Seb's Open Research
Pointers and thoughts on the evolution of knowledge sharing
and social software, collected by Sébastien Paquet

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A Tour of my Neighborhood

One of the great things about weblogging is that not only do you get a chance to hang out with fantastic fellows, but you also get to pick them one by one to build your personal dream team of informants.

The people listed in the sidebar on the left give me so much that I thought it would only be fair to acknowledge this and explain how they make a difference in my thinking and actions. Even though I did not know most of them until recently, these people have probably become the ones who influence me the most.

Hopefully I'll be adding a few more names every week until I've been through the whole list.


With a weblog

Walter Chaw is writing the most entertaining and instructive series of movie reviews that I have seen.

Paul Cox brings mathematics and common sense together each month.

Lilia Efimova does a lot of excellent thinking about learning and illustrates her points with very relevant observations from her own work. Her writing is consistently refreshing.

Rusty Foster founded kuro5hin a few years ago. The success of this site is a prime illustration of the fact that, given a well-designed structure, a self-regulated online community can produce excellent quality material and discussion that is of interest to a wide audience, resulting in a publication that rivals centralized-control sources.

Jim McGee is one of the pioneers out in knowledge logging land. He understands a lot about the individual experience of knowledge work, about the interaction between people and organizations, and regularly digs up or comes up with insights and wisdom on how change happens in organizations.

Peter Suber is my role model when it comes to thinking clearly and explaining carefully issues that are difficult to see through. The job he's done in terms of structuring and channeling the information flow for the Free Online Scholarship movement is simply outstanding. Peter also deserves credit for inventing the fascinating Nomic self-amendment game, and for teaching Mark Pilgrim about logical rudeness.

Jon Udell is largely responsible for the existence of Seb's Open Research. Of all the people I know, he's probably the one who is the most capable of looking at technology issues from several people's points of view, synthesize an integrated description, and communicate it in a lively manner. I learned a lot from him about the dynamics of collaboration. In addition, Jon is a first-class forward thinker.

Phil Wolff's brain is obviously on hyperdrive. He spends a lot of time thinking about the evolution of blogging, most often from a strategic standpoint. He also keeps tabs on blog numbers.

  • He can see far, and with a wide angle.
  • I suspect Vision is his middle name.
  • He's good at making up post titles.
  • He's not that good at making up blog titles. ;-)
  • He likes bullet lists a lot.

Without a weblog (how I wish they did)

Christopher Alexander is perhaps the person I know who has best articulated and shown by way of example what it means to think about design in a fundamental way, to see the most basic elements of an architecture and perceive how they fit together in a harmonious whole. His insistence on embracing simplicity and listening attentively to humans' needs and longings strikes a deep chord with me.

Andrew Odlyzko writes very well-documented and coherent papers on the evolution of communication. He warned against the impending telecom bubble burst back when people were claiming outrageous rates of Internet traffic growth. He's not afraid of using historical precedent that dates back centuries to reason about the implications of the current networking revolution. And he wrote the memorable Content is Not King. He has the nagging habit of being right.

Steve Lawrence helped build the kickass CiteSeer (ResearchIndex) academic paper harvester/search engine/citation analyzer. Plus, he gave me a cool Google t-shirt.


Plume Latraverse is the archetype of the outsider music artist in Québec. Although he's best known for his irreverent tone, he has written many songs that question conventional thinking and challenge us to act more like humans and less like robots.


Benjamin Franklin was an American journalist, publisher, author, philanthropist, public servant, scientist, diplomat, inventor, and revolutionary. He didn't patent any of his inventions (which included bifocals and an efficient stove), so that the most people would benefit from them.

George Pólya's investigations into problem-solving as a human activity were a jumping board for much of my thinking about how we are driven to find and share knowledge for progressing towards a goal, and what strategies are most effective in this regard. Two fundamental insights of his that I try to always keep in mind are

  1. Use analogy. "The kind of problem suggests the kind of solution";
  2. Consider thinking big. "The more ambitious plan may have more chances of success".

Here's a map of what I have called my creative network:

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Last update: 4/22/2006; 12:27:07 PM.
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