Michael Fraase on RCS

ARTS & FARCES internet: More on RCS

I read Michael's first thoughts about RCS, and now the one above, and I've come to a conclusion:

Michael doesn't grasp the concept of Desktop Websites, or RCS, as UserLand is trying to promote them. Maybe it's because the labels aren't all that great. Desktop Websites are really Desktop Web Applications. Desktop Websites are something else, which I explain below.

Radio's web-based interface (the "web application") for doing weblogging and newsreading are all running locally on your computer (desktop or laptop). But Radio publishes your work to a different server! The web site itself isn't on your local machine. Now, it CAN be, if you want it to be, and you need to know when that makes sense.

If you're a nomadic laptop user it doesn't make much sense to host your content on your laptop unless you are your entire audience. If you're on a desktop machine with a random internal IP address, that might not make sense unless you can address your machine by its name, which, in most corporate environments, you can. If you're hosting your own content, that's a desktop website. It's also called "Personal Web Sharing" on Windows and Mac.

And this is also the whole point of RCS... giving the nomad a place to publish internally (or publicly) that doesn't require a sysadmin to screw with Apache, IIS, file sharing or any of that stuff that makes it a hard sell because IT will whine about having to actually do something for their users instead of do something to make their own lives easier. (I really hate those kinds of IT departments)

And of course if you're on an internal network with a fixed IP address, serving your own web site has very few drawbacks. Backup might be the only one, since a lot of places don't back up their desktop machines. But then it's easy to use RCS or use FTP upstreaming or WebDAV upstreaming or file system upstreaming to a shared folder.

Radio is not Manila or Conversant. Those systems have lots of features that Radio doesn't. But they're centralized power and lifting the hood to make changes there is more difficult, sometimes more expensive, and often riskier. Don't get me wrong, I love Conversant, and plan to use it more and more, but each tool has its sweet spot.

Where Radio should shine is in any organization that values information, knowledge, and doesn't already have Manila or Conversant in place, or does but has nomadic workers who need something less centralized. Getting Radio to integrate with Manila and Conversant is going to increase its value in a big way, and I've been working on the latter in my spare time. I think UserLand would be cannabalizing itself if it didn't do the same for Manila.

I frankly don't care much for the statistical features of RCS, but the ability to see what's updated, and watch those sites as well as their RSS feeds is going to totally and absolutely kick ass for any organized group of people, or any group of people that wants to be more organized.

It's not a hit and a miss. It's not even a hit yet, since it's not out. First impressions are going to matter big time here, and part of that is understanding what and who it's for and where it doesn't make sense. Michael's discussion is helping that come to light.

Written on March 10, 2002