Tue 29 Jan 2013
Tue 29 Jan 2013
Wed 18 Jan 2012
Our latest Semantic-Link discussion was interesting in that it touched on some distinct but deep topics that tend to recur in our discussions, namely: usability, privacy and the old standby – the definition of semantics itself.
I won’t spend any more time on the definition of semantics beyond that the consensus (for purposes of this discussion) was that it means “meaning”, with contexts including: linguistic/NLP related word-meaning semantics; and the other being compliance with W3C standards – or architectural Semantics. In essence, the latter is what enables a machine version of the former.
The focus was actually a conversation with guest Nova Spivack, and his more current efforts, including Bottlenose and StreamGlider. (Next time we’ll have to let Nova do more of the talking, as we only really had time to dig into the first of those.) Bottlenose is intended to help people manage and interconnect their interaction across the multiple electronic realms in which they operate. While Nova mentions that the system doesn’t currently make use of W3C standard architectural Semantics, it does use ontologies to relate topics and navigate meaning. This is particularly visible in Bottlenose’s Sonar – which renders a visualization of the active topics, hash-tags, and people around you, with adjustable time-horizon. If you’d like to try it out during the private beta, visit Bottlenose.com and you can Sign Up using the Invite Code: semanticlink.
Listen to podcast here: Semantic Link Podcast – January 2012
As mentioned above, two key items arose from the discussion – the matters of privacy, and the question of transparency. In the case of privacy, would it become an issue, from a business intelligence standpoint, that others could more easily see the topics that someone is discussing or investigating – especially if such a tool could cross multiple networks/platforms in finding patterns.
As is often the case in these Semantic-Link discussions, the question of “how much should be exposed about the use of semantics” arose. There is of course a balance between active vs viral evangelizing of semantics, and the cost of exposure is simplicity and usability, while the benefit is flexibility and control, for those who can handle it.
The answer itself is complicated. On the one hand, technologies need to evolve in terms of leveraging semantics in order for people to really benefit from the underlying semantic capabilities. At the same time, those same people we’re talking about getting the benefit shouldn’t have to understand the semantics that enable the experience. Paul Miller, host of the podcast, also wrote about this issue. I’ll add that Investors do to like to hear that their company is using unique and valuable techniques. So too, though, is it the case that any company making use of semantics likely feels it is a competitive advantage to them – a disincentive to sharing details of the secret sauce. .
As mentioned during the podcast, this is a matter of which audience is being addressed – the developers or the masses. And in terms of the masses, even that audience is split (as is the case with almost all other software users). There are the casual users, and there are those who are hardcore – and when we’re talking about masses, there are many many more people would fall into the casual camp. So from a design standpoint, this is where usability really matters, and that means simplicity.
So in the case of Bottlenose, for the time being they’ve chosen to hide the details of the semantics, and simplify the user experience – which will hopefully facilitate broader adoption. There may too be room for a power-user mode, to exposes the inner workings of the black-box algorithms that find and weigh associations between people, places, things… and let users tweak those settings beyond the time-frame and focus adjustments that are currently provided.
Mentioned by Nova was the LockerProject in which personal data could potentially be maintained outside any one particular network or platform. This of course helps on the privacy side, but adds a layer of complexity (until someone else comes along and facilitates easy integration – which will no doubt chip some of the privacy value).
Personally, I’d love to see the ability to combine slices of personal activity from one or multiple platforms, with tools such as Bottlenose, so that I could analyze activity around slivers or Circles (in the case of Google+ usage) from various networks, in any analytical platform I choose.
Thu 7 Jul 2011
While I’m still actually waiting to get “in”, I have a couple of comments regarding Google+, from outside the Circle.
From descriptions of this Google Social Networking effort (following Orkut, Wave and Buzz), key elements as of now are: Circles (think of them as groups of people within your network); Sparks (which are topics or areas of interest); Hangouts (video chat rooms); Huddles (group chat); and Instant Upload (automatic mobile photo syncing).
Considering potential for integrating capability across product areas has always been most intriguing to me. In serving them up “together”, G+ makes it that much more likely for capabilities to be used together.
The second area of note is the way that Sparks re-frames the idea of Alerts in a way that subtly shifts the nature of the material that results from them from being one-off emails or links — that you might dig into or forward on — to material that relate to particular areas of interest, which presumably parallel or align with groupings of people you associate with around those topics. Twine had used the approach of integrating topic areas and social groupings for alerts – but these were groups that potential recipients would have to join. In G+, the “proximity” to the Circles aspect, and the fact that those Circles are unique to the individual, and don’t require reciprocation, make for a compelling scenario for the “push” side of the equation. (At the same time, I see some potential issues in terms of “pull” and management by those on the receiving end).
Hangouts and Huddles are by nature “social” already, for which you’ll presumably be able to seamlessly leverage Circles. As with topical material, Instant Upload brings your photo content automatically one step closer to where you are sharing. Success of all this as a social platform depends significantly on integration between the parts for seamless use by a user across capabilities – for example, adding someone who is participating on a video call or chat right into one or more of the Circles touched or represented by the other participants on that call or chat.
Leveraging other capabilities such as linguistic processing of AdSense (and G+ may already have this in the works) it would not be a stretch for the content in your interactions to generate suggestions for Sparks which you could simply validate — places or people in photos, words in chats, terms that show up in content within Spark items. From there, it wouldn’t be far to being able to interact with your life through what I might call a “SparkMap” — reflecting relationships between terms within your areas of interest.
UPDATE: I’m now in, as of Friday afternoon, July 8. So now I’ll be playing, with more ideas to come…
Fri 17 Dec 2010
Image via Wikipedia
If this isn’t one of the coolest things you’ve ever seen…
You probably thought it was Jetson’s material that someone could speak one language into a phone, and you could hear it in a different language on the other end. Pretty great stuff, translation on the fly. Think about looking at something that is written in a different language, and being able to able to see it in another, without having to go look it up somewhere!
That’s exactly what the Word Lens app from Quest Visual does – which you’ve got to see to believe (if not understand)!
I don’t know if this is exactly right, but “bastante salvaje” if you ask me!
Wed 22 Sep 2010
Image via Wikipedia
Wow. If you thought the Linking Open Data cloud had grown between September 2007 (right) and July of 2009 (below), take a look at this to see where we are NOW!
Image via Wikipedia
As Richard and Anja note on the site linked above: The cloud images show “some of the datasets that have been published in Linked Data format, by the Linking Open Data community project and other organisations.”
Where is this going? Andreas Blumauer of Semantic Web Company, in Vienna, put it well: “15 years ago we all were excited when we published HTML for the first time and it didn’t take a long time until all of us were “on the internet”. Now we are starting to publish data on the web. Based on semantic web technologies professional data management will be possible in distributed environments generating even more network effects than Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 ever did.”
Some might ask where value derived from this cloud, or if membership in it just marketing? Talis’ Tom Heath outlines, in the latest issue of Nodalities Magazine, that without Linked Data, there couldn’t be a Semantic Web. Being linked and of use means having been made available following Linked Data Principles. This includes: things having unique identifiers (URIs); that are in the form of hypertext (HTTP) so they are standardly navigable (dereferencable); at which destinations there is useful and standardly interprable information (in RDF/XML) describing the thing; and which contains links to other things (read: HTTP URIs which also contain RDF/XML). Through explanation of the progression from FOAF files, (where the “things” at these “URIs” are individual people, collectively representing the basis for semantic social networks), to working out standards around what constitutes an information vs non-information resource (via httpRange-14), Tom makes the all important point that: each step along the way is an essential building block toward where we are going.
And where (at this stage) is this? When Tony Shaw, of Semantic Universe, pointed to Linked Data in his recent article “Nine Ways the Semantic Web Will Change Marketing“, he was pointing to its impact on Marketing. But beyond that, we can take from his explanation the broader capabilities afforded by it: findability, pullability, mashability, mobility – essentially interoperability, as applicable to any activity, sector or function which involves information (read: data). Can you think of any that don’t?
Enabling data in this way (with all these building blocks) is “one” thing – moving control closer to the end user, and toward solutions and value. Making it “usable” is yet another. Every interaction is marketing (good or bad) for the resources of the interaction. The opportunity this points to is, through the leveraging of those capabilties, to improve the experience around deriving those solutions and achieving that value.
Thu 24 Sep 2009
Image by quinn.anya via Flickr
If you haven’t already encountered Google’s newly released Sidewiki, it is a web annotation feature accessible via browser plug-in or their toolbar – and is essentially a means for people to comment on pages and, unlike tools for making notes for just yourself (like sticky notes on your screen, or the electronic equivalent), these comments are visible to others who use it and visit those pages – right on the page with the content. This isn’t a new concept, but one that gives cause to consider the “traditional” dimensions of web experience.Generally speaking, users of web resources have typically thought of the pages they view as being depicted in the way intended by the owner of the domain (or page). If we want to get philosophical, ownership of the rendering of the page, it could be argued, is the user’s – and plug-ins empower such customization, as this is referred to.
Image via CrunchBase
Similarly, functionality of a site is has typically been considered by users to be provided/delivered by, and/or controlled by the site owner. In the context of beginning to think of rendering as being other-webly (i.e. from other than the provider), the same holds true with respect to functionality. The functionality being added to the experience here is around the ability to comment, and to see comments of others, about the page.
This starts to bring home the concept that the browser is acting as the actual platform, rather than the page/site itself. In this case, we’re talking about the bringing together of the page’s content with toughts or opinions about the page – or about things that are on the page. So in essence, what sidewiki adds is a virtualized forum – where the forum content is in the hands of Google rather than those of the owner of the site – but is displayed alongside the content itself.
Image via CrunchBase
This is not altogether different from what AdaptiveBlue’s Glue does – though there are a couple of key difference. In both cases the user must be using the plug-in in order to see or add content – akin to joining the community. And in both cases the comment / opinion content that is generated as a result, is in the control of the plug-in provider. The first, and most notable difference (for now, at least) is that sidewiki “acts” as if the user generated content is about the page which it annotates, while Glue’s emphasis is on the asset to which the page refers. The key benefit of the latter, in the cases where the commentary relates to an asset referenced on the page, is that it decouples the item referred to from location which makes reference to it. This translates to Glue displaying the comment on any page in where the same item is found, as opposed to just being seen on the same page where the comment was made. This difference won’t likely persist, and seems more a matter of emphasis/focus and positioning.
Since the annotations are only visible to users making use of the particular service used when making the annotations, the more of these services we see, the more fragmented the sea of commentary. The next level may be about “aboutness”, and differentiation by the ability to determine relatedness of otherwise unassociated commentary and content – and making the virtual connection between the two for the user.
Fri 11 Apr 2008
Someone recently shared DarkCopy with me. This seemingly has little to do with my recent writings, and some would call it silly – but under the surface, it is pretty relevant. Some of the key drivers of the things I’ve chosen to write about include: efficiency, productivity, drivers of value, usability, tools for enablement…
So many of our environments tend to promote wearing no blinders, so you don’t miss anything that might be relevant. In contrast (particularly relative to my previous post), this is a “simple” tool that lets you make efficient use of your computer for writing – a place that can otherwise prove to be the most distracting place to work (if you don’t count just being within voice-reach of one of your kids or your spouse, or the phone or your pda, or… Sorry, I’ve got to go; my phone is ringing, an important email just popped up, and someone is at the door. I guess I should have been writing this in DarkCopy!).