Getting back to work

I came back to work on monday morning after 2 awesome holiday weeks. We started the week by a breakfast under the sun (during with I trapped a wasp in a glass of orange juice). We went on with a team meeting followed by a paintball game. You can see me discussing with Thomas (one of our project managers) and Anca (one of our developers).

On tuesday I took a couple refreshing naps (I'll find the photographer and duly retaliate, I promise!) and got a nice paperboard artwork collaboratively created for me by the team. All in all, not that bad for a week back to work :-)

Meeting the whole XWiki team !

I've met (almost) the full XWiki SAS team for the first time today !! We spent a couple hours presenting each of us and talking about the company's history and vision, then left for a great paintball session. Look out for an incredible number of pictures taken by Sergiu to get published in the coming days !!

On some of the pictures you can see Ludovic (@ldubost) & Yves (@socomputing) trying to get the volleyball we were playing with off a tree while the 3 others are of the team listening to each other. Next in line are a slew of feedback & strategy sessions tomorrow, time to get to bed to get ready for them now :-)

Distanced journalism

I've been a bit disappointed by the quality of some recent articles from Steven Walling on ReadWriteWeb. It looks like Steven is basically re-writing press releases instead of doing the testing and investigation work expected from a quality blog article. I've taken only 3 articles that stroke me since they touch to a field I'm deeply involved in, but there might be other examples. The pattern is that those articles are:
  • overtly positive - they do not seem to display any critical distanciation
  • provide little context - there doesn't seem to be much external research outside the background info provided in the press release
  • without actual testing - no hands-on nor real use cases by the article author
  • based mainly on quotes from people involved in the originating company - little-to-no external point of views are invoked in the articles
  • lacking research - some statements could definitely use more facts
I don't usually mind blog articles being short on facts & research, but when they come from a blog I have come to trust and respect as much as ReadWriteWeb (which is in my opinion one of the best tech blogs on the web) it saddens me quite a bit.

Here are a couple examples:

Mindtouch Press Release:

  • "SAN DIEGO, June 23, 2009 — MindTouch, developer of one of the top open source projects in the world, today announced the immediate availability of the first of three turnkey collaborative network solutions the company intends to launch over the next six months."
  • "By deploying MindTouch Collaborative Intranet, companies can federate content from across the data and application silos their employees use each day — ERP, CRM, file servers, email, databases, web-services infrastructures, social networks — to create a vibrant real time information fabric."
  • "MindTouch, the collaborative software that began as a fork of MediaWiki, has just launched the first of three new turnkey collaborative networks for the enterprise that go far beyond the software's beginnings as a wiki. With the next two scheduled to be made public in the next six months, this first new release is of the MindTouch Collaborative Intranet."
  • "The goal is to take the resources you need and break down the silos that separate them to create a fabric of information that is easy to comb through and work with."
  • "This announcement comes on the 30-year-anniversary of VisiCalc, the pioneering spreadsheet program by SocialCalc Product Lead Dan Bricklin; VisiCalc's co-creator"
  • "Socialtext Free 50 provides online collaboration with Twitter-style micro-blogging, social networking, personalized dashboards, weblog publishing and a wiki workspace. Built on Adobe(R) AIR(TM) technology, the dynamic desktop application includes "drag-n-drop" file sharing across the enterprise."
  • "Created in collaboration with VisiCalc co-creator Dan Bricklin, the long-awaited app is the social enterprise successor to Bricklin's original innovation. Begun in 2006 and now in public beta, its a more fully-functional version of his concept of WikiCalc."
  • "Free 50 gets you a hosted platform with personal dashboards, Socialtext People (the social network), one wiki workspace, and the microblogging system Socialtext Signals, including the Adobe AIR desktop app. There is no support or services, and SocialCalc is not included, though there is a separate demo to try."
  • "The trick is in the cards.  Wagn helps you organize all your information into "cards" that can be linked, nested, and formatted to create new structures.  "Kind of like online legos," says Hoffman.  A given webpage might contain dozens of cards organized into a set structure."
  • "Ward Cunningham, who invented wikis 15 years ago, calls Wagn "one of the freshest contributions to wiki since I coined the term"."
  • "Just like a page, a card is a metaphor. Like playing cards in real life, Wagn cards can be nested together to form stacks (a single page might contain dozens of Wagn cards). Not only can cards be placed inside each other, but they can exist in many places at once, meaning nothing ever need be repeated."
  • "Today marks the 1.0 release of Wagn, a pioneering yet little-known software that wiki inventor Ward Cunningham has called "one of the freshest contributions to wiki since I coined the term.""
This last article also holds the following line: "Wagn has been quietly honed into a tool that breaks new ground in collaborative software. What makes Wagn special is that it takes the wiki that you know and adds database structure and functionality. Also a simple CMS, Wagn can handle data like no wiki you've ever seen."

This statement is the one that made me give a deeper look at Steven's articles since it's basically not factual - XWiki has been doing similar stuff since 2004. Steven, this is me begging you: I'm sure you can do a better job of criticism, research and distanciation in your articles!