Monday, January 12, 2004

I've moved my weblog to:

1:57:08 PM    

  Thursday, September 18, 2003

A picture named MSNBC.jpgSTUPID JOURNALIST TRICKS: In the closing days of a quarter, not much is distracting.  I enjoyed a SERIOUS laugh watching MSNBC's coverage of Hurricane Isabel. 

Brian Williams is caught on screen being blown away by hurricane force winds as he tries to report between two buildings that had created a wind tunnel.  His buddy, Mike Seidel from the Weather Channel goes with him.


Momemts later, Williams can be heard on the tape saying, "OH, whoa...  Mike took a tumble... I can just hear the folks at home saying 'they got what they deserved'".  Indeed.


I have SO many friends in the Tidewater area whose homes and lives are at stake given the awful possibilities that Isabel presents.    I'm amazed at the choices the networks make given the incredible hardships people face in the region.  It seems to me that broadcasters should be providing people with resources they can call upon, rather than stupid "anchor heroics".  Any chance I can pay for Dan Rather's ticket to Norfolk?

10:35:44 PM    

  Sunday, September 07, 2003

POWER TO THE PEOPLE: Some friends in Washington sent me a link to an article on the decentralization of services in post-war Iraq early last week. Kevin Werbach also provides some supporting context in his posting of last week. The stories demonstrate, in a non-information technology context, some of the key drivers that went into the Groove architecture. Groove was architected and built with an eye towards providing adaptive systems at the edge, where human networks form rapidly to address a need.

Mosul, Iraq resident Ammar Jaber, with a few of his in-laws is flexing power at the edge, but not with information technology. Given that the centralized authority is having difficulty in establishing consistent, pervasive services, Jaber has taken it upon himself to provide power to 1000 of his neighbors.

While this is not an IT story, it is most certainly one that demonstrates the notion of self-forming systems driven by social dynamics: People swarming at the edge to provide speedy solutions where a centralized function can't, or won't.

10:04:32 AM    

  Sunday, August 24, 2003

A picture named MicroApp.jpgMICRO-CLIENT INTERFACES: I have been a big fan of micro-client's and Google's Tool Bar was the first client that I installed.  It was lightweight, provided really useful functionality, and made the whole notion of searching that much easier.

The other day I fired up IE and was delighted to find two new enhancements.  First, Google has embedded a pop-up blocker that blocks those unwanted popup windows.  I first noticed it when I went to and the annoying popup was stopped in it's tracks.  The UI surfaced the block as shown above, which also led my eyes to the BLOGGER logo.  It seems (although I'm a Radio user) that I can promote things I find directly to Blogger.  Quite nice.

11:48:31 AM    

  Tuesday, August 19, 2003

DROWNING IN THE DECISION PROCESS: Back in 1998 while I was still at Lotus, it became very clear to me that the "searching" metaphor was a productivity black hole for most decision processes. I remember reading an article penned by a researcher at a California university (can't find his name 5 years later) who proposed something he called "finding strategies". It was this paper that drove a lot of thinking at Lotus/IBM specific around our knowledge management technology strategy. People needed a more intelligent approach to finding relevant data and information. And it wasn't "searching" as we still know it today. It was more of a machine-assisted crawling approach based on relevant workgroup meta-data, heuristics, and relevant information targets. The result is a mechanism that promotes potential information to a workgroup, rather then the team searching for information.

Over the last two months, we've been seeing more and more use of Groove to provide workgroups with a secure, distributed space for the consumption of open source information, and subsequent human "sense-making" of the information. What we witnessed though was more akin to the notion of "finding". Many of these teams had discovered Hugh Pyle's News tool. This is a Groove tool that allows a Groove workgroup to setup crawling criteria, pointing at multiple information sites, and leveraging RSS as the primary interface. On a periodic basis, this tool mines the target sites based on the provided meta-data, and returns a result set of relevant information. Groove then takes on the task of securely distributing this information to space members. Because it is a space-based tool, it can be used in multiple spaces, each with unique meta-data and target sites of interest. In essence, this tool finds appropriate information from open source targets and ignores most noise.

Case in point: During the Iraq war, Groove was leveraged for medical supply logistics support. While the coalition had many folks in the villages capturing medical needs, they would also hear of needs through reports in the mainstream media. The News tool culls relevant news articles from multiple open sources, and populates the Groove shared space where relief workers from the NGO's, as well as coalition logistics personnel, can auto-discover needs where human assets were not available to uncover the need.

8:07:36 AM    

  Saturday, August 16, 2003

SOCIAL SOFTWARE AND THE ISSUE OF TRUST: A lot is being written about "social software". Clay, Ross, and Ray have been big thought leaders in this space and it is awesome to be in the field and witness many of the core tenets, in action, that have been put forth by these folks. While largely considered "software that supports group communication", there is a time and place dimension above and beyond the pure movement of messages amongst people and organizations. Recently, we were able to observe very specific social phenomenon that has added a new twist to the use of space-based social software like Groove. It is the idea of the shared space as a neutral and virtual place for shared goals.

The Virtual Negotiation Table in Southern Asia/New York/Helsinki: Groove was used less than eight weeks ago to broker peace in a nation in southern Asia. During the mid-80's, tension between the majority and the separatists on this island nation erupted into full blown ethnic war, with 10's of thousands of people losing their lives. Leveraged by some very bright folks from the Nobel Peace Laureate, and with the wisdom and guidance of James A. at Groove, a set of "Peace Tools" was developed and deployed to assist in a new round of peace negotiations.

Peace negotiation is intricate business. Bringing warring factions to a physical table is often tense, and can result in people getting shot. It was envisaged that Groove could bring this nation's leadership to the same "virtual" table as the separatists. It worked. Groove was embraced by both constituencies because of the virtual nature of the shared space. While one shared space served as the meeting place for the factions, each had separate spaces to discuss their positions and provide context for the negotiators. The shared space became the trusted and neutral enclave for all parties involved to lay out their positions, and to jointly work through the options. And no one gets shot.

Centricity and Ownership: My blog post of August 13, "The Power of Event Swarms", begins to tell the story of Groove usage for humanitarian efforts during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). What it doesn't tell is the political aspect of the collection and sharing of Rapid Assessment data amongst coalition government entities, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This use case demonstrates the core business drivers that Ray and the other founders envisioned when they designed and built Groove: People, spanning multiple organizations and geos (some in hostile data communications environments), working synchronously and asynchronously, online and offline, rapidly coming together to solve a problem.

What wasn't anticipated was having NGO's willing to join the same virtual spaces as government entities. This just doesn't happen in the physical world for a host of reasons. NGO's need to maintain a sense of neutrality in order to build trust amongst the people that they are trying to serve. Being physically observed with a member of a government can destroy this trust, and in some cases, present real danger to NGO personnel. The shared space, once again, was viewed as a neutral place to share and consume information. Even more interesting was the fact that Groove provided an architecture where no one agency, government, of NGO "owned" the data. Because Groove is a distributed architecture, the workgroup/community as a whole owned the data which broke down massive walls and fostered unprecedented virtual collaboration amongst these groups.

Indeed, providing a platform for core communication is vital to the whole notion of "social software". But a distributed, secure, virtual workspace adds a dimension that breaks down cultural and societal issues and fosters sharing amongst diverse constituencies.

10:25:29 PM    

  Thursday, August 14, 2003

A picture named 546180241.jpgMORE GADGETS: I went to Europe on Groove business a couple of weeks ago.  It wasn't until I arrived in Vienna that I realized what a shmoe I was for not bringing along a camera.  So off I went in search of a digital camera. 

Found this one at the local camera store in Vienna.  This is one awesome camera, largely because of it's form factor.  It's the Casio Exilim "Wearable" camera (EX-S2).  If you took two PCMCIA cards and stacked them, that is just about the thickness of this device.  It is also quite light.

Shoots at 2Mpixels and sports a USB docking station which also charges the thing.  The thing takes GREAT pictures and costs about 249 Euros. 

11:28:15 PM