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I'm an active member of the Brainstorms community (also called BS in common usage) hosted by Howard Rheingold. This is a private web forum that grows as referrals are made by current members. If you email Howard as requested, let him know I told you about BS. It's focus is on discussions about all aspects of life. You name it, it's discussed on Brainstorms. Howard's books are focused on the social implications of technology so there are many people that share this interest discussing related topics on BS. His new book is called Smart Mobs and is a fascinating weblog site. There are also many people that don't track the technology trends as closely. Howard is an old hand from the WELL days run in Sausalito on PicoSpan software. The WELL is a legendary conferencing system.

Brainstorms uses a piece of software called Caucus, currently version 4.x. It's a highly structured software package designed SPECIFICALLY for ongoing discussions. It was made by Caucus Systems who recently dissolved. The software lives on through some of the efforts of the founders of that company in The Caucus Consortium. It's structure is completely different from than a Wiki. It's a very valid and very successful approach. I think it's feasable that a Caucus structure could be built on top of a TWiki platform.

How is Caucus structured? First there's what's called the Brainstorms Center. Within the Center (a MyTWikiOrg type page) are a list of conferences. Each conference has moderators responsible for upkeep and settling disputes if they arise. I have attached the current list of Brainstorms conferences below.

Within a conference are Items. An item is a particular topic around which the discussion thread will flow. Some topics are quite well visited by many people and have active discussion. Those topics without activity for a year are often "retired" to an archive. Most conferences have a hundred or two hundred active items at any one time. It can be overwhelming to newcomers without help from their friends.

Within an item are posts. There is only one organizational structure: chronological. It's a very very similar interface for posts compared with the Plugins.CommentPlugin. Embedded HTML is accepted in posts. Posts can be interpreted as either straight HTML, as "word-wrapped" text or as Caucus Markup Language (CML) via a selection box next to the text entry area.

Available tools include a very useful Notebook feature that I use every day. Search features and other tools are also available. A markup language has developed and an addressing system was developed so that posts can easily be identified and linked.

A description of the basics, like any good online system, does not do it justice. You have to use it to appreciate it. I'll add more to this topic later.

-- GrantBow - 21 Jan 2003

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discussion to follow here

I have refactored the text for readability and corrected a few errors.

I was comparing the Caucus set of macros to what I know about TWikiShorthand. Does TWiki have a name for it's markup? I realize that it is extensible via the plugin mechanism. I believe that template systems like PHP and Perl-based Mason (recent article) are similar to what TWiki has become.

-- GrantBow - 22 Jan 2003

I think some people use WikiML to refer to TWiki markup, but perhaps TWikiML would be better since there's no Wiki-world-wide standard.

-- RichardDonkin - 23 Jan 2003

Thanks Richard, I didn't know what the heck to call it. There are quite a few Ref-By for that topic.

I have contacted Charles Roth at CaucusCare, also a leader of the The Caucus Consortium to inquire about making a TWiki skin. He has said it's fine to go ahead with Plugins.CaucusSkinDev. This is an exciting proposition.

I have also submitted a feature request for LongTopicNav in support of the Caucus way of doing things. The way I have described it would show a rudimentary function compared to the structured Caucus but would help some users to be more effective and better cope with information overload.

Here's a link to a test using Comment Plugin on another site where's it's installed. If logged into the TWiki the correct name will appear after your comment. Otherwise TWikiGuest will be used. Use of the plugin does not imply any state afterward - it's still wiki content that can later be refactored. The security features of TWiki can be used to not allow TWikiGuest if so desired or any other configuration scenario desired.

HumbleDiffs was a result of a nice discussion regarding TWiki with a friend. It brings together discussion about enhancing the diff display functions as a plugin.

-- GrantBow - 23 Jan 2003

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Topic revision: r7 - 2008-09-11 - TWikiJanitor
 
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