Dominos Fall

Yesterday, I was talking to a co-worker about Lotus Domino, the server component of Lotus Notes. I hadn’t spoken of it in a while, but I had a set of old manuals on my bookshelf, and we sifted through those.

Then it hit me: Wikis have snuck into the same groupware space as Domino. A lot of what people try to do with Wikis is similar to what people were trying to do with Domino databases ten years ago.

Domino is really six things:

  1. A user directory
  2. An e-mail server
  3. A calendar tool
  4. A simple database for unstructured data (such as text and file attachments)
  5. A tool that allows you to create forms and databases for somewhat more structured data.
  6. Low-end workflow

The first four things on that list are probably the most commonly used features of Domino. And item number 4 is clearly a big overlap with Wikis.

You could even say that Wikis have encroached on the fifth area: I’m fascinated, for example, by Wikipedia‘s approach to structured data. Rather than provide individual fields to enter different pieces of information about an entry, people provide special mark-up in the text to indicate additional structure. For example, an entry that’s categorized as “Computer Terminology” might have a special tag on it that says [[Category:Computer Terminology]].

Many wikis will integrate with e-mail and user directories; calendars are rare, and workflow is even rarer. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make inroads in those areas.

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