Monday, November 26, 2007

The Giant Global Graph

Tim Berners-Lee's blog on the next tier of connectivity on the web (connecting computers, data/documents, and people) is discussed here.

Blogged with Flock

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tasty Data Goodies - Swivel

I came across a new web service/site in connection with some research I was doing, Tasty Data Goodies - Swivel. A warning ... there is some interesting stuff here so it can be a time sink once you go there!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Is email for old people?

If you have a teen or a young adult in your life, this may not come as a surprise. So, you might find this article interesting. Quoting the article:
just as older generations have embraced emails, kids have moved on to many different forms of communication from instant messaging to text messaging to private messaging through social networks to broadcast messaging through Twitter and Facebook news feeds. And, while it worries the reporter a bit, he's come to accept it and realize that kids are simply figuring out the best, most efficient way to communicate different messages -- where email as a one-size-fits-all communication system is a bit clunky.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Scholarship in the Digital Age

Today’s Inside Higher Education features an interview with Christine L. Brogman about her new book, Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet, published by the MIT Press.

Here is an excerpt of the interview. . . .

Q: What do you see as the key unexplored policy issues raised by digital scholarship?

A: The overarching policy issue is what the new scholarly information infrastructure should be. Cyberinfrastructure is the policy answer of the moment. My concern is whether this is a solution in search of a problem that we don’t yet fully understand. Building something is much easier than is determining what to build – the risk today is that we construct a new infrastructure that locks in a number of questionable assumptions about what scholarship is and what it could be in the future.

Some aspects of a successful new scholarly infrastructure are these:

* It would support both collaborative and independent research and learning.
* It would provide relatively easy and equitable access to information resources and to the tools to use them.
* It would provide scholars in all fields with the ability to use their own research data and that of others to ask new questions and to visualize and model their data in new ways. For example:

o Scientists – better models of the environment.
o Social scientists – better ways to analyze social trends.
o Humanists – new ways to explore and explain culture – and to mine all those books being digitized by Google, Open Content Alliance, and other international projects

* Open access would prevail, and access to digital content would be permanent.
* Institutional responsibility for obtaining and maintaining digital content would be clear and would be sustainable.

We haven’t achieved any of these goals yet. Each of the many stakeholders – scholars, students, universities, publishers, librarians, archivists, funding agencies, and the taxpaying public – has different concerns for how these functions should be addressed. What we need is a broader conversation that includes these many interested parties.

The full interview can be found at

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Designing the Future

Donald Norman has written extensively about design, education, information technology, and a host of other topics. His latest book, The Design of Future Things(New York: Basic Books, 2007), will be of interest to faculty in our school, especially for those interested in social computing.

Norman presents his thesis early on his book, suggesting that “as machines start to take over more and more, . . . they need to be socialized; they need to improve the way they communicate and interact and to recognize their limitations. Only then can they become truly useful” (p. 9). Norman is dealing, of course, with the “limitations” of machines – “they do not sense the world in the same way as people, they lack higher order goals, and they have no way of understanding the goals and motives of the people with whom they must interact” (p. 14).

One of the more interesting points Norman makes, at least a point that is interesting for SIS, is the interdisciplinary nature of design: “Design cuts across all disciplines, be it the arts or sciences, humanities or engineering, law or business. In universities, the practical is often judged less valuable than the abstract and theoretical. Universities, moreover, put each discipline into separate schools and departments, where people mainly talk to others within their own narrowly defined categories. This compartmentalization is optional for developing specialists who understand their narrow area in great depth. It is not well suited for the development of generalists whose work cuts across disciplines. Even when the university tries to overcome this deficit by establishing new, multidisciplinary programs, the new program soon becomes its own discipline and grows more and more specialized each year” (pp. 171-172). Norman’s assessment seems awfully close to the nature of the challenges we face here, from the reorganization of the School to the design and offering of a common introductory course. Norman argues that we need a “science of design” (p. 172). “We need a new approach, one that combines the precision and rigor of business and engineering, the understanding of social interactions, and the aesthetics of the arts” (p. 173) – and even here we can hear echoes of our discussions about technology, people, and society.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Networking's 50 greatest arguments

For those of you who are not from the telecom world, you might enjoy scanning this item, which claims to list the "50 greatest arguments" among networking professionals. As one from this world, I can attest that these are indeed significant debates that have happened or are happening. Many have never been resolved (except by administrative fiat in an organization). I would also note that the list contains items of varying significance and importance (eg. Intel vs. AMD). Anyway, I think this list might be helpful in giving you some insight into what practicing telecom professionals concern themselves with.