Archive for the ‘RSS’ Category

The Power of Default in the Land of Endless Possibilites (A Catch-22 Stewpod)

February 27, 2006

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This one is a “Catch-22 Stewpod”. Stewpod – because I gathered here, under a single theme, two unrelated podcasts; Catch-22 – well, you will have to keep on reading.

If you take any subject in life you would normally find yourself with many possibilities to pick from. Here are some technological examples: RSS feeds? – Feedburner‘s official numbers are ~250K; Blogs? Technorati‘s official is 27M; Linux Distros? Distrowatch‘s is 370~ ; Thinking about implementing SOA? Well, think again – there are so many different interpretations to what’s SOA; Forced to implement SOA with IBM? Hmm, there are 13 different products under the IBM’ SOA umbrella; which one do you need, or maybe do you need them all?

The point is clear – there are always too many possibilities, options and choices. But unlike the conceptual illusion that the more options one has, the more “free” (as in freedom), rich and significant his/her life would be, the lecture of Prof. Barry Schwartz – “Less is More”, demonstrates that the opposite is actually true: endless possibilities mean endless angst. Too many possibilities could well lead to paralyzation, stress and despair. Constraining the number of alternatives is, therefore, an existential necessity. Barry Schwartz suggests having a predefined default whenever possible.

Whoever used any RSS Reader knows they are coming with a predefined subscription on some selected, highly popular feeds. That’s a default. In the Enterprise world, the default’s equivalent might be a Technical Reference Model (or Manual) listing all the vendors, products and technologies authorized for use; or, as it’s usually the case, IBM is the de-facto default for practically anything.

The “Default” as a mean to regain happiness in a re-constrained world raises some evident moral questions (i.e. socio-economic and political :)), such as who’s responsible for setting the default value, for the “power of default” and its economic gains are invaluable.

Have a look, for instance, at the following Sys-Con SOA Awards. There are 21 categories related to SOA, and IBM, though never a winner, is a runner-up in 20 out of 21 categories! I would argue that this is an amazing demonstration of the power of default.

Another well known demonstration of the Default’s Power is Microsoft, with IE, Media Player, shipped as part of their operating system.

So who’s setting the default? In progressive Enterprises I assume that the Enterprise Architecture Office is in charge of the defaults. But in most Enterprises, it’s undoubtedly fear that determines which vendor gets this invaluable label. And here IBM plays, again, a major role, for “No one gets fired for buying IBM”. This axiom is a late adaptation of Keynes‘ famous remark: “It is better to fail conventionally, than to succeed unconventionally” (as quoted by James Surowieki, the other half of this stewpod). Yet, conventional failures might lead to disastrous outcomes (and see Tristan Yates: How IBM Conned Our IT Execs Out Of Millions, for an example).

Unlike the Enterprise, in the Web2.0 sphere there’s no fear, and out there the default is determined by the people’s attention. Technorati Rank, del.icio.us’ popular, digg etc. are all manifestations of the public attention. The public elects its defaults.

This leads us to the second lecture by James Surowieki – “Independent Individuals and Wise Crowds”. Humans are not ants, maintain Surowieki, and “the wisdom of crowds” is nothing but a myth. Too often the crowd is wrong and less intelligent than a single individual. Surowieki gives many amusing and interesting examples, as well as one practical advice on how to increase one’s independence in the face of the Web2.0 herd: keep your (social, intellectual, commercial, computational) ties loose. In other words – increase your options, possibilities and choices! “Inject randomness”, concludes Surowieki (Oy! Do I hear Grazing Lists?).

References:

On the Power of Default

Linked: The New Science of Networks, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi

Web2.0 Herd Criticism

Andrew Keen: Web 2.0 Is Reminiscent Of Marx

Enterprise Defaults and Pressure

Muli Koppel: Pressure (The first article in the Pressure trilogy)

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Technopod Rating: 9
podcastIcon1.gif Barry Schwartz – Less is More

Original Podlink: Barry Schwartz – Less is More

James Surowieki.jpg

Technopod Rating: 9
podcastIcon1.gif James Surowieki – Independent Individuals and Wise Crowds

Original Podlink: James Surowieki – Independent Individuals and Wise Crowds

technorati1.jpgTechnorati Wisdom of Crowds, Technorati Less is More Podlink ,Technorati the Wisdom Podlink

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Liaisons Dangereuses – On Grazing Lists and Dynamic Meta-Feeds with Adam Green and Danny Ayers

February 21, 2006

It appears that long-lasting relationships are not exactly a cherished virtue in our Technological era: SOA & Grid provide a framework for mashed-up quickies with software and hardware resources, and recently Grazing Lists have been promoted as way for having uncommitted, Darwinian relationships with the RSSed Information river. Briefly, it’s the time of the dynamic OPML (or feed-of-feeds; meta-feed).

Thanks to Alex Barnett, I had an interesting time listening to Danny Ayers, a British and an avid Ontologist, who’s been visibly (!) shifting uneasily in his chair whenever Adam Green, the American Darwinian :), enthusiastically mentioned OPML and the really amazing things he’s been doing with it (for instance, an “Information TV”).

So in this podcast you’d get a thesis (Adam G.): OPML is simple and we need simple things to advance; an anti-thesis (Danny A.): Only the semantic web can express the richness of the multiple layers embedded in the Information River, and therefore semweb standards should be used (for representation and retrieval). And as both are Gentlemen, they agreed on a synthesis: OPML is temporary, “for a start”, and “until…”, while RDF is a “Real” standard that, one day, will shed its grace upon the River.

I don’t understand how Danny bought into this argument; after all, nothing is more permanent than “Temporary”.

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Technopod Rating: 8
podcastIcon1.gif Liaisons Dangereuses

Original Podlink: Reading Lists (OPML) podcast: Danny Ayers and Adam Green

References:

Next steps in RSS, Reading Lists

Feed Grazers are in the wild

Some one has to say it: OPML is a really, really crappy format. Really crappy.

The Evolution of Information Grazing

technorati1.jpg Technorati Feed Grazing, Technorati the Podlink

Overload

February 20, 2006

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Robert Scoble, Microsoft’s Blogstreamer (and see also Robert Scoble has a twin! :)) , chaired a session on Information Overload in BloggerCon III, an annual conference organized by Dave Winer, with the sub-motto of “A users-only conference” (aka, Unconference) – vendors are kindly requested to remain silent (you got to admit it’s refreshing. And when one of the vendors tried to sneak a word, he had to face ranting “take no prisoners” Winer who stopped him at once).

In this Overload session we can listen to many requirements evolving around RSS readers, aggregators and filters. Users want their content to be filtered geographically; based on their social networks; based on authority – to give just a few examples. And so it goes on and on – Interesting.

But what I liked more was the between-the-lines of this session.

Information Consumers: Addicts (like Scoble, who’s subscribed to more than 1000 feeds) vs. the controlled, i.e. those who open their RSS reader after dinner, scan briefly the bolded headers (indication of new stuff) and go on with their other (!) business.

Web2.0 startups: There’s an endless list of requirements for the RSS-related tools, which means there’s a place for many more startups. Just a thought I had after so many ideas I threw away because there were “already” five companies doing similar things.

Meta-Data: Filters, aggregators, feeds, and reading lists – are all meta-data organizing this endless river of Information, enabled through RSS. Meta-Data tends to organize itself in networked graphs. Efficiently storing and retrieving graphs that points to this endless river is something of a challenge (and listen to Adam Bosworth on that).

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Technopod Rating: 8

podcastIcon.gif Overload 01:15:16, 34.5 mb, Nov 6th, 2004

Original Podlink: Overload, Robert Scoble, session leader, Bloggercon III

technorati.jpg Technorati Overload Bloggercon, Technorati the Podlink

Dave Winer – Behind the Mic

February 19, 2006

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Dave Winer deserves respect. I might be suffering from Scripting News blitzing (and I therefore unsubscribed; tech.memeorandum will dig out Winer’s good stories anyway), yet I think we owe this man a lot – if I’m reading tech history properly. For Dave Winer is, in a way, Tim-Berners Lee successor. While TBL created this World Wide Platform for storing Information, DW “let this Info go”. Being the creator of RSS, and/or member of the teams that created the different RSS versions, DW could well be named the Liberator of the World Wide Information, liberation which gave birth to the interactive web 2.0.

After this intro, I should set your expectations right away: Dave Winer is not as philosophical as TBL, nor as visionary as Tim O’Reilly… 🙂 He is, in a way, a symbol of simplicity: in his tools, in his standards, in his posts and in his thoughts. He’s the K.I.S.S. man, and that’s what’s so remarkable.

Final note: Winer was among the co-authors of the early SOAP, but as things have become too complex he left. Yet, here’s a surprise: Winer never meant SOAP to become what it is today. Application integration? Business Transactions? Not at all. For Winer, SOAP was meant to be an easier standard for… publishing content over the web.

p.s. Winer is behind many things, not just RSS.

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Technopod Rating: 9

podcastIcon.gif Dave Winer 01:09:05, 31.6 mb, Oct 27th, 2004

Original Podlink: Dave Winer – Behind the Mic

References:

RSS History (as told by no other than… Dave Winer) 🙂

Wikipedia: Dave Winer

Scripting News

technorati.jpg Technorati Dave Winer, Technorati the Podlink