No sooner have I blogged about finely tuned antennae than I see that the FeedForward team have released a version for people to have a look at. FeedForward is described as: FeedForward is a personal aggregator (or possibly a personal information environment...) that integrates inputs and services from both the academic sector and wider world to support common information workflows involving phases of scanning, selecting and organising, tagging and republishing.
The discovery to delivery hook-line has been used for a while to describe a goal of those information services which support the academic researcher. The challenge to academic libraries, national information services etc. has been to support the researcher from the moment they begin the process of searching to the delivery of the digital or physical artefact which satisfies their enquiry. Lately, I've been thinking about discovery to delivery, wondering why it just doesn't quite work for me.
The BBC are 'widgetising' their home page see the beta here. It's quite slick, with a liberal sprinkling of Ajax user-interface decoration. It introduces a greater degree of 'personalisation' and 'localisation'. When I visited the page, I duly entered my postcode, but I couldn't really see a difference to the page after 'localising' it - except for the 'weather widget' which would be the first thing I'd remove any way if I started using this page for real.
Correction: In a comment, Justin Crites points out, correctly, that Simple DB does not offer 'relational' database functionality, in the sense that it is not an RDBMS. While this is true, I think Simple DB clearly offers functionality which many people get, perhaps inappropriately, from a relational database system. Amazon continue to expand their excellent infrastructure web services. Simple DB - relational databases in the cloud. I'm definitely going to have a look at this - clustering/replicating databases for resilience and performance was extraordinarily difficult when I was developing and supporting enterprise systems a couple of years ago.
Having attended the CRIG Unconference last week, I think that it delivered much that was interesting and valuable. I look forward to the results of the synthesis of the many contributions from the delegates. Although there was just one formal presentation, the volume of content was still considerable, as just about everyone actively contributed something. The final analysis will have to demonstrate whether or not the quality of the content has been good enough to be useful.
David Flanders and I share an interest in the notion of the 'unconference', so I'm pleased to be participating in the CRIG Unconference which David and the 'WoCRIG' team has organised. David introduces the idea of the unconference thus: An un-conference is a combination of the best parts of a conference (face-to-face discussions generating new ideas, passionate debates and genuine information exchange) with all the PowerPoint stripped out. The agenda is set by the attendees on the day in a very simple and direct way - there is no signing up for predetermined break-out sessions and no sitting through interminable PowerPoint presentations.
The strange excitement in some parts of the HE sector around Facebook continues apace. Apparently, it is now possible to create a page for an organisation rather than for an individual. This is of course creating a stir, with a rush to claim pages. Kind of like internet domain registering but without the regulatory framework. There's a long comment thread over on Brian's blog with several points of view on this.
I've just listened to a podcast of David Heinemeier Hansson's keynote at RailsConf 2007 (which actually took place back in May of this year). David describes the changes and new features being introduced into Rails 2.0. Firstly, he is at pains to point out that Rails 2.0 will not represent a radical change, or a complete re-write. Also, 95% of what will constitute Rails 2.0's new features are already available in the bleeding edge EdgeRails and are being actively used.
Caveat: there follows a bit of a moan about some poor service - but if you can't have an occasional moan on your own blog.... who know, maybe even the service I'm moaning about has people who monitor for this sort of thing! I've been using the same web-hosting supplier, Site5, for a number of years. Site5 was a good fit for me as it offered a good range of development tools and more access (SSH/SFTP) to the server than was commonly allowed by web-hosts at the time.
Some time ago, several of my friends in Facebook installed the 'MyQuestions' application: this application allows the user to pose a question and invite answers from their friends. Significantly, in order to answer a question the friend must, in turn, install the application. I was that friend. Since installing the application I haven't intentionally used it to pose any new questions myself. However, it seems I have posed a question - on installation the application is set to ask a question, any question, in order to be seen by my friends.
I recently got spammed invited to participate in Karl Bubyan's Six Degrees of Separation application in Facebook. This application navigates the 'social graph' in Facebook, offering a couple of tools to allow the user to test the ' Six degrees of separation' hypothesis. The application and its interface seem quite slick - and it has the now obligatory visualisation (reproduced here). There's an irony here. The six degrees of separation idea can only work if there is some barrier to being directly connected to someone else.
I haven't used a dedicated instant messaging (IM) client for many months. I do occasionally use text-chat facilities when they are built into other tools - notably Skype at the moment. Last week however, a colleague sent me their contact details on four of the available IM networks: AOL/AIM Yahoo MSN Google Because I cannot control what my ID or 'screen-name' will be on each of these, I am forced to use different IDs for some.
RLG Programs has conducted a survey of partner institutions which have “multiple metadata creation centers” to: ...gain a baseline understanding of current descriptive metadata practices and dependencies, the first project in our program to change metadata creation processes. Some intriguing statements in this summary post (I look forward to getting hold of the report when it's completed). For example: 76 listed the tools they used to create metadata.
I very much enjoyed the UK e-Science All Hands Meeting 2007 last week. Being new to many of the disciplines covered there, I went with an open mind. I learned a bewildering amount, and realised that there are all kinds of opportunities for aligning my professional interests with those of many from the e-science communities. Some small, specific points: Being more used to conferences in the e-Learning an web-development worlds, I was struck by the ratio of women to men.
Day 3 kicked off with a really impressive keynote on 'Medical Visualisation between 2D Images' from Professor Anders Ynnerman. CT scanning is developing to the point where the volume of data returned from a scan of a human body is difficult to manage and process. Various strategies are being developed to reduce the amount of data which must be analysed from a typical scan before the analysis and visualisation processes are invoked.
I've travelled to Nottingham, to the East Midlands Conference Centre, to attend the UK e-Science All Hands Meeting 2007. With my academic background being rooted predominately in the humanities, I'm looking forward to immersing myself for the next 4 days in a very different set of disciplines. I'm also wondering what chance I have of getting the conference dinner, scheduled for Wednesday evening, moved to a bar showing the England v Russia match.
A night spent in a fairly modern but spartan student university hall - all aluminium staircases and orange walls (Frederique of JISC described it as the 'EasyJet' of student acommodation). I kept waking up wondering why I hadn't been woken up by Harvey.... And so to the main auditorium, for the first plenary session. The auditorium had been dressed up in a way that reminded me of the launch venue for some new corporate venture - complete with a background of cheesy, dated rock music.
As an increasingly serious practitioner of David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) system, I immediately appreciated this post on 'personal unit tests'. I think 27 daily tests is probably far too many to begin with - this might explain the author's 85% failure rate.... but then again, think of the glow of satisfaction he'll experience when he passes all 27! I think this appeals to me in the same way that GTD does - one real lesson from which is to keep taking the small steps.
I'm coming to the end of two weeks' paternity leave - its not all about exhaustion, anxiety and strange green poo.....picture is of Harvey and me. I'm the one doing the crossword.
A couple of years ago, Dave Winer posted an article in which he outlined the notion of a _ River of News_, describing the use of an RSS aggregator to simply scroll through the latest new items from many sources (or categories), all merged together in one 'stream'. I don't tend to use my RSS reader (the excellent NetNewsWire) in this way, preferring to browse particular sources as the fancy takes me.