Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ward Cunningham's new AboutUs venture

I just listened to an interesting podcasted interview with Ward Cunningham, the inventor of the wiki. He's currently working with a new start-up called AboutUs with a very intriguing premise. AboutUs takes the text from various domains' "About Us" pages, along with WhoIs information and probably other stuff, and puts it all into a publicly changeable wiki about domains. It automatically creates wiki pages for domains, but then you can edit those pages (for your own domain or someone else's). I found the AboutUs page for, and did some minor editing, like removing my phone number and address, correcting my email address and adding in as a "related domain". (In the last instance, since was not already in the wiki, when I clicked on the newly created link for it on the AboutUs page, it went and found the actual domain and created a new AboutUs wiki page for it -- currently quite sparse.)

One way that Ward described this initiative was in comparison to Wikipedia. Whereas Wikipedia documents what's going on in the world from the past to the present, AboutUs is a way of viewing -- if not the future -- the intentions of those who are creating/maintaining domains. That is, by sharing what folks are saying in their "About Us" sections of their own websites, you get an insight into where those people hope to go. I still don't quite have my mental arms all the way around this idea yet, but given Ward Cunningham's track record with the wiki, there's a good chance that AboutUs may be an important resource in the future. Worth watching.

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