Genii Weblog

Turtle Collaboration - Thinking outside the forum

Fri 16 May 2003, 08:39 AM

by Ben Langhinrichs
In traditional Geometry, a square is a set of points and lines on a coordinate system.  In Turtle Geometry, the same shape is described from the point of view of a "turtle" (from the Logo language turtle).  Not much different, but if you start to look at fractals using Logo), they are very easy to describe in Turtle Geometry, but hard to describe in coordinate geometry.  It is all about perspective shifting, but in this case it makes some difficult problems easier to describe and focus on.

So what about Turtle Collaboration?  As I watch all of us Notes/Domino people trying to get our heads around blogging, it is hard not to think that we are being controlled by our paradigm.  We are used to forums, discussion databases and the lot.  We are very adverse to distributed collaboration, because it feels like e-mail discussions that flow in different directions with different people forwarding threads, etc. etc., until it is impossible to follow.  Discussion databases (forums, or fora for those more into LC) were supposed to replace all that, and they have, but blogging is new.  Maybe not new to the world, but new to us in the Notes/Domino world.  All of a sudden, we are faced with distributed collaboration, with each node (blog) thinking for itself.  Sometimes, this is messy, and we try to squeeze ourselves back into the discussion forum by aggregating and consolidating and trying to see the "whole picture".  That is fine, but I think we might want to try to see this more like the different units in Dragon Army in Ender's Game.  Each independent unit can think for itself, and each has its own perspective like the roving turtles.

Now, as with Turtle Geometry, some problems are harder to describe and some are easier.  Maybe it is time to focus less on what is harder with this model, and try to figure out what is easier.  I have a few ideas, but I'd rather let them percolate and post more later.  Let me know if you have some ideas about what would be easier to describe, or better, to actualize, with a view of blogging as "distributed collaboration", or even "turtle collaboration".

Copyright 2003 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

8.1. Richard Schwartz
(05/16/2003 07:08 PM)

There's an awful lot of talk going on about how blogs are "social software". I've added a bunch of links related to this topic on the right panel of my blog template. Whether social software is a new name for an old phenomenon, or really something new is something that people are arguing about, and are likely to continue arguing about forever. I think an analogy can help us focus on what is truly different. We often speak of on-line communities. Within that metaphor, the forum is the public meeting house for a community, and the blog is my house. I open the door to my house, let you in, and we talk. I decide what we talk about because it's my house, but I do listen to your responses. Then you go back to your house, and you open your door and wait for people to drop by to talk. Meanwhile, I'm talking to someone else. One thing that's definitely better about this at-home communication is that nobody dominates. In the public meeting house, there's probably a chairman. There are also a few loudmouths who always have to get their say. If the usual highly influential folks have spoken first, the rest of the crowd may lose the courage of their convictions and fail to speak up even though they disagree. On their way home from the meeting house they talk amongst themselves... and only then do they realize that they had legitimate differences that they should have aired. So, by this analogy is that what is easier in blogs is open expression. More ideas, probably aired more articulately, by more people.


8.2. Joe Litton
(05/16/2003 10:12 PM)

Rich, very nicely stated.

Ben, I'm envisioning a new vocabulary. Just as Java and various other pieces of techdom use a coffee theme, we could construct various words and phrases in the blogging world -- all around a turtle theme. "He made it up, and I knew him too" :-)