Not Gidget, stupid, WeJIT!

This is the third in a series of columns about interesting new technologies.

Every few years something comes along to fundamentally change how we use the World Wide Web, whether it is online video, social networking, dynamic pages, or even search, itself. This week a new technology called WeJIT was announced that looks like something small but is really something big because it extends collaboration from specialized sites like wikis to everywhere HTML is used.  WeJITS are collaboration in a persistent link.

WeJITS come from Democrasoft, a company here in Santa Rosa that is best known for Collaborize Classroom, a cloud-based service used by more than 30,000 teachers to interact with students, deliver lessons from a global peer reviewed library, and even give tests. WeJITS take the best of Collaborize Classroom and place it in a single link.

In one sense WeJITS don’t seem like much, but when you see how easy it is to create these little standalone web pages and how they can be inserted in blogs, e-mail messages, even in e-books, creating conversations, polls, and requesting ideas in what is normally one-way communication, it’s pretty powerful.  WeJITS turn e-mail into social networking without participants having to join anything. WeJITS turn tweets into discussions.

We have here at I, Cringely a robust and lively self-policing community of thinkers that only took me 25 years of continuous effort to build (that’s 25 years without a vacation, folks). WeJITS can take away a lot of that work, building and expanding audiences. They can coax participation out of people who are normally very quiet, too, like that friend who would never be caught dead on Facebook or LinkedIn.

I remember speaking at Pleasanton Junior High School on the day after 9/11 back in 2001 and teacher Fred Emerson (who still reads this column) telling me how game-changing he thought his new iPod could be.  I didn’t see it. To me the iPod looked like just another MP3 player. But I was wrong because the iPod allowed users to carry all their music with them wherever they went and came with a built-in distribution ecosystem. That’s they way I think WeJITS can be, too. They aren’t much to look at but since they are quick and easy, inclusive and free I expect them to eventually have a big impact on the way we interact online.

Or maybe I’m wrong. You tell me. And use this WeJIT to do so.