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Re: [ba-unrev-talk] Collaborative work

Dear Henry,

While studying some of Jack Park's papers and  viewing the slides he posted of a recent talk, I was reminded that I was introduced to Fleabyte through occasional posts Jack made to PORT-L over the past couple of years pointing to articles on Fleabyte that I considered to be of the greatest significance.

I have been keenly interested in the Bootstrap effort since Mary Keeler introduced me to it a couple of years ago, and in Doug Engelbart's work since I meet him and heard him speak at ICCS01. I consider these efforts--along with the Semantic Web and Conceptual Graphs efforts--to be some of the most important as regards the possible democratic evolution of the internet,  though I've remained rather tangential to all except PORT.

You wrote
 . . . it would be nice to know what interest exist in the
Fleabyte effort; what I might do to improve its efficacy in terms of
objectives, etc. How well it is appreciated. And should I indeed try to
continue the work - a question that is constantly with me.
I would hope that you would indeed continue this valuable work which is already, as is well know, quite accomplished.  Your question above  reminded me of this post by Peter Yim (which, to an extent, answers it):
"Peter P. Yim" wrote:    

  Congratulations, Henry, for Fleabyte's placing near the top* in Google's
  Your tenacity in contributing to the cause sets an example to us all.

  [* as of this viewing "Fleabyte" is ranked 7 in Google's E-zines category,
  right behind "The Register", "Slashdot", "Byte", "Computerworld", "Intel
  Developer Update" and "TidBITS".]

Best regards,


Henry K van Eyken wrote:
One concern with Doug's Augment and its potential successr, the OHS, is
how well people will take to working with it and using it fruitfully. In
this respect some insight may be gleaned from the Pew Internet Project
study, "The digital disconnect,"

For a quick insight: Teenagers can teach us collaborative work habits,

A further note.

Throughout the time I have been doing Fleabyte I have been wondering,
naturally, just why I am doing this. But I kept going in the belief that
it may well turn out to serve a useful purpose, both in t he promotion of
the Bootstrap effort and the promotion of computing toward an improving
the democratic process. This all sounds very big and one must question
the feasibility of the project in such context. But over time a fair
amount has been learned that kind of stops me from chucking it. In this
connection I like to point to a few issues relevant to handling the Pew

1. Fleabyte carries no advertising and does not intent to ever. While
this presents a financial obstacle to doing things better, the advantage
is that we need not be a periodical in the true sense, i.e. publishing
deadlines at precise intervals. Nor is the amount of content tied to
advertising content. Also, I don't have to worry about content being
produced in-house or not. Fleabyte is a slice of the World-Wide Web with
the quality of content defined by its area of interest and the envisaged
readership. So, it lists many articles existing elsewhere on the Web
(while being serious about crediting sources and respecting other
parties' interests). For example, the article "The digital disconnect"
exists on the site of the Pew Internet & American Life Project while we
list it in our own archive - which is intended to become a DKR.

2. One problem with articles existing elsewhere is that we can't
identify paragraphs for reference purposes. The referencing of
paragraphs may be achieved by obtaining permission to copy articles in
full. Another problem is that, unlike with an in-house Augment system or
OHS, we can't simply lift paragraphs and rearrange them together with
material from elsewhere because of the copyright barrier. (Ted Nelson
has some solution here in the form of attributing slices of text to
original authors, but that involves the whole of the publishing society.
Clearly, it is a concept whose time has come.)

3. Another problem with outside articles is that man y re qu ire financial< br>outlays (subscription fees, etc.) or are in a format that is harder or
outright hard to access (.PDF, paper) - the same complaint as uttered by
students interviewed in the Pew Project.

4. By going to the Fleabyte site, you may notice that the Pew report
begins with an overview. From a publishing perspective it is easiest to
refer to such an overview, a well-established practice. But then, I
thought, the subject matter was too important to let things go at that.
So I made an altogether different kind of an overview by extracting some
really telling statements and within those colorcoding the most telling
components of these statements. Thus one may gather a quick, yet (I
hope) satisfactory insight in the report's subject matter (Teenagers can
teach us collaborative work habits).

5. In this age of information overload, we should not duplicate
unnecessarily. Hence, Fleabyte likes to become truly colla borat ive with
other sites on the Web. In fact, if more competent people do the same
job with the same objectives more effectively, Fleabyte should dissolve.
I already practiced this before when becoming Bootstrap's webmaster (as
shown in a copy archived by the Wayback Machine:
I believe that this mode of working is of a communal value that ought be
recognized and practiced on a wider scale.

6. So far I have been doing the work by myself with only occasional
contributions by others. This is not a complaint because I have had
some offers of people wishing to help, but I just couldn't even manage
to arrange how to make good use of their offers. In fact, I badly need a
manager and a good editor who can work quite independently. In the
meantime, all I am basically do ing is lay ing out a framework in some
experimental way. A big problem I am facing is the many areas of
insufficient competence on my part. One way I am trying to tackle this
is by taking college courses (this semester: UNIX through Linux and Java
programming), which, of course, will take up considerable time. I hope
that the direct contact with experts will result in a payoff. A side
benefit is the opportunity to compare a curriculum for potential
professionals with one that might exist for a general, computer-literate
public. And a further side benefit is to personally experience the
"lifelong learning" paradigm at my age. (I am more than a little afraid
of tests and exams at an age where memory loss has become a prominent
part of life at age 75. The experience may well be most embarrassing.)
The insights gathered (if any) may enter into Fleabyte's editorial
content - warts and all.

7. In the meantime, it would be nice to know what i ntere st exist in the
Flea byte effort; what I might do to improve its efficacy in terms of
objectives, etc. How well it is appreciated. And should I indeed try to
continue the work - a question that is constantly with me.