oss4lib: An Interview with Paul Everitt and Ken Manheimer of Digital Creations, publishers of Zope

By Jeremy Reed (Send Email)
Posted Mar 16, 2001


Originally published at oss4lib Paul and Ken Manheimer, developer on many Zope projects at Digital Creations, graciously agreed to be interviewed about recent developments in Zope for oss4lib.

(c) March 2001 by Daniel Chudnov
You may reproduce this article in any format and for any purpose, but only in its entirety, including this statement.

One of the world's coolest free software applications is Zope, the web application server cum object database from Digital Creations. The story of Digital Creations, a consulting company for whom open sourcing the family jewels (Zope) and its development process marked the road to financial stability and continued growth, is well documented (see here and here for more on the corporate history). And the success of Zope itself is easily found all over the web, including in messages on varied lists with strangely over-the-top enthusiasts saying things like "oh my goodness, I get it now, I'm never doing this with anything but Zope again!" including maybe one or two from yours truly (btw, if you're never seen or used Zope, check out Paul Browning's Zope - a Swiss Army Knife for the Web? for a great intro for librarians or university types).

But did you know that some of the key folks behind Zope admit, unabashedly, that they've "always wanted to be a librarian"? In fact, when I met Paul Everitt, CEO of Digital Creations, at LinuxWorld last month, that's exactly what he said. A quick tour of Zope, and especially many of its newest features, reveals that the folks behind Zope (Digital Creations staff and the many contributors to Zope's open source Fishbowl Process for development) think very deeply about many of the same information issues fundamental to librarianship... especially metadata, and the creation, management, and leveraging thereof.

Paul and Ken Manheimer, developer on many Zope projects at Digital Creations (and noted as "Mailman's Savior" in the acknowledgements of everybody's favorite list manager, among other accomplishments and contributions), graciously agreed to be interviewed about recent developments in Zope for oss4lib.

[Note: Our interview took place over a few rounds of mail exchanges/responses, so some reordering and very minor rewording of a few of the questions has been done for flow. None of the text of responses has been altered, and Paul and Ken both reviewed the text before it was posted. Any mistakes or misrepresentations this refactoring might have caused are the author's fault.]

oss4lib: You and Ken both confess to being "closet librarians." Tell us about that. (It's okay to come out of the closet on oss4lib. We understand, we've all been through it. :)

Paul Everitt: Well, I'd put it like this. We both think about information and content in abstract, rich ways. We then obsess over valuable ways to leverage the relationships and organizations within content.

Ken and I have been fond of saying lately that metadata and the relationships in the "space in between" content is itself content.

In Zope, everything is a dynamic object in the database, including metadata and indices. Since content is just marketspeak for object, we actually have a platform to do something about these ideas.

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