April 29, 2003
And More on the Spool

Danny just posted a pointer to a ThreadsML Wiki. Tasty (and usemod based, so it could become purpled eventually (he said, greedily)).

Posted by esinclai at 07:31 AM

Danny Ayers cites a couple readings for use in ThreadsML discussion (these would go along with the early Weinberger discussion, the first and second QuickTopics hosted discussions. Weinberger et al. cite an early RDF Model by Dornfest and Schwartz, as well as a precursor in Email Threading.

There's yet a bit to read here, as I try to get caught up on this and wrap my head around it. But I think it would be truly useful to have some standard way to describe threads. Ben's talk at ETCon helped revive a lot of interest in this, as has Marc Canter's inciting in the above QT Threads.

One of my LazyWeb requests in the BOF session was that I wanted any ThreadsML to be able to refer upwards in its tree - though this would only make sense at time of creation of the subordinate element. Further thoughts would be some sort of trackback-like notification engine so that parent threads can be aware of child element creation. And of course, cross system threading (so if one had a conversation that started in an interactive chat of some sort, one could then refer to the trouble-ticket opened regarding it, and then to the CVS changes that further address that fix).

More to think and write here.

Posted by esinclai at 07:07 AM
April 25, 2003

Here at ETCon2003, a number of us have been using a MacOSX tool, Hydra to take notes on conference sessions.

Where usually this note-taking happens in a straight text editor, Hydra adds some interesting elements that make for a much more powerful experience.

First of all, Hydra is multi-user. So there are multiple authors taking notes simultaneously in the same document. When one person loses steam, another can pick up the slack. Typos can be back-corrected in near-real-time. References to articles and further information can be plugged in as a sidetrack.

In place, each author's work develops shading, and any individual author can be followed in real time through the document.

Secondly, Hydra uses Apple's Rendezvous implementation of ZeroConf to discover and identify authors on a local network in a smooth P2P manner, and to enable the sharing of the document over TCP/IP (which sharing can also be manually set without discovery for WAN situations). This local discovery service makes it easy to find a document to add your abilities to, or for any author to gain willing hands to assist in a task.

Socially, Hydra evinces elements of several other forms.

The realtime discussion or accretion of data is much like a working IRC (or other group chat) channel, focused on a task of discovery at any given moment.

The shared document workspace is very much like a wiki, and involves the same degrees of trust and sharing that wiki's depend upon. A single bad-actor could destroy a workspace fairly easily.

The discovery, activity and follow structures function very much like lightweight presentity systems.

The near-real-time knowledge sharing also takes on a very weblog-like overlay for a good conference.

This is not to say there aren't some limitations in this early release of Hydra. Some nice-to-haves have shown themselves.

First, once a document is taken out of its working state, all author addition/modification/presence information is lost. This metadata would prove very useful after the fact. As Hydra documents are saved as plain text, this (potentially voluminous) information would probably be best placed in a separate layover structure.

Secondly, the color-coding system is brittle in document workgroups of more than 4 or so - the colors should have a cleaner auto-discovery method per document, so overlaps in this lightweight visual identity don't occur.

Third, in presence of a bad-actor, the owner of a document should be able to selectively roll-back additions or changes to a document in a timescale (I'm thinking of a track-like display with SMPTE-like data).

Fourth, more granular permissioning for participants in a document would be useful in a conference setup. Denoting who can modify vs who can observe, for example.

Fifth, integration of this tool as a remote editing element for a wiki (meaning a virtual publishing out of the document off the owner's hard drive) would be powerful for wiki communities.

Finally, this should of course be a cross-platform friendly solution, though the structures of underlying OS's may prove a slight hindrance. Better, of course, would be for the versioning and diff'ing to be an open standard of some sort.

Posted by esinclai at 09:50 AM
April 24, 2003
Small Purple Rules

Chris has thrown down a description of the work he's done on integrating PurpleWiki and MoveableType. His entry discussing this is helpful, indeed.

I've come to the perception that purpling is a very good thing indeed, and fits in the SmallRules idea that's been floating around in my head. There are many big things we can do to improve collaborative software (like ThreadsML, an idea I need to chase up and wrap my head around).

But what are the small things that can change the way we work with one another and share ideas? I think purpling is indeed one of those things. It may need a stronger specification, and a more aggressive set of proselytizing, but to be able to refer to granular elements of discussion - be it line based or paragraph based - is powerful indeed.

Posted by esinclai at 09:49 AM
April 23, 2003
Mike on MT

Mike registers some concerns about the SixApart News from today.

My perspective, while cautious, is less pessimistic than Mike's. yes, we both have a degree of burn-factor from VC money and projects we've worked on (though I expect we both would admit that the money kept things going and provided a certain amount of life to try and improve situations that working w/o money wouldn't have allowed.

But where I disagree with Mike is how this will kill MT. Of course, the business plan still isn't entirely clear for SixApart, but it is beginning to take shape. When the Trott's spoke at Seabury a while back, they referenced that they would be providing some sort of ongoing support for non-MT-Pro users after Pro ships this summer; though I expect that may be a virtual fork in the product (revenue being what it is, that will drive features, and rightly). Since the code is not OSS, of course, that's a minor issue for people like Chris who have hacked things in to extend it beyond what the current plugin architecture allows.

What I don't see is that TypePad will be the only product. I hope that MT-Pro will remain a equal or peer product for this Trott-Dash team, so those of us who do want to preserve our own data (and the headaches that come therewith) can do so.

Also interesting is that news.com/ZDNet played this as a "taking on google" play. I suppose it is, but the blogger deal will be a smallish part of the google success story; advertising is their real revenue, isn't it? But this Will Be SixApart, these two products. More than $20 installs and donations could provide, but I expect far from Google's success.

Posted by esinclai at 07:16 PM
Semantic Indexing talk at ETCon

I'll have to clean up my notes here, but this looks very interesting, and useful.


Posted by esinclai at 04:51 PM
TrackBack Leadins

Seth Gorden has posted a nice essay providing a bit of the potential and precursors of TrackBacks.

For precursors, he interestingly cites referrers, which is a way I hadn't thought about this.

Of course, the power of trackbacks exists most in the decentralized nature of them and the visibility of connectedness they enable.

A nice read, along with the Beginners Guide.

Posted by esinclai at 12:46 PM
Walking in the Suburbs

When AZ went to some conference in dallas.tx.us a couple years ago, she stayed at a hotel about one mile from the conference proper. Here at ETCon2003, I did the same thing.

One of the things she remarked upon when I spoke to her there was how nobody walked in Dallas, except those in what we euphemistically call the 'underclass'. And then when we were in fl.us, we noticed that we were the only people out walking in the community AZs folks live in.

So today in santaclara.ca.us, I walked over from my hotel to the conference hotel. And the same thing happened. Spotted one older person out walking for health, a couple hispanic service-employees, and me for the 20 minute trek over.

Why don't people walk more? Especially here, where there are copious smoothly paved sidewalks.

It was a great headclearing exercise. Now off to Howard Rheingold, semantic searching, and more!

Posted by esinclai at 10:05 AM
April 22, 2003
The Peril of Rendezvous When Apple added automatic rendevous configuration (aka zeroconf) to Jaguar and the Apache server there delivered, they did a favor. The prconfigured it to be on, and to include listings for all users. As it turns out, based on a random sampling of users here at ETCon, few people bother to turn this off, or set of their personal home page beyond the "Welcome to Apache on OSX" page. Of course, I'm not much better. I had to turn mine off for a couple accounts, leaving the customised page that points to my wiki etc.
Posted by esinclai at 03:37 PM

For the past few weeks, Andrius Kulikauskas has been posting his IdeaFeeds to the BlueOxen (among other) lists. They're a nice collapsing of various people's investigations and researches.

You can find information about Minciu Sodas, Andrius' lab at http://www.ms.lt; an early description denoted it as "open laboratory for serving and organizing independent thinkers".

An entrypoint for his IdeaFeeds is at http://www.ms.lt/cgi-bin/ideas/enteringideas.py.

Ultimately the idea is that users or groups will be able to subscribe to a particular feed or set of feeds (could these bubble up in an hierarchy?). Presently that seems to be via email, but like any good weblog user, I now would advocate for RSS feeds as well.

Posted by esinclai at 10:02 AM
April 21, 2003
Hitting the Road

I'm hitting the road to ETCon. There should be a plenitude of postings from there.

Periodic political spectrum sparring pal Colin Frazier forwarded me an article from TechCentralStation that provides another spin on Social Software. This spin is a bit more corporate / free markets than I'd normally see (which is a part of Colin and my beloved dynamic...).

Posted by esinclai at 04:50 PM
April 20, 2003
Interesting Times II

Chris asked me, in a sidethread, what I thought was interesting about these times by my cross-ref to Danny Ayers.

I can't speak for Danny (though in trawling to catch up with current topics over the last few days, Danny has said much here and there!). But here's what I see as interesting for these times...

First of all, I see a confluence of organizations working on learning, collaboration and interconnectedness. BlueOxen is certainly one of them, as is the coalescing Social Software Alliance. And of course the bootstrap folks working hard on a clearer understanding and building of Englebart's ideas.

And there's a buncha software poking around, like the various purpling interfaces being put together by BlueOxen, et al. The ongoing development of blogging tools from the desktop to the protocols. What appear to be advances in thinking about Wikis, and people thinking about linking of weblogs and wikis, wikis and emails, etc. The still continuing work on Nelson's ideas (like gzz/fenfire or Abora).

[and my linking of the xanaciousness is not an endorsement, but an expression of go-back-to-thisness (or GoBackToThis, a conversational pattern?]

One of the issues that Jim McGee brought up the other day which I've been thinking about is how access to the correct tools from the grassroots can lead to a better knowledge work. Where KM is topdown, what if knowledge work grew from the inside out? What if the conversations had inside a team could be influenced by the conversations around a team. There's a lot more to say about the bargain we all make in organizations of any size, about the variances in our persona we display at work, online, and to ourselves. But the exciting thing I see now, and why I think this instant is an interesting time, is because there are more people thinking about this in open ways than there often have been.

Discoveries are again beginning to happen more transparently, which in itself allows those of us observing to grow and be interested.

I do wonder a bit why things are interesting now? Maybe because the corporate mindset of locking down ideas, even those built on open standards, is softened with the markets, even if temporarily. Maybe because the people thinking now want to learn to think stronger again. Maybe it's like when the gopher stuff started happening, and it wasn't really rich enough for anyone to want to lock it up, and the things being thought about today will be seen in five years as terrifically crude. Maybe it's luck, maybe I just noticed it. But I do think things are interesting.

Posted by esinclai at 06:12 PM
April 19, 2003
Truth and Fiction

Mike's been performing (and I use that word advisedly) this week an act of Seven Truths and One Lie, where ensconsed in one of his recountings of travels is a fiction.

Confusingly, that fiction can exist in a otherwise wholly true piece.

Having known Mike for, well, some time now, these stories all hold true, and having heard Mike's stories in person for as long, ferreting out the lie (and not a misrecollection, which Mike has been kind enough to red herring us with via correction in a handy bit of redirection...)

This will require some more thought.

But each of the pieces speaks beautifully, and could well stand on their own.

Off to scratch my head. some more.

Posted by esinclai at 07:05 PM
April 18, 2003
What he said...

Danny Ayers defines "Interesting Times"

Posted by esinclai at 09:08 AM
April 17, 2003
A KM question

Is one of the questions in collaboration and the like not to begin to answer "What is Knowledge Work vs What Makes Knowledge Work vs What Makes Knowledge Work?

Posted by esinclai at 07:12 PM
A McGee Musing

When I was sitting in the Jim McGee conversation the other day, one of the pointers I wanted throw to him was to the BlueOxen PatternRepository's reference to the ThinkOutLoud pattern.

Working on weblogs at personal-life and at work-life has proven helpful to this process as a faceting of how I regularly behave. I don't know, of course, if it is inherent in what I am (I am a walking thinker often, and thinking aloud comes naturally after a period of introverted brooding) for certain, but I think it is. Part of the ThinkOutLoud pattern is to throw an idea 'out there' to see what happens to it in the give and take of other ideas out there. And the other part, particularly for weblogs shared in a small group, is that it captures a set of knowledge cleanly in gestated form - later one can do the product specification when the details are ironed out...

The old saw of "run it up the flagpole and see who salutes," which is often similar to this, is not in fact terribly accurate. It's my belief that the ThinkOutLoud pattern is largely non-heirarchical, whereas the flagpole pattern implies that some entity controls the raising of the idea, not each individual accreting their part to said idea.

Reviewing the text in the BlueOxen wiki, I see that the weblog connection has not been missed by others, as are the Lotus Notes 'challenges' as discussed in the Seabury lecture a week ago.

Posted by esinclai at 07:10 PM
Things Get Interesting

I've been revisiting FuzzyBlog (who I hadn't read in a while, but somehow the incipient attendance of an O'Reilly Conference brought his work to mind again, probably because we had a couple interesting chats at last year's OSCon) over the last couple days, and today what should pop up but a reference to an announced "Social Software Alliance"

One of the things that will prove interesting to my thinking is how this interfaces with BlueOxen, as they seem to be researching in some similar, or at least overlapping areas. Some of the participants overlap as well, from a brief perusal of the names at the SSA wiki.

Certainly food for additional review and thought. Good thing tomorrow's a holiday, 'cause the reading is stacking up - reading that hasn't made it over to the reading list at the right.

Posted by esinclai at 06:48 PM
April 15, 2003
McGee Roughs

Presentation on 10 April at Seabury Institute as a part of their ongoing series on collaboration (specifically weblogs). Jim McGee as NWU adjunt-Professor. Maintains a weblog at http://www.mcgeesmusings.com/. Ex-Andersen, founder in Diamond Technology Partners, currently with Huron group.

These are very rough notes, a springboard to some intended thinkings they've brought about in my mind (and I note that these topics are also on Chris' mind and Brian's as well.

Talk entitled Thinking in Public - Weblogs in Corporations. Outlined at his weblog in four precursor thinkings (1, 2, 3, 4). AKMA has also logged the talk.

Basic outline:

  • When is thinking important in orgs
  • Who needs to be thinking
  • why do it in public
  • where do weblogs fit

McGee posits the question of 'permission to think' in organizations. Does one have to ask ermission to think, is one deprecated for thinking, or thinking outloud?

Conceptually the education system is designed for industry, where the top thinks and plans but the mass of workers need not.

Anecdote of an earlier discussion, wherein the organization model is that of 1-5% ship leaders, and the remainder of employees are busy pulling on the oars. But then what happpens when someone comes up with the sail (aka the question of innovation). Retooling itself is a cost that cannot easily be done by the oarsmen, or at sea.

Knowledge sharing - the interaction between invention and time balance for implementation. Drucker citation that the wealth of the 20th Century was made in maximizing the effort of workers; the contemporary and future economy is one to improve the productivity of knowledge workers.

Position that the goal of the current economy should be the invention of new ideas, not ekeing out the last bit of effort from workers with the old ideas.

what is real thinking vs illusion of thinking (political debate, talk show, etc)

[personal aside: Is thinking the process of discovery rather than the iteration of position?]

[ musing: KM is an imposition of answers, largely, rather than an empowerment of knowledge workers (and what makes knowledge work (pun intended))]

illusion (based on Desk Set clip):

km is about getting precise answers in very little time. but what about trying to find what the questions are?

Advantages of weblogs:
The structure chronologically (I worked on that back in July...)
Aggregation with other knowledge (I work on many things, in a mass)
discrete knowledge chunks (THIS is what I worked on at this instant)

Thought of three realms of shared knowledge for organizations

  • private (individual for self)
  • internal (w/in wall)
  • public (as public statement, organizational credibility)

Posted by esinclai at 07:06 AM
April 05, 2003
More Rockwell-ana

There's more great information on the Rockwell Station as part of the Chicago-L website, including a great period photo from 1959.

Drink, anyone?

Posted by esinclai at 08:56 PM
Rockwell in the Day

Visitors to our home are often advised to arrive by CTA "L" train whenever possible.

For city dwellers, it's often controversial to decide between arriving at the Western station (where one has to cross that busy thoroughfare to get to our house) or wait two more blocks to get off at Rockwell.

For our part, we like Rockwell, as it is less busy, it's easier to get a seat on an inbound train, and it's cuter by far than Western (at least until the reconstruction is completed; all bets are off at that point).

Tonight while seeking out information on what "L" stops Bob Newhart uses for embarkation and disembarkation (we like to believe he gets off at Rockwell, though it makes no sense if he lives on Lake Shore Drive), we found this period photo of the Rockwell stop. Now who can tell us this isn't the CUTEST "L" station ever?

I dare you.

By the way, if you tell us to look at the official Bob Newhart site... the Chicago landmarks element is broken.

Posted by esinclai at 08:52 PM
April 02, 2003

"...the nation where fountains spout streams of fruit juices and ice

Posted by esinclai at 06:28 PM