Eric Armstrong


Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2000 15:22:40 -0700

From:   Eric Armstrong


Subject:   WBI Wrong Direction for DKR
SlashDot Style Invaluable for Intelligence

In yesterday's meeting, I commented that gathering intelligence is the easy part -- it is the evaluating and summarizing that is most important -- so the intelligence community has a small army of people devoted to that task. This lends further weight to the concept that a SlashDot-style system would be invaluable for our purposes.

Much as I want to read a "Guide to Running to a NIC" it is manifestly clear to me that I have no idea on earth what I could possibly contribute to it. It's pretty clear to me that I don't know the first thing about it.

I'm glad there is an effort to pursue a direction, but I remain unshaken in my belief that WBI is fundamentally the wrong approach to the problem. Its a great tool to investigate, and undoubtedly has uses -- even within this project -- but as the fundamental component for the design, I'm afraid I simply do not see it.

The major points against it are:

The result of these two observations is that the system, as presently envisioned, will be both slow and ineffective. I saw ThinkTank singlehandedly destroy the outliner market by building a truly awful interface and marketing the hell out of the product. They got a tremendous amount of mind share and investigation by early adopters -- all of whom quickly concluded that the concept was useless. The fault was the interface, rather than the concept, but by the time we could prove that, the damage had been done and the market had all but disappeared.

While an architecture built around WBI might be something we can learn from, I can only hope that it does not get promoted too widely, lest it have the same unfortunate impact on public perception that ThinkTank did.


Eric Armstrong