Diffs and Collaborative Writing

July 12th, 2003

So while I was offline today hanging out with Dru in sunny Seattle, discussing, among other things, Foucault (and postmodernism) messages of hope, Mark was brewing up a new storm, though one who existence has (rather oddly) disappeared leaving only the fervor it created behind.

Simon covers the new Winer Watcher service, an RSS driven automated diff web app to allow you to track Dave’s attempts at re-writing history. Apparently this has upset some people.

I find this interesting because while this was going on, Dru and I were discussing the role of copyright in his new project, The Dominion.

I suggested that the Dominion might want to go farther then the freely available for not for profit use, and explicitly allow derivative work. Dru countered that, as a society, we lack the skills and tools to make collaborative editing work. I suggested that a web service that provided some of the necessary tools might be rather simple to build using similar principles to Ward Cunnigham’s (aka Papa Wiki) new project FIT, that is building on some of the techniques of referer watching, and linkback parsing we’ve been seeing in the blog community.

One of the most obviously desirable services this new engine to empower collaborative editing would want to offer would be automated diff, a service which Mark has been generous enough to provide for Dave, but, alas, not for the rest of us.

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