Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

Multiple Collaboration Site Disorder

I am suffering from ‘multiple collaboration site disorder’ apart from a lingering condition of ‘infomation flow control anxiety’. It’s pretty serious and it shows the dangers of high levels of Web 2.0 involvement coupled with multiproject involvement.

The point is, I truly believe in the saying: “you have been given for free, you should give for free.” The Linux and open source world has been very kind with tons of developers giving their spare time to provide me (and the rest of the world) with a great open source desktop and 25.000+ applications for free. In return I want to give something back and the best way I can do that is by writing, by helping out online and offline.

In order to do my thing I am keeping track off a few hundred RSS newsfeeds, a couple of forums and various other news sources, like mailing lists. And then you have the projects I contribute to. That’s where the problems arise, since each project has it’s own website, it’s own wiki, it’s own forum. it’s own groupware package. Of course, each module has it’s own username and password because security is paramount. Yes, multiple calendars and contact lists as well.

In practice this means I simply forget to check in or check out. Web 2.0 might be nice but it only led to a proliferation of loosely connected modules with no real way of aggregating and integrating all information streams.

Using Evolution has solved some of the problems. It consolidates the various e-mail accounts and with the help of search folders, labels and rules to create cross-sections it makes it almost bearable. The most recent release (included in Hardy Heron) seems to support Google Calendar which should solve another problem. What I didn’t find yet was a way to import an OPML file for the load of RSS feeds.

The semantic web is supposed to be the solution to the problem that didn’t exist a few years ago. Strange enough I am convinced it will create a new growth in information that needs aggregating. What really is needed is the digital version of prozac. It won’t stem the flow of digital data, but will allow me to surf the stream with a smile on my face.

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