Saturday 27 May 2006

Wow. P2P backup?

A couple of people have lost data recently - Andrew Mitchell's hard disk died while JP Rangaswami's hosting company had a major failure and his blog was lost.

Both were able to recover content from backups - what makes Rangaswami's experience interesting is that content was salvaged not from the hosting company's backups (they failed too!) but from content cached in other blog mashing services, search engines, the Internet archive and even user's RSS clients. To quote Rangaswami - "Wow. P2P backup?"

So while we worry about the risks of the mashed up Web, could this also be a strength? I won't stop backing up just yet but lets keep working on this idea...

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Talking up dotmobi

Remember me talking about mobile friendly m dot websites the other day? Well, the "industry" has gone the other way and launched a new top-level domain, .modi (or dotmobi). The purpose of dotmobi is to make it easier for mobile web users to find mobile content and to give them some assurance that the sites they visit are optimised for a mobile web experience.

However, despite a bit of PR effort and a swish website complete with a blog, not everyone is switched on to dotmobi. Mr WWW, Tim Berners-Lee, has made it clear he is not a supporter of dotmobi as he believe it will fragment the Web. The W3C also presented some arguments against dotmobi back in 2004 as they saw it as "Inconsistent with Device Independence Principles". On a more practical level, someone points out that dotmobi is just another domain to remember and needs more keypresses than .com.

Either way, don't get too excited just yet - from the few example dotmobi sites out there the dotmobi experience is looking pretty dotboring. If dotmobi continues on the basis of the lowest common denominator then it may be a case of too little too late as mobile technology power and screen resolution increases over time. As always, only time will tell - this pragmatic approach to mobile content could be a winner in the long run.

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Tuesday 23 May 2006

MS to bring automated social networking inside the firewall

In the late 1990's some of us working with Lotus Notes got very excited about a product they developed called Raven. It promised to provide an automated expertise locator that would enable you to find people in an organisation based on the relationship "between people and topics based upon authorship and activity.". I'm not sure really what happened to it or if anyone started using it. However, now Microsoft have annouced plans for a similar product called Knowledge Network for Office SharePoint Server 2007. Just like Raven promised, it will let you "search for people by automating the discovery of the business relationships and subject matter expertise of everyone in the network."

Could this be the influence of Ray Ozzie at play? Well, I hope this time around Knowledge Network makes a greater implact than poor old Raven.

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Magnetic drives are dead, long live solid state

I'm not really a hardware fanatic, but this story from Engadget about a new laptop from Samsung is worth mentioning. This new laptop features a 32GB solid state "flash" drive rather than a traditional hard disk.

Engadget tell us that the "32GB [flash drive] reads 300 percent faster (53MB/s) and write 150 percent quicker (28MB/s) than normal hard drives while offering better protection against shock, 25-50% faster boots and sleep recovery times, longer battery life and reduced weight all in a completely silent, fanless package. Hoozah!".

What we can expect to see is the gap between PDA, mobile phone and laptop only shrink further.

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Monday 22 May 2006

Danger: Mashups Ahead

Social software and the like appear to always follow a kind of "S" shaped risk hype curve, so its only natural as interest in mashups becomes more popular we see questions about the risks they present. JP Rangaswami's (CIO of DrKW - the Enterprise 2.0 case study) reflects on a critical article in the New Scientist that warns about the dangers mashups. They are particulary concerned about privacy, but also our reliance on data for which integrity can not be assured.

However Rangaswami comments "We need to ensure that the weeds of DRM are not allowed to choke the mashup flowers. Let a thousand mashup flowers bloom. We need new answers to identity and access, but we are not going to get them by constraining new ways of doing things with old ways of stopping things."

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Thursday 18 May 2006

The e-Working Class

Via Techdirt, BusinessWeek looks at the appearence of "digital factory jobs":

"Behind the seemingly magical offerings of the Internet are thousands of human beings madly inputting data around the clock. The work ranges from the slightly creative, such as... crafting sentences for ads to snag search traffic, to the rote -- typing in descriptions of hamburgers for online menus."

Another reminder that we can't always predict the impact of technology on society. Will it be just a question of time until even these digital factories are superceeded by technology or cheaper "imports"? And what will happen to the e-working class?

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Sunday 14 May 2006

Use your voice

The Australian Flexible Learning Framework website is an excellent resource, even for those that might not consider themselves having an interest in e-learning. Thanks to Nancy White for spotting this new resource on using your voice online. This resource focuses "on online voice technologies and the new practices in innovative e-learning that they make possible", however there is definitely broader applications for collaboration and knowledge management for tools such as voice boards, voice chat, voice email and audioblogs. I particularly like the idea of voiceboards - these are online discussion boards that use voice posts rather than text - because I can see a steady progression away from hypertext to hypermedia taking place as information and communication technologies converge and evolve.

PS Also check out the KnowledgeTree electronic journal.

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The need for speed

Care of Corporate Engagement, it would appear that while big PC monitors make staff more productive, "ageing and unreliable office computers are making workers unhappy and more likely to claim sick leave". Good to know, but what I'm really interested to know is if these users are being influenced by their own experiences of using PC technology at home?


Monday 8 May 2006

Contemplating Your Digital Life

Did you dig a little deeper from my last post and have a look at Mary Czerwinski’s page of research? If not, take another look as there is a great discussion piece where Czerwinki and some other researchers look at the past and future of what has been called "life caching".

In this article, titled In Digital Memories in an Era of Ubiquitous Computing and Abundant Storage (PDF), they look at why we might want to do it and the problems or issues this might create, including how we might go about retrieving such digital memories later.

It turns out that the idea of storing our life histories isn’t so radical after all - they reference a 1945 article in the The Atlantic Monthly by Vannever Bush called As We May Think – luckily, thanks to the miracle of modern technology you can read it online (you’ll need to skip to the end for relevant part).

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Saturday 6 May 2006

Technology isn’t the bad guy here

There is a lot of advice floating around about technology and productivity, particulary for managing email overload. Taking a slightly different appraoch, with the help of Dr Ben Searle from Macquarie University, the ABC's Catalyst science tv show observed an office worker and gave them a "workplace makeover".

They conclude that "Technology isn’t the bad guy here" and people should:

  • Pay attention to your ergonomic set up (use a bigger PC monitor - they point to research by Mary Czerwinski at Microsoft).

  • Minimise excessive stimulation, like television and music while you are working; and

  • Favour the phone over email - it’s simply faster.

But while there is some good straight forward advice here, and while acknowledging that this was just a short piece in a TV show, it really only scratches the surface of dealing with technology in the workplace - for example, how do we improve the productivity of people working in different roles and distributed teams?

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