Re: [unrev-II] Meeting Summary

From: Eric Armstrong (
Date: Sun Apr 23 2000 - 21:05:11 PDT

  • Next message: Eric Armstrong: "[unrev-II] Towards an Atomic Data Structure"

    Two comments:
      a) That was "this week", not "this month".
      b) I neglected to mention that in the informal
         meeting, Su-Ying Lee and Joe Williams decided
         to collaborate on taping Doug's Augment
         presentation. That's going to be a big a help...

    Eric Armstrong wrote:
    > We had a rather good meeting at SRI this month.
    > Highlights of the Formal Meeting
    > --------------------------------
    > This was the official meeting, held at SRI.
    > * Joe Williams gave a high level "markety" overview
    > of the thing we are planning to build. There was
    > a strong general feeling that the picture he was
    > presenting was not accurate, but the style and sense
    > of focus was good. When *do* have an accurate
    > picture to portray, I suspect he'll summarize it
    > nicely.
    > [One nice thing that came out of that presentation,
    > for me, was that it brought it into clearer focus
    > why I have been wrestling with data types. His desire
    > to identify the "fundamental information unit" of
    > the DKR made me realize that the real goal of the
    > data structure design I have been doing is to
    > (hopefully) identify one (or at most a few) "atomic
    > data structures" that can be strung together to make
    > everything else in the system. I think I may be
    > close (future email).]
    > * Lee Iverson gave a great overview of use case
    > scenarios, describing the activities that actually
    > go on in a software development project. Since we
    > all agree that our initial target is to augment
    > open source development activities, his overview
    > (coming soon to a mailing list near you) provided
    > a good list of activities to start on.
    > To anticipate Lee's email just a bit, he divided the
    > activities into 4 general scenarios:
    > a) The (primary) development activities that go on
    > before the product is released (designing, planning,
    > coding, documentation, etc.)
    > b) The (primary) development activities that go on
    > after a product is released (bug tracking,
    > suggestion lists, and enhancements).
    > c) "Breaking in" a new developer (choosing a bug to
    > work on, mining the code for rationales)
    > d) User activities (reading documentation, asking
    > questions)
    > In an effort to prune the list down to the "first cut"
    > activities, it was observed that some of the activities
    > represented "formal language" processes, or "formal
    > processes". Those activities included project management,
    > coding, bug management, and testing. The rest of the
    > processes were "natural language" processes, which means
    > that the system which is effective for one is likely to
    > be effective for all of them.
    > [My inclination is to counsel a sharp focus on those
    > activities, excluding the formal processes for the
    > moment. The only conceivable counter argument is that
    > the design really needs to take them into account, in
    > order to ensure future compatibility with those systems.
    > For some reason, my "gut feeling" is not to worry about
    > it -- but I want to leave the door open for alternative
    > views. It helps if we can restrict our focus, but...]
    > * Doug is going to work with Lee Iverson to put together a
    > system he can use to demo Augment in the very near future.
    > Whenever that is ready, it will be item #1 on the agenda.
    > * It is apparent that a large number of projects are currently
    > underway in the "distributed collaborative project" design
    > space. It was felt that we should use one or more of them
    > to replace the fragile email medium we are using, so that we
    > can get a better idea of what needs to be done, and use
    > whatever the system gives us to help us do the design work.
    > [I sent out the list of candidates yesterday. Apologies if
    > I overlooked anyone's past contributions. Send them to me
    > and I'll start v.2 of the list.]
    > * Doug mentioned that Sun had donated a server for Bootstrap
    > use. Whatever system we select might be hosted on that
    > system.
    > * We identified several important agenda items, and prioritized
    > them. [Upcoming email.]
    > Highlights of the Informal Meeting
    > ----------------------------------
    > This was the unofficial meeting, held at the Applewood Gourmet
    > Pizza palace, where they have salmon pizza and barbeque
    > chicken pizza, and all kinds of good stuff...
    > * For maybe the first time, I articulated clearly the
    > reservations I have about the transcoding approach:
    > a) It *could* be a coding dead-end.
    > That is, it might take us part of the way to where
    > we want to go, but leave us with no good way to
    > progress from there. I don't *know* that to be the
    > case, but I'm concerned that it may be.
    > b) The rather interesting tidbit of information that
    > surfaced recently: That the folks who build the
    > HTML-page-annotation system (Crit) found themselves
    > using EMAIL to carry on discussions -- even though
    > they tried to get each other to annotate HTML pages.
    > [This led to the observation that there is something
    > seductive about the email interface -- the immediacy,
    > the way information comes to you, and asks only for
    > a reply. That, in turn, led to the realization that
    > email the right interface, but the wrong data
    > structures. Add good data structures to the system,
    > and the result should be interesting...]
    > * A new member of the group, Debra England from McKinsey and
    > Company (a group that focuses on defining and promoting
    > organizational "best practices") kept asking: What is it
    > that we are building? What are we about, anyway? I came up
    > with one possible statement. Debra suggested that it would
    > be a good assignment for the group to ask *everyone* to
    > write up a concise statement (a sentence or a paragraph).
    > [That "homework assignment" will be in my very next email.]
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