Simon Willison’s Weblog


Collaboration tools should be simple

7th January 2003

Peter Merholtz has been thinking about collaborative software tools, and has concluded that the simplest are by far the most effective.

This will likely frustrate the hell of out big software vendors, who want to develop over-engineered software solutions that require many servers and for which they can charge hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because, frankly, those things don’t work. And these same vendors simply aren’t interested in developing what does work, email applications and IM applications and web bulletin boards. And I suspect we’ll see a lot of enterprise software companies go out of business, not because of a hurting economy, but simply because people realize that you can’t automate unstructured collaboration, and that it’s a foolish way to spend money.

Surprisingly Peter fails to mention Wikis in his list of tools that do work—and from my experience of them Wikis are one of the most flexible collaborative tools around thanks both to their simplicity and their open ended nature. The comments attached to the story mention Wikis though, and also have some interesting thoughts on “direct manipulation” of content and the unix model of simple tools that work reliably for their purpose.

This is Collaboration tools should be simple by Simon Willison, posted on 7th January 2003.

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