Productivity is the endgame

Here's another great way to use the W3C XSLT service:

- Dave's outline

- Jake's outline

- My outline

Outstanding work on the XSLT/JS/CSS renderer, Josh ua! It's amazingly cool to be able to export that capability to the world by blogging some URLs, eh?

As to the meaning of what's happening here, some comments picked out from Dave's stream-of-consciousness outline tell the story:

We've been using this tool since November, internally at UserLand. We shipped Radio 8 with it. When we switched over our workgroup productivity soared. All of a sudden people could narrate their work. Watch Jake as he reports his progress on the next project he does. We've gotten very formal about how we use it. I can't imagine an engineering project without this tool.

Eventually this way of working together will happen for all professions. This is the killer app behind blogging, I'm pretty sure of it.

So am I. That said, there are many, many more pieces that need to fall into place. People are going to look at this and say ugh, the outliner's UI sucks. Which it does. They're going to lament the lack of robust search, persistent URLs for outline subitems, and a million other things. And they'll be right. But these will be good problems to have, if what precipitates the whining is a general adoption of a style of networked communication based on structured messages and a willingness to work transparently. We can solve those merely technical problems. What's been missing is a context in which to address them in productive and useful ways.

" All of a sudden people could narrate their work. Watch Jake as he reports his progress on the next project he does."

This is the key. It's not about XML, or HTTP, or outlining. It's about people evolving to the point where they publish what they're doing, and subscribe to what other people are doing, in just the right proportions, so that there's maximum awareness of shared purpose but minimal demand on the scarce resource of attention.

Don't just focus on the outliner. Look at how the people who are proficient with it structure their work. That's the endgame. Software tools (like the one being boostrapped here) are a necessary, but not sufficient, means to that end. Once people figure out how networked communication is really supposed to work, though, software's going to get much more interesting than it ever has been.

Former URL: