Why Antarctica? ·
History · In 1989, I co-founded a company called Open Text which still exists; we were originally a search company that got into generalized content management. We eventually achieved success by beating our competitors to the Web and making pretty good use of the Web to build front ends. We sold a lot of Web-front-ended data-intensive applications and made quite a bit of money and our customers got good ROI.
But I was never really satisfied. I felt there wasn't really the kind of enthusaism for our applications that I would have liked to see; often you'd need to have stern memos from Senior VPs ordering telling people to start using the system. What drove me mad, though, was the "bookmark syndrome". Our users would ignore all the elaborate search and navigation machinery we'd put on the front of our applications; they'd just bookmark two or three "useful places", go back to those every day, and ignore the rest of the application. Clearly, money and value are being left on the table.
The GUI Conundrum ·
I'm old enough to remember before Windows, before Macintosh, the days when
to find out what files you had, you had to type something like
When Steve Jobs and Bill Gates brought the GUI to the market, it swept the
old ways away; today, everyone assumes that they can access their personal
data by pointing and clicking through a virtual desktop with folders, icons,
windows, and wastebaskets..
As soon as you get off the desktop though, you're back in a world where you
type in queries, you press
ENTER, and you look at lists of
Why do we have visual access to personal data, but only textual
access to shared data?
Antarctica · Antarctica is trying to increase the ROI on existing deployments and do away with the bookmark syndrome. Antarctica is trying to give shared invormation spaces the benefits that the GUI gave personal information spaces.
Our product is called Visual Net; it's server-side software that draws graphical maps of information spaces via any old Web browser. I wrote the basic code in my basement through most of 1999, but I was pretty mixed-up: I thought I was writing a system to create a Virtual Reality vision of the Web. The first version even had an aggressively-cool three-D rendition of the information space.
Today, Visual Net is a successful software product, mostly used to make ordinary databases a little easier and more attractive and friendlier to use. Which may not be as glamorous as a Virtual Reality tour of the Web, but does provide solid, reliable Return on Investment to our customers.