Column catchup: Family-friendly calendaring and Doug Engelbart's real agenda

While I've been writing about other things here, several of my weekly Strategic Developer columns have spooled up at Here's a rundown.

Family-friendly enterprise calendaring

We all bemoan the lack of a unified way to manage information about our dual roles as workers and family members. Combining our calendars, in particular, is a real headache. So it was refreshing to hear Microsoft's newest CTO admit that he feels the same pain, and by implication that his company's enterprise superplatform can't yet do much to take the edge off it. [Full story at]

This column grew out of a couple of blog entries on Mozilla calendar and structured blogging/microformats. It's also related to the issues raised in another column on the tolerance continuum.

From another perspective, the calendaring problem is just one of the many ways that real life challenges on our prevailing enterprise security model, with its bankrupt notion of an inside and an outside divided by a wall. When we focus on our roles as workers we can imagine that wall extruding a pseudopod that envelops us even as we're sitting in Starbucks doing business. But when we admit the concurrent reality of our roles as family members, the illusion becomes impossible to sustain.

In this column I suggest that Simple Sharing Extensions (SSE) for RSS, along with structured blogging and microformats, will help us unify these information flows. It also implies that more advanced forms of RSS intermediation -- as hinted at in my interview with Bill Gates, and mentioned in the conclusion of my SOA cover story -- are coming, and will help us transform the firewall into an intelligently semi-permeable membrane.

The high-performance GUI

Engelbart's ultimate goal was, and remains, to augment human capability. As a species, we face huge political, social, and technical challenges. The only way to tackle them effectively, he believes, is by enhancing our ability to create, share, analyze, and collectively act on representations of knowledge. [Full story at]

The seed from which this column grew is an audio quote I excerpted from Doug Engelbart's Accelerating Change 2004 talk on ITConversations. I had always assumed that Engelbart's innovations (mouse, GUI, hypertext) were motivated by a desire to achieve "ease of use", but the real ambition was loftier: human augmentation as a means of grappling with humanity's most pressing challenges. Bran Ferren's Web 2.0 talk explores how and why alternatives to KVM (keyboard/video/mouse) interfaces are necessary. My column makes a more modest proposal. Given that most of us are stuck with the GUI, at least for a while, let's rethink it.

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