Posts in 2007

No degrees of separation?

I recently got spammed invited to participate in Karl Bubyan's Six Degrees of Separation application in Facebook. This application navigates the 'social graph' in Facebook, offering a couple of tools to allow the user to test the ' Six degrees of separation' hypothesis. The application and its interface seem quite slick - and it has the now obligatory visualisation (reproduced here). There's an irony here. The six degrees of separation idea can only work if there is some barrier to being directly connected to someone else.

What do IM and social networks have in common?

I haven't used a dedicated instant messaging (IM) client for many months. I do occasionally use text-chat facilities when they are built into other tools - notably Skype at the moment. Last week however, a colleague sent me their contact details on four of the available IM networks: AOL/AIM Yahoo MSN Google Because I cannot control what my ID or 'screen-name' will be on each of these, I am forced to use different IDs for some.

Bespoke metadata creation tools are commonplace

RLG Programs has conducted a survey of partner institutions which have “multiple metadata creation centers” to: ...gain a baseline understanding of current descriptive metadata practices and dependencies, the first project in our program to change metadata creation processes. Some intriguing statements in this summary post (I look forward to getting hold of the report when it's completed). For example: 76 listed the tools they used to create metadata.

eScience All Hands 2007 - final thoughts

I very much enjoyed the UK e-Science All Hands Meeting 2007 last week. Being new to many of the disciplines covered there, I went with an open mind. I learned a bewildering amount, and realised that there are all kinds of opportunities for aligning my professional interests with those of many from the e-science communities. Some small, specific points: Being more used to conferences in the e-Learning an web-development worlds, I was struck by the ratio of women to men.

Stranger in a strange land (3)

Day 3 kicked off with a really impressive keynote on 'Medical Visualisation between 2D Images' from Professor Anders Ynnerman. CT scanning is developing to the point where the volume of data returned from a scan of a human body is difficult to manage and process. Various strategies are being developed to reduce the amount of data which must be analysed from a typical scan before the analysis and visualisation processes are invoked.

Stranger in a strange land (1)

I've travelled to Nottingham, to the East Midlands Conference Centre, to attend the UK e-Science All Hands Meeting 2007. With my academic background being rooted predominately in the humanities, I'm looking forward to immersing myself for the next 4 days in a very different set of disciplines. I'm also wondering what chance I have of getting the conference dinner, scheduled for Wednesday evening, moved to a bar showing the England v Russia match.

Stranger in a strange land (2)

A night spent in a fairly modern but spartan student university hall - all aluminium staircases and orange walls (Frederique of JISC described it as the 'EasyJet' of student acommodation). I kept waking up wondering why I hadn't been woken up by Harvey.... And so to the main auditorium, for the first plenary session. The auditorium had been dressed up in a way that reminded me of the launch venue for some new corporate venture - complete with a background of cheesy, dated rock music.

Personal unit tests

As an increasingly serious practitioner of David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) system, I immediately appreciated this post on 'personal unit tests'. I think 27 daily tests is probably far too many to begin with - this might explain the author's 85% failure rate.... but then again, think of the glow of satisfaction he'll experience when he passes all 27! I think this appeals to me in the same way that GTD does - one real lesson from which is to keep taking the small steps.

Paternity-leave blues

I'm coming to the end of two weeks' paternity leave - its not all about exhaustion, anxiety and strange green poo.....picture is of Harvey and me. I'm the one doing the crossword.

A river of gossip

A couple of years ago, Dave Winer posted an article in which he outlined the notion of a _ River of News_, describing the use of an RSS aggregator to simply scroll through the latest new items from many sources (or categories), all merged together in one 'stream'. I don't tend to use my RSS reader (the excellent NetNewsWire) in this way, preferring to browse particular sources as the fancy takes me.