Posts in 2008

All models are wrong, but some are useful

In the latest edition of Ariadne the JISC Information Environment (JISC IE), and that diagram in particular, get taken to task by Tony Ross in an article called Lost in the JISC Information Environment. Tony takes a look at the origins of the JISC IE, or more particularly its technical architecture, and asks a series of searching questions about its purpose and effectiveness. I think he does a good job of highlighting some of the difficulties inherent in trying to conceptualise an environment in which the supply of resources is necessarily distributed and the requirements of users are multifarious.

Expectations of Facebook

A really interesting and useful comment over on Brian’s blog from Nicola Osborne talking about the rationale behind surfacing SUNCat in Facebook. I had made the point, earlier in the thread that EDINA’s decision to invest a little in creating a facade for SUNCat on Facebook’s ‘platform’ was probably a smart move in terms of marketing…. but nothing more than this. Getting your application ‘out there’ to ‘where the users are’ is a pretty standard marketing strategy.

Did Google just make me look like an idiot?

Commenting on the Google Apps outage last week, John Proffitt, IT services director at APTI, an Alaskan public TV station, said: “It was constant troubleshooting, testing, research, posting to the Google Apps forums and so on. Plus there’s the emotional strain of wondering whether you completely screwed up by moving everyone to Google Apps as our sole e-mail system. That’s what freaked me out: Did Google just make me look like an idiot?

Blog commons?

You may have noticed that I have included a statement on this blog’s ‘ home-page’ to the effect that: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. This is standard blurb from the Creative Commons (CC) site. In the context of my blog this means - well, what exactly? Feel free to use anything you find here, for whatever purpose you like, so long as you credit me?

Friendship or nothing

I’ve just been invited in FaceBook to join something called a ‘blog network’. The invitation purported to come from a well-known blogger - someone I’m happy to be associated with. I accepted the invitation, which caused the FaceBook to announce to anyone who cared to notice that I am now a fan of that particular blog. Err - ‘scuse me? I just joined a ‘network’ - I didn’t make any value judgement other than that which can be implied by my joining this network - and I don’t think I implied I was a fan.

JISC Innovation Forum 2008

I was invited to my first JISC Innovation Forum which took place over Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and was held in Keele University. Apart from a smattering of light duties - a couple of meetings, helping to ‘referee’ a session (more later) and taking turns to staff the joint UKOLN / CETIS / OSS Watch / TechWatch stand, I was free to get stuck into the real business of this event which was, for me at least, learning & networking.

Teenagers and continuous partial attention....

Via my colleague Brian Kelly’s post, I read Catherine O’Brien’s How the Google generation thinks differently on the Times Online site (Brian gets cited offering advice on parenting in a digital age!). I enjoyed the article, but one sentence in the middle caused me to reminisce about my own childhood, and my approach to ‘doing’ homework: The experience with which my generation grew up, of absorbing oneself in a single book and allowing its themes to meander into the mind before forming considered judgments, is in danger of being eclipsed by the new, digital world order.

Repository Architecture 83

At a JISC workshop last Thursday I was invited to present some ideas around an architecture to support and exploit repositories in the UK. I gave the presentation the title Repository Architecture #83 ;-) My intention was to suggest some starting principles and then explore how they held up in the face of real-world issues. Here is the slide where I outlined these principles: I also asked the question: “do we actually need a new architecture?

The opportunistic developer is allergic to soap

For some time now I’ve been thinking about what I think of as the ascendency of the opportunistic developer in web application development. The phrase has unfortunate connotations for those who remember the ‘personas’ meme from some years ago when it was revealed that Microsoft had characterised three type of developer for three of its software development products. [ 1] and [ 2]. This post is not directly related to these archetypes (the opportunistic developer was called ‘Mort’ in the meme, a name which has become derogatory).

Personal profile portability

I haven’t minted a TLA for ages - I think I might be the the first to come up with PPP for Personal Profile Portability as a convenient handle to wrap around the current flavour of ‘data portability’ being touted by the major ‘walled-garden’ social network sites. Both MySpace and Facebook have recently launched initiatives to open up a little….but not too much. MySpace has announced its Data Availability project with some major partner applications.