Monday, April 24, 2006

AoyW vs. In-Office Spam

In-house spammers, i.e. most people you work with, have become a leading headache at the office. These well-intentioned miscreants habitually send messages to a group of people, often with documents attached, when only one or two are involved in the issue in question. They repeatedly send a document after each edit which they feel is significant. It's gotten so bad that knowledge-workers are now spending their days in Outlook, trapped! Outlook, or any email client for that matter, is hardly a project-oriented workspace tool, as you may have noticed.

This situation highlights three gaps in the desktop environment, when compared with the web: 1) The PC has no project workspace, whereas an editable web site is a project workspace. 2) Email is a protocol, not an application; email should be delivered to project workspaces, not in-boxes. 3) The desktop has no content-sharing mechanism other than email.

Creating a workgroup web site is an obvious approach to the problem, either on the intranet or at an online service. However, web workgroup tools have seen little adoption, largely because they are server-based. As such, they cannot be deployed by end-users; they require IT Mgmt approval and/or support. (IT Mgmt is especially skeptical of online services which pull company data offsite.) Also, centralized tools force users to think twice about everything they write into them, as all of it will be accessible to colleagues and managers, for all time.

Enter the Always-on-you Web: a peer-to-peer web (which runs for each user from a flash drive or other mobile device) with both shared and private workspaces. In these shared webs, an electronic discussion is simply an object on a page with other content, e.g. a spreadsheet. New messages in that discussion, or changes to the spreadsheet, are distributed only to those who are sharing that web. They either choose to be alerted to changes as they arrive, or peruse them as time permits, depending on their role in the effort. In-office email is virtually eliminated.

[AoyW] There Is No 'WebOS Market'

Richard MacManus draws up a WebOS market review. It's premature to call it a market, especially given the untimely demise a few years back of startups like and

A WebOS is a solution looking for a problem. The idea of making the desktop user experience (with its clumsy silo-style applications, and haystack of files & folders) appear on the web is completely wrongheaded. The web offers a user experience that transcends the desktop; even non-technical users get this.

Rather than pushing the desktop up to the worldwide web, we should be creating web environments that can live on your person—the always-on-you web.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

[AoyW] Yahoo Will Whack Your Email

A few years back, I set up a Yahoo email account. I hardly ever used it, accumulating at most a few hundred kilobytes of data, including incoming attachments. I logged in pretty infrequently. The last time I logged in I received this notice (click for full size):

The key elements:
- You have not logged in during the past four months
- All email has been deleted and cannot be recovered
- Subscribe ($19.99/year) to prevent another four-month whack

"This email will self-destruct in four months." Cool feature. Now, how do you feel about Yahoo as a potential provider of online desktop applications, for which they store the data? For that matter, how do you feel about Google or Microsoft, or anywhere?

If you use online apps that store your data, you don't own your data. That fact has not escaped the mass market, and no volume of hype will hypnotize it to the contrary. The always-on-you web, which puts your data in your pocket, is the only suitable method for web apps that rival the desktop in the mass market.