Thanks to Greg Hamilton and Scott Laningham, we are now on Podtech.net as well. Some of the entries are specific podcasts that Scott produces, and ther is a on-page player in the right hand column after the tag cloud that's pretty cool looking.
Community and social computing
A little vacation afterthought...
While in Key West, former pirate stomping grounds with acual sunken treasure waters, we went to the Pirate Soul's pirate museum on a lark, which has actual pirate artifacts at hand and a fairly decent, if small, museum: a pirate chest, sword/buckler, matchlock pistol, dinner plate, etc. There's also a very nicely done digital book of pirate history you can peruse. It also holds one of only two actually-proven-provenance pirate flags known to the world. It's actually a fairly plain looking skull and bones (which I can't show here unfortunately). It's nothing like the made up stylized pirate flags we found over in the gift shop and you can see all over the place including this one on the back of a Jeep.
This rings back to the most recent Pirates of the Carribean movie where at one point a whole fleet of pirate vessels at sea with their own pirate flags. It looked like they all shopped at that Pirate Museum gift store. Obviously the movie is fiction, with more attitude added to pirate life than reality, but sometimes you see just how fake it is. In terms of the actual movie, I still think the first of the three was still the best, with this third being far too overachieving in terms of plot, and direction. Overstimulation is sometimes just that. The characters behave as the director figured self-interested pirates would, meaning they would do whatever they needed to achieve their own goals, but at some point, it got far too complicated to keep straight who wanted what. Visually, they also tried far too much, pushing into ludicrous speed... yes, they went plaid.
(See I didn't give away the plot entirely)
I came across a little gem out in the field of data we collect on ourpageviews yesterday: "Topic Popularity". It looks at the pageviews toour articles and tutorials, per the taxonomy topic keyword in metadataof each article, then divides it by the number of articles that keywordappears in to get an average pageviews per article (per topic name).
Current top ten hot topics in our articles:
Ian Hughes pointed me to the eightbar teams summary of what some companies have been building on SecondLife over the past months, including Warner Bros., American Apparel, Major League Baseball, the BBC, and Amazon.
This Business Week article On-the-Job Video Gamingtalks about how companies are using 3D games as a visual training tool.Essentially, some game companies are taking existing 3D game enginesthey have created or even some of the "free" engines out there to builda 3D world that recreates their real-world environment and puts theminto a role-playing scenario like a retail store or a virtual bank...Except I guess you don't get to hack up the customers :)-rawn[Read More]
One trend that sci-fi authors, role playing games, movies and multiuser environments have talked about for decades, is finally becoming more and more real.
Examine these parallel trends:
A. Dungeons & dragons / Role playing (non-computer) characters
-> text MUD games players
-> MMORPGs (e.g. Ultima Online, Everquest, World of Warcraft)
-> Non-RPG-based environments (The Sims Online, Second Life)
-> Military Tactical/Strategic representations
-> Telemetry and Remote Imaging
-> Battlefied information systems
-> Robotic military (Remote guided aircraft/UAV, bomb-detection robots, etc.)
C. Heroic Mythology (Greek myth, Viking sagas, Chinese myth)
-> People with secret super-hero identities (Batman, Daredevil, Spiderman)
-> Robotic personas (Voltron, Gundam & Macross series)
-> Virtual worlds (Tron, The Matrix trilogy)
D. User accounts
-> Web home pages
-> individual blogs
-> Group content/documents (wikis, forums, chats, etc.)
-> Spaces (combining Web pages, blogs, other Web 2.0 services)
-> Online personas
While different in form and utility, what it is pointing to is a change in how we perceive our identities in the rise of the online/alternate world.
Call them what you like, your blog, your avatar, your character, your robot, your role in the Matrix... It all points to having a separate identity for yourself in an environment other than the one you live in right now.
I tend to see this as a continuing trend where we will see more and more of ourselves participating in the online world on a regular basis.
However, I also think that people will start making distinctions. Most of us have different faces even in a typical day: there's a similar but distinct persona of you at home, at work, at school, with your family, with your friends, with the government, etc.
They are all you, just different aspects of you. With the online world, it's easier to make those different aspects, or even create new ones based on the online environment.
This comes back to developers in a real way. There is probably a "developer" identity that you put on (some of the time, or even much of the time for others).
What that developer identity needs is a environment of its own. In fact, traditionally we have that too:
> assembly language
-> programming languages
-> compilers & other developer tools
-> integrated development environments
-> online searching
-> online code repositories and exchanges
-> online group projects and identities
The X here is where it all comes together into an online space that is yours and that you have your developer avatar participate in, and that can interact in an online community or virtual world with many other developers.
In this virtual world, we're not talking about a game of fighting other developers (aka WoW style), but in a real sense of getting involved in projects, learning new ideas or meeting new people who are working on things you are interested in. It gives the setting for participating.
Once someone builds that participation environment, you as a developer can suddenly see or be exposed to the many opportunities that lie ahead. This opportunity can translate into dollars and jobs in the real world.
The rise of Web 2.0 brings a new level of collaboration into the mindsets of the audience. Ideas which were previously taboo, are now actually being considered.
For example, the value of a book is traditionally considered to be in having access to the content of the book itself. For book publishers, this model means: get one or more authors, work on a book, then print and publish the thing, and distribute to bookstores where customers can buy them.
Usually, the ability a person has to examine the contents of the book is usually limited in time (enough time to read some of the book in a store), in content (having access to some portion of the content they can review), or based on the opinion of others.
While not the first, Robert Scoble helped change views while working on his book as a blog, by giving people access to its content while it is being developed online.
This idea is close to my heart and went into the reasoning behind why we needed the developerWorks Books series, and why I helped to start that as part of IBM Press. Somewhere in the following I think is the future of how books can be developed in something that benefits most parties.
It's similar to, although not exactly the same, as "open sourcing" the book since the philosophy of open source does not preclude selling the product. However, if you have access to the contents of the book for free, why would you buy it.
This puts traditional print publishers in a dilemma. Their business is based on selling the product, not giving it away online and hope someone still buys a copy.
To me, both ways seem a little extreme.
Developing a book takes a lot of time and effort and in some topics, by the time you finish writing, a lot may have changed. My guess is that most authors want not only the noteriety but hopefully would also like to get paid from the knowledge they put down. Call me a capitalist, but giving away a year or two of my life to write a book that may become outdated deserves some reward beyond the satisfaction that you've tried to impart some wisdom to the world.
In the fast changing online world, it makes a lot of sense to do some grass-roots promotion of the book by talking about the subject or showing people some of what you have been working on. This is in hopes that later, when you are done writing and editing, people will want to buy the finished product.
Therefore, I think there's a use-case somewhere in between. I say a use-case because I think this is something people will want to do online.
E.g., provide a group of authors with a tool for them to put together a document (say a Wiki), that they can all edit. Develop the outline, and start fleshing out some of the chapters and sections. Then introduce processes between the authors and an editor where they can bring in the editorial process. Then give access to a select audience or even a wide audience to some of the content so you can get some feedback and peer review. Finally, give access to the content and some knowledge about what others think of the book in progress to the book marketing group so they know what it is about and how its doing.
Thus, this package is a specific use-case for book development that involves an online tool for document development, perhaps another tool for discussion, access control to select or public audiences to portions of the content that you choose, ways to measure opinions and traffic to the publicly available/reviewable sections, and then finally a way to transfer the developed content into a format suitable for publishing/printing/distribution.
It involves giving away part of the book for free so that you get a drumbeat going as well as some feedback on coverage. In exchange, you get a better understanding of how the market may receive the work before it is even complete.
The step beyond is where it gets real interesting.
There's no real end to the book, if people are really interested. You could continue working on developing the content, adding new material, and exposing new material to others. You continue to build on a book without having to build a huge business case for a new book or a new edition, unless there really needs to be one.
Paul Dreyfus from our team is helping to make the dW series of books become real and there should be some interesting news coming out this year.
This idea above is so far just my own brainstorming. I doubt it is unique and probably already in force somewhere. It requires the expertise, experience and cooperation of a book publisher, an online publisher, and authors daring enough to try it out. From a Web 2.0 perspective, I think it makes for an interesting approach to team and even community driven content, and brings remixing to a whole new level (between print and online media).
Man, too many projects for me to inspect all coming up at the same time with this new job. Not enough time to blog in depth. I have two jobs to do simultaneously right now and it's definitely keeping me busy.
Meanwhile: take a look at this site I put together for my swordfighting students. This should link to our site on ning.
With our shift towards the more social interaction of Web 2.0, we're currently trying to figure out what makes sense in terms of defining topics and taxonomies in developerWorks.
We already have an internal taxonomy which is used as a table of data in things like our search boxes (see the choices for "topics").
Now we are tackling the issues of how do we build a new taxonomy-like structure that also allows community members to contribute. This is very much in the folksonomy concept in sites like: del.icio.us, flickr, 43things.com, etc.
First, a quick review of things that contribute to complexity of these issues.
There are a number of faces of the same thing which I'll define to point out the differences:
In addition to these concepts, dW itself has some concepts we use regularly, primarily the zone which covers a major topic that we want to publish information on. Thus a zone is a variant of a topic. We also have had "special topics" (smaller than a zone), an "area" (also smaller than a zone), a "station" (guess what: smaller than a zone).
James Governor of RedMonk has a point in his blog
Wake up IBM: come out from behind developerworks!!!
If it isn't obvious already, developerWorks focuses on a mixed audience of programmers, sysadmins, architects, testors, etc. all those directly involved in the software development lifecycle. Hence, our blogs fall in the same cloud too.
IBMers do have other blogs both on the site and outside, but there isn't an area for "all IBM blogs" externally from the global IBM site yet. Honestly, that falls beyond dW's scope.
The notion that there are bits of information about us all over the Web has been a nagging feeling for many although theyre not quite sure how to deal with it. A few react to it with pride. Some people consider it as a minor issue with a reaction of needing to be careful but not in panic. Others more wary are who the insurance and financial companies are trying to target with new service offerings.
Kathy, our marketing leader, recently showed me a site that uses a combination of two Web 2.0 technologies, search and user identities, and it brought up not just a surprising collection of info but also a small shock and that old nagging feeling.
If you go to Zoominfo, youll find a whole new way to feed either your ego or paranoia, or even both. You can type in the name of any person or organization and it will search the Net for all the info it can where your name is published, most likely areas that do not require registration.
I came across only a handful of results mapping back to my name at previous jobs (LinuxWorld, RTD System & Networking, etc.), and automatically builds a new online profile about me. I could then register as a member and create a more detailed profile by editing it. In some ways, it builds on what LinkedIn is missing, that is, auto-filling in my information rather than entering it by hand.
Thats probably not as surprising as the other linkages it finds. For example, it does a lateral search of other people who have worked at these organizations to find my peers and coworkers. Youll probably be surprised who you remember and who you dont. It probably doesnt find info which requires you to enter an account and password but I have not explored this fully yet.
The core idea in this model is to build an online profile that can be reused. In Web 2.0 terms, you can then probably use this profile in other applications, sites, etc. in ways the dreamers, innovators, and entrepreneurs will figure out.
I dont know how the tool is implemented but my guess is that it involves one or more of the large search engines to perform the searching. This application focuses on conducting multiple sequential relevant searches and consolidating it under a common presentation, backed by registration and other tools.
This is an example of a federated identity but not in the sense of user-account identities and single-sign-on applications. It is federation around online information centered on your own real world identity, or at least your name.
I came across a box of old business cards from the days I was afreelance writer and editor (7-10 years ago I think). There's probably200 very outdated business cards in there, some famous, somenot-so-famous, some not-famous-anymore, some too-famous-to-remember-me,all in IT business one way or another and most during the heyday of thefirst Internet boom. I'll mention some of the companies not names:dimensionX, network99, TurboLinux, RandomNoise, WebLogic, Sendmail.com,Axcess magazine, Axil Computer, Net-It Software, Artisoft, MaxSpeed,dozens of book and magazine publishers. The funny thing is that I canstill remember a lot of these meetings that I've had. I keep themaround as a sort of memorabilia, I guess.
About two or more years ago, I started using LinkedInto try to keep track of contacts, but even that takes work. I just cameback to take a look at how many people I know have joined the site, andit's just grown enormous; almost too many people to find particularones. I went ahead and tried to refresh some of the entries and addnewer names, anyway.
The kinds of Peer networking and contact systems like LinkedIn, and OpenBC,all serve a very good purpose in themselves but I think that they willsoon start to relive the problems we had with contact managementsystems of the past, on a whole new level. We can exchange contact infonow with standards like vCards, but peer networking introduces manymore capabilities that become relevant in a social network context thatsooner or later will need to interact between web sites.
Rather than importing/exporting data, the greater significance is theability to exchange data through some services endpoint. XML-definedentries (I'm not sure if vCards can do that) that can be accesseddirectly for more specific information, all with the right accesscontrol.
The good thing is that this issue will take some time to hit: when manymore companies not only consider the use of peer networks, but rely onthem for their business. This is starting to happen in at least a fewsites: Alibaba.com, even eBay to a degree. However, they haven't quitegone the full depth of peer networking towards degrees-of-separation,detailed contact history, message propagation through peers, etc.
The amount of work going into building social collaboration has taken off in a new direction in the past few years. In particular, the interest is in creating "spaces" for users on the Web.
It's good to see the original work that started from BBS and text-based MUSHes/MUDs/MOOs/etc. has led to a new presentation online. Just take a look at the new generation:
I actually feel a little vindicated now of having tossed a few years of my life back in the late 1980s and early 1990s into playing and programming MUDs.
It seems like now, a decade or more later, the rest of the world is starting to catch on that the Web will need to allow people to show themselves; be an actual identity, rather than a collection of user accounts, preferences, and bookmarks.
These spaces are starting to permeate more specific areas; e.g., MySpace is catching on with bands and musicians, LinkedIn is already a space for business contacts, TheFaceBook caters to the college environment, etc.
Out of this it seems like Software Developers are still kind of stuck in team programming land. While we have a shared team space, most of this is just data about the current project we are working on. Once a project is over, the people behind the project essentially "disappear" into a pool of anonymous resources, only to be invoked again when the next project comes up.
I'm talking about conventional team development environments: CVS, Lotus teamrooms, Hyades, etc. They definitely are very useful for collecting files, tracking progress, controlling access, tracking bugs, and marking activity down.
But where is the human in all of this? Are we really just a set of resources designated by HR and your Project Manager? Are our main job activity the only skills we really have?
Is the sum of us just a cog in the wheel in the grand complication of our company's part in the overall machine of industry?
This is not about socializing, or wanting to be more. There are quite valid business reasons for wanting to promote your identity, calling attention to it, and organizing the information around the many human factors that surround you.