jibbajabba's blog

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.

Drupal now does trackback, so ia/ does too

There's now a trackback URL for each blog entry. Check the small text below each blog entry. Also fixed some problems that were causing email notifications not be sent and news feeds not to update since the beginning of the week. All should be well again today.

Blog tool comparison table

This blog tool comparison table looks pretty useful, although it needs to update its MovableType data. They also have a good blog that reports on media coverage of weblogs.

Mac OS X Cocoa gestures

I just started using BitArt Consulting's Cocoa Gestures Beta. Really excellent and highly configurable. The tool allows you to use gestures in any Cocoa-based OS X application. It won't work for Carbon apps like IE or Office X. It does work wonderfully well in the apps I tested it against -- Chimera and Adium. Adding gestures is simple too. You select "Cocoa Gestures..." beneath an application menu (below preferences) and add gestures by selecting menu actions and defining your gesture with your mouse. Nice. Would be even nicer if it worked with Carbon apps, which are the bulk of what I use (Entourage, Word, Photoshop, BBedit).

I wonder how many people are actually aware of and use gestures. I would guess that the number is miniscule.

LIMBER project

On ia-cms, Brendan pointed out the LIMBER project. Limber stands for Language Independent Metadata Browsing of European Resources. The project, concerned with the exchange of multilingual metadata, particularly in the Social Sciences, has proposed an RDF schema for thesauri.

A Thesaurus Interchange Format in RDF (delivered at the Semantic Web conference 2002)
http://www.limber.rl.ac.uk/External/SW_conf_thes_paper.htm

RDF Schema for ISO compliant multi-lingual thesauri
http://www.limber.rl.ac.uk/External/thesaurus-iso.rdf

PocketDraw for diagramming flow on a PDA

I came across PocketDraw on Mike Lee's site. It's a Pocket PC application for flow charting. It looks pretty excellent. I can recall a number of times when I've sketched flow charts on napkins and scraps of paper at lunch or on the subway. Would be nice to do this on a Palm Pilot (or Handspring as my case would be). Why hasn't anyone done this for Palm yet?

Wodtke on being T-shaped

Christina posted a wonderful essay titled "Leaving the Autoroute" on B&A on the importance of being T-shaped -- having the knowledge and understanding a generalist in your industry would have and the wisdom and experience of being a specialist in your particular discipline (or perhaps within an area of your discipline). I couldn't agree more that this is what makes a thoughtful team member and producer on a project.

Facetmap of iaslash

The xfml feed allowed me to create a facetmap, which is quite nice. Would be interesting to see if any clustering information visualization emerges out of these types of metadata experiments. Peter also sent me the URL of a site search interface that uses XFML. Looks like there will be nice services that could come out of this. I think the main thing people want to see, however, is Peter's application that will help individuals map topics on disparate systems. Playing with this makes me realize I need to go through the old posts and clasify them.

JASIST KM Issue

The TOC for the special Knowledge Management issue of JASIST (JASIST Vol. 53 No. 12) is available.

New features: email notification, categories, better syndication

Adding a few new features (drupal modules).

Email notification
You can elect to receive email once a day to get notified of new posts (new blog entries and/or comments). Once you are logged in, select notification settings under your user menu in the sidebar.

(NOTE: If you tried to set this up this weekend and got permission errors, please try again. I forgot to set permission attributes. Oops.)

Categories
In case you haven't noticed we've started experimenting with the addition of a flat set of subject headings for each blog entry. Those subject headings are now accessible from the side navigation with indications of how many entries are available in each subject area. Since my blogging has been lighter this year, I plan to go through the old posts and categorize them, deleting dead links as I find them.

RSS syndication by category or user
This is a cool addition. I added the module that lets you syndicate by category or by user. In the syndicate box in the sidebar, select the More link beneath the XML icon to see your syndication options.

XFML
XFML feeds are available in the syndication box. You go, Peter. And thanks, Kristjan for the module.

Google News searches as RSS

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

The Importance of Being Granular

Roy Tennant has a pretty good article in Library Journal on how granularity affects retrieval and impacts person-hours in Digital Library collections. Don't get turned off by the library lingo. The message is applicable to non-library collections.

Phoenix: Pared down mozilla for windows

Phoenix is sweet. Like Chimera, it's a pared down Mozilla with little of the bloat. You can also use gestures (look in the preferences).

Thanks, webgraphics

The difficulty of categorization

Peter V pointed to Philip C. Murray's KM Connection article, The difficulty of categorization discusses implications of using categorization in the enterprise. In it he, he cite's Bella Hass Weinberg's 1996 article from the ASIS Conference Proceedings, Complexity In Indexing Systems -- Abandonment And Failure: Implications For Organizing The Internet, to bring up the issue of difficulty in classifying documents from a large corpus of data. Weinberg's article discusses the issues in classifying the Internet. Murray's position is that a corporate body's "three ring binder of knowledge" is not a massive data source, so is not necessarily subject to all of the difficulties that Weinberg mentions. He states,

    I also wonder whether classification experts simply cultivate the perception that classification is extremely difficult. Even manual classification can be done quickly, if my experience with professional indexers is any indicator. It's not unusual for a professional indexer to generate a comprehensive, high-quality back-of-the-book index for a new title in less than three weeks.
He goes on to discuss the advantages of faceted knowledge access at a high level. What I find problematic with arguments that state essentially that classification is not so hard is that there are so many variables at play when we're talking about classification of any kind. These variables can include definition of domain, size and scope of the indexable corpus, and specificity of indexing to name just a few. Providing facets of classification is another level of complexity that begs for some definition of guidelines as well.

But I wonder, are most organizations just concerned with indexing a "three ring binder of knowledge" or are they also concerned with indexing all of the published material -- technical documents, memos, press releases, etc. -- of the organization? Are they concerned with indexing at the level of the document or at a more granular level, indexing concepts within the document. There are a lot of high-level articles floating around lately that give lip service to the value of classification. What I'm interested in are those articles that actually discuss the pain of implementing classification processes within large corporations. If you have citations for any good examples/case studies, please share them!

As part of an information services organization in a large corporation, I've seen the great distances my colleagues have had to go to make an enterprise level taxonomy work for our customers, who have been the catalysts and partners in its development and use. Over the 4 years that I've used our taxonomy on the back end as an indexer and as a site developer -- but not as a subject matter expert creating/defining the terms and relationships of the taxonomy -- I have to say that there is not much about classification at the enterprise level that seems very simple to me. It is very clear that representing knowledge (automatic or manual) is never simple to do, and when done right, can never be always right and never serve everyone. Concepts can change, indexers will represent knowledge differently, environmental elements will affect priorities and sometimes shift the language and understanding of your subject matter. It's all very slippery. That being said, however, without classification it is clear that knowledge retrieval is hampered and the bottom line is affected. And I guess that necessitates the need for information professionals and information retrieval systems.

DonnaM's blog

Donna Maurer, and IA from down under, has started an interesting blog where she is capturing thoughts that occur to her as she works through IA, interaction design, and usability problems on the job. I find it can be helpful to remember what I've been thinking while trying to solve problems on a project, and exposing your thought processes in a journal of some sort helps when you have to go back and figure out, "Now why did we label that category such and such 3 months ago?". Good stuff.

Dilbert on interface design

xblog found these. Don't share them with your technology team.

Icons

I have a new set of icons available. I've used these in the recent past for wireframing various interfaces.

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.

KM on a budget

(Is KM an allowed topic here?)

Knowledge management has been knocked around in my organization for so long with so little understanding of what KM is. On the one hand, there is the belief that everything that transpires in your business is an archivable knowledge asset -- hard copy ephemera such as scribbles on paper napkins or meeting leave-behinds; verbal ephemera such as telephone conversations, chats with colleagues at conferences or at dinners; electronic documents such as email and binary files. In reality, I haven't seen the promise of a tool that allows you to capture all this transferable knowledge and then share it easily, but have heard the promises from vendors over the last 5 years. As the term recedes from everyday parlance in large right-sizing organizations such as my own, the need for knowledge management is still pressing. Which brings me to the The 99 cent KM solution, David Weinberger's short essay on KM World that proposes that low-budget tools such as email list applications and weblogs will get you far.

I'm tending to agree that these tools may be sufficient for a lot of small organizations. My understanding is that Knowledge Management is about being able to communicate store and retrieve knowledge. KM is tool and technology agnostic. In these tight-budget days, I still hear the term kicked around a lot, but I hear less and less about initiatives to research a technology to support KM. I don't know that the low budget tools are sufficient to support KM for large organizations, but they certainly seem like sufficient for creating some knowledge sharing until the killer KM app arrives, no?

XML feed