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.”


Lots of discussion lately around the idea of managing your digital identity in a global social world.  There are various vendor specific and open source projects (Open ID and Chris Messina’s DiSo project) looking at this issue but I have an idea…  

With the proliferation of smart phones like the iPhone and Blackberry why can’t we use our phone as our identity server?  My unscientific poll tells me most people keep their mobile phone number for ever so you don’t have to worry about managing a transient server somewhere and since it is always with you, you own the server/data and it’s use.

Now for this to work it really presupposes an unlimited data plan and we’d have to think about security, maybe 2 one-way hashes of the phone number so it is not detectable.  Also battery life is of course a concern but most smart phones have a notification or push awake feature so that should not be an issue

All we’d have to do is install an ID server to the smart phone and Bob’s your uncle.

It would be fairly easy to build a proof of concept of this, I am sure there a holes so let’s discuss…