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This is the TBTF Log, the place where I report important breaking news in the most timely way possible.

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2001-02-09

3:42:22 PM
  • Quick Topic introduces Document Review. Longtime TBTF readers know that I'm a fan of Quick Topic (née Take It Offline). From its launch, QT has provided one of the easiest ways to host a discussion that you can find on the Web. Since the fall of 1999 I've used QT to open up dialog on TBTF and TBTF Log articles.

    Now QT's developer, Steve Yost, has taught it a new trick, and it's a doozy. Quick Topic Document Review streamlines and supercharges the usually awkward task of collecting a group's comments on a draft document. Streamlines because its default actions do just about exactly what you, as a document author, want it to do. Supercharges because reviewers can see, react to, and expand upon one another's comments. The result of this full-bore collaboration, introduced into what has heretofore been a serial process, is a more thorough and thoughtful review.

    Steve was inspired to develop QT Document Review by the innovative use Jon Udell made of Quick Topic to gather comments on his paper Internet Groupware for Scientific Collaboration. In essence, Udell implemented a document-review workflow in CGI code. Now that Quick Topic has encapsulated the lessons Udell learned into Document Review, Udell gives the feature a rave review on the Byte Web site. The four-part review begins here, or you can visit the printable version.

    Here's a quick walkthrough of Document Review. Using a Web interface, you upload any HTML file on your disk to a new, specially annotated review space. Microsoft Word documents saved in HTML form work perfectly well. QuickTopic annotates your document with paragraph numbers -- every para and list item gets a sequential number. You preview this annotation and, if you want, exclude particular items from being numbered. The result is a review document in which every significant paragraph begins with a marker munchie and a numbered link to a comment forum.

    Now send the review document's URL to your reviewers, and all can comment on any numbered item or on the document as a whole. You or the reviewers can browse the whole collection of comments, or narrow down to only the comments on a single paragraph (by clicking on an eyeglasses icon glasses). An alternate view shows, in plain text form, all paragraphs on which any reviewer has commented, followed by all of their comments in chronological order for that paragraph. This read-only Comment Review makes a convenient starting point for the document author to incorporate comments once the review period is over.

    This is breakthrough functionality. Its audience is everyone who writes words that others need to comment on. Quick Topic Document Review could send Steve Yost's little company, Internicity, on a whole new voyage.

    Disclosure: In my past reviews of QT / TIO, I disclosed that I'm a friend of Steve Yost but had no material interest in Internicity. The former has not changed but the latter has. Steve has formalized my advisory role in his company and I now own stock options in the closely-held Internicity.


2001-02-05

6:53:06 PM
  • A World Out Of Time Just move the Earth. Who's afraid of Global Warming? Or of its successor the Runaway Greenhouse, coming in several billion years to an Earth near you? When conditions get too hot for our liking we can simply move the Earth. Do you find the suggestion alarming? Well, so do the researchers who proposed it.

    Our initial analysis shows that the general problem of long-term planetary engineering is almost alarmingly feasible.

    Lenny Foner, who sent along the link, identifies the required reading before attempting this stunt: A World Out of Time by Larry Niven.

6:52:58 PM
  • Jargon Scout rides again. Visit the TBTF Jargon Scout for the latest on the terminology that is just about ready to hatch into the Net's language. Fresh today:

    • Barney relationship
    • schleptop
    • retalirator
    • dotcommode
    • paraspam

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