You’re doing it wrong!

“You’re doing it wrong.”  I believe is one of the most counterproductive statements a person can make.

First of all – that statement gets little accomplished.  Typically it makes the person that is “doing it wrong” dig deeper to defend their work.  Why – well they are WORKING CREATING ACCOMPLISHING.  Something is vested and so therefore I must defend that time and effort on my part that I have vested.  It is a natural and some what justifiable human response.

And it be honest, “You’re doing it wrong” is typically an inaccurate statement.  Instead it should be “I think that you are not creating what I think I want.” Or perhaps instead “you are not doing what I would do.”  And sometimes “you are not doing what 99% of the rest of the world would do.”  That doesn’t actually make it wrong…  I mean Feynman talks about science being that constant challenging of norms and experimentation.  When is something actually 100% wrong?

I strive in life to be the person that helps people figure out that instead of them both fighting over the orange.  One person wants the peel while the other needs the juice.

So I am working on this citability codeathon.  It is interesting to me that many view me as dictating a standard that is incompatible with whatever they are doing and therefore my project must be competition.  This reminds me when I was at the National NonProfit Congress and I had to facilitate a discussion between two Nonprofits that were angry that the other was “stealing their poor people.”  I view this as losing sight of the cause or the reason we do what we do.

Our mutual goal is to make data citable and therefore more accessible to the people.  There are many paths there.

For the codeathon, I have several groups that will be attending.  At first glance, it might seem we are at odds.  For example everyone assumes that Joe Carmel’s Legislink.org must conflict w Citability.  He and I talked for several hours.  They don’t.  Actually citability may make his job easier.  We both know we could never get all the govt sites to adopt citability and that makes his tool quite necessary.

Also the Coins and URN:LEX crowd, those datamarkup standards can easily be added to the citability markups.  URN:LEX isn’t for everyone since it must be created and maintained by a governmental body but there is no reason why we can’t add a special parser to citability to add those fields when they are available.  Same with the semantic web.  Citability only requires 3 things: A unique location, datestimestamp and granularity.   There is so much more to be added.  When it was created, we KNEW it wasn’t perfect.

I suppose when you start a project from a point of view where you know what you are doing is not the complete answer, it makes it easier to see adaptive solutions.

I consider what we are doing with citability to be a baby step.  I don’t consider it to be right and other ways wrong.  I typically find that if we can sit down and talk there are easily ways to make things interoperable.  I believe that citability is right for a small part of what we are trying to accomplish.  I don’t think it is perfect.  Far from it.  I think eventually we will have some fascinating structures to build folksonomies, taxonomies and ontologies on top of this esp where we can specialize for different documents etc.

I know that Tim Berners-Lee is doing a huge project in the UK with Linkeddata.  I think that is awesome.  But I’m not sure about that project being available for the City of Austin anytime soon.  I am working within some very limited constraints.  I really want him to succeed. It would make many things easier if he does.  But this doesn’t mean I stop doing what I am trying to do.  It doesn’t mean our way of doing things is wrong. Life is evolution.  We use HTML 5 and XML now :-)

But for now, I am trying to do what I believe is right for now.  Doesn’t mean I think what you are doing is wrong.  Just maybe wrong for me.  But there are so few of us creating in this space… I find it sad to argue over someone stealing their poor people…  Instead, let’s talk and see if maybe you just want juice while I am eying that orange peel.  And yes you are INVITED to the codeathon to work on your project as well just make sure it is Open Source :-)

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