A conversation with Ward Cunningham about visible workings and aboutus.org

This week on ITConversations I have a two-part interview with Ward Cunningham. In part one, we explore his implementation of Brian Marick’s visible workings idea, which combines software testing with business process transparency. This is one of those transformative ideas that will not, at first, seem interesting and important to most people. And maybe it never will. But then again, Ward has a track record. The wiki idea didn’t at first seem interesting and important to most people either, and look what’s happened there. So, you never know. Maybe in 2020 we’ll notice that business software is a lot more reliable and understandable than it used to be, and we’ll look back and say: Ward did it again.

In part two, we discuss Ward’s new wiki-based venture, aboutus.org. It’s a directory that aims to become a sort of extended WHOIS database, where domain name owners — along with anyone who reads the websites attached to those domains — can collaboratively describe the people, companies, and organizations represented by those websites. I like the concept, but I wish it weren’t necessary to sign up in order to update http://aboutus.org/jonudell.net. Instead I’d prefer to describe myself on my own hosted lifebits service, wherever that might be, and then syndicate the information to aboutus.org and elsewhere.

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