Monday, February 28, 2011

Curation is the New Search is the New Curation

You might find this item of interest:

In it, the author argues that Google's PageRank algorithm did away with curation as the underlying principle of search. Now, like any algorithm, it has been gamed, making it less relevant. The alternative is curation but this time by crowds (e.g. or

Sunday, February 13, 2011

KM and the return to the Memex

The recent issue of the Communications of the ACM (vol. 54, no. 2, February 2011)includes several articles of interest to this community.

"Still Building the Memex" by Stephen Davies is a review of the data models underlying Personal Knowledge Bases (PKBs). Beyond the expected discussion of mind-map, hypertext systems, and note-taking applications, I was intrigued by a discussion of data provenance, which tracks the source of the external knowledge included in the PKB and allows for filtering based on the source of the information.

"Structured data on the Web" by Michael Cafarella et al. reports on two research projects developed by Google for data mining and crawling the Deep Web.

An editorial by David Roman speculating on the end of print publication of the Communications is complete with the obligatory to-the-barricades quote that "digital media will free Communications from the constraints of print" and is supported by a news item by Gary Anthes on the launching of ACM's new digital library, the first major revision of the presentation of the magazine's archives in 10 years. One of the new options for user interactivity is the feature for the creation of "shared binders", which is a cross between a realization of the Memex "trails" and the tradition of sending out reprints of one's articles to associates.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Why Some Twitter Posts Catch On, and Some Don’t

This is an interesting article on information diffusion over online social networks and its effects on other disciplines such as marketing. The key points from my perspective are:

* The structure of the social network plays more important role in the information diffusion.
* Online information does not spread as simple as a viral transmission. People often wait until a number of friends or trusted sources have adopted and promoted this information.

This article reminded me of some thoughts I had a couple of months ago for the difference in cascading effects between a "real" social network and an online social network. During that period there was the following "trend" on Facebook: everyone should have as profile picture, that of their favorite cartoon. Within one or two days almost all my friends (along with a large portion of the whole network) had adopted this trend. The analogy in a real social network would be everyone to wear a costume of their favorite cartoon. From my point of view that would never happen (or at most very few people would follow it). Even though this is an extreme example, I think that it can stimulate interesting interdisciplinary research on the differences between a real and an online social network with a focus on cascading effects and the "strength" of interactions.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Alone Together

Sherry Turkle, the well-known author of The Second Self (1984) and Life on the Screen (1995), has given us another key work in Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (New York: Basic Books, 2011). In her current book she focuses on individuals from 5 to 20 years of age, discerning how this group often rely on technology to fill in voids in their relationships. While we have seen some amazing achievements with the use of robots and other technologies to help kids and senior citizens, Turkle also argues that our use makes us change in certain profound ways. While we turn to technology, as well, to help save us time, the technology often makes us busier. “It is easy to become so immersed in technology that we ignore what we know about life” (p. 101), and we apply this notion to many aspects of our lives.