Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Time and Space

In the old days, we worked In Real Time, and In Real Space. The Internet, and other electronic technologies, have provided additional possibilities.
  • In Real Space.
  • In Real Time.
  • In Virtual Space.
  • In Virtual Time.

In Virtual Space / In Real Time

Instant Messaging is an IVP / IRT application. You can converse with your friends at any time, from anywhere. If you can find a computer with Internet service, anywhere in the world, you can be online and chatting with your friends in seconds.

In Virtual Space / In Virtual Time

Discussion Groups / Forums is a IVP / IVT application. You post stuff as its convenient to you. Some folks might post once / day, others might post every few minutes. This makes for interesting discussions, as some folks post once and disappear. When they come back a day later, the discussion that they participated in (or started) may have moved on, far beyond where they left it.

The dividing line between forums and Instant Messaging is not sharp. Some folks will use an IM platform as a forum, by inviting their friends in a group IM conversation, and keeping the forum open 7 x 24. Others will use a forum discussion practically in real time, by checking every minute for updates in a forum.

I, personally, like to leave my IM clients open 7 x 24 (and my computers up and online at the same basis). If it occurs to me, I might change the status message (if available for a given IM client) to indicate that I'm out for any period of time (ie sleeping). Other times, I don't. Anyone who uses IM for any regular amount has experienced finding an attempted IM contact buried in a window underneath whatever they were working on at the time, 2 - 3 hours after the attempt was made by a friend. MSN and Yahoo Messengers have an alert tool (MSN: Nudge, Yahoo: Buzz) on their native clients, that you can use if supported by your client.

Instant Messaging

This is my favourite application on the web. Even my mother uses this to contact me, and she now actually speaks to me (OK, IMs me). There was a time when she wouldn't do either (OK, Mom, my fault I know).

There are 4 major IM networks that I'm aware of. I have nyms (accounts) on 3.
  • AOL Instant Messenger (AIM).
  • Google (GTalk).
  • MSN / Windows Messenger.
  • Yahoo Messenger.

Instant Messaging started out as a computer to computer text conversation, IVP / IRT. The various networks have added possibilities, and not all networks offer the same possibilities.
  • Alert tool (buzz or nudge your friend, if he's not paying attention to the conversation).
  • Audio (voice) conversation.
  • File transfer.
  • File sharing.
  • Music sharing.
  • Picture album sharing.
  • Video (webcam) conversation.

In the beginning, Instant Messaging required proprietary software, running on your computer (and installed with some formality). GAIM, a multi-protocol instant messaging (IM) client, changed that, though still requiring installation. Before GAIM, Trillian fought the battle of multi-protocol instant messaging. Now, thanks to Meebo, you can IM from any computer with Internet access and Javascript enabled, with no installation of software.

And soon, you'll be able to IM your friends on Yahoo Messenger, from MSN / Windows Messenger, and vice versa. And in another trend, IRC now allows one - one (or restricted many - many) private chats.

As I said elsewhere, Instant Messaging started as a One To One relationship. It has evolved to Many To Many, and includes group chats, conferences, and whiteboards. IM group functionality further evolved into collaborative discussions and conferencing.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Classifications and Terminology

Now, if any of you really know me, you'll know that I like to categorise stuff. That's how I figure stuff out - I break it down, figure out how it's like other stuff, then figure out how it's different from other stuff.

Now there is a lot of stuff on the web, and each person would like to invent new stuff, and become the next Google. But how do you categorise it, so you can know what you might do?

I'm going to start out by using mapping terms. Not geographically mapping terms - relational mapping, in terms of personal interaction ("conversations").

One To One

Classical Instant Messaging (IM) is a one to one conversation. One person (you) can instantly talk with one of your friends.


One To Many

A blog, or any web site, is a one to many conversation. One person (you) creates a blog or website. Many of your friends read (view) your website. Like IMs, you can share text, sound, pictures, and files.


Many To One

If you attach a guestbook to your website, or if your blog allows comments, you have many to one conversations. Many people enter comments about how great your website is (or how lame it is), and you read the comments. Other folks can read the comments, but they are basically addressed to you.


Many To Many

A forum is a many to many conversation. The original forums were bulletin boards (before the web), and evolved into Usenet. When the web became dominant, Usenet evolved into using web front ends, like Google Groups.

Nowadays, forums can be almost small (or large) communities, filled with your friends. One of my favourite forum communities is DSL Reports. A smaller forum is ForumFinder, and a new forum which I helped to get started (and is now dead) was Googolians. Between these, and still larger and smaller, are hundreds of others.

Online communities, like MySpace and Yahoo 360, are also many to many conversations. Online communities, though, differ in one major way - time relationship. That's a deep subject, so I'll save that for another article.

Blogs and Hypertext

One of the neatest stuff about blogs is that you can write what you're thinking, right now. Later, when you think of something else, you can write that. Or you can edit what you wrote previously. And you can link what you wrote last week with what you're writing now.

Plus, whatever you know, your friends probably know too. And whatever your friends write about, you can write about, from your perspective. Neither of you has to be better than the other, just different. If your friends write about something, you can link to that too.

And that's blogs, and hypertext.

Who Am I And Why Am I Writing This?

I'm not your typical MySpace inhabitant. But recently I setup a MySpace account. My nephew has one, and I thought it would be kewl to see what the kidz do with it. Mine is pretty lame right now (well, I can share my favourite music, and that's fun). My Yahoo 360 page, I think, is better (no music there though).

Now, I'm a Network and Security Consultant, and one of my mottoes is about paranoia (the beneficial component of that, anyway). And I've been hearing about MySpace, and how dangerous it is for the youth who use it blindly. But recently, a friend sent me a link, which shows it to be far worse than I imagined.

So recently, in the process of helping a bud of mine figure out how to write a blog about setting up and running online forums (which is a subject that I'm just starting to approach, in my presence in the Google Blogger Help forums), I had a 30 minute IM conversation with him, and at the end, I realised that rather than (in addition to) filling his head with ideas, I had just started writing a new blog. This one.

Now don't expect a lot here immediately. Be patient with me, and come back occasionally. Use the Atom feed , or the RSS feed, too.


Welcome to MySpace and More.

One of the things I tell my friends is
If you think that the web is full of bad stuff, and you haven't written any good stuff, then it's your fault that there's nothing but bad stuff there.

And if you have put good stuff out there, publicise it.

This is my attempt to help you put some good stuff there.