InterPersonal Computing

The Personal Computing Revolution

Apple, IBM and Microsoft started the Personal Computing revolution at the turn of the 1980s. As soon as people found they had a computer on their desk at work and at home, the days of the big mainframe computers and data managers were numbered.

Then, in the 1990s, the networking revolution joined up all these computers. But despite the collaborative potentials of networking, computers stayed what they were at the beginning of Personal Computing-chaotically individualised. The only difference was that chaos was now frustratingly obvious.

Every PC user had:

  • ‘My Hard Disc’, with its own eccentric filing system. You wouldn’t even try to find something on someone else’s computer. If somebody left the job, not only was the stuff in their head lost, but the stuff on their computer was lost too.
  • ‘My Emails’, an impenetrable mishmash of really important and really unimportant messages.
  • ‘My Documents’, or files that, if they were ever set free from ‘My Hard Disc’, found themselves floating around as email attachments, but with unhelpful names like ‘Latest Draft’ or ‘Document 1’. But who knew whether this was the right version of that file? And don’t even think about finding useful metadata which located the work.
  • ‘My Prejudices’, in which there was no immediate way of knowing whether a website had really useful information, an email was official, or a file was authoritative.

In other words, Personal Computing created a knowledge nightmare.

InterPersonal Computing: The Next Wave

CGPublisher stands at the brink of a new phase in computing. It rests on the paradox of decentralised centralism. The files and the messaging system reside in a shared space-a centralised server. Of course, every user is still more than welcome to ‘My Hard Disc’, ‘My Emails’, ‘My Documents’ and ‘My Prejudices’. But CGPublisher adds two things-a private, server mounted workspace where a creator can invite collaborators (other creators, contributors and publishers) to join them in creating a new work; and a fully-featured public website where published works can be given away or sold.

Mainstream content management systems promise to manage knowledge too, but their approach is big brother centralism-‘here is your login and this is where we want you to put your files’. CGPublisher, however, allows users to choose their collaborators and on a work-by-work basis. Instead of starting with a top-down, imposed architecture in which human relationships are dictated by technology decisions, CGPublisher helps communities-of learners, co-workers, common knowledge-to build their connections from the ground up. People start with their own workspaces and personal websites, and invite people to join them, work by work. And from small things, large things grow.

With CGPublisher, you get:

  • A well ordered workspace where digital content can be stored and shared.
  • A complete record of relevant email messages, sorted by their relevance to a particular person or group of people, a particular work, a particular collaboration-using a message spool that is mirrored in email and which automatically receives and sorts reply emails.
  • A system of versioning involving drafts (works-in-progress in the private workspace) and editions (published works).
  • A behind-the-scenes, standards-based system for capturing metadata (creator, title, publisher, date ... and more than a thousand other alternatives), which means that a published document can go into an online bookstore, an electronic library cataloguing record or be visible through web syndication (see the description of our Technology).
  • A private audit trail of the history of collaboration around a work, and, in the public view of published works, that sense of the validity and authoritativeness which only knowledge communities (such as workplaces, schools, universities, publishers) can give to a particular work.

CGPublisher is a collaborative, knowledge sharing technology, and at the forefront of the new wave of InterPersonal Computing.

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