Using Wikis with software developers

There’s a lot of excitement lately about wikis. Wikis are an amazing tool, but the hype can lead some to think that simply installing a wiki and letting people do what they want with it will be effective. I fell for the hype and installed a wiki for my team to use. But my wiki was ignored by pretty much everyone, and fell into disuse. Recently, I relaunched the wiki concept within my team, this time successfully. What changed?

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Taking the pulse of the open-source AJAX community

A recent survey by Ajaxian (writeup here, raw results here) revealed that the 40% of developers working with AJAX are not using any higher-level APIs or toolkits! This is really disturbing: trying to make javascript work across all browsers is really hard, and developers are buying themselves a great deal of pain by not standing on the shoulders of those who came before them. Why aren’t more developers using these frameworks?

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Offline Game-like Elicitation Methods: Enthiosys

I went to the SDForum “Foundations of Innovation“event yesterday to find out more about Enthiosys.
Enthiosys is a consulting company in the bay area that has developed an innovative approach to doing market research by playing games.
Games! That’s what MindCanvas is all about! It was very cool to see that we weren’t the only ones who believed that traditional market research was so boring for participants that it was generating bogus data. And that a game (or something game-like) just might be the solution. Enthiosys is all about game-like experiences that you can do face-to-face with your customers. In contrast, MindCanvas is about game-like experiences that you can do remotely over the internet.

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SIPA Confab: Global Opportunities in Technology Related Services

SIPA has their yearly confab tomorrow. The topic is Global Opportunities in Technology Related Services. Sounds pretty generic? They tighten it down to three panels on Vertical Search, Knowledge Process Outsourcing, and Software as a Service.
The 10:30 Software as a Service panel panel looks especially good. We’ve heard enough from here are some of the other big players doing interesting things in the SaaS space.
Software as a Service:
MR Rangaswami – Co-Founder, SandHill Group (moderator).
Joe Kraus – Co-Founder & CEO, Jotspot.
Jay O’Connor – Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, NetSuite.
Umang Gupta – Chairman & CEO, Keynote Systems.
John Roberts – Co-Founder & CEO, SugarCRM.
Every one of these companies are doing very cool things right now. So if you don’t feel like giving up your whole saturday to network with desi entrepreneurs, that’s the panel to show up for. I’ll be going to that one (Mindcanvas, the service that we’ve just released, uses a SaaS software offering as the basis for a consulting service. So I have a bit of a personal interest in the topic).
The Knowledge Process outsourcing panel also looks good. I’ve heard way too much about vertical search lately, so I’ll probably skip that panel.

MindCanvas: Reimagining a software category as a Rich Internet Application

AJAX and Rich Internet Applications offer the chance to re-imagine product categories that were previously thought of as mature, finished, and mundane. The first example of this was GMail, which succeeded in re-inventing the moribund category of web mail. More recently, a number of products have re-imagined the word processor as a web application.
I think that, sooner or later, pretty much every application category is going to be rebuilt from the ground up as a rich internet application. It is in this spirit that my crew (<a href="hey guys) and I built MindCanvas. It is a web survey research service, re-imagined as a rich internet application. The process of re-imagining changes the application so much that I’m reluctant to even call what we’ve built survey software. But that’s the easiest way to explain what it is. Now that we’ve released a beta version of the system, I’m finally free to talk about it a little!

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New Yahoo Maps kick ass with Flash

The new Yahoo! maps (released just over an hour ago) is amazing. The app is very smooth and slick, and makes heavy use of yahoo yellow-pages data. It’s integrated with real-time traffic info as well. The experience of dragging and dropping the map, and zooming in and out, is _nearly_ as smooth as google maps (hey for day one that is terrific. There’s lots of room for optimization with this kind of code).
Yahoo! is playing the fast follower game, and playing it well (see also an earlier post on the new Yahoo! email client). And they’re obviously thinking hard about using the right technology for the right job, rather than simply copying the google approach.

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