Writeboard: An Abstract Tool Gets A Metaphor
What's in a name?
Almost everything. In this day of hyper-connectivity and zero time for anything new a name that evokes a metaphor is everything.
The productivity tool giants at 37 Signals are getting a lot of buzz these days for their new product called Writeboard. Writeboard is a collaborative writing environment. A what? Despite their own objections Whiteboard appears to be a simplified Wiki. A what? A lot of people are just beginning to understand what blogs are and have no idea what a Wiki is. At least people can understand that blog is from the words web and log. They know what those words mean. “Wiki? Oh, that's a fruit from New Zealand isn't it?.”
Everybody knows what a physical whiteboard is and how to use one. People write on them, erase and revise. Multiple people can view and contribute to the content. It's a whiteboard the offspring of the school chalkboards of our youth. We understand.
That's the brilliance of the 37 Signals developers. They took a complex sounding term - Wiki and attached a simple metaphor and suddenly the complex is understandable. Their product features a trademark simplicity and clean design. It's not feature rich by design. They practice reactionary development where feature development will quickly respond to customer requests and ideas. Minor features are added on the fly. It's smart.
Give yourself a break and take 10 minutes to explore this tool and see how you can use it to collaborate with customers and coworkers.
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