There is a problem with finding things on the internet. This is not the fault of Google, but rather the fault of how we lay out our websites present information. The internet Google is a popularity contest. Whatever is most popular, you will find. The most popular version of something may not be the most accurate or most up to date. Largely, this is the fault of blogs, For example, examine search results from blogs, message boards, and or email lists. Look up anything technical. The top hits will be very popular and heavily linked by third parties. Gaining popularity and links takes time, so this information is probably stale. If one of your favorite pieces of software undergoes a substancial substantial change, it will be some time until third party tutorials are rewritten, and even longer until the new tutorials outrank the old. An alternative: subscribe to every blog's RSS feed and spend every waking minute trying to keep up with the news.
January 2009: Further refinements.
You can avoid this problem by not searching. Simply subscribe to every blog's RSS feed, and spend every waking minute trying to keep up with the news. I want to spend my time doing awesome things, not drinking a firehose of other people's media.
Wikis take steps to avoid staleness through crude version control. Old information is hid away in the 'history', and community interaction is hid away in 'talk'. Trying to sort out the story behind a page's development is a painful process.
Watching change should not be painful, it should be enlightening. Neither blogs nor wikis allow for the description of a journey, where every step presents new options to explore.
Telling a story is not a strong point of a Wiki. They encourage webs of minimalistic topics. Blogs can tell stories, but one must start at the beginning and view the full chronolgy in order to make sense of it all. Neither of these models allows the description of a journey, where every step presents new options but only one may follow.
> ## "There is no great writing, only great rewriting" -- Louis Brandeis
Remember your english English writing classes? You would write double spaced draft after draft drafts, sharing them with your friends. They would fill the margins with revisions and suggestions. Draft after draft, the paper would evolve under the pressure and forces of of one's peers and instructors. This sort of tightly coupled interaction dehumanizes blogs humanizes writers and wikis readers. Both place the writer on a podium, hiding the commentary away. This too needs to be corrected. Writers and commentary both should be highly visible and explorable.
Have you ever used archive.org archive.org as an archeological tool? Go find some website you like, punch it in and see how it mutated over the past several years. There is something profound about seeing an idea grow and mature. I want this experience seamlessly built in to everything I do.
> ## "Everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book." -- Mallarme
I want to spend my time doing awesome things, not drinking a firehose of other people's RSS. I want to find what someone actually thinks about a topic, not their most popular blog post. I want to be handed a diagram of how their opinions evolved, not tease it out from pages of unrelated garbage.
These two ideas make up the founding princples of Inabow. Chronological exploration should be slick and easy. Discourse should be tightly coupled to the text it comments on, as well as the revision it inspires. It's not a blog or wiki. It is meant for writers, hackers and makers. It is for anyone who wishes to preserve the journey of their accomplishments. Think of Inabow as a book, where each chapter is a different project. Every revision is at your fingertips, and comments are in the margins.