I suddenly got a whole bunch of invitations for LinkedIn, a social networking site focussed on bussiness. It’s fascinating. I have been wishing for a way to manage my contacts (the people I kinda know and would like to stay in touch with), and this might help. I will report back in a year.

So I don’t get this: Jon Udell:

“Let’s suppose Kathy, the department administrator, reminds Frank, the CIO, that Paul, the marketing guy, is way overdue for a PC upgrade. Frank pushes back: the budget is tight and something’s got to give. So Paul negotiates a deal: he’ll give up the DVD burner if he still have the flatscreen he asked for. But since Paul is in marketing, and he does sometimes have to burn DVDs, Frank tacks a DVD burner on to the upgrade order for Marcia, who’s also in marketing. But the deal is that Marcia will have to share that DVD burner with Paul.

Today this contextual narrative is mostly scattered across a bunch of different email inboxes. It never finds its way into the operational database, although it would be great if it did. That way, the next CIO might have a shot at sorting out the environment that she inherits from Frank. But there’s more than archaeology at stake here. Documents, including the purchase order and the messages related to it, aren’t just passive carriers of information. They’re the warp on which we weave a socially constructed reality. Somehow, we need to find ways to connect that reality to the workflow and process orchestration systems now being invented.”

I totally agree that we socially construct reality. But it’s done socially – not by mining some metadata about a conversation held months or years ago. The new manager Jon mentions will talk (email/chat/IM/…) to Katy or Paul, and construct an understanding from those conversations. He will not get that understanding from researching the metadata trail left by earlier conversations.

It seems to me that Jon’s statement: “Somehow, we need to find ways to connect that reality to the workflow and process orchestration systems now being invented.”, misses the ball. The workflow and process orchestration systems need to take that reality into account, allow for it, ideally even encourage it. But that is a function of the way interaction with those systems is structured (Do the systems force you to do your job one way? Do the systems allow you to construct your own ways of interacting with the people involved?), not something more metadata that can then be mined will solve.

Dean for America Feeds: cutting edge tech for the Dean campaign (Dean is running for president in the US. Anything better than Bush I say).

Makes me think of the possibilities for NGO’s. From what I’ve seen, almost none of the NGO’s have much technical sophistication in their use of internet technologies. Some sites are pretty decent (good content), but almost all lack basics like RSS, and few take advantage of the net’s capabilities to connect people.

I’m thinking of writing something for NGO’s about the potential of the internet for their various missions, with plenty of examples. Any pointers to NGO’s (or grassroots organizations) making efficient use of the net and new technologies like RDF, RSS and such are very welcome (especially if the NGO is working outside of the US).

The ugly underbelly of the web

The longer I work with large corporate intranets, the more I am amazed at how ugly they are. Ugly in that special Internet sense: they use unusual authentication schemes, have plain weird URL design, the list goes on. I particularly find the URL design annoying: in an intranet redesign, you’re often required to recombine existing stuff, but if pages don’t have unique URL’s you’re kinda stuck. What was ever wrong with giving every destination page a unique URL?

If you need to do an easy local install of Apache, PHP and Mysql on your computer running Windows XP, I can highly recommend AppServ Open Project. I ran the installer, and it just worked (I tried the XAMPP installer before that and that didn’t work).

XFN: Introduction and Examples Nice. (via Tanya) We’re getting down how to create these languages (should I call this a language????). I feel like we’ve reached some kind of stage in the semantic web: we can now create these languages in a variety of ways. Which ones will survive? How will the patchwork turn out?

Jon’s Radio: use style to get people to create metadata. See also here: “There is, for example, a widespread—I won’t say “delusion,” though I think it is—impression that markup is difficult or time-consuming to author. […] I think this is largely an artifact of how we have thus far been forced to author markup.”

Discriminating? Yes. Discriminatory? No.: “I defend the morality of decisions by categories and by generalizations,” he writes.’ Interesting reading for people interested in the morality of categorization. The article has some intriguing ideas on the value of temporality in categorizations. Anyone know where I can learn more about this?

The Spectator.co.uk: “Africa isn’t dying of Aids – The headline figures are horrible: almost 30 million Africans have HIV/Aids. But, says Rian Malan, the figures are computer-generated estimates and they appear grotesquely exaggerated when set against population statistics.” Let’s hope so.

Through the Eyes of Children:
“Through the Eyes of Children began as a photographic workshop in 2000, conceived by photographer, David Jiranek, and inspired by the founder of the Imbabazi Orphanage, Rosamond Carr – an American woman living in Rwanda for over 50 years. Using disposable cameras, the children originally took pictures for themselves and to share with others, exploring their community, and finding beauty as the country struggles to rebuild. “

SAP, Microsoft draw battle lines: M$ is starting the battle with SAP for enterprise applications. The article doesn’t mention that SAP depends on IE (their software runs pretty much only on IE), and the advantage that that gives M$. SAP’s software is stretching the limits of browser capabilities (they have drag and drop with DHTML and such) – this is going to be an obvious advantage for M$ when they start developing these apps: they can build whatever functionality they want straight in IE. They can also achieve close integration with Office.

If you use an RSS reader, you loose track of weblogs that don’t do RSS. Victor has been writing about how to develop an interface that lets many business users create or populate taxonomies, and specifically about the difference between the backend taxonomy and the taxonomy that ends up being shown on the website, what he calls “display hierarchy” (he can’t seem to stop coining terms, which means he must be going where not many have gone before!

Victor: “OK, you’ve got a taxonomy full of info you want a whole bunch of distributed, internal, business users to manage and a website that displays that taxonomy, but in a very particular way crafted to the needs of customers and controlled by a centralized web group because you don’t want to simply display the raw taxonomy cause that sucks for navigation much of the time, and somehow you must do the taxonomy dance to tweak how the taxonomy content flows into pages.”

Ah, a category debate! On the Geography of the Bloggies….

Let me humbly provide a few categorization guidelines:

– The discussion is inherently political, so don’t even try to propose a categorization scheme and state that it is more correct.
– Having a category for Africa (which has few webloggers) means promoting webloggers in Africa.
– The amount of bloggers per region is a good guideline to divide regions if you believe everyone should have an equal change to win an award.
– Categories based on population size really don’t make sense.
– Self categorization is the best solution to deciding if a blog is “Asian” (say) as long as the definition of “Asian” isn’t clear. This vague definition and the self-categorization is not necessarily problematic.

Bugzilla bug 39149: “It’s a users choice.” That’s such a typical dumb programmers response it makes me want to shout at the guy (with all due respect for his undoubtedly hard work and excellent code).