Carl Face

A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy

Great intro to social software and it's core traps. Must read for anyone wondering in which direction the internet is evolving.

Where is the semantic web?

A couple of days ago I was at a talk on the Semantic Web. Although I still can't say that I get all the finer aspects, I have a feeling the way we are trying to achieve a semantic web is wrong. The good old non semantic web succeeded largely because it was dirt simple to make, nobody in their right mind will ever write RDF documents by hand. The other problem the semantic web suffers from is no immediate reason to author it. Look at RSS, probably the most widespread use of RDF, even there, there a battle is still raging between the semantic version and plain XML version. And herein lies the two big problems to the wider use of the semantic web, its difficult and there are no immediate benefits.

The really sad thing is that in my opinion there are some low hanging semantic fruits waiting to be picked. The W3C has another standard XHTML that is struggling to get adopted and the reasons are even similar, there are very few compelling end user advantages to using it. Now, what if you added some semantic extensions to xhtml like identifying addresses in a semantic way, user agents could be programed to take advantage of these, maybe by right clicking them he would allow you to send it to your address book, mapping software, dial a phone number etc. What if you could semantically tag events, this would allow your user agent to forward an event to you agenda. Those are all compelling advantages for the end user, and anything that helps the end user experience is also good for the site author as long as they were not rocket science to implement.

I don't pretend to know how something like this could be achieved, and yes it recycling, I'm still just hoping that somebody will build it so I can play with it!

iTunes Music Store

I admit I have become a Music Store addict. Up to now my addiction has been tempered by the limited selection and high album price but after reading this:
Apple strongly recommends going even lower than $9.99 [Recommended Album Price]. They'd like to see that price drop to make the full-album purchase even more desirable.
and other notes from the Music Store Indie Event I think I am in trouble.

Collective note-taking with Hydra

After looking at Kottke's comments on the hydra use at etech and the notes I see a potential for a lot more, I am thinking a cross between a real time wiki and instant messaging. Being a relatively recent convert to instant messaging and a slow typer I have always been annoyed how they always follow time thread instead of thought tread. IMO I should be able to indicate what one is replying to so as to create threads in the conversations. Hydra being totally free form allows this almost like an IM Wiki.

More on Google

How Google Grows...and Grows...and Grows
If you're a Google engineer, you know that those nine words comprised about 120 bytes of data, enough to slow download time for users with modems by 20 to 50 milliseconds. You can estimate the stress that 120 bytes, times millions of searches per minute, put on Google's 10,000 servers. On the other hand, you can also measure precisely how many visitors took the tour, how many of those downloaded the Google Toolbar, and how many clicked through for the first time to Google News.

Content Management Tools Fail

Jupiter research has done another study that finds content management systems lacking. Duh, I could have could have told you this without the research. In my consulting work I am often asked to recommend a content management system. Here is what I tell them: Most high end content management systems are either too rigid or require too much consulting to be worth the price versus the flexibility of custom built solutions. Remember that for big companies content management is just a small part of their problem: The real issue is moving company activities to the web. There monolithic content management systems will never satisfy the customer.

Emergent Democracy

Some really interesting thoughts on technology mediated democracy.

Weblogs and power laws

Both Jason Kottke and Clay Shirky are talking about the power law distribution among weblogs. That's not really surprising, what I would be much more interested in knowing more about is the ways it tends to breaks it for other media. At the end of the day when I look at what I have read, the variety of sources weblogs point me to never ceases to amaze me. Readers of traditional media be it online of offline don't get this breadth. My hunch is that the typical webloger is more loyal to an idea than a source so he tends to link whoever expresses it the best.

I think it would also be really interesting to look how Comments, RSS and trackback like features have a tendency to mitigate the power curve, specialy if you count voices or memes instead of weblog popularity.

Fantasy Economics

Fascinating article about the economics in massively multi player role playing games and the impact it could have in the real world policies.

Why Spy?

Short quick and to the point arguments on why you should not spy on your employees internet usage.

Embrace file-sharing, or die

If you are interested in the debate going on about music piracy don't miss this fantastic paper by John Snyder board member of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences and his son Ben Snyder. (via Defrang)

Down and out in the magic kingdom

Utterly fantastically cool Cory's new book book is downloadable! I started reading yesterday and am already in heaven or should I say in the magic kingdom.

In-Room Chat as a Social Tool

What happens if you enable chat software among the participant of a live meeting?
The in-room chat created a two-channel experience -- a live conversation in the room, and an overlapping real-time text conversation. The experiment was a strong net positive for the group.

2003 the year of the Wiki?

If weblogs were a big thing in 2002 my prediction is that wikis will be the big thing in 2003.

Two years ago we set up an intranet that was largely weblog based, although it served our purposes very well there is one big flaw with it. When managing projects there are several types of information you want to convey. One of those is day to day information and for that weblogs are wonderful but for longer term information, things like reference material, procedures and plans, the weblog fails. It's not suited for documents that you constantly amend. But, this is where wikis seem perfectly suited. I say seem because I don't actually have much experience using wikis. I also think that wikis are still maturing and mean different things to different people. In my opinion the three key features in wikis are:

In my opinion the combination of weblogs and wikis will solve most of the problems for a typical project intranet. BTW the thought was initiated by these two surveys.

Weblogs as Meta-Search Engines

Philippe Beaudoin put up some really interesting thoughts on weblogs
Browsing weblogs, you're not simply looking-up something, you're looking-up for things that you will want to look-up. In computer science, we name that an "indirection", or an indirect reference. In the context of information gathering I call it "meta-searching".
On a related note, This post on how short blocks relate to weblogs is also very interesting. But the best part is the first comment that talks about the chatterbox feature built into this site.

Drop the capital in internet

Of all people I should not be someone that talks about spelling, however I can't resist supporting that internet should lose it's capitalization. Henceforth I'll write internet with a small "i". My spell checker has been updated.

The Sky is no longer the limit.

David reed talks about the non the scarcity of radio bandwidth.

Tim really gets it!

Piracy is progressive taxation, Where are the Tim O'Reilly of the music business? If there were a couple of Tims in the music and movie business, I am sure we would not have the RIAA and the MPAA trying to arrest evolution and exploiting it instead.

Ashcroft turns against his own values.

John Ashcroft in this note titled "Keep big brother's hand of the Internet" complained that Clinton was turning the Internet an Orwellian system to track digital information. He must have forgotten because what he is doing right now can perfectly be described as Orwelian.

The Aeron Chair Sucks.

Make sure you check out the movie illustrating the rock-hard waterfall front edge! And to think I was jealous of my Areon wielding friends! I guess this means I can safely continue aspiring to the Håg Capisco.

Catch Up

I have had visitors and lots of work so here is a little catch up post:

Finally People may be able to understand the PVR advantage. Reading the ars technica piece I wonder if MS did not miss the boat with the Xbox. If you look at the specs of the Xbox it seems they could just have added a TV tunner and they would have had a PVR. The DVD player feature of the PlayStation is maybe not a big selling feature but it is a good buying excuse.

Some good thoughts on RSS here

Chimera tricks

Some good ideas Web Design Tips (thanks Xavier)

Are weblogs legitimate business tools?

Mark Hurst seems to be out to deflate the weblog bubble. He is right when they are portrayed as panacea but I think he goes too far when he claims they don't serve a legitimate business purpose.

The mistake he is doing is mixing up his arguments. On the one hand he talks about the weblog phenomenon and on the other the weblog site device.

As a device the weblog is used to present the news in most sites, just take a look here: Apple, IBM or Nokia. The Apple example is particularly good since it points to both internal and external features.

If one looks at the weblog phenomenon, sure there are lots of people that publish rubbish. (Many will consider my site to be rubbish) But that goes for the use of any technology. There are lots of people that have camcorders that produce junk but should not take away from their fun. The interesting thing with the weblog phenomenon is that.

He is also looking at at weblogs in a binary way:

There's nothing inherent in blog technology that will transform a business. A page of online posts, sorted reverse chronologically, just doesn't by itself change a corporation. If anything, the blog is inherently less effective than a more popular tool that companies have used for years: the e-mail newsletter.
The problem here is that no one is suggesting weblogs should replace an email newsletter. But one should not forget the inherent advantage the weblog has over the email newsletter. It is indexed by the search engines. Other sites can link to it and even cross reference. You can publish things that do not necessarily warrant a newsletter. And let's not forget that with RSS News Readers people can get the functional equivalent of a mail in there inbox. (Via Ratcliff)

Standard Instant Messaging.

Finally instant messaging can become a viable platform. The Internet Engineering Task Force has selected the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) a supper set of the Jabber Protocol as a base for a new standard. If we are really lucky we may even se the end of the stupid market share battle between Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL Time Warner.

101 things that the Mozilla browser can do that IE cannot.

And this article on IE CSS bugs looks great.

Cashets Micropayments

Finally Micropayments system that looks decent. I think a good micropayment system could fundamentally change the Internet.

Personally I am much more likely to tip a small sum for an article I liked than subscribing to a service. Salon for example has articles that I would sometimes like to read but there are not enough of them to motivate the subscription fee.

I think there is a huge market for sub one dollar purchases. What I would call Micro Intellectual Property; Cartoons, Music articles clip art you name it.

This looks like the first credible attempt to fulfill that promise. But, there are also threats.

I really hope that they make it and am already looking forward to how it could reshape the Internet. (via BoingBoing)

Eric Myer Stereotypes

Very cool make your own face interactive portrait galery

Internet Round 2.0

Just saw little snippet on Windley's weblog:
The problem with likening the dot-com boom to the 17th-century Dutch tulip insanity is that, now that the bust has come, many companies think they can go back to sleep. To them, the threat is over: Dot-coms did not generate a New Economy, they did not rewrite the rules of business, life as we know it did not end. The fear that any evanescent new idea would destroy the current mode of operating is past.Wrong. The challenge is not gone. It is just beginning.
It comes from this short article from context magazine that I had never heard of. It is too bad that it is so short, I would have liked to have seen more examples that are less obvious.

Pox Americana

John Perry Barlow does it again. Ages ago I read his landmark "The Economy of Ideas" and it really shook me. Now he does it again with this Pax Americana Piece.
I believe that the American Republic died in the U.S. Senate last Thursday morning and was buried yesterday morning in the East Room of the White House.

Despite a deluge of calls, letters, and e-mails, which Capital Hill staffers admitted ran overwhelmingly against the ludicrously-named "Resolution Authorizing the President to Use Force, if Necessary, to End the Threat to World Peace from Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction," Congress extended to George II the authority to make unlimited and preemptive war against another nation that has neither attacked us nor shown the ability or inclination to do so.

He goes on to discuss how the Internet aspect of this mess.
The Internet, has, as expected, provided a global podium to everyone with an opinion. Cyberspace has become an infinite set of street corners, each with its lonely pamphleteer, howling his rage to a multitude all too busy howling their own to listen. All of our energy goes into things like this BarlowSpam, energies that might be better spent in creating traditional blocs like the NRA, or the AARP, or some large group capable of either buying Congress or scaring the shit out of them. This screed won't scare an elected official anywhere. And it wouldn't generate enough money to elect or defeat a dogcatcher. As much as I loathe organizations, we need to organize.
Here is the key problem. How to quickly organize around issues to make a difference using the Internet? It must be possible.

Comments on e-billing

Cool! Mitch published my email comments on his earlier e-billing post. Re-reading it I realize that I should have corrected it before sending it off. Well I guess my writing skills support my Exercizing Dyslexia tagline ;-). When I first set up my site one of the objectives was to use as a way to exorcise my dyslexia. Today the problem is not that much the dyslexia itself, spell checkers catch most of those problems. No my problem is that the French school system put so much emphasis on spelling that it put me off writing completely. I still struggle a lot with building coherent phrases. Having said that I have never really suffered from having dyslexia. It might even have been a benefit, But more on that another time.

Microsoft and the weblogs.

Mitch Ratcliffe points out that there may be ethical issues with Microsoft inviting bloggers to product briefings. What amazes me is that MS understands that there are opinion leaders worth exploiting in the blogsphere. I wonder how long it will take for rest of the world to realize how important this space is.

Think DRM is a small issue? Think again.

I was completely blown away by the deep consequences Digital Rights Management could have on the Internet. You can actually see the sometimes very funny O'Reilly session in quicktime or listen to it in MP3.

Gartner's ten predictions on enterprise businesses

Dan Farber reports on the ten predictions from the Gartner Symposium. The predictions don't seem earth shattering but Mitch Ratclifs comments were a little more interesting.

Weblog covering EU stuff

Today I went to give a talk about what is going on on the Internet to some people at the European Commission. Of course one of the items was weblogs. So I wanted to find a couple that specialized in EU issues. I tried every query I could think of in Google without success. I can't imagine that there is none. So if you have bumped into one, please let me know.

Jeff Bezos

Every time I see an interview with Jeff Bezos I am always impressed by his calm demeanor and smarts. But Jean-Pierre discovered that they do seem a little disconnected from world realities. When he last ordered books from he got this in his confirmation mail:
TOTAL DUE:       74.68 GBP       BEF 4728,85
Somehow they have not figured out that the rest of Europe has converted to the Euro since almost a full year!

Negroponte of WiFi

Wired has an interesting piece by Negroponte on how WiFi may leapfrog 3G.
...Think of a pond with one water lily, then two, then four, then many overlapping, with their stems reaching into the Internet.
...In the future, each Wi-Fi system will also act like a small router, relaying to its nearest neighbors. Messages can hop peer-to-peer, leaping from lily to lily like frogs ? the stems are not required. You have a broadband telecommunications system, built by the people, for the people...
I think this has already started to happen but the question is when will the Telco Lobby wake up and try to crush it.

Progress Paralysis

As I read this Progress Paralysis: Eight steps to get your Web site moving again. I recognized everything, brilliant article. Only two things I would like to add

Naked Networks are not (necessarily) insecure

I think Cory makes a couple of really important points about network security.
... Meanwhile, the legitimate users of your network resources are often outside your firewall (mobile execs at a client site, for example) and thus not only walled off from the rest of the network, but also vulnerable to attack, since their machines' first line of defense is the firewall, which they are suddenly out of. ...
I read somewhere recently that three of the US government super secure networks, networks that are not even connected to the Internet got infected by Microsoft viruses. This should not even be possible but it happens because the network is so restrictive that the users needing to get work done connect their laptop to the network creating gaping holes.

There is another point to this and it's the issue of who is in the company and who is outside the company. This is something that tends to get more fuzzy with consultants. I have some long standing clients where I find I would often like to post things on their intranet when I am not at their location but since their intranet is behind a firewall I can't do that and the note or idea gets lost.

BBC has added lots of RSS feeds

My all time favorite media outlet has added a bunch of RSS feeds to their site! Just plugged in four of them into NetNewsWire and now I am a very happy camper! Of course I have to stop procrastinating and make my own RSS feed tomorrow. Via Mark

Writing for the living web

I better take these tips to heart. Luckily the last one shows that there still might be hope for me
10. Relax!
Don?t worry too much about correctness: Find a voice and use it. Most readers will overlook, and nearly all will forgive, errors in punctuation and spelling.
I would also add a tip number 11: Position your writing. Even though I don't practice what I preach, I think it would be much more effective if I chose a couple of related topics and concentrated on those. The problem is that I am interested and opinionated on way too many issues. And it would be boring to always write about the same thing.

The problem with current copyright law.

Please listen to this Lawrence Lessig talk about the problems with current copyright law. This talk really drives home the reason why the perpetual copyright extensions and other related laws are damaging our culture.
Update: Also read this interview with Lawrence Lessig on Patents and the Internet.

Security is about people.

Lot of good bits in this article about security from the perspective of Bruce Schneier, author of Applied Cryptography.
The federal government and the airlines are spending millions of dollars, Schneier points out, on systems that screen every passenger to keep knives and weapons out of planes. But what matters most is keeping dangerous passengers out of airline cockpits, which can be accomplished by reinforcing the door.
There is lots more there about the inconsistencies of the homeland security measures, but also more about traditional network security.

What We're Doing When We Blog

Megnut is putting weblogs back into perspective after all these press articles about the the war bloggers.
Freed from the constraints of the printed page (or any concept of "page"), an author can now blog a short thought that previously would have gone unwritten. The weblog's post unit liberates the writer from word count.
This is a very important point she makes.

August 2009: How Google beat Amazon and Ebay to the Semantic Web has one of the best explanations of the semantic web I have yet seen. The semantic web is one of the incredibly powerful concepts that are almost impossible to fully grasp. Here, however they do a really good job, by turning it into a little science fiction they really illustrates the power. Having said that, I think that the way the W3C is going about popularizing the concept is doomed to failure. In my opinion what they should do is first try to popularize a few minor semantic extensions to xhtml. These could be just simple wrappers that say that this is a phone number, this is a postal address, this is a calender event. This way a browser agent could pick up that data and send it to the phone or to a calendar... Actually I wrote something on this back in 98 of course that was before there was much talk about RDF. I wonder if Apple's iCal will support something like this, It certainly looks that way from Job's Keynote (58 minutes into the presentation wow that MPEG4 scrubbing feature works great)


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