Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Who is not connected these days?

This probably seems like a stupid question to ask.  It's like a teacher asking all those not present to please raise their hands.  Aside from that mythical programmer living in a cardboard hut in East Botswana (appologies to anyone who actually live there...) with some strange bastardised bicycle generator device powering their all night binge programming session, I'd say that most folks these days are connected at least some of the time.  By connected, I connected to the Internet in some fashion.  Of course if you're reading this, you're obviously one of the connected ones.  Because of this one of the many things we're always thinking about is what do connected developers mean for how they work and interact on a day-to-day basis.  This goes for globally interconnected virtual teams as well as physically localized teams.

What kinds of online resources do you use on a day-to-day basis?  Blogs, Newsgroups, forums, chat, IM?  For all these kinds of resources, do you prefer RSS/Atom feeds, direct web-browser access, or some combination of these things?  Do you like  online forums with a reasonable level of moderation or the mad, mad world of open, anonymous, unmoderated newsgroups?  What about something in-between?

My personal feeling is that the Borland/CodeGear newsgroups in their current form are not as helpful as they could be.  It'd be nice to be able to quickly identify those folks who are the most helpful, insightful, and generally add value to that experience.  This is actually one thing I tend to like about web-based forums that have a peer rating system.  This allows someone to easily filter out the flame-bait and only look at the stuff that meets certain criterion.  NNTP in its current form just hasn't caught up to this kind of online experience.  Of course I'm not advocating that we eliminate NNTP, but rather provide a richer experience while still allowing those old-skool folks to stick with their news-reader of choice.  I'm sure there will be many of you shouting “Heresy!  You'll pry my news reader from my cold, dead- fingers!”  But maybe it's time to mix in a richer, more interactive experience?  Not just in online discussions but in all aspects of the developer's everyday online experience...