerging technology in the forming stages, where we are experimenting and tossing wild ideas around. But we need tools and backend support to leverage the flow of thoughts, ideas and experiences we get, and I find it a very interesting challenge, trying to do this on the web. Open for anyone to join in, passively track as it happens, or browse through post factum, along the ever growing archive trail backwards through time.

Instant messaging clients, IRC, mail and news groups all have their take on how to do some, but not all of the above, and while the same applies to blogs, blog tech has always been a productive and adapting field ready to meet new challenges, and fairly quickly. It has also more or less always been about open communication and exposing historic archives, too. There are lots of other archaic, or just less known systems that address and occasionally solve much of or even all of these things, LysKOM being one local favourite pick (sprouted in Linköping, Sweden, where I live), but which typically has a user base in the hundreds, known perhaps only by a small tech savvy crowd tightly knit together by bonds of knowledge and culture. By implication, they are in practice much less accessable systems than the web, though technically merited and possibly often vastly superior to these in-crowds who are familiar with the system.

Trying to spread any one such system on technical merit alone, hoping to win the world, is not merely a time consuming and costly endeavour, it's more or less doomed to fail. It's the gradual refinement and improvement on already familiar environments like the web that win in the long run, growing bigger and better through the efforts of the huge masses working their magic on what they can do, and how. So I'm not going to praise the great things which LysKOM, or any other great communications device, does, but try to adopt the ideas that are good, and see how to make the web do the same, or even better tricks.

I posted an article on cross blog commentary a while ago, before diging into the joint research and development work on blog tagging technologies, and with my perspective on the subject matter of today, it is still the core problem to address -- tightening conversations, and being able to track them up and down after the fact. Add to that the requirements on being able to track them as they happen, listening in to a feed that notifies all interested parties on the next post in the chain of events, and we will have come a very long way.

Add some means of addressing one topic, by permalink, as present day terminology would closest approximate it, and we can easily add a layer of cooperative community categorization, by tagging, pointing in and out of the topic from and to related fields, further strengthening and adding value to the communications architecture and landscape. Prior to growing aparrent permalinks on subject level, the dilution that stems from the community tagging individual fragments of a discussion body adds less to the topic visibility. Whether this makes much of a difference to the quality of the system can probably only be measured after having come up with and deployed a solution; perhaps the individual post and the search mechanisms built in to the web will remain the best tools for providing topic visibility and topic neighbourhood linkage.

I'm pondering the merits of setting up on-the-fly joint blogs around topics already formed. Blogger, among others, makes that operation fairly cheap, and provides decent tools at low time to market (if the concept is stretched mildly), allowing multiple authors write access to a common forum which provides leverage to connections with the body of the surrounding web, though not yet adds much on its own to threading, or tracking incoming new authors' small contributions by post comments. I'd like to experiment a little with setting up a joint dev talk blog, to see where that brings us and what support devices naturally grow around that application. It might prove rather good, and it might not. But let's try it out, and see where it brings us.
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