Grooves Ozzie Rides the Real-Time Wave

Notes and Groove creator Ray Ozzie shares his thoughts on the changing nature of work, the Virtual Office, and adventures with RSS.

Three years after Ray Ozzie resurfaced with Groove Networks Inc., hes back with a sweeping redesign of the Groove product and architecture. In a conversation with eWEEKs Steve Gillmor, Ozzie talks about Grooves role in the changing nature of work and information routing.

What is your favorite feature of Groove 3?

The notification features have just 10X transformed how I use the product. In Version 2, we added our first attempt at trying to notify people at a finer grain [about] what was going on within shared spaces. If you found a tool within a space, that was very important to you and [if you] really wanted to be notified when something happened, you could optionally set a mode on that tool to send a notification when a change is made.

We found that started to cause some swarming around those tools. When somebody made a change within a tool within a space, youd suddenly find a bunch of other people coming to that space immediately. In Version 3 we added features that suddenly make swarming pervasive. Its just so cool. Theres a new automatic mode that all tools in all spaces are in by default. It watches—do you pick up this tool a lot, do you really care about what is going on in this dialogue—and notifies you more proactively for the things you care about and doesnt notify you for the things you dont seem to care about.

Then we added taskbar and audio alerts that let you know when data has changed in a space [and] audio that lets you know when people enter a space to look at stuff that you might care about. The Launchpad lets you see visually who is in a space, the number of people in a space. And group file-sharing: When somebody opens the Windows Explorer into a folder, other people can see that youre in there. You have a much greater sense for these spaces in terms of their activity. Its changed the way we use the product, and its truly shifted so much activity of what people do into Groove because it feels more like a place [where] other people are right now—live. You get things done more quickly because people swarm.

How would you describe the relationship between GFS (Groove File Sharing) and the core, standard Workspace?

It lets you share things in the context of where you already are comfortable working. We put certain mail integration features in Version 2 because we noticed that people like to start sharing based on the things that theyre talking about in e-mail. But the biggest piece of feedback that we kept getting was, "Between Microsoft Office and my file system, thats where I do a lot of work. In certain cases Id want to move stuff into this private space amongst people, but in many cases I want to keep working in the file system and just wrap a little conversation and unread activity around what Im already doing in the file system."

How are you bridging the security context relationships between multiple shared spaces, or in this case, the file system and shared spaces?

The Groove paradigm remains unchanged. A shared space is the unit of security. That is, its the compartment within which people get access to information and have the tools to work on information. Even in Groove going all the way back to Version 1, people could pull stuff out of that shared space and drop it into other shared spaces. Thats the nature of being at the edge and working with people. People can pick things up and put them out in e-mail.

With Web services, people can more easily programmatically pick stuff up out of one shared space and put it into another. At a high level, people can now build processes that involve multiple shared spaces, and furthermore, things that go on outside of Groove. The big theme in Groove Version 3 is integration and how you can very rapidly build applications both in forms or externally using Web services and hook them onto your existing processes, whether those processes exist in [IBMs Lotus] Notes, [Microsoft Corp.s] SharePoint, SAP [AG], Siebel [Systems Inc.] or whatever it happens to be.

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