Foundational Slabs

Anchor for this item  posted Friday, June 23, 2006 at 4:01 PM MST

I was enthralled earlier today by a general meeting run using FlashMeeting, produced by The Center for New Media, part of Knowledge Media Institute at the Open University. Looking through their list of projects and other documents eventually lead me to a fabulous proposal. The Open University; Open Content Initiative - The OCI Proposal ...
"The University has an extensive reservoir of high-quality learning materials available in a variety of formats. It proposes to explore how best to make some of these freely accessible in an international web-based open content environment and, in so doing, to advance open content delivery methods and technologies"
Hear, hear!


Also of note:
  • Rostra - Intelligent News Agency Technologies
  • eXtrem Webcasting
  • XO - the automatic presentation creator and XO backlot
  • From the Compendium group: Mimetic - Meeting Memory Technology Informing Collaboration; Compendium for indexing online meetings

  • On a different beat:
  • AccessGrid3
  • CoAKTinG (Collaborative Advanced Knowledge Technologies in the Grid), from AKT (Advanced Knowledge Technologies)
  • "Information is all around us. Never has it been so easy to collect. Never has it been so easy to store. Never has there been such easy access to it. And yet this info-bonanza is seen all too frequently not as a boon, but as a burden. The information you actually need is often concealed by information that you don't need; it is covered by a blanket of info-smog. To realise the opportunity of our information-rich environment, you need to extract knowledge from information, value from the info-smog. New resources, such as the semantic web, are the key to extracting the value from your informational assets.

    Let us define knowledge as usable information. What does "usable" mean here? ..."

  • Co-OPR: Collaborative Operations for Personnel Recovery, from AIAI, School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh
  • From JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) - Virtual Research Environments Programme

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    Incorporated Subversion? Okay, why not!

    Anchor for this item  posted Tuesday, June 20, 2006 at 4:44 PM MST

    "Incorporated Subversion" is the blog I just found ... cool. James Farmer is down-under and (apparently) involved with EduBlogs (this site is down just now; it was fine 5 minutes ago!) and WikiSpaces.

    That last link came to my attention because of this:

    "You can link Blogger and TypePad blog entries with Wikispaces pages and import those blog entries into Wikispaces pages. The imported text can then be edited just like regular Wikispaces content."
    That's something I've been working towards ... sloshing content back and forth from Wiki to Blog! Read it at "Blog Integration".

    Digging around the WikiSpaces blog itself brought this to the surface:

  • Never Again International wiki - "Never Again is a collaborative international network which aims to provoke ideas and action for peace"
  • from NetSquared (a project of TechSoup): "Hey, teacher, leave those kids alone: the decentralization of expertise and the creation of community knowledge bases"



  • On a more techie note: " How to Get Google AJAX Search For Your Site", thanks to Stuff to Think About via BloggerBuzz.

    Also, a Case Study in Micro Media ... the skinny on TechCrunch. (see MicroPersuasion.com)


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    "Users", "readers", "participants" ... what's in a word?

    Anchor for this item  posted Monday, June 19, 2006 at 10:00 PM MST

    I just posted a long item in ''Beyond Greed''. Here's part of it:

    In the first post to the blog for the new "Democratic Strategist", Scott Winship (the Managing Editor) included this invitation:

    "you (dear reader) can help make this a better blog by passing along links to articles or studies that I can deconstruct. I know that sounds like I'm pushing my work off on you, but hey"
    My reply was this:
    Passing along links and articles you can deconstruct? Ok!

    FWIW the phrase I have been using to describe my project is "participatory deliberation". Can we deliberate interactively? It seems, from a decades-long survey of web activity, that we can either interact or deliberate in a manner that is more or less traditional, i.e. on our own, publishing the products of that deliberation.

    Perhaps the best we can do is to feed a few with grist for their mills. I think not. And if so? Then I wish you and your group the most wholesome success."

    Coincidentally, Jon Udell's latest was on a related subject:
    "For an internal IDG newsletter I was asked to pick the industry buzzword that most annoys me and write a brief essay explaining why. I chose user-generated content and wrote the following:
    "Everything about this buzzphrase annoys me.
    [...]
    IT has customers and clients, not users. IT-oriented publishers have readers, not users.

    Second, "content" is a word that reminds me more of sausage than of storytelling. As writers and editors we don't "generate" "content," we tell stories that inform, educate, and entertain -- or should.

    Now that the original vision of a two-way web is finally made real, we can distinguish between amateur storytellers (in the best and highest sense of amateur) and professional storytellers. Thanks to the contributions of the amateurs -- who are of course professional practitioners of the disciplines that we "cover" -- we can tell deeper, richer, more well-informed stories about the products and services they create, and the work they do. Those stories are valuable, and the business I want to be in is based on that value, not on the ''monetization'' of ''user-generated content''.

    So I will instead propose reader-created context. [...] Much of own work -- in tagging, in intelligent search, in screencasting -- aims to empower readers, listeners, and viewers to create context and learn on demand. Enlightened 21st-century publishers will create value from that kind of empowerment too."

    My point is simple: until we have /more/ we shouldn't be overly concerned about the terminology and nomenclature.

    Really ... who doesn't say "I use Firefox" (or Opera or whatever) or "I use a Mac" (likewise). But bottom-line: how much real participation is there? How much story-sharing is there, really? Ohhhhh for sure, lots of story-telling ... but truly: how much interaction?

    So my reply to Jon was this:

    "If there's an antidote to the "false consensus effect" it has to be interaction. My thinking about "participatory deliberation" is as informed by tribal memories of camp-fire chats as by liberal notions of group discernment; either way, meaning is a social construct.

    Having said that ... what else but "users"? "Participants" is unwieldy, "contributers" likewise, and sounds to one-directional. "Reader-created" ... nice, but it won't displace "user". :-)

    BTW: in the late 60s a public education process arose from the actual needs of kidz going to do public service in developing countries; they needed to learn, so it came to be that those returning "taught" as a form of de-compression ... debriefing, in effect. The resources they used in their presentations comprised the centers' libraries. The network of those centers lasted through into the early 90s. (I was on the scene and tried to use the web as a source of energy to give that network a new lease on life ... but failed.) My point is this: the entities that arose were referred to as being "learner-centered", ergo: The Edmonton Cross-cultural Learner Center.

    Old things new again? My "ParDelib" aims at the urge to consume / contribute / participate ... like Mozilla, except concentrating on public discourse. heh ... try packaging /that/! ;-)"


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    Yesterday I was dealing with a peculiarity that seems typical of today's programming: I had been chatting with the lead developer for the new Netscape news project and he said something about the 80% attitude ... I won't go into the philosophical here and now except to share my concerns; rolling out a major website but not offering any way for users outside the USA to register their location? Gone the typical pull-down country menu, absent the functionality that switches from "State" to "Province" when Canada is selected ... only the clever widget that localizes according to zipcode ... no option. And the strangely narrow text input box for comments? And the inability of entering any markup, even a blank line? That's all lower down on the list ... long after launch.

    It seems that the basics aren't worth doing right the first time! I don't want to be mean ... the young fellow is very nice and pleasantly interactive ... but still.

    My point is this: my "participatory deliberation" project is intended to cut through the information clutter while providing the enjoyment of online interaction, but it relies on on solid fundamentals, it needs to rest on solid foundations ... and that hasn't yet come into being. Or, perhaps and better, it's just about to.

    What moves me to write all this just now is that my "BlogThis!" bookmarklet has stopped working ... probably a namespace collision with some other Firefox extension. Anyhow, in the process of finding an alternative I came across this bit by Jon Udell ... it's dated, so I'm not sure it's still accurate, but it touches the core of the issues I'm focussing on.


    In Jon Udell's ''Interactive Microcontent'' there's a section titled "Working with Calendar Fragments"
    "Ray Ozzie recently touched off a flurry of discussion about sharing calendar objects. I did some experimenting and wrote up some observations on the matter, to which Adrian Cuthbert responded as follows (email quoted with permission):
    "The idea of being able to click on a link and have embedded page content delivered to a helper application seems reasonable enough. But there doesn't appear to be an easy way to embed XML data into XHTML and use it."


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  • Three new blogs:
    *Rob Fay
    *Brian Alvey
    *Alex Rudloff

  • An interesting ''Web2.0'' app: LinkedIn; "Relationships Matter"

  • Selected reading: "Transforming Your Intranet" (PDF of Chapter 5) -
    "Our chapter is entitled, "Preparing for Intranet 2.0: how to integrate new communication technology into your intranet." The intranet is changing. New communication technology is making it less a one-way publishing vehicle and more a platform for two-way communication, collaboration and innovation. In this chapter, we discuss these new technologies – from RSS, to wikis to blogs."

    And just for fun, NetscapeNew! www.beta.netscape.com


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