Technology

Information Work Productivity Forum Notes

I attended the Information Work Productivity Forum and posted some thoughts (lengthy notes) about the presentations. The day consisted of sponsors of the council and some academics presenting their thoughts on Information Work productivity. A few speakers took the opportunity to talk about their products, which was unfortunate, but some individuals stayed on topic and discussed the real issues related to measuring information work productivity at a high level.

Web searches: are they fixed?

Interesting article in Business Week Online regarding paid placements and some potential controversy involving small businesses. I found the link at searchengineposition.com.

Web Searches: The Fix Is In
by Ben Elgin, October 6, 2003

CIO Article on Auto/Semi-categorization software

CIO article "Sleuthing out data" by Fred Hapgood features a couple examples of how auto-semiauto categorization enables businesses and reduce costs. There is a company list included if you're interested in this arena.

Data Management meets Unstructured Information

Just came back from a conference on data management(Wilshire Metadata/DAMA International 2003 Conference. A recurring topic that surfaced about data management was the relevance of their work in relation to unstructured information. A reality check for everyone was that most corporate information actually existed in semi-structured of unstructured information and not in databases. From this thought, I was directed to DM Review and in particular this article. Digging Into the Web: XML, Meta Data and Other Paths to Unstructured Data - By Robert Blumberg and Shaku Atre. I definitely see an opportunity between IA(metadata/ux) type folks cross-pollinating with data modelers and data managers. It will be interesting to see and I look forward to hearing more from here. Thoughts?

A web-based application to semi-automate site map creation

I started working with GraphViz this month and have created a web-based application that converts tab delimitted text files into diagrams. The sole purpose for the application at this point is to turn site inventories or IA hierarchies into clickable site maps like this.

Before you ask why I bothered to do this, I'll give a little history. Immediately after writing the article Automating Diagrams with Visio for Boxes and Arrows I began to see that I didn't want to draw circles, boxes, lines, etc. anymore. That hacky process I used served its purpose. But over the past year I have learned to let databases and scripting languages to the heavy work we normally do in applications like Excel, e.g. content inventories, site architecture (capturing page/node data and parent child relationships). But I still have the need to work with Excel or plain text files for some of the smaller sites I work on outside of my day job. So I still do the site architecture in Excel and now I can do the diagramming in GraphViz.

So try out the app and let me know if you are doing anything similar or see other uses for this thing.

UPDATE: Added a few options including hierachical or radial layout, box or circle shapes, fill or no fill, and shape and font coloring options so you can now create diagrams like this.

Microsoft & Digital Permissions Management

It looks as though Microsoft is looking into XRML for their rights management. More information at The Register:

Microsoft devs Windows Rights Management Services
By John Leyden

The Problems with CMS

There's plenty of criticism of content management systems (CMS). Discovering what bothers us most can help us start to address these problems constructively. We conducted a survey to identify the biggest obstacles to effective content management systems. View the results.

HTML's Time is Over. Let's Move On.

By David Heller in Boxes and Arrows.

    As users and builders demand more and more richness from the Web, we need to re-evaluate the technology that 99% of it is built on. It seems no matter how sophisticated our back ends get, the front ends remain stagnant. What other options are there? What are the requirements that we as user experience designers face that newer technologies miss the boat on?
Can you purchase wisdom?

Peterme's recounting of an experience with a customer who believed that they could extract wisdom from a software package and vendor is really interesting.

    Part of the reason they bought this software was for the "wisdom" the software was meant to have embedded within. That there was a "wisdom" in how the software presents work processes, and that the company ought to learn from that wisdom and adjust their work accordingly, taking advantage of this "wisdom."
I'm sure there are many CIO organizations out there who think the wisdom (that intangible next step beyond knowledge) can be extracted from a technology in order to inform their users' processes. But this backward approach won't help anyone. The technology has to match the process. That's why, as Peter mentions, software needs to be flexible enough to accomodate these processes. A good lesson learned for enterprise software vendors.

Nice UX cycle diagram in there too.

ZING Initiative at LOC: v1.0 SRW & CQL

The ZING Initiative (Z39.50 International Next Generation), under the auspices of the Z39.50 Maintenance Agency at the Library of Congress, is pleased to announce Version 1.0 of SRW and CQL.

SRW ("Search/Retrieve for the Web") is a web-service-based protocol which aims to integrate access across networked resources, and to promote interoperability between distributed databases by providing a common platform. The underpinnings of the protocol are formed by bringing together more than 20 years experience from the collective implementers of the Z39.50 protocol with recent developments in the web-technologies arena. SRW features both SOAP and URL-based access mechanisms (SRW and SRU respectively) to provide for a wide range of possible clients. It uses CQL, the Common Query Language, which provides a powerful yet intuitive means of formulating searches. The protocol mandates the use of open and industry-supported standards XML and XML Schema, and where appropriate, Xpath and SOAP.

The SRW Initiative recognizes the importance of Z39.50 (as currently defined and deployed) for business communication, and focuses on getting information to the user. SRW provides semantics for searching databases containing metadata and objects, both text and non-text. Building on Z39.50 semantics enables the creation of gateways to existing Z39.50 systems while reducing the barriers to new information providers, allowing them to make their resources available via a standard search and retrieve service.

SRW, SRU, and CQL have been developed by an international team, minimizing cross-language pitfalls and other potential internationalization problems.

The ZING, SRW, and CQL home pages are at:
http://www.loc.gov/zing,
http://www.loc.gov/srw, and
http://www.loc.gov/cql
The Z39.50 Maintenance Agency home page is at
http://www.loc.gov/z3950/agency.

The SRW and CQL version 1.0 specifications will remain stable for a six- to nine-month implementation-experience period. During this period developers are encouraged to implement the specification (see the implementors page at http://www.loc.gov/srw/implementors.html), join the list of implementors, participate in interoperability testing, and help develop the next version, 1.1. Please direct questions, comments, and suggestions to z3950@loc.gov.

Election UI

webgraphics is discussing the touchscreen interface used in the Georgia elections this week. The UI is simulated on the Georgia site for your clicking pleasure (or pain). James found a related on article on Wired, High-Tech Voting Gets Thumbs Up.

Map of 12,647 WiFi access points in Manhattan

Julian found this info graphic showing 12,647 WiFi access points in Manhattan. The data was compiled by wardriving every street! Pretty cool. Indicates access points with red dots. Occurence of access points is dense where you might expect -- commercial areas and middle to high income residential areas.

Note that this includes private, secured, private unsecured, commercial open and public open points. It was compiled by the Public Internet Project. Also cool is the WiFi access finder on nycwireless.

Google needs people

Peter Morville discusses why Google Needs People and people need Google.

    The reigning emperor of search caused a stir recently by launching a beta version of Google News that features integrated access to 4,000 continuously-updated news sources. Two lines on the main page were responsible for much of the ruckus:

    "This page was generated entirely by computer algorithms without human editors.

    No humans were harmed or even used in the creation of this page."

Truth be told, as Peter relates in his article, without humans, Google results wouldn't be so relevant and undoubtedly, it's news feeds would suffer as well:

    Similarly, the potential of Google News lies in its ability to leverage the distributed intelligence of thousands of editors and reporters. No editors. No reporters. No Google News. Without the continuing engagement of humans, Google is dead. End of story.
And truth be told, most people probably don't care how Google works its wonders, as long as it continues to work as well as it does. What would make a lot of bloggers happy, I'm sure, is if Google went an extra step to making its news results available using some API or RSS syndication. I know Julian Bond did some playing with that, which I'm already using in ia/ news feeds, but how long can it last? I'm sure Google doesn't want to hide its services in such a way.

Gelertner on KM

There's a very good interview with David Gelertner in CIO Insight, in which Gelertner talks about what knowledge management means in terms of computing experiences.

Knowledge Management: When Bad Things Happen to Good Ideas

Darwin Magazine is running a story on how a good idea –knowledge management– is dragged down by its execution (poor software, poor implementation). A good read to see how your hard work could be totally hijacked by (and is currently getting a bad rep from) a number of peripheral circumstances.

[The address from the link from above: http://www.darwinmag.com/read/040101/badthings_content.html]

Google News searches as RSS

This is pretty cool. Julian Bond is providing a way to turn Google News searches into RSS.

EII (Enterprise Information Integration)

InfoWorld has an interesting article about the EII space which is all about aggregating information from disparate systems serving data as XML. The Information Aggregation article talks about EII as the middleware that can cull data from multiple systems and repackage as XML for consumption, for instance in consumer facing applications. The article talks about the key players who are trying to establish a presence in this space.

Spirituality and the Architecture of the Web

David Weinberger gets interviewed at spirituality.com (don't look too closely at the name of that site or you'll turn into an oxy-moron) about how the Web is a spiritual thing. One of the more interesting bits quoted here:

Too much information is simply noise. But with 20 billion pages on line, we are waaaay past "too much." Fortunately, we are evolving ways of finding what we need, either through brute force searching, or, most efficiently, by relying on the judgment of people we trust.

That's a powerful idea hidden in there: that Trust is in essence the greatest "search technology" we have.

Logitech io Personal Digital Pen

Matt found Logitech's io Personal Digital Pen. You write with it on special paper and then dropt the pen into a cradle attached to your PC and it transfers your ideas to it. Sounds like a pretty cool idea to me. Not sure how handwriting recognition works with their software.

Whatever happened with digital paper and bluetooth? Seems the media were buzzing about that last year, but I haven't heard about that technology being realized in a consumer product.

ia-cms list

Peter pointed to this new discussion group for IA's concerned with content management systems.

    This discussion forum is a place where Information Architects, User Experience Designers, Library Scientists and other interested parties can talk about the building and using of Content Management Systems to create application for their audience's needs.
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