It’s nothing like the magnificent dance scene from "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers" — although I’d probably pay to see Dave Winer log roll — but I’m taking part in a modern barn raising. The barn in this case is Dave’s OPML Editor and I gather from talking to him that I’m one of the few non-developers taking part in the process during this phase. That won’t last long.
There’s a weird kind of excitement to watching a program being built before your eyes — and having some input no matter how minor. Read a message or post one about a glitch, blink and someone’s got a solution or the code has been updated. Sharing is a core value and goal of the program so as I’m working my outline Dave or anyone else who wants can read my take, act on it, comment on it via their outliner or brush it off. My first glimpse of the power in this came Thursday when I decided to use the instant outliner to track my progress with the OPML Editor; a conversation Dave and I had later that day about some of my issues leapfrogged several steps because we were on the same page already.
Of course, Dave did tons of work on it before any of us even got a look but there’s still so far to go — and plenty of room for other developers to have an impact. I’ve already started a wish list.
Coda: Once some of the usability issues are resolved and it’s ready for wider distribution, the OPML Editor could make a good tool for journalists (in and out of newsrooms); notes, project planning, group work, resource sharing are just a few of the possible applications. The ground-floor cost is nothing but a little time investment/learning curve. The return on that investment could be manifold. The other editor in my house is already interested.