Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Reviewing RSS reader i-Fetch

A fellow blogger asked me to review i-Fetch, a RSS reader by Ideafarms.

I took some time to look at iFetch. And compared it to what I'm using: Google Reader. (Disclaimer: again, I didn't use iFetch and using it sometimes changes my impression... )

- Looking at the list of 'Features', my first reaction was: nothing new, nothing that Google Reader, Bloglines, etc can't do.
However, after looking more closely i-Fetch does have interesting new stuff (- at least new to me).
- "Watch" is interesting. Nice feature. After looking around in Google Reader I found out that they too have it. It's called: "Subscribe as you surf". But it's somewhat hidden, more that in iFetch.
- Search in feeds is interesting. Reader doesn't have that. It's a much requested feature...
- "Autodiscovery" of feed link is interesting. Didn't know Reader has this too: can be done with, again, "Subscribe as you surf".
- The article/post overview pane is kind of clogged; too much Outlook-ish. I like the Reader layout, easier reading and overview
- Archive: Reader has this too, using labels.

Extra feed reading issue, not addressed in i-Fetch: One thing that I find difficult when reading feeds is: when you comment on an article/post, how do you keep track of those comments and the comments on your comments? Do you just subscribe to the comments? Or is there another trick?

Towards a better search engine?


TR published an article titled: "Building a Better Search Engine". There's a lot of buzz going on around "beating Google search". Wikia is one of the names that's often mentioned. Powerset is too. (The TR article also mentions Avatar by IBM.)
The TR article is disappointing due to the fact that nothing new is mentioned. All the issues in natural language technology (which is part of my educational background) and search mentioned are old (and very difficult).
And progress is slow. Up until now, we haven't seen a convincing demo by, for instance, Powerset. They say on their blog they will be demo-ing soon. I know my post sounds cynical, but the fact that I write about this topic is because I really hope search will be improved by companies at Powerset, IBM, etc. Or by older Dutch companies as Irion and Collexis.

How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Take the "How Addicted to Blogging Are You?" test! I'm this addicted:

71%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?


The Myth of Innovation

Listened to this interesting podcast on innovation. It's in the Technometria series on IT Conversations. Scott Berkun, writer of "The Myth of Innovation", is interviewed. What I really liked was Berkun's realistic approach to innovation. He strips away all the myths about innovation and talks about why people stick to these myths (such as "sudden innovation"). Basically he say that innovation is hard work.
Interestingly he also comments on the "soft skills" that are needed to innovate. Such as leading a meeting.
Another interesting (and hot) topic he addresses is his participation in O'Reilly Foo camp (also called unconferences, bar camps, Reboot, etc.): conferences without an agenda.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Am I barking?

Found this cool video cartoon about blogging on the New Yorker website.

Using LinkedIn?

For some time now I've been 'using' LinkedIn. That is: I registered and filled in my profile. At the moment LinkedIn invites are going to and from in the company I work for. But what do you actually do with LinkedIn? Wait for a fantastic job offer? Or simply browse LinkedIn and look for people you can connect to your network? What's the use? Build your ego? Many people ask this question in my neighborhood, but the register anyway. Just like I did.
Because of these questions I just started following the LinkedIn blog. Hopefully that gives me some answers. And they seem to have started doing that.

Friday, July 27, 2007

I bought IT...

I bought it and I'm reading it! Of course I'm talking about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

There's an interesting article in Time Magazine about how they tried to keep/kept the manuscript of the book secret until the 21st of July. Also check out the slide show.

Inspiration for the weekend

Wow, ran into this on Nova Spivak's blog! Just to inspire you. The "genius" who makes these 'robots'/'creatures' is a Dutch guy by the way. (Yes, most of the time I'm proud to be Dutch...)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Don't multi-task?!

Listened to the interview with Tim Ferriss on the iinnovate. He's author of "The 4-Hour Work Week". At 4:55 (in the podcast) he talks about "multi-tasking". He simply states: "Don't multi-task, finish a task without interruptions." Interesting statement and maybe I should read the book first to understand it. Because I find it very hard to not multi-task. At work, I'm interrupted very often. And how does this relate to Linda Stone's work? She talks about multi-tasking being an inherent feature of the way we work in the 21st century.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The history of information

This is old (why didn't I find this years ago?!), but but none the less interesting. David Weinberger wrote about it recently on his blog. In 2005 Arjan Vreeken wrote an interesting historical overview on the concept of information. It's a well-written and concise article, and to my knowledge complete. I really enjoy the fact that he also refers to Katherine Hayles' book: "How we became Posthuman". This book was a real eyeopener for me and describes the change of the use of the concept "information" starting from the Macy Conferences (just after WWII). But Vreeken plows back even further!
Vreeken wrote this article to investigate the implications this change of meaning has for 'information management'. I agree with Vreeken that the (objective) use of the concept "information" in information management and ICT has (had) devastating consequences. It time to learn from Vreeken en Hayles and translate what they say to practice!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Future of KM

As I wrote in the previous post, this post would be about "the future of KM as I see it". The previous post mentioned the first question about KM that I was asked. The second question was: in one slide, give your vision of the future of KM. This was my answer:
  • Give options, let people choose for themselves what suites them best (the knowledge manager has the overview, the architectural view).
  • Approach KM problems in a personal and proactive way. Company boundaries will fade (by wiki’s, blogs).
  • People will remain the primary focus of KM (in contrast to technology).
  • Integration of tools (wiki's, blogs, document management, etc.) with the primary work place (for knowledge workers usually email).
  • Document management and records management systems will move to the background, no end-user focus.
  • Always online and therefore(?) always information overload.
  • Role of knowledge brokers will become more important.
What is your vision on the future of KM?

KM lessons learned

Some time ago I was asked to sum up, in one sheet, what my lessons learned w.r.t. knowledge management are. I came up with this list:
  • Look for the mechanisms behind the way people work (at first site it's often chaotic) and connect to those mechanisms.
  • Provide solutions for knowledge management problems that closely relate to current working methods.
  • Continuous trial & error, probe, never stop trying new approaches to KM problems.
  • Don't enforce solutions to KM problems.
  • Document management is the basis of KM, start there.
  • Knowledge mapping can work without enforcing participation of employee (with 'enforcing I mean, e.g., having an employee fill in their profile and keep it up to date).
  • Defining a business case for KM is hard if not impossible.
  • Knowledge brokers are a success (implicit or explicit role). KM is about people and people connecting to other people. "Oh, you're looking for info about so-and-so, go talk to him!"
I'd love to hear what you think of my list. What are your lessons learned?

My next post will be about the 'future of KM' as I see it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Google tech talks

For some time now Google has been submitting it's Tech talks to Google Video. Regularly, I check out the new video's and watch the most interesting ones. I think this is a really nice initiative by Google. For one, it really shows that Google wants to be knowledgeable in a wide area of topics (even non-technical topics). Two, submitting these video's makes Google a company you want to work for. All these interesting people that get invited to talk for Google employees!
I hope more companies with follow this example and also publish their interesting talks on the web.

Oh, what's my favorite tech talk? It's called "Winning The DARPA Grand Challenge".

By the way: I posted about Viddler a couple of days ago. I saw that Google Video also allows users to comment on specific parts of the video. This is done by typing in the time (e.g. 0:32) in the comment section. When the user submits the comment, it's automatically changed to a link to that part of the video.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

scanR: whiteboard to pdf

Wow this is really exciting. I was reading an article on bnet about "How to run an effective meeting". (Got there again by a tip from Joost's blog.) The last lines of that article are:
The easy way to preserve whiteboard ideas
Say you and your colleagues had an intense whiteboard session and came up with a complex diagram that will solve all your problems. But copying it onto a notepad will take hours, and another group is standing outside waiting to use the conference room. What do you do? Take a picture of the board with a camera phone and e-mail the photo file to wb@scanR.com. They'll clean up the image, improve the contrast and legibility, turn it into a PDF, and e-mail it back to you can forward it everyone on your team (all the while securing the confidentiality of your file).
This looks wonderful! They give some examples on the website. When I've tried this, I'll let you know.

By the way, on the scanR blog they make an interesting statement about "dinosaurs" (read: printer/scanner/copier multi-functionals - that's the business I'm in...).

Talking about whiteboards, check this out too!

Technology Review: The Future of Search

Technology Review published an interview with Peter Norvig. I thought the interview was rather disappointing. No real nieuws, just a summary of what we already know Google is working on.

What I do find interesting is that TR has a 'new' service: you can listen to the TR articles. The articles are read to you by using text-to-speach technology (mp3/flash format)! The quality is pretty good.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Interviews with John Newton and Robert Glushko

Yesterday I listened to two long and interesting podcasts by IT Conversations. One is an interview with John Newton, one of the founders of Documentum and now running Alfresco. The other is an interview with Robert Glushko about 'Document Engineering'.

The interview with Newton is interesting for several reason. For one, Newton was at the beginning of content management software and gives a nice overview of the history of this world. Furthermore he also talks about the future of this market and why Alfresco (open source ECM) is and will be a player in that field. He also talks about "the end of enterprise software". Finally, not to mention more, he also gets into handling structured and unstructured information in a unified way (time: 59:00). Something that most vendors don't address.

The talk with Glushko is interesting too. It's interesting to hear him talk about documents (12:00) and his shift from a technology approach to documents, to a more user/services approach. And in this context he also talks about "services science" (time 37:00). Finally he also gives comments on the book/statement that "Everything is miscellaneous", implying that social tagging e.g. will be enough to categorize and classify documents instead of (also) using semantic categories. He disagrees with this statement and describes a combined approach. (time 48:00)

Note: The time when the topics I mentioned are dealt with in the podcast is between brackets.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Viddler

How do you discuss a video and comment on it? Mostly you see the video and the comment and/or rating section separated. This works, but it's hard to comment on a specific part of the video. And if it is possible, it's because the publisher indexed the video for you.

And now there's Viddler! It was new to me. Has it been around for some time or is it actually new? Viddler makes indexing, commenting, tagging and rating video's easily. Really easy. And of course you can search through everything. I hope they integrate this in Google Video and YouTube.

This is also interesting for internal corporate video's. For instance, I've been writing about story telling. A problem with recording stories is how to make them useful for the organisation. Can employees easily access them and browse through the video's? Usually they can't. But by using Viddler technology they can. We can.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Wikinomics

Finished reading "Wikinomics" by Tapscott and Williams. It's a wonderful book. Well written, stimulating and worth your time!

After reading the book I was left with two questions:
  1. Does wikinomics also apply to a very structured environment, with structured, well-defined work processes? And if so, how do you apply it to such an environment?
  2. What are typical wiki(nomic) roles people can take? With a "role" I mean e.g. "publishers" and "pruners". And how do you learn your role in the wiki world?
I read in the wikinomics playbook some text (in Part One) about the second question. But it's still more about a characteristic of the wikinomic person and not about the different roles people can take.
Does anyone have answers to these questions? Or pointers to parts of the answer?

Defining "information architecture" (1)

It's been some time ago since Andy asked me a question about my definition of 'information architecture'. Finally I'd like to start answering his question. I'd love to hear your opinion on this topic.

If you browse around on the web or in bookstore, 'information architecture' is usually about the architecture of websites. The wikipedia definition of 'information architecture' also points in that direction.

As you may have noticed, that does not make up my work. My definition relates to the following definitions:

"Information Architecture
. The shared view of information professionals on the information of their organisation (UoD) on its information as a corporate resource. The Information Architecture must be a complete view on the UoD, and therefore one will be able to derive the specifications needed to procure, develop and maintain IT-solutions." (A/I/M)

"The information architect creates an overview over the organisational information management, organizes this coherently and improves it. This is done by analysis, advise and support when developing, implementing and integrating the information management. Information management is focussed on improving the quality of product development." (Irmato)

"The information architecture, the architecture of the information flow, gives insight in the structure and relations of the information and communication management, independent of the level of automation." (From the Dutch book: Rijsenbrij,
Architectuur in de digitale wereld, Zeist, 2004)

To a large extent I agree with these definitions. I'll elaborate on these definitions soon and when I find new definitions I'll post them too.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

ExpertFinder @ I-Know '07

Our paper for the I-Know '07 was accepted! Here's the abstract:

Title:
ExpertFinder: Collaborative Expertise Localization


Abstract:
Straightforward expertise localization is crucial for personal and organizational efficiency and productivity. Common issues with existing approaches are the amount of effort required to build up the database and keeping it up-to-date, and the difficulty of establishing a complete coverage of the organization. The ExpertFinder system employs the concepts of referral chaining, social networks and user-generated data to enable a fast, low-effort and thereby low-cost approach to building an expertise localization database. At the same time, ExpertFinder provides a number of views on this database. We describe the design of the system and discuss in detail two pilots conducted at Océ-Technologies and the Telematica Instituut, the findings of which show high user participation and a good coverage of individual employee expertise and overall organizational expertise.

The I-Know program - with interesting key note speakers! - can be found here.

Comparing IBM Workplace/Quickr and MS Sharepoint

Does anyone know of good articles and/or sites that compare IBM Workplace/Quickr with Microsoft Sharepoint? I'm looking for articles and/or sites that evaluate these tools w.r.t. user-friendliness, scalability, manageability, functionality, etc.
If you know one or more, please post them in the comment section!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Swarm Behavior

Good for National Geographic! They wrote an article about a difficult but very interesting topic: Swarm Intelligence. Basically it deals with trying to understand how complex systems work and how you can model them. I've tried to apply this technology to documents in the past.
Thanks for the tip,
Joost!