Monday, July 31, 2006

Web 2.0 and collaborative software development?

I have to admit that I was always a bit skeptical about open source collaborative software development above operating system level. I am not sure whether this has changed. I am just beginning to think again about this, as I found out that Google has just started Google Code. It certainly is not the only software repository around, if I look at alternatives which have been around for far longer, such as

My question, then, revolves around the issue what content creation and software development have in common - or, if you want to express it with buzzwordws: what can Web 2.0 and open source development learn from each other? While it may be annoying if I find a Wikipedia article that is not up to date or does not match with the quality I would expect from the Encyclopedia Britannica, who's going to help me if the software I am using is not working properly?

I admit I need some more thinking about that issue, and perhaps some pointers. On a side note, what's the relationship between Google Code and Project Hosting?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Web 2.0, a rain forest - and an outlook

There's an interesting read about the evolution of the Web to what is now called Web 2.0. For those wanting an outlook of what Web 2.0 could mean for us in the year 2015, consider this - a vision of a world where the press has ceased to exist.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Wiki for projects - any experiences?

TWiki, described by its developers as an enterprise collaboration platform, seems to be an interesting approach when it comes to enterprise knowledge management and exchange. Some success stories and testimonials can also be found (see also TWiki in the News.

Sounds cool. On the other side, we have a tradition of creating Office documents, and I am not sure how well this corresponds to the Wiki approach. Other than that, I have the impression that while the Wiki approach works well regarding private information creation and exchange, knowledge exchange within companies may not be without challenges, so to say.

I am curious as to what the constraints are in order for enterprise collaboration (the wiki way) to work successfully - especially in medium-sized to large companies. Any thoughts?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Tagging the world

Collaborative applications such as Wikipedia are widely used nowadays, but Semapedia takes this one step further by letting you create physical hyperlinks to articles on Wikipedia and other offerings from Wikimedia in the form of 2D barcodes you can attach to any physical object. Users with a datamatrix reader installed on their cellphones can then read the linked article on the spot by pointing to an object with a 2D barcode. While there's an associated Weblog as well as a Wiki to get you started, more details can also be found here and there.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Social bookmarking tools

There are two articles on social bookmarking tools from April 2005 in D-Lib magazine that are worth mentioning (even though this is already quite some time ago). Any other good (newer) sources regarding this topic are more than welcome.

Very confusing

Well, now that Web 2.0 is not new any more, some people start writing about Web 3.0 or higher as if this were a kind of software update which is due after at least one year. If you ask me, it rather seems to me as if this is getting totally out of scope here. What exactly is in there beyond mere visions? Not that visions are any bad, but I'd rather like to see some more down-to-earth stuff.

Does anybody really know ...?

Everyone keeps talking about the Web 2.0 these days, weeks, months and years, but more often than not, I find people telling me that it is a kind of philosophy. Tim O'Reilly, who coined that term, should know better than anyone else what this meant in the beginning, regardless of what it evolved into. Other definitions, however, are welcome, before I get totally lost in (hyper)space ...

Recommendations the AgentArts way

Everyone these days claims to offer personalized services, starting from collaborative filtering approaches, covering social recommendations up to advanced datamining approaches. One example I found is AgentArts that claim their approach

(...) is about providing consumers with multiple ways to discover content: generic ‘you might also like’ recommendations based on content, personalized recommendations based on a profile of historic storefront events, or via social recommendations from other consumers through lists and reviews.

AgentArts' proprietary datamining technology translates various types of consumer activity (page views, previews, purchases) into content relationships. AgentArts’ patented datamining algorithm is highly effective at building accurate content relationships for a range of different content categories, and is particularly effective at building quality content relationships for lesser known content.

Sounds interesting. But what is the difference over other recommendation approaches, as used by Amazon, Pandora or Last FM?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Click your own WikiBook

While Wikipedia has become the favorite dictionary for many people (or should I say, users), the Wikimedia foundation has gone beyond a pure online encyclopedia with its offerings Wiktionary, an open-source online dictionary, Wikiquote, an international collection of quotations, WikiBooks, the so-called open-content textbooks collection, Wikisource, a free library, wikinews, a free news source, Wikimedia Commons, a database of media files, and finally, Wikispecies, a dictionary of life. While not having used any of these besides the original Wikipedia, it is now possible to configure one's own wikipedia excerpt by selecting from categories and subcategories, including recommended articles and other ways of getting together relevant items. This is a service offered by Brainbot and is called PediaPress. According to German heise newsticker, the articles are taken from the database dump which is created every 5 to 10 days.

Certainly an interesting service - still I am wondering if I'd probably go for an edited book on some topic that is of interest to me. But personal issues aside, the real question is not really related to PediaPress, but rather refers to the categories and subcategories. Is this actually part of the job of the folks involved with Wikipedia to take care of the categories that can be found there? Are they in some way related to library classification schemes? Looking forward to hearing your replies on this!

Folksonomies vs. controlled vocabularies

Sure the problem is not new, but interestingly enough I don't have the impression that the problem of tagging vs. controlled vocabularies has been truly addressed with an attempt to unify both views. An interesting contribution to this issue, which refers to the non-hierarchical nature of tags and asks about their scalability. What are your experiences concerning this? I am only starting to think about these issues, so any (random) thoughts or references to interesting publications about this are more than welcome!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Mobile TV starts September

While this year's world championship brought us the first attempts of something we may call television on mobile devices, the quality was still far from really being acceptable. However, this may change soon, as Tim Renner, former CEO of Universal and operating this so-called download radio Motor FM, is now about to launch quadplay content on September 1st at the IFA 2006 in Berlin. Otherwise said, this will be mobile TV via IPTV and DVB-H. Interesting at least for those who need to watch music videos via their mobile device wherever they are ... even if we're still waiting for the appropriate devices, e. g. Nokia N92.

Oh well, I guess I am not part of the target group anyway ...

Why Google Notebook?

I recently got aware of Google Notebook, which, according to its own description, allows users to paste random selections from web pages, adding own thoughts and so on. While I understand that there may be some improvements over weblog usability, I fail to see the advantage over Weblog services regarding functionality. After all, cut and paste will allow me to copy Web content from almost anywhere. On the other hand, I do not really see how I can share my ideas actively with other users with Notebook. In other words, I do not really understand the need for this if communication is not really a part of it. Any thoughts?

Video channels

A way to categorize web content is by association of so-called tags (e. g. technorati. The idea is not new at all - libraries have done this for ages, with the difference that their tags are controlled (also known as keywords). A first web-based approach was Glimpse, and other approaches towards website indexing are also known.

Some tagging networks (some of them also known as social bookmarking sites) can be found here. Tags may help in discovering interesting sources, provided that users explicitly add tags to their content (e. g. in weblogs). However, it seems to me that it's a rather tedious process, at least when textual content is concerned, given that most sites include a search function (based on previous indexing) that provides satisfying (although not perfect) results.

When it comes down to non-textual content, tags or (video) channels seem to be more essential, as found in YouTube and Yahoo. A comparison of their approaches shows that YouTube's channels are more social and blog-like, allowing to

view subscribers, connect with them, leave comments in channels, send messages, add the channel owner as a friend

To sum up, YouTube has three ways of indexing content, namely

  • categories with a handful of keywords and the possibility to associate tags,
  • channels, which can be thought of as an individual media homepage with the additional possibility to connect to users, leave comments and, of course, subscribing to them
  • groups which seem to be like a discussion board which can be associated to categories.

Some more useful information about YouTube can be found here. If interested about the story behind this service, read this. In order to interface with the service on the developing side, some APIs are offered. I am wondering whether channel subscription is also included.

Monday, July 17, 2006

YouTube's New Record

According to YouTube, the number of 100 million daily downloads was exceeded last Sunday (i. e. yesterday). SPIEGEL Online has a (german) article on this, where they cite another recent article which stated that a viable business model does not seem to be in sight. The streaming costs for YouTube are considerable, while there are no advertisements so far. On the other hand, it may well be that the platform develops similarly to Google Video, i. e. into a commercial download platform for video clips. There seems to be quite some market for this with about 160.000 daily downloads of movies, soap operas and documentations, as German newspaper Die Welt says. YouTube alone has about 65.000 new clips per day, with some of them being snippets from the regular TV program. While content is not controlled by the provider, all users are encouraged to report about questionable content - which does not always seem to work.

Sharing huge emails

I don't really know whether this is needed, but there's this new service called Pando combining P2P filesharing with traditional e-mail. If I understand this correctly, when sendig some multimedia attachment, that will only result in a small file being transferred which takes care of fetching the real data via P2P connections and so-called supernodes operated by Pando.

While this enables the transfer of files up to 1 gigabyte, I am unsure whether it would not be wiser to upload files of that size to some server and only send the link to the person I would like to share my attachment with. Another question that I would like to raise is whether I would really have a certain guaranteed uptime of those servers so I can really get what I want.

Any thoughts on this? How and why would you use such a service?

Remote access to your computer

Another interesting service seems to be SoonR that lets you access your personal computer from your mobile phone. If your PC is configured as a host, IP telephony seems possible. Otherwise, access to Outlook data and other files on the remote computer are enabled. While no special client needs to be installed, the mobile device should be web- and data-enabled. Alan Lewis @ eBay gave it a try and seemed to be pretty excited. Here's some more information about the company. Enjoy!

Sharpcast media sharing

While flick.r is probably the most well-known tool to store, search, sort and share photos, a next logical step would be the synchronization between digital data between PC's, mobile devices and web sites. While I haven't had the time to take a closer look, I do recommend to take a look at Walt Mossberg's review of the product (or should we say, service) in the Wall Street Jurnal.

So far, it seems to only work with photos and is also constrained to mobile devices equipped with Windows Mobile 5.0, but that's probably only the beginning. What seems cool to me that any change that is made on one device gets instantly synchronized on the other available devices.

Well, let's see how this will develop further and what the competitors have planned ...