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Thread started by Dave Winer on Friday, April 26, 2013.

Older techies and outliners

I had a flash yesterday, after doing a series of demos of Fargo here in Boston on this trip and my last one in March. In several cases, the people were close to my own age, and were former users of MORE and ThinkTank. For these people I just needed to show how Fargo picked up on the ideas in those products and brought them into the technology world of 2013. But in a couple of cases, the people, smart and accomplished, had no idea what I was talking about, so I had to start from the beginning. Just like the old days, before outliners were a semi-major category. I don't mind doing this, I actually kind of like it -- but the engine is rusty. I haven't done this kind of selling in many years.

The conclusion I reached, in an email, trying to explain it to a friend (who is 47) is that if you're under 50 you probably came into computing after the outlining category began to fade. If you're over 50 and a techie, you probably remember at least knowing someone who was a fanatical outliner, whose arms would wave as they tried to explain what they were so excited about. As they spoke, little bits of saliva would drip from the corners of their mouths. Non-inductees of the Club of Outliner Fanatics would stare, not knowing what to make of it. But at least they knew what they were, if only by the reaction they provoked with their acolytes.

Now, there are companies, notably Omni and Eastgate, who have made a good living selling outliners, all along. I think that's because, while the category hasn't been growing as a percentage of computer use, it is growing in absolute terms, because so many more people use computers today than did in the late 80s and early 90s.

I have my work cut out for me. I have to explain Fargo to a couple of new generations who don't feel so new, being in their 20s, 30s and 40s. This is going to be fun. ;-)

BTW, my father, who would have been 84 this year, loved my outliners. So it's not just people in their 50s and 60s. Some of the people who could explain why this software is so great, are no longer with us. My dad would have absolutely flipped over Fargo. I think about that a lot. Wish I had done this work sooner so he could have seen it.

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