Friday, June 1, 2007

The White House email controversy: migrating from Notes to Outlook


By David Gewirtz

People, it seems, have some natural need to divide themselves up into tribes of various sorts. Religion, of course, is the most obvious. Some of us are Christians, some are Jews, some are Muslim. Thousands in the U.K. and Australia consider themselves Jedi. Even a lack of belief becomes a religous affiliation of sorts, whether we're called Secular Humanists, Atheists, Free Thinkers, or something else.

Politics, of course, reflects the essence of tribalization. The division in American between Republicans and Democrats is obvious, although most people don't realize that both political parties were rather different in the early days. In fact, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison founded the Democratic-Republican Party in 1792 (perhaps this explains why Bill Clinton and George Bush, Sr. can get along so well). At the time, the other party was the Federalist party -- and, of course, those two parties even back then disagreed on economic and foreign policy issues.

This tribalization need within humanity has also reached into our choices of technology. There are devotees of the Macintosh who claim to hate the PC, and vice versa. There's the classic division between Linux lovers and Windows users. There are even "religious" differences between those coding Web sites in PERL, PHP, Ruby, and Java.

"As certain as it is that technology breaks, it's even more certain that users bitch."

So is it any surprise at all that there's tribalization between those who use Lotus Notes and those who use Outlook, those IT people who install Microsoft's Exchange and those who install Lotus Domino?

Nope, no surpise at all. This makes particular sense when you factor in a reality about these two mail systems: it takes a long time to build towering expertise. If you've invested years in building your Lotus skills, you'll tend to gravitate to a Lotus solution. Likewise, if you've developed your expertise with Microsoft products, those are the solutions you'll want to install.

For us, here at ZATZ, it's become very interesting because we publish magazines for both tribes: OutlookPower is for the Microsoft messaging masses while DominoPower is for the Lotus-loving loquacious among us.