Groupware Bad
© 2005 Jamie Zawinski <jwz@jwz.org>


"How will this software get my users laid?" Stop. Please just stop quoting that. Staaaahhhhhp.

Greetings, people of the future!

This piece has gotten a lot of attention over the years. I have heard a lot of people saying that they had been "inspired" by it. I fear that what they meant was that they were inspired by the one pull-quote that people tend to quote from it, and ignored the rest. So if someone has linked you to this page, or if you've googled that pull-quote and ended up here, let me give you some context. I wrote this in 2005, which was was more than a year before Facebook was open to the general public.

The world was different then.

When I hear people say that they were "inspired" by this, I fear that the result of such inspiration was most likely to cause them to participate in the construction of the Public-Private Surveillance Partnership. These people told themselves that they were building tools to "bring people together" when in fact what they were doing was constructing and enabling the information-broker business models used by companies like Facebook and Equifax, where people are not the customers but rather are the raw materials whose personal details are the product.

I was talking about decentralization and empowerment of the individual. They went and build the exact opposite.

It's not a great feeling to think that someone may have read your words and then gone on to construct the dystopian hellscape that we're now living in, where Twitter is the prime enabler of actual Nazis and Facebook's greatest accomplishment has been to put a racist rapist in the White House.

If all the people who claimed to have been "inspired" by this piece hadn't been, and had just kept writing middleware for banks or whatever, the world might have been a slightly better place.

I wish I had never published this.

- jwz, 24-Nov-2017

15-Feb-2005

Today Nat announced this new calendar server project called Hula, and I've got a funny story about that.

Nat was in town, and he stopped by to say hi and chat, and he said, "So we've got this big pile of code we're going to release, and we're going to build an open source groupware system! It's going to be awesome!"

And I said, "Jesus Mother of Fuck, what are you thinking! Do not strap the 'Groupware' albatross around your neck! That's what killed Netscape, are you insane?" He looked at me like I'd just kicked his puppy.

Groupware BAD

Users GOOD

Calendars USEFUL

And then Nat went back to whichever flyover state Novell is in, and a few days later he said to me, "wow, you really bummed me out, because the dozen other people I had talked to before you were all like, `a free groupware system, that's an awesome idea!' Then you depressed me, and I came back here and told the other guys what you had said, and they were all, `Oh, fuck. He's right.'"

Wait, was there a funny part? Ok, maybe not. Nevermind.


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