Sunday Short Takes

June 29, 2008

A quite blog week and just a few things for Sunday’s short takes…

1. Found a couple of cool new sites

A. The first is called Beyond Search covering all things search and content processing related with what appears to be a slight emphasis on enterprise search related topics. Even though I am a keen observer of the “search” space (I am building software where “search” is a core underpinning) I have found something new and useful on Beyond Search almost every day.

B.  The second is Markup As An API, and the name is pretty self-explanatory.  From the looks of things it’s not updated a lot but what is there is good.

2. Search as a component…  There are a ton of companies who’s core technology can be thought of as search or text analytics but their end product has a whole different look to it making it less about search and more about the application and outcomes of search.  This is especially prevalent in the enterprise space where very vertical or niche applications of “search” are coming into play more and more.  See this about Nstein post on Beyond Search for a good example.

3. Been working really hard and after so much coding, prototype building and logical course corrections delivering something cool & most importantly useful soon will be a joy and very gratifying!


Data vs. Information

June 27, 2008

Data is just data until it is contextually parsed then it can become useful information and as we all know he who has the best information not the most data rules.

Sunday Short Takes

June 22, 2008

1. I’m annoyed with the editors of the Globe and Mail’s Number Cruncher series.  They deliver their stories as blog posts but no one on the editorial team bothers to respond to their readers.  Maybe I am just the first person to ever ask a question so they are unsure what to do but come on after making me go through an annoying sign-up process you’d think someone could at least say “Can’t help ya mate”.  The real tragedy is it’s an excellent series.

2. I haven’t seen a lot of innovation in user interfaces for help desk applications, I wonder if creating a riff on the basic Getting Thing Done UIs I have seen would work and be helpful.

3. With all the unstructured data out there I wonder if a simple graphical tool designed to turn this data into actionable information would be helpful?  

What I am thinking is a visual environment with drag-and-drop parsing workflow creation where one could use predefined rules (or create their own rules) that parses a document extracting the information needed in a structured format 

So for instance you could create a “parser” for a series of emails that always have the essential same structure and get that data into a dB.

Hmm, maybe I need to think more about this, it may actually be quite useful…

4. Another interesting blog post today on /Message.  Stowe is right, at every turn and with every interaction we are exposing ourselves to loosely coupled, information rich data flows and we need to be able to mine these flows to extract actionable information otherwise we are stuck with static silos. Information is out there, we just need better means of extracting it from the crushing weight of all the data we see every day.  

5. Another OpenID mechanism.  From the site “Emailtoid is a simple mapping service that enables the use of email addresses as OpenID identifiers.”

Information is everywhere and we need tools that are transparent and can extract the concepts, terms and contextual meaning from this day-to-day data flow for our interpretation.

The Perfect Notebook

June 21, 2008

It’s a passion bordering on an obsession, the search for the perfect notebook… Ever since I was little I have been searching for the one notebook that was the notebook for me and now to fuel this obsession further I come across a blog called Black Cover.

Black Cover is a blog dedicated to notebooks and the posts on the site go a long way towards helping find each persons perfect notebook. How can a site about paper notebooks be so darn enthralling; well I really have no good answer other than it is…

If you are notebook obsessed or even just looking for a notebook that works for you go check it out.

A post continuing my thoughts on Twitter being a social enabling layer and much more than just a new chat program for the masses.  It was prompted by a tweet i saw from Fred Wilson about a Covestor investor he appears to be following…

While I am not going to actually build this (I am busy building something else very cool which will use Twitter as an enabling layer) I think Covestor should and I am going to use the idea as one concrete example of a way I think Twitter can be used as social enabling infrastructure.

So what’s the idea?

Fred tweeted about a sell action (sold RIMM) that a Covestor top investor had taken.  As a user among other possible updates from Covestor I would like to have contextual alerts sent to me when an investor I am following takes a certain action.  Now I am aware Covestor already has an emailing update service in place but I don’t think they should be managing this themselves.

While Covestor has to generate the actual alerts there is no reason for them to create a multi-platform alerting service to deal with the distribution of these alerts; it’s not a core capability so it would be a distraction at best.  To me this is where Twitter is ideally suited and comes in.  They have a multi-platform messaging service in place that is (among other things) ideally suited to alerting and Covestor (and others) could/should leverage it…  

This is just one example of how Twitter’s enabling infrastructure can be leveraged to add a strong social communication tool to a service without having to be experts in this aspect of the business.

Twitter’s systems should allow for updates to be filtered in such a way that certain updates only go to certain clients (i.e. sms, web, email, etc.).  So for example in the Covestor scenario if someone I am tracking is selling a stock I am invested in I would want this alert sent to my phone via SMS as I feel this is “high priority” info but if someone is simply buying a new stock just put it into the web queue.

This was a little bit rambling but it’s been a long week and this captures the gist of what I want to describe. I will have more examples as I go along.

Just read a post by Jesse Stay entitled “Developers Bailing on Twitter” and while he certainly has some interesting observations I think the overall premise is flawed and here’s why…

Some developers may be moving from Twitter to Platform X but I don’t see a large rush away from it, I mean the hottest piece of hardware right now picked Twitterrific for a design award.  Sure Twitter has had some issues lately BUT looking at it as a developer I feel it is still a very important piece of infrastructure for building connected communication applications.  

I’ve been using the service only for a short time (as a user), I haven’t started to integrate my code into it (so I have not had to deal with the issues Jesse speaks of) and when it first was released I was a super sceptic about its usefulness and longevity but I am singing a different tune now.  I really enjoy it as a user and as a developer I see it as a prime target for some of what I am building.

Why is the developer in me so bullish?  Well I like tools that don’t attempt to totally change the way we interact with one another but instead try to empower and extend it.  I feel Twitter does this very well and I am sure they have many ideas to extend it further.  At the end of the day it comes down to my belief Twitter is essentially a social communications infrastructure play and it’s pretty easy to believe in a social communication platform created by the Obvious Corp. team, they kind of know social. 😉

We know why they are having the uptime issues they are and it will be fixed and Twitter will continue to evolve.  On the infrastructure issue, the only advice I would give them at this stage as it’s not my thing, they have smart people working on it and they are getting way more than they need (good and bad) is buy Twiddict and integrate it today. While it’s a pretty straightforward idea that can easily be duplicated it’s there, it’s useful and ready to go. 

In conclusion, I feel Twitter with all it’s current issues has a whole lot of positives.  It really has the feel of IM in the early days…