Tuesday May 30, 2006

Visualising tag clouds

Two points come to mind on reflecting my conversation with Elias Torres at www20006, (See Tags and Spontaneity below...). First maybe on tag clouds we should use colour for highly used & less frequently used with Red being highly used and Blue (or Indigo) less frequently used. This should mean that the less frequently used tags, which are the most discriminatory (i.e. meaningful) are not visually eclipsed by the most heavily used.

Secondly, if we were to look at the structure "UNIX > Solaris > AIX, the significance would only be true if all taggers tagged the articles as UNIX & Solaris or UNIX & AIX, and only then could we be clear on the meaningfulness of a tag. This illustrates that a stranger may need to be familar with the crowd's use of language.

Thirdly I'm also not sure how we might 'refine' a query if we start with very meaningful tags, we would have to re-query, although the del.icio.us interface offers you a list of associated tags even for the smallest of queries.

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Tuesday May 23, 2006

Tags and Spontaneity

We broke for coffee and I bumped into Elias Torres, one of the roller development team, so we had a long chat about tags on the web , looked at how to make roller's implementation better and how I could become more helpful by creating an environment to test this stuff. He pointed out that my Qube (currently not working) needs replacing.

We tried to remember the state of our debate as we left it. Elias co-authored a paper "Ranking Bookmarks & Bistros", one of the conclusions is that tagging software should not be too helpful in prompting for tags; the spontaneity of the tag author is an important part of the folksonomy. My view is that a tagging correspondent will have a personal structure to the tags they use, in my case I have a small group of 1st order tags, which will always be used, or nearly always. I believe that my contribution to the folksonomy is more effective if I am helped to keep to my structure. For my medium order tags, I want to be prompted as to my spelling and which words I use to imply meaning. Elias' argument is that the collective expression is stronger if more spontaneous (I think). I think that part of our disagreement is that I focus on tagging for personal use and at time of discovery and hence initial tagging, Elias is concerned about the stranger looking for wisdom in the tag base.

For instance for my retrievals I like to go in large or medium and refine my queries using the del.icio.us "+" function adding filters to my query until the page is small enough to inspect. (Is this a binary chop?) It all reminds me that I need to ask him for the data model (author, articles, articles, tags) numbers and growth rates. I wonder if Linda or Will can give them to me from blogs.sun.com.

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Monday May 22, 2006

Free Databases get better all the time

Dave Axmark, (see also here...one of the founders of My SQL spoke next after lunch. After he stopped talking about the product he presented some interesting slides on adoption compared with other open source projects, which probably prove the centrality of database to multi-user computing. He repeated the centrality of the "Easy Install" to the design goals of MySQL. He almost said "Release Early, Release Often!", but actually argued for the "containerisation" of fault fixes, and saves them up for infrequent releases, a version of "Do one thing really well!", which he stated was a design philosophy of MySQL.

"Free databases get better all the time!"

Why? Good bug reports are worth more than good code. Adoption leads to quality; all code lines are distributed to all users, the licensor does not/cannot utilise price discrimination and therefore do not create marketing/pricing packages, everyone gets everything. You have access to the ultimate documentation, the source. (I'm not 100% impressed by this argument). Security is not by obscurity. He also repeated messages other Open Source companies articulate that the community reputations developed in Open Source act as great recruitment funnels, so staff are good & known, have a good fit with the culture and a passion for the product. All arguments that apply to software other than databases!

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Data Centre Life Cycle

Jennifer Schopf then presented to the workshop on Globus' adoption of open governance, one bullet is of great interest where she talked about a technology solution to managing objects in the grid life cycle. I need to follow up on this.

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Open Source Workshop at www2006

I opened the "Open Source Workshop : Platform for Collaboration" using SimonPhipp's slides, "The Zen of Free", the slides I used are here.... Hopefully it went OK!

Open source is in the interests of the original author and second adopters and contributors. It is not about altruism, it requires licence, motivation and agreement around governance. Some open source is more open than others! The software market is evolving, to payment at the point of value. The value is no longer right to use, but chosen from the code, education, documentation, access to updates, defect resolution, warranty, indemnity, installability. The unbundling, through the development of new monetisation strategies by software companies allows transparency of costs for software consumers. Unlocking this value, places a new role on standards in order to change the scale of inter-operability and substitutability to protect the investment of both of the past and the future.

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www 2006

At www.2006, Sir David Browne, (Chairman of Motorola) gave the opening keynote speech after the obligatory bagpipes & highland dancing. Actually the conference was opened by Jack McConnell, Scotland's First Minister (the politician, not the vicar) who welcomed the conference to Scotland. Interesting speech, listing and aligning Scotland historic intellectual endeavours to the future of the world without getting up the nose of this non-Scottish Brit. I suppose its one of the reasons he's No 1. He mentioned the use of today's internet technology by the University of the Highlands & Islands Millenium Institute to create a virtual university. It'd be worth checking out what they did.

I wonder! I was disappointed with Sir David's speech, maybe I'm begining to get it. Speed of change, personalisation, global scale all are creating massive opportunity. I quite liked his progression of technology that enables audio mobility, from a radio with valves being moved between rooms to car radios to hand held walkie talkies via mobile bricks to todays hand sets. (Arguably the story of mobility is actually the story of battery technology). Some key bullets are, "the device formerly known as the mobile phone" will become the 4th screen, after the TV, the computer and the car. There is a need to learn how to understand value and not service nor time. Perhaps one of the best tag lines was,

"Only long term competitive advantage is the rate at which we learn!"

But two thirds of the world don't have a phone. Conquering the digital divide means addressing some serious geo-political problems. City Business School have published research showing the correlation and cause between {mobile} phone adoption and economic growth, imagine the contribution of the 4bn non-connected people to the global economy. I know that at the moment, they're often more concerned with food and freedom and giving them a phone and a stake in global capitalism isn't exactly priority number one for these disenfranchised people.

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A return to Edinburgh

Edinburgh, used by www2006 as part of their logo'ingI've been invited to speak at a workshop on Open Source at www2006 in Edinburgh and arrived at the Airport, and was driven into town by a well travelled taxi driver who didn't scare the sh\*t out of me, nor share his views on Ken Livingstone's congestion charge.

The picture here is taken from the www2006 web site which they created for the event. I took a couple on the

Its a very long time since I've visited the city and it's bourgois granite grandeur remains as impressive as ever.

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