Archives for August 2002

Copyright expiry can work

Dave Winer on releasing MORE's source. (SOURCE:Scripting News)-OK, this makes sense now. I agree the system wouldn't work. Thanks Dave!

Maybe this simplified story will shed some light on the realities of software development. Had we been forced to release the source, I don't think we could have sold our investors on taking a chance on us, or realized the great return we got from the Symantec deal, and gone on to develop more software. The system you describe just wouldn't work, you wouldn't get any of it. Basically, I would love it if the source for MORE were released. I think it would be a humantarian contribution of the first order, but it's not mine to make.
[Roland Tanglao's Weblog]

» Okay I wasn't going to jump in on this but I think Dave may have misunderstood Lessig's proposal.  I think 10 year copyright expiry could work.

This is what I understand from Larry Lessig's proposal about copyright expiry after 10 years:

The source code would be de-escrowed after 10 years.  But only the source code whose copyright has expired.  By publishing a new version (e.g. Version 2) of the software you establish a new copyright checkpoint.  Your version 2 doesn't get de-escrowed for 10 more years after it is released.

So here are my reasons:

  1. I do not think that the possession of a 10 year old version of the software is going to put you in a competitve position against the holder of the latest & greatest source code.  It would be like trying to market Windows 3.0 against Windows XP.
  2. If investors had the choice between a company who kept the source code proprietary forever and one who had to publish after 10 years then I agree, they would pick the former.  But this will be a level playing field.  Everyone will have to publish their source code after 10 years.  It won't be an issue.

Of course maybe I've misunderstood Lessig..?

30/08/2002 11:01 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Licensing: My brain hurts

Here's something I don't understand:

My rights as the author and copyright holder of a piece of software I have written.

I just don't understand them.  And, hence, I do not understand what I may or may not be giving away.  Example: If I publish a program under the GPL am I still the owner of the software?  In what sense?

I've had conflicting opinions about the merits of going open source for my liveTopics program.  Before I make a final decision I want to really understand what I am doing either way and what I am, potentially, giving up.

Example scenario:

liveTopics 1.0 is published as an open source program under the GPL.   For whatever reason though the project does not thrive.  In the mean time I see commercial possibilities for the project with further significant development effort.  I create version 2.0 of liveTopics.

Am I bound by my own license to release it under the GPL?  Or do I have the right, as the owner, to decide I want to use a different license?

I'd really love someone to help me answer these kind of questions, it's frazzling my brain trying to understand this stuff.

29/08/2002 14:28 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

XML-RPC does the trick, IDEA maybe

What's the best XML-RPC implementation for Java at the moment?

Apache XML-RPC (originally Helma) -

For a simple API is XML-RPC a better bet than SOAP?

No - build it using Glue, it's SOAP made easy for Java. It's a dream to use. And free for most uses.

Is it safe to use Swing in applets these days?

Wrong person to ask.

What are the relative advantages/disadvanages of JWS over Applets?  Maybe even thinlets?

Complex question. Thinlets are only really good for small tasks, but are very rapid to develop. JWS is easy to write and 'deploy' any Swing app anywhere. I'd say JWS Swing is better than applets, but I'm biased.

And what IDE should I be using (I used to use JBuilder)

Easy - IDEA.


» Okay I'm finally catching up on all the news I haven't read for a few days.  Some interesting points from Mike.

As luck would have it Apache XML-RPC is the one I ended up downloading.  I had it hooked up to Radio and exchanging data in about as long as it took me to type this sentence, that was pretty cool.

I also choose to re-evaluate IDEA.  I actually came across this IDE a long time ago when I was using some of their refactoring tools for JBuilder.  At the time I dismissed it because (a) it didn't do very much that the free JRefactory tool couldn't already do, and, (b) I was doing GUI stuff and JBuilder does that.

I like a lot of what I see in IDEA and it's certainly a lot cheaper than JBuilder.  I just wonder how I'll hack the GUI bits and pieces without a visual designer...

29/08/2002 10:56 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Klogs can improve the value of what you write

Curiouser and curiouser! in There's a hole in my bucket....

As a klogger, over the past 3 months or so, I have recorded & published tens if not hundreds of thoughts.  I doubt if I shared one quarter of output during the last 6 years I worked at various companies.  Oh I would probably have emailed here and there, spoken up during meetings.  But I wonder just how much knowledge is being lost, second by second, in most companies by each employee.  Then multiply up...

But even if they would catch those thoughts, it's going to be very difficult to find something relevant and to understand it our of the context. More or less like forum discussion: you have to follow for some time to make sense of it.

Going through blog archives is not easy... So far I benefit more from the distributed dialog and from the collective filtering. So, blogs is more for sharing, rather than capturing...


» I don't think this problem is necessarily inherent in blogging/klogging as practiced, more a problem in the simple calendar based access method most weblogs provide by default.

But there are other options, for example a Radio weblog with liveTopics adds another dimension for relating posts together to create a train of thought.  You can follow a topic from a post into a table of contents where you can see other posts referencing that topic.  You can also see, for each post, other topics that were associated with it allowing you to hop from one subject of conversation to another.

The next level is based upon XML topic maps (in XTM format) which I am experimenting with generating right now.  This will allow you to reconstruct the weblog to serve different purposes and, by merging topic maps from different weblogs together, to analyse a larger conversational "space."

All in all I think klogs will, ultimately, vastly improve the ability for people to find things that are relevant and meaningful among the discourse of themselves and others.


28/08/2002 15:27 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Klogging vs. SFA's

I've been thinking about a new (at least I think it's new) area where klogging could take wing namely as a way of augmenting a Sales Force Automation (SFA) suite.

I've got a little experience here and in particular with some of the pitfalls of an SFA.  For example an SFA will typically only work well if:

  • Everyone who should be entering data does so
  • In a timely fashion
  • The data is good
  • The data remains good

Where an SFA implementation is not working I think the reasons are often both psychological and technological.

On the one hand there are reps who do not want to share information.  They will actively try to avoid or work around the SFA system where possible.  The solutions to this problem are probably not technical in nature.  Klogging has nothing to offer these people since their whole mindset is the opposite of a klogging mindset.

However I think there are also a lot of reps who, all things being equal, would use the system properly.  So what stops them?  I think it comes down to one or both of:

  • They are not technically able to master the interface of the SFA
  • The perceived benefits of the SFA to them (i.e. to their commission levels) do not justify the amount of work required of them to be good users.

And then I started to wonder whether a klogging system might not be able to help bridge this kind of gap.

Here's how it goes:

I think that a Radio based klog is, after the installation is over, very easy to use.  Okay templates & categories can cause confusion, but neither are required to use Radio for klogging work.  Company level IT people can do the installation and configuration.  Every sales person I have met could handle posting to a klog.

Our rep would klog entries whenever they have contact with suspects, prospects or customers.  They would do this instead of making entries in the SFA.  One immediate benefit for the rep is that they can do this whilst disconnected (not many SFA systems seem to have a workable disconnected mode).  A good example might be klogging the results of a meeting with a client whilst sat in the car outside the clients premises -- not having to wait to get home or back to the office.

Every activity that could go into the SFA could also be klogged and much more easily.  Telephone calls, meetings, even emails could be copied & pasted from Outlook (Yes, don't look so horrified!).  The k-log interface is so simple that I think you could achieve untypical levels of rep activity.  klogging in this way would build up a considerable database of information about each contact.  For a sales manager this begins to pay off immediately.  By subscribing to the klog of each of their rep's they would immediately have great visibility into the current pipeline.

But what about the SFA?  Okay imagine we have someone else working back at base who is also subscribed to the RSS feed of one or more of the rep's k-logs.  Their job is to extract from those k-logs the information that the SFA needs to do it's job.  With the correct metadata being applied to each k-log post this would be a pretty simple clerking task and could even be automated (I can imagine using "templated" posts to help with this).  In addition the SFA should be linking back to the k-logs so as not to duplicate information unncessarily (this makes the k-logs more closely part of the CRM solution).

I guess what I'm suggesting is using klogging for effective data capture by the reps and to build the database of suspect/prospect knowledge.  Then, as a separate step and done by someone else, updating the SFA as much as required to enable the overview & forecasting functionality that an SFA gives you.  

Does anyone have any views about this idea?

27/08/2002 17:24 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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A sad event...

It's a sad day.  I knew it would come though.  I guess a month isn't too bad.

My new Novissio email account received it's first piece of confirmed spam!

Luckily SpamNet was there to catch it :-)


27/08/2002 12:05 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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There's a hole in my bucket...

Here's a thought.

As a klogger, over the past 3 months or so, I have recorded & published tens if not hundreds of thoughts.  I doubt if I shared one quarter of output during the last 6 years I worked at various companies.  Oh I would probably have emailed here and there, spoken up during meetings.  But I wonder just how much knowledge is being lost, second by second, in most companies by each employee.  Then multiply up...

27/08/2002 08:11 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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XTM export of a weblog

Anyone with an interest in XTM want to check this out?

It's my weblog + topics exported as a topic map via liveTopics.  I'd be interested in any opinions as to the correctness of my XTM implementation, use of tags etc...


26/08/2002 21:25 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Where to Get Homeplug. Get Homeplug adapters from the same place you get your VPN router -- LinkSys. [Blunt Force Trauma]

» There might also be a small problem with the pins being in the wrong place :-)

24/08/2002 15:26 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Great quote

I love this quote from a Salon article (by Allen Berra) on the upcoming baseball strike (I'm a Giants fan for my sins):

"Great sports books are coming from the strangest places nowadays, which is to say that no matter how carefully you look for new things, they seem to sneak up on you."

24/08/2002 10:34 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Not quite the last word on licensing

Not quite the last word on licensing.

I've been speaking to Mark Paschal about his choice of the BSD license for Stapler.  Mark's reasons for open sourcing Stapler may, fundamentally, be more altruistic than mine but having decided to do it (open source liveTopics) I want to do it properly.

They key difference as Mark explains it is that under the GPL liveTopics could not be integrated into Radio, because Radio is not itself GPL compatible.  Indeed Mark couldn't incorporate any functionality from liveTopics into Stapler (for example) without breaking the license.  Is that what I intended?  I'm actually wondering now whether whether it would be breaking my own license to distribute Radio & liveTopics to a customer?  Would I have to require a separate download & install step to comply?

Since I don't think I can go back and do this again I need to get it right.  Some stuff I need to understand:  Am I bound by my own license?  Can I re-issue liveTopics later with a different license?  Can I grant exceptions to the GPL?  If so, what happens when an exception is contradictory to the GPL?

Does anyone else want to weigh in on the best license to use?   [please!]

23/08/2002 22:54 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

A kloggers strength...

Lunch break: switching from work to reflection...

Curiouser and curiouser! in You cannot make people smarter:

My fear is that klogging will only thrive in organisations that are healthy, and that there may not be enough of them.  Or, worse, that klogging will thrive as a control mechanism imposed by insecure and fearful management.  I don't want to be a part of that.

I don't think that klogging could be imposed: in "no trust culture" even if someone asks me what I'm thinking about, I can always say something else. If imposed, klogs can only capture formal activities, that in many cases go to all kinds of reports in any case.

Klogs can turn in a new kind of reporting tool. This could be not so bad if it replaces all other reports. If we think about klogs as project management tool, why not to extent it to the reporting tool?

Finally, I would put it broader: I don't want to be a part of unhealthy (in cultural sense) organisation. I simply wouldn't be able to realise my ambitions in this case.


» I feel I should clarify my remark.

I agree that valuable klogging activity cannot be imposed, I am worried about the darker aspects of klogging techniques as they might be employed by weak and insecure management.

To paraphase a master of KM:

"Remember, a Klogger's strength flows from the Force. But beware. Anger, fear, agression. The dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever it will dominate your destiny."

My hope is that they're all too busy giving their employees random drug tests and installing spy cameras to figure out what we're doing.

23/08/2002 18:44 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:


I've not done anything Java wise for a couple of months but, partly to keep my hand in, and partly because I think it's easier I've been thinking about using an applet or Java WebStart application for managing the topic information in liveTopics.  This leads to some questions:

What's the best XML-RPC implementation for Java at the moment?

For a simple API is XML-RPC a better bet than SOAP?

Is it safe to use Swing in applets these days?

What are the relative advantages/disadvanages of JWS over Applets?  Maybe even thinlets?

And what IDE should I be using (I used to use JBuilder)

Can anyone help me out?

23/08/2002 16:25 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Lessons learned from a large scale K-logging implementation

"A K-log is..." and lessons learned from a large-scale K-logging implementation.

I've learned a few lessons along the way, with (I'm sure) many more to come. They are:

  • Posting the information is a small problem. Organizing and retrieving it is a big problem. We're working on a shared ontology and RDF metadata.
  • Most people don't like to write. We've had a difficult time designing interfaces that encourage adding information instead of just reading.
  • There's no substitute for good, accessible writing. We have several people who write consistently for the system. The logs show that postings from one writer get far more attention and prompt far more linking than those from the other writers. "

[Seb's Open Research]

» These are really good points.  The second is a bit worrying.

23/08/2002 15:59 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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A klog is...

"A K-log is..." and lessons learned from a large-scale K-logging implementation.

"A K-log is a knowledge-management weblog, where you use weblogging tools (like Blogger, Manila, or Radio) to write about your work, what happens, and what you know about. Presumably everybody else does too -- or some reasonable portion of "everybody else". Then you might use RSS to aggregate all this content, and you have the core of a knowledge management system." writes Pete Harbeson.

[Seb's Open Research]

23/08/2002 15:13 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Ride sharing declared illegal!

BBspot is a "satirical news and comedy source and meant to be funny. If you are easily offended, gullible or don't have a sense of humor we suggest you go elsewhere." [Scripting News]

Ford Testifies to Stop Ride Sharing

Washington DC - William Ford Jr., CEO of the Ford Motor Company testified before Congress about the nationwide problem of ride sharing. Ford cited ride swapping as the number one reason for the the company's declining revenue. "These 'pool pirates are depriving Ford of rightful income. Three sometimes four people are sharing rides. Less wear and tear on the cars means fewer new car purchases. That's revenue that's being robbed from Ford."

» Fantastic!

23/08/2002 07:51 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Blogstreet : missed one

BlogBack: Hey! BlogStreet's Starting to Be Very Cool..

BlogBack: Hey!  BlogStreet's Starting to Be Very Cool.

I mentioned recently and just thought to check back since my buddy Veer mentioned it to me.  Here's how it looks for my blog:

Click to zoom in to the full graphic.  I particularly like the way I can drill down into blogs that link to me and who's related to them.

Thanks Veer!  Nice work.

[The FuzzyBlog!]

» My blog returns "The blog is present in our database but not yet processed." and has done for at least 3 weeks.   Did I do something wrong?  :(

23/08/2002 00:17 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Can teach. Won't teach.

Learning, sharing, and doing both.

... I wonder what connections exist between learning and teaching, or, in KM context, between learning and sharing. Are those who dare to share and eager to learn are the same people? Are these two sides of the same coin? May be it’s a coincidence in my case :-) [Mathemagenic]

I believe that all sharers are learners. However from my experience there are perhaps five to ten times more people who can learn but won't teach than there are people who'll do both. The implication would be that you can only klog 10-20% of an organization. But watch the generation of kids who are going to grow up with the medium.

[Seb's Open Research]

» I'd be interested in any conjecture about the, possibly many, reasons why those people won't teach?

22/08/2002 22:16 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Tables of Contents

As anyone who has clicked on a topic link for one of my posts recently will be aware, my Table of Contents is now pretty big.  I hadn't realised how big until someone told me it was over 600K!!  I guess if I didn't have broadband now I wouldn't have let it get this far without addressing it.

My solution is to provide 2 "drivers" for building the table of contents.  A single outline driver suitable for small sites and a mutli-outline driver suitable for larger sites.  These and other drivers can be selected using a preference (it's pretty simple to add a new driver, e.g. one for doing tables instead of outlines).

The new mutli-outline driver will split the table of contents alphabetically.  This might still lead to some pages being heavier than others but is a simple strategy to implement and should spread things out better than they are at the moment.


22/08/2002 21:43 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Licensing: The final word (from me)

Okay the GPL license is now embedded in liveTopics 1.0

So far most of the comments I have received suggest that making liveTopics free software has more advantages than keeping it proprietary and trying to commercialize it.  Although the idea of money seems really great (and really remote) to me right now it's how I was leaning anyway.

I'm going to sleep on it and, barring an overnight conversion or conclusive message to the contrary, I shall be releasing liveTopics 1.0 tomorrow under the GPL.

22/08/2002 20:24 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

To teach is to learn

Follow-up thinking from previous post.

Sometimes I catch myself wishing to do some kind of teaching (training, coaching). Although I’m in research now, previous few years of helping others to learn has impacted me badly. I miss it, and I use any opportunity to do it even as an extra workload.

I was curious about a driving force behind it. I thought about this energy and excitement I get when people are growing with my help, but this was not explaining the whole. Now it gets clear: this is my own way to learn. It also explains why I’m not so eager to give the same course more than three times: probably this is enough to understand.

I wonder what connections exist between learning and teaching, or, in KM context, between learning and sharing. Are those who dare to share and eager to learn are the same people? Are these two sides of the same coin? May be it’s a coincidence in my case :-)


» What an excellent question: "What connections exist between learning and teaching?"

To sides of the same coin?  Not sure.  Rather I see that when you care about teaching something to someone you make a commitment that requires deep understanding to fulfil.  The act of committing to teaching is the act of committing to understanding, to learning.

As an example Stephen Covey advises everyone who wants to learn about the 7 habits of highly effective people to begin teaching it within 24 hours of starting to learn.  Of course I had no-one to hand so I had to use my cats.  Have you ever tried teaching a cat to "Think win-win"?  Go on, I dare you!

Maybe this is why I find the 7-habits so hard...

22/08/2002 18:32 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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You cannot make people smarter

Curiouser and curiouser! raises some unresolved Klogging issues:

  • Klogs can overlap with existing formal systems - does klogging means that the same thing is not reported in formal way?
  • Decentralised klogging vs. organisational trends to control. 
  • Does klog makes it easier to control you?
  • As klogs are not really secure, could you post anything anything sensitive?
  • Are big-KM vendors missing the point?

I love this issue popping up again and again: how control and formal structures can coexist with natural informal networks. I'm not sure that I want to tackle the whole issue, but at least I want to look at the learning side of it.

[from my PhD proposal] Learning is best described by the metaphor “you can lead horse to the water, but you cannot make it drinking”, or as Joseph Kessels says “you cannot make people smarter”. Even in the case of formal learning an organisation does not have control over employee’s brain and heart, so in order to benefit from employee learning, companies have to find the way to support and encourage it without full control. The author believes that the answer lies in supporting interplay between individual and organisational needs by relating and integrating employee-driven informal learning and organisation-driven formal learning.


» Thanks to [DG] for putting me on to Mathemagenic.

"You cannot make people smarter."

I believe this to be true.  However I also think that:

  1. Not every organisation believes that, e.g. the amount of money spent each year on training that doesn't work.
  2. Not every organisation cares how smart it's people are (no matter how much they spend on investors in people logos)

All that downsizing.  All those drives for efficiency at any cost.  They have created environments of paranoia and hostility where there is no interplay between individual and organisation.

My fear is that klogging will only thrive in organisations that are healthy, and that there may not be enough of them.  Or, worse, that klogging will thrive as a control mechanism imposed by insecure and fearful management.  I don't want to be a part of that.

22/08/2002 17:07 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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UK DMCA : it's going to get a lot worse...

UK's DMCA: there ain't no sanity clause. Patent Office "criminalises" netizens, researchers [The Register]

» Blast!  Did I miss a meeting?  How did we get to this point already?

Oh well trust the UK government to jump in ass first and try and make their version of the DMCA even worse than it needs to be.

For a critique of some of the flaws of the UK DCMA read here.

22/08/2002 15:31 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Blogger representation : uncovering the implicit

Uncovering the implicit. From Sébastien Paquet and Lilia Efimova ... some interesting insights as to why people blog and why some professions are better represented than others e.g. educators, journalists, software developers, librarians, lawyers and knowledge professionals. As Sébastien says in his [original posting] on the subject :
I think the commonality has to do with uncovering the implicit.
And as Lilia [adds] :
For me, blog is something for articulating ideas. They get some shape once they get out of my brain, and it becomes easier easy to deal with them. Blog is something for catching those difficult to catch things...

I think they are on to something here - some people because of their mindset "can't help but blog" while others will "never get it" or never find the time or the motivation to do it. And that's not a judgement - it simply reflects the diversity of human nature and that can only be good [Smile!] [Gurteen Knowledge-Log]

» An interesting observation, seems about right.  Let's just hope the blogger mindset is in the majority!


22/08/2002 13:05 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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An unstable Radio is an unhappy Radio

Well, thrice is the charm. Again, radio crashed and I lost posts. I was able to reconstruct them from local cache, but enough is enough. [The Universal Church Of Cosmic Uncertainty]

» I'm intrigued about why Radio is crashing so often for you and why you are losing information.   I do have Radio crash here (for example I cannot compact the weblogData.root file) sometimes but basically it's quite sound.

If you're not 100% committed to abandoning it, can you blog some more details of your situation?

22/08/2002 11:08 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Active reading with liveTopics

liveTopics to create virtual weblog channels.

Here's an idea I've been thinking about for the use of liveTopics.

What I'd like to do is offer the reader is the chance to create their own categories and here's how I think it would work:

The next time the reader visits the page they only get posts that match the selected "virtual channel." along with a drop-down to change channel and the customise button.

Anybody else think this is an interesting idea? [Curiouser and curiouser!]

It is interesting, but in my view it would be even better if we could subscribe to a RSS feed for the shared categories we like. This is a generalization of KMPings. The following step would be to document and interlink the shared categories in a (shared) wiki.

[Seb's Open Research]

» Agreed.  For a while now the ability to create dynamic channels from the RSS feed has been part of my plan.  RSS 0.92 already has the necessary tag that can be co-opted to take topics instead / as well.  I've patched the Radio RSS generator to do this, but need to do some more work in terms of turning this patch into something that can be distributed in Radio.

A key advantage would be the ability to have multiple RSS feeds aggregated together into a channel when they reference the same topics.

However I still think there is a role for the browser view.  Despite the growing popularity of RSS I think people are still going to want to read some sites and at the moment they don't work for the reader.

The way I see it is that this is a control thing in the same way that blogging itself is a control thing.  As a blogger I write what I like, that's where I get my control.  But as a reader I have no control.  I see what the writer intends (or not -- consider the font sizing issue that has been hot recently).

I was just musing that it would be interesting for the reader of a site to be able to re-frame the content in a way that suited them.  But RSS does come first...

22/08/2002 11:05 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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RIAA and the 1st

RIAA suspends DMCA lawsuit as listen4ever ducks. Tanks back to fringes of ISPs' lawns [The Register]

» There is something that I don't understand about this lawsuit (and let's be honest I know *nothing* about law, US or otherwise).

Doesn't it fail on 1st ammendment grounds?

How is it different to the libraries & internet filtering arguments?

I guess the point for me is: why does the fact that the RIAA cannot persue the site authors by conventional means to remove the copyright material give them the right to ask for the site to be blocked?

Can someone explain it?

22/08/2002 08:39 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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liveTopics license

More on licensing for liveTopics.
[Curiouser and curiouser!]

I've gotta say I really love watching this process.

One point of potential revenue could very well be 'corporate consulting' i.e. installation and integration. People aren't going to know what to do with liveTopics (or blogging directories, topic-maps, XTM & visualization for that matter) without being pitched and well trained, and even then it's going to be difficult for them to wrap their head around the concept enough to drop it into their IT culture effectively. It's much easier from that perspective to hire the people who wrote it to come in, train IT in the installation process (or actually provide the service) and talk with the user base to bring them up to speed and show them some of the possibilities and how it "affects their day."

If liveTopics is (or is going to be) that robust I think you should have no particular difficulty generating a revenue stream through such ancillary services.

[The Universal Church Of Cosmic Uncertainty]

» Thanks for the perspective.  That's kinda what I'm looking for right now.  Well either that or "You're mad!  Mad! Mad! Mad!"

I guess this will become one of those experiments that my life has now become.


21/08/2002 18:10 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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PKP is to blogging, as TKP is to klogging

I've was speaking with Mike O'Reilly about liveTopics, Radio, open source and what to call klogging.   He very kindly reminded me that I am old enough to be considered an anachronism by some people.  My love of "Personal Knowledge Publishing" comes from it's link to the DTP revolution.  But Mike made it clear that most people today didn't go through that.  To them DTP means Word and it's not exciting, it doesn't harken back to a revolution.  Oh well, drop that idea then.

We then went through collaborative, professional, business, and didn't like any of them enough to agree on it.

Then it occurred to me to cut to the chase:

klogging = Tacit Knowledge Publishing

This captures both the personal element that I think is so important, and the collaborative element. It also supports the storytelling metaphor which I am coming around to in a big way.

21/08/2002 14:43 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Kartoo - a strange search engine

KartOO is a new meta search engine with a graphical interface. It's based on a technology developed for 3 years by Laurent Baleydier and his team. KartOO is programmed in Flash although you have an optional traditional HTML interface. What makes KartOO interesting is that it elaborates the so called semantic links between results. Those links are represented by sinuous lines that link the balls. Amidst said lines you find a word that is the one the algorithm considers that links both results semantically. By hovering on top of it you can highlight the related balls. When hovering over the ball you can see all its related semantic links highlighted.

[Jon Alsbury's Radio Weblog]

» Good find by Jon, this looks interesting.

I can't quite work out what it's doing as the results appear on a number of "maps" which don't appear to be connected.  Is it arbitrary as to what appears on each individual map?  Do the size of the result "balls" indicate relevance?  And what do the colours signify.

It looks pretty amazing, and I get the feeling there is something powerful going on.  But I need help with this one...

21/08/2002 14:41 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Blair tells Bush, 'back off UK plc'

This is about a piece in the Observer news paper at the weekend that reported how Blair was trying to get Bush to give UK companies an exemption to the Sarbanes-Oxley bill.  This is the new regulation of federal securities bill that has everyone hopping up and down.  I'm hoping Bush says 'get lost' because I'm not a believer that we are any better off here, fraud wise.

What caught my eye in the article was the posturing about the effect the new regulations would have on non-executive directors.  Quoting from the Business & Media from Page from the Observer, Sunday 11th August 2002:

"A number of leading City organisations are worried that the law raises the prospect of criminal proceedings being taken against innocent directors who fail to detect frauds perpetrated by their colleagues."


"At a time when we want the best-quality people to be non-executive directors, the threat of still penal and legal consequences is a major deterrent to the very people we're trying to attract.  They'll just say it's not worth the risk." -- Peter Wyman, President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants

To me this is just proof, from the horses mouth, that the whole idea of non-execs regulating companies doesn't work.  If the good ones are afraid they can't spot fraud what's the point in having them there?

21/08/2002 13:30 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
More about:

Another brave soul

It's Official -- I'm Self-Employed. Hmm, it feels odd. [Blunt Force Trauma]

» I know that feeling :-)

21/08/2002 12:57 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

HomePlug and Wi-Fi will make a good solution

Okay so I've been dreaming about having the money to put Wi-Fi in the house.  The problem is that I know I'm gonna need several base stations to cover the entire house and garden, maybe as many as 6 in order to get good signal everywhere.  That's expensive and, worse still, I have to run cable somehow to connect them all up.

Bob Cringely has been writing about HomePlug which is a networking standard that uses the power sockets as connectors and the electrical wiring in your house to give you a 14Mbps broadband connection around your home.  14Mbps may not be that great, but it's surely good enough and the best part is: no wiring.

Now, like Bob, I tend to have my laptop plugged in to the mains most of the time.  HomePlug would mean I could dispense with most of the wireless access points in the house.  Maybe just having one for the conservatory and garden.

Now where on earth can I get this in the UK?

21/08/2002 11:02 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Implementing trackback services

Radio Tip: TrackBack tutorial ~ Homebrew TrackBack Tutorial  Got this from If you have TrackBack Envy (I do), here's your revenge:

"It's easy for a non-Movable Type weblog to send trackback pings. They use a REST interface:;title=TITLE&url=URL
So you can write a bookmarklet that 'does the right thing' if you know the site's base URL.

Trackback supports a few more parameters in the URL so you can send a summary of the reply, and the name of the site sending the ping."
Over at Hit-or-Miss, they've been building their own Trackback server in PHP and MySQL."

[Dog News: radio questions]  [From DWS Radio FAQ]

» Can someone explain to me what the tb_id part of the URL is?

I'm still not convinced by MT TrackBack.  But I shall certainly try and support the current interface in my own TrackBack server implementation.

21/08/2002 10:52 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Well isn't that timely

I took the GNU GPL and LGPL Licensing Quiz and only got 4 out of 9 correct. I don't know if this quiz is such a great idea, after doing so poorly on the test and reading my mis-interpretations of the licenses I'm pretty leary of using the GPL or LGPL for any project. [Found via diveintomark]


» I too got 4 out of 9.  I'm not too unhappy though, if not for yesterdays research I would have gotten 0 out of 9.

It does mean I need to go back and re-read the FAQ's before I make final decisions about GPL'ing liveTopics.

21/08/2002 10:46 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

You know when...

Okay I'm a convert to Radio's outliner now.  I just caught myself, in a Word outline, pressing F2 to navigate the outline nodes!!
21/08/2002 08:51 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Will Blog for Food

More on licensing for liveTopics. (SOURCE:Curiouser and curiouser)-Good luck! I am trying to do the same thing. Making a living through blogging. This also reminds me that I need to installl LiveTopics as well as add the blogrolling macro, ...So I think it's real values to me are: * reputation * a lead-in to other services * the vision The other services could be support, as well as more general KM/klogging consultancy or integration work. Am I making sense? I guess we'll know if I end up starving and homeless in 6 months time! [Roland Tanglao's Weblog]

» It feels good to know that I'm not alone.  Roland Tanglao is also walking around wearing a sign reading "Will Blog for Food."  In a sense I guess he's lucky, he has partners.  At least he won't starve alone!



21/08/2002 08:32 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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More on licensing for liveTopics

Here's how I'm leaning:

I make liveTopics free software issued under the GPL. 

I can see the arguments for and against commercial licenses for the software.  But like the Zope guys I have weigh up how much license revenue I'm actually likely to generate versus the inertia that having to pay could generate.  I'm hoping to build a reputation in the KM/klogging space and liveTopics if widely accepted could be a part of that.  I also want to take liveTopics into corporate blogging directories, topic-maps, XTM, and visualization.  I want to take it into group/shared-blogging.  I want lots of you to come along for the ride.

So I think it's real values to me are:

  • reputation
  • a lead-in to other services
  • the vision

The other services could be support, as well as more general KM/klogging consultancy or integration work.

Am I making sense?  I guess we'll know if I end up starving and homeless in 6 months time!

20/08/2002 23:18 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

The real argument is e-gov should be open

In the former case its patents and proprietary file formats, in the latter case its misuse of the law. Where is the integrity in either case? So, lets use software written by developers who show each other respect and integrity, by developers who wouldnt lock down our choice and our data by legialation or non-openness. It isnt commercial vs. open source, but rather, closed against open. The Intellectual Property (and Thought) police against the common man. Lets not lose perspective! [TIG's Corner]

» Hmmm... I'm not sure that a law that specifies that governments have to use open source software is "misuse of the law".  You may find it not to your liking, you may not agree with it, but I don't see how it's a misuse.  Also I think it's very hard to legislate respect.

I do agree that the real argument should be about open vs. closed (read proprietary). 

20/08/2002 22:53 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Will Durst - good comedy

Just been watching comedian Will Durst on TV.  Very funny guy.

My favourite line?  On ol Shrub

"He's like a stripper with hairy legs.  He's got some smooth moves, but, even from the bar you can tell that something is horribly wrong."

There was a lot more and I'd definitely like to see him live.

20/08/2002 22:00 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Something worth talking about.

Something Unexpected: Scotts Radio.

Something Unexpected: Scott's Radio


As the author of the O'Reilly Essential Blogging chapters on Radio, I clearly have a commercial interest in Radio.  You'd think that I'd want people to just buy the Essential Blogging book and NOT give content about Radio for free.  You'd think that but you'd be wrong.  I really want to see Radio do well along with great people like Jake and Lawrence.  And more documentation is pretty much always a frothy good thing for products.

So... Inspiration struck me yesterday when I was digging through the 240 gigabytes of digital bile that I call a hard drive(s):

O'Reilly cut a lot of my text on the Essential Blogging book.  (these are all labeled as "Missing")  Why not aggregate that content along with my previous writings on Radio and release it as a free book under the GNU Free Documentation License?  This content still gets tons of hits from Google so it's clearly useful. 

A quick demand (ok gentle request) to my partner, Gretchen, for "A really cool cover" and within about an hour, she IM'd me the graphic at left.  And I've been in hard core content massage since 3:37 am on this oh so soggy Boston day.  I won't tell you that this content is perfect -- there are clearly some broken links and other editing style things that need to get done.  But there is a lot of content and it's useful.  It'll get improved more over time but following the Open Source mantra of "Release Early and Release Often", I give you:

Scott's Radio

==> Read Stories <==

[The FuzzyBlog!]

» Thanks Scott for publishing this.

20/08/2002 21:15 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Entropy, big-KM, klogging and the wheel

Roland's Natural Klog Progression..

I spoke of four klogging roles last week: catalyst, coach, armorer, practice leader. Matt Mower advocates the the role of "Intranet Editor:"

Much as the users of a Wiki should occasionally re-factor pages that are becoming "busy" I think that a good intranet editor should be grooming the klogs in their organization and drawing together useful strangs to form part (or all) of the static intranet.

Roland Tanglao builds on this:

I think a natural progression for knowledge is:

  1. blog breaking news
  2. harvest it periodically (say weekly) into an FAQ and/or other knowledge base type of documents
  3. Put the link into a a directory that supports transclusion like Manila style directories.

K-Log => (FAQ or other knowlegebase article) => directory.  

K-Logs need to be periodically (at least once a month) harvested for content that should go into an FAQ or other knowledgebase document and links that that should go into a directory. This is the job of a K-Log editor :-)! I have been trying to do this with VanEats but after a klog gets to a certain size, it really needs to have some time set aside for it.

Practice Leader is probably the closest to a dedicated multi-author editor. Summarizing work in a field, showing the aggregate progress and useful threads. Structuring knowledge into FAQs or other KM systems may be a natural progression, especially as klogging tools and KM tools build bridges.

Entropy, bad.

Fighting entropy, expensive, slow. 

Self-review is a powerful tool for learning. Going over my own posts for the past week, month, and quarter has shown patterns I missed, ideas I was skirting but never wrote outright. It reinforced brief social connections, blogs to which I linked to and people with whom I briefly corresponded. It takes concentrated time and effort. It helps me to print out all the pages on my blog for that period; something about shuffling through paper.

Folks are trying hard to automate this work. Summarizers. Cluster analysis. Text to Structure converters. Taxonomy systems.

But the expert author of the original content is often the best judge of relevance.

[a klog apart]

» I think one of the things about klogs is that are no better than any other KM system when it comes to entropy.  In fact they are likely to be a hell of a lot worse -- it's just the entropy matters less.  Any information system that isn't properly maintained has the potential to quickly deteriorate into chaos.

The fact is that most people don't want to have to find just the right place to put something.  Most people aren't going to review what they have done.   You can force this behaviour, you can encourage it.  But is it really necessary that everyone has to become a librarian in order to function in a knowledge environment?

My alternative is that we recognize and promote the value of good editing (and, hence, good editors).  Have an editor/practice leader to head each area whose responsibility it is to aggregate good knowledge.  Then reward them when they do it well.   Example:  Look at the number of search engine queries for specific keywords.  Tie those keywords to projects/areas.  If the number of searches trends downwards something is working.  Okay, too simplistic? Then suggest something better!

An area I have been thinking about is how I would integrate the idea of uploading files to a KM system when klogging.  One approach would be to provide some kind of clever dialogue to allow the user to specify where they want the file to end up.  That sounds like hard work for me & for the user.

Alternative strategy:  Allow the user to put a file in an enclosure.  Radio will upstream it to the KM server as part of the RSS feed.  The KM server will toss the file into an upload bucket in an area based upon the metadata of the post (ala liveTopics).  It's then up to the practice leader for that area to decide where the document actually belongs and move it there (or indeed if it belongs at all).

Is this less efficient?  Maybe so.  Is it more effective?  I think so.

Agree? Disagree?  Ideas?

20/08/2002 19:57 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

It's all in the title

Personal Knowledge Publishing = Blogging. (SOURCE:Curiouser and curiouser)-I like it!You know, I don't like the term klogging very much. It has meaning to us "in the know" but I think it's rather an opaque term. I would prefer a term like Personal Knowledge Publishing which actually says a little bit about what it means, and, harkens back to the DTP revolution. I think PKP will hail the same revolution for Knowledge Management by emphasizing that it is people that matter. Process should follow people. [Roland Tanglao's Weblog]

» I think Roland got it right with his title

Personal Knowledge Publishing = Blogging

and to put it in an organizational context

?? Knowledge Publishing = Klogging

I'm still working on the ??


20/08/2002 19:43 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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liveTopics to create virtual weblog channels

Here's an idea I've been thinking about for the use of liveTopics.

At the moment as author's we categorize our posts for our readers.  If using default Radio by explicitly putting them into categories (or, by default, not doing so).  With liveTopics I can add some granularity to that.  But basically it doesn't have too much impact on my reader.  It also doesn't give the reader much choice.

What I'd like to do is offer the reader is the chance to create their own categories and here's how I think it would work:

We add a "customise this site" button that pop's up a list of all the topics available on the site.

The reader can then group topics they are interested in together to create "virtual channels."  These along with the default selection are bundled up into a cookie that is stored in the readers browser (with their permission).

The next time the reader visits the page they only get posts that match the selected "virtual channel." along with a drop-down to change channel and the customise button.

Anybody else think this is an interesting idea?


20/08/2002 16:57 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Six Degree's of Freedom? Well maybe...

Ron Lusk posted recently about a program called Six Degree's which they call "Time-freeing technology."   It's a pretty simple idea.  An application that links together all the emails, files and people in your outlook database.  Example: you click on an email in Outlook and in the Six Degree's window you can see all the related emails, the people involved in those emails and any files exchanged in those emails.

It certainly fits into my category of information tools for personal effectiveness so I was interested to and downloaded it.  The tutorial presentation was very slick, but I hit a snag when it came to try and index the contents of my Outlook folders.

"An unexpected exception has been caught in initTroll"

not what you want to see, but better, I suppose, than not catching it.  The advice was to restart, but that hasn't solved it.

I'm in two minds about whether to give it another chance.  At the back of my mind I am not convinced this is a technology that will be effective due to it's dependence upon file attachments.  I am not a believer in using email to handle projects, nor in sending/expecting attached files.  There are better technologies out there.

So Six Degree's seems a bit like a band-aid when what we need is a vaccine.

However lot's of people do manage projects via email, and are attachment junkies.  This technology could very well work for them and it might be a good transitional technology.  A way of organizing a projects assets in order to migrate it to something more sensible.

Maybe I'll give it another go tomorrow.

20/08/2002 16:25 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Regulation vs. BIG/GAS

Bob Lewis nails it again.  On the current round of accounting scandals and the regulation backlash to come...

  • As we sit in the rubble of Enron, ImClone, WorldCom, Tyco, AOL, and other, as-yet-undiscovered or unpublicized corporate implosions, it's worthwhile to wonder which is the egg: the lack of accountability resulting from more than two decades of business deregulation, or the corrupt perspective of the corporate elite who acquired the resulting additional power.
  • Lord Acton notwithstanding, I think the corruption came first.
  • Without regulation, those businesses that resort to any tactic to win have the advantage over those that restrict their behavior to conventional codes of ethics.
  • Consequently, ethical CEOs should welcome government regulation, not fight it.
  • The goal of an ethical CEO would be efficient regulation, not deregulation.
  • For more than two decades we've been subjected to unrelenting propaganda from the BIG/GAS (Business Is Great/Government and Academics are Stupid) contingent decrying any and all regulation as a fundamentally bad idea.
  • Regulation, we've been assured, prevents American businesses from being competitive in world markets, harms productivity, and hampers profitability.
  • The business community no longer has the credibility to be part of the process.
  • Their goal will be minimizing any chance of new abuses, unfettered by considerations of how hard or easy it will be to comply.
  • Every new regulation will result in reporting requirements, every reporting requirement will require new information technology, and nobody is going to care how hard it is to build.


20/08/2002 14:48 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

More on licensing, closer to a decision

Okay I've just read the first document that is really convincing.  It's by the guys behind Zope and discusses in detail their reasons for going open source.  This is the first concrete business-plan backed reasoning I've come across and it makes for compelling reading.  Just need to go check that Zope are still in business!

Here are the important points:

  • Going open source will increase our user base by a factor of 100 within three months. Wider brand and stronger identity leads to more consulting and increased valuation on our company.

  • Open source gives rock solid, battle-tested, bulletproof software on more platforms and with more capabilities than closed source, thus increasing the value of our consulting.

  • Fostering a community creates an army of messengers, which is pretty effective marketing.

  • This is not the last innovation we'll make.

  • In the status quo, the value of packaging the software as a product would approach zero, as we had zero market penetration. What is the value of a killer product with few users? The cost to enter the established web application server market was going to be prohibitive.

  • The investment grows us into a larger, more profitable company, one that can make a credible push to create a platform via open source. Since our consulting is only on the platform, a strong platform is imperative.

  • Open source makes the value of our ideas more apparent, thus the perceived value of the company is apparent.

  • Our architecture is "safer" for consulting customers. With thousands of people using it, the software is far less marginal. The customer is able to fix things themselves or reasonably find someone to do it for them. Finally, the software will "exist forever".

  • Dramatically increasing the base of users and sites using it gives us a tremendous boost in "legitimacy".

  • The exit plan isn't about the golden eggs (the intellectual property) laid last year. It is about the golden goose and tomorrow's golden eggs. The shelf life of eggs these days is shrinking dramatically, and the value of an egg that no one knows about is tiny. Give the eggs away as a testament to the value of the goose and a prediction of eggs to come.

  • The community can work with us to dramatically increase the pace of innovation and responsiveness to new technical trends, such as XML and WebDAV.

  • Ride the coattails of the nascent Open Source community and its established channels such as RedHat. OSS has a certain buzz that is greater than its real customer-closing value, but this buzz is getting hot. Moving aggressively towards Open Source can make us a category killer for the web application server market segment.

  • We believe like hell in what we're doing. Others believe in us as well. We should follow our instincts.

Some of these issues are obviously more important to a company having taken investment with it's eye on a future IPO but I think they are all good, important points.  Those that seem most applicable (and inherently good) to me I've marked in red.   They seem very persuasive.

One implication is that the direction of my company will be entirely towards VAR services & consulting.  I shall be abandoning the idea of making money from software licenses (for my own software).

Something to think about...

20/08/2002 14:41 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Another name for klogging

Personal Business Knowledge Publishing

(just trying it on for size)

20/08/2002 14:17 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Ban driving and talking

UK to ban driving and talking. The scourge of the mobile phone [The Register]

» I was actually under the impression that it was already illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone whilst on the move.  I know i've always felt guilty the few times I've done it.  I'm pretty good about using the hands-free but have forgotten it a couple of times.   I'd be in favour of this kind of legislation.

20/08/2002 13:22 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Aggregating IA/ is pretty sucky

What is it about Radio's new aggregator and the IA/ feed?

I seem to get all their articles over and over, no matter how many times I delete them.  I've even got three copies of the whole set in the aggregator at the moment.

This sucks!

20/08/2002 13:18 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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open standards, not open source

O'Reilly questions free-SW regs. Politics, yuck [The Register]

» Legislate to mandate open standards for e-government, not open source.  Sounds reasonable to me.


20/08/2002 13:14 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Making a living selling Open Source software

Okay I'm reading stuff about how to make a living "selling" open source software (free software as GNU would have it).  It seems that the model held up by most people is Red Hat who sell Linux.  A brief look at their web page indicates that professional services is a big part of their business.

Does anyone have a view on this model?  How about "selling" a much smaller, less commoditized product, in the KM marketplace?  I'm not sure...



20/08/2002 13:03 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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More on licensing

Maybe I should just GPL liveTopics and avoid the subject of money altogether.

Is there a way to make a living from software without licensing it when the source is freely available?



20/08/2002 12:33 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

liveTopics licensing. It's getting thorny

I've been thinking about licensing and how it applies to my business, to my plans for making my living.

I've used free software and appreciated it.  I've bought commerical software and been happy to do so.  I am happy to buy reasonably priced software - when I have the money.  I don't expect, or even want, all software to be free.  Now, for the first time, I am releasing software in the context of my own business, making a living.  It colours things.

My plans for liveTopics means that it will, increasingly, be relevant in an organizational context.  I anticipate a point where I could have commercial and non-commercial customers.  I want to license liveTopics appropriately but my head is getting very sore trying to work that out.

I need help.


20/08/2002 12:27 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Quick reminder

Oh and Mike, don't forget that meeting...

20/08/2002 10:44 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Alexa Toolbar?

Has anyone used the Alexa browser toolbar?  I'm a Google toobar junkie so I'm not keen to replace it, but I'd like to know if it's any good.

19/08/2002 15:44 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:


I've been trialling DeerSoft SpamAssassin Pro for two weeks now.  For those unfamiliar with it, SpamAssassin is a collaborative spam filtering application that leverages the power of it's users to help fight spam.

However the DeerSoft plugin for Outlook XP does not handle the HotMail inbox yet and this is where my spam comes from.  My novissio address is still shiny enough not to get any spam.  But I don't imagine that will last for long!

Unfortunately the DeerSoft trial is only 14 days so I don't really feel I've seen it in action (although it did file a number of legitimate but likely messages as spam) and can't justify the $30.

However, reading Michael Alderete's weblog I came across his notes about SpamNet which is another collaborative spam filter and available as a free download.  If it can access the hotmail inbox that would be great, otherwise I guess it gives me more time to play with this technology before having to commit and maybe pay for SpamAssassin.

The only downside is that it's only available for Outlook on Windows.

19/08/2002 15:30 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Klogging up the intranet

Just thinking about intranets and klogs.

I think klogs bring the role of a web or intranet editor sharply into focus.

Much as the users of a Wiki should occasionally re-factor pages that are becoming "busy" I think that a good intranet editor should be grooming the klogs in their organization and drawing together useful strangs to form part (or all) of the static intranet.

I wonder what kind of tools would make this easier?

18/08/2002 23:26 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Klogging issues

I had a very useful and productive meeting on Friday.  I gave my first klogging pitch and, despite the roughness of the material, it didn't go too badly wrong.  I was pitching to friends which has it's plusses and minuses but overall it's the right place for your first pitch.

Here are some of the important issues that were raised:

  • Having klogs can easily overlap with existing formal systems.  For example when klogging a difficult interaction with a student (these guys are at a University) does this mean that you don't put the information into the CRM system?  Or when klogging about a problem with the printer should you not fill out a helpdesk ticket?   It's not enough to answer that these kind of formal systems are often under-utilized, the people aren't trained, etc. since it's hard to argue this with a client who has invested in these systems.  Indeed you may be pitching to one of their sponsors who might not take kindly to such assertions.
  • Klogging as presented so far is a decentralizing technology.  However the natural tendency of most organizations (at least in my experience within the UK) is to want to centralize.  The idea of employee's having greater autonomy is not desirable.  Of course they won't say that up front, however...
  • Many people will fear that klogging could be used as a control tool that lets unscrupulous managers see exactly what they are doing and maybe even document their job so that they can be replaced by someone cheaper.   It's a sad reflection on todays workplace, but it is a reflection.
  • Security.  This is closely related to the de-centralization point above.  At the moment klogging systems (because they are basically blogging systems where security isn't an issue) have little or no inherent security.  This will limit their value as people will feel unable to klog anything sensitive.
  • Big-KM vendors will embrace klogging.  This is really only of interest to people espousing klogging solutions based on products like Radio or MoveableType (is there anyone?).  My own belief is that the Big-KM vendors will do their usual job of missing the boat, missing the point then coming to the party with a hotchpotch solution.

These issues are not new but are, to my knowledge, unresolved.  I'll be looking for answers in the days and weeks ahead.  Anyone got a headstart on me (please!)?

18/08/2002 23:22 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Fixing intranets with klogs

Fixing intranets. It's interesting how the same issues seem to come up in bunches. Over the last month, I have now talked... [Column Two]

» James has written an interesting post about some of the common problems with intranets that he encounters with his clients.  As someone interested in how klogging (I'll use the term for now!) could affect the role of intranets and content management his issues seem particularly relevant to me.  In preface to my remarks I should point out that I am choosing to address static content rather than the possible dynamic web applications you might find on a typical intranet.

The issues, re-ordered slightly to suit my responses, are:

  1. The intranet has grown over time.
  2. Manual processes (using Frontpage or Dreamweaver) are used to publish pages.
  3. A lot of information has been published, but the site isn't being used.
  4. There is little high-level structure, and users are not able to find information.

1. If you want a logical hierarchical structure then organic growth is a problem.  It's like running water, it flows down along the path of least resistance and doesn't care about the direction.  Same with people, they'll squirrel stuff anywhere that makes sense today (have you taken a good look at your my "My Documents" directory lately?).   Of course if you're klogging then this organic growth is part of the package.  Whether that bothers you is probably a factor of points (2), (3), and (4). 

2. This is most obviously solved by klogging software.  It's one of the fundamentals.

3. Hard to say but I guess much of the information published may be of low quality.  In my experience no matter how hard publishing to an intranet can be, creating information is harder still.  This leads to variable quality in that information.  Variable quality leads to low usage.  Low usage provides little incentive for new information to be created and so on.

Klogging address this in two ways I think:

  • When you have something to publish it's dead easy: click, type, click.
  • You can publish in bite-size chunks.  This means that if you have a small but useful piece of information you can just klog it.  You don't have to pad it into a long document to make it worthwhile.  You also don't have to find "just the right place" for it to go, it just gets klogged.  That chunk can exist in it's own right, waiting for the day someone needs it.

Which brings us rather neatly to (4)

4. As it stands klogging is a decentralizing technology that doesn't encourage a formal hierarchical structure.  You klog and, if all goes according to plan, people will subscribe to you and they will link to you.  Will they be the right people?  Does it make information any easier to locate?  Not automatically no.  But then hierarchical structures don't necessarily make life any easier.  Once a hierarchy is more than about 2 levels deep it can cause it's own navigation issues.

Some people might argue that a healthy klogging culture coupled with a Google search appliance (or any search engine that has a pageranking algorithm I guess) could well make it easier to find what you're looking for.  I think theres something to be said for that.

My own approach is to allow for easy metadata-enabling of klogs.  My hope is that combining klogs with topic maps will allow new structures to be grown from them automagically.  This can complement the pagerank based search and provide new ways of finding and traversing group knowledge.

So should you scrap the intranet and replace it with klogs?

I don't think so.  But perhaps you should think carefully about what you want your intranet to achieve and whether some of your goals for information publishing and dissemination couldn't be better achieved with a klogging strategy.

18/08/2002 22:31 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Addressing accessability: font sizes

Why I'm Not Reading Your Blog and Why Others May Not Be Also.

Why I'm Not Reading Your Blog and Why Others May Not Be Also

  • *&*### Font Size is Locked Down!!!!  Depending on how you setup your CSS sheet, people with certain browsers, say IE 5 - 6 on a PC, can't raise the font size of the main text.  I run 1600x1200 on a 19" monitor and that means that 10 point type is, well, just plain freaking teeny tiny.  Here's a blog I'd like to read regularly but I don't really since it's just too small (but it's good):
    [The FuzzyBlog!]

» The reason I changed my weblog template was to make it more accessible.  I had been feeling that the template I was using so cluttered that it was getting in the way of the content.  Comments I received from others before and since would confirm that.  I believe the new template is much better in this regard.  All the bells-and-whistles have gone.  If you want to do a Google search about some topic I'm talking about, get the Google Toolbar and do it yourself!

However Scott's posting reminded me that this isn't enough.  So I've hopefully addressed the first of his complaints.  Mark Pilgrim has kindly organized his accessability guide for easy reference and today I've done Day 26: Relative font sizes.

18/08/2002 17:20 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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liveTopics license

So I'm ready at last to release liveTopics 1.0, the last remaining task is to find the license to use.   I want a license that allows me to release it free for personal use whilst still retaining my ability to charge businesses for it.  I want a license that allows me to publish the source (with Radio is there any other choice?) and encourage others to contribute, yet doesn't allow my work to be unfairly exploited.

Can anyone recommend what license I should be using?

18/08/2002 16:13 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Personal or Professional..?

Like me, Gary Secondino thinks that klogging is problematic as a term for 'weblogging as knowledge management.'

I'm actually wavering over my own suggestion of 'Personal Knowledge Publishing.'  Although I want to make it clear that this is KM for people, I also want to be sure that it's clear that what is being published is useful.

Mike O'Reilly's suggestion was 'Professional Knowledge Publishing,' or even 'Personal Professionl Knowledge Publishing.'  I think the last one is a bit of a mouthful.

So, should it be Personal Knowledge Publishing or Professional Knowledge Publishing...?

17/08/2002 23:43 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Hi-ho Hi-ho

Giving my first klogging pitch tomorrow.

Wish me luck!


15/08/2002 23:07 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Patently absurd

Internet News: "New York-based ActiveBuddy has won a crucial patent covering instant messaging bot-making technology, but hobbyists and amateur developers aren't buying the company's claim that it invented the technology." [Scripting News]

» I'm drawn to wonder;  Does a patent application have a space for you to list your venture backers these days?  Does the patent office even bother to look for prior art?


[   ] Net-AIM-0.01.readme                   18-Aug-1999 15:37  1.5K 
[CMP] Net-AIM-0.01.tar.gz                   18-Aug-1999 16:34   25K 

I think the patent system should be changed into a community based process.  There should be an RSS stream generated by the various offices that details applications under review for processing and trackback should be used to allow the community to comment on them.

As to Tim Kay's assertion:

"If you want to do things that our products allow you to do, your best choice is to use our products," Kay said, referring to the recent launch of the Lite BuddyScript Server, which can be used by hobbyists to develop and run IM bots.

Well I guess I'd be that smug too if I'd just put one over on my competitors.


15/08/2002 18:24 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Coaching tools

  1. Follow my coach.
  2. Someone else keeps up on all this nerdy stuff more than I do. Let me subscribe to almost all of his changes, adopting them automatically or at least putting them in a queue for approval. This way I focus on my content and let my coach pick/tweak tools, macros, templates, style sheets, news feed subscriptions, etc.

  • I can unsubscribe bit-by-bit (perhaps tweaking my own templates) as I learn more and follow my own path.
  • This may be the default for a company, department, community, hosting service.
  • Affiliate one or more coach URLs with a "Radio Community Server".

From [a klog apart]

» Wow, here's a powerful idea.  I'm blown away by this.

You could apply it in so many places.  Almost every time you start using a new package and meet up with someone who you would like to mentor you in it.

15/08/2002 12:31 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Personal VPN's without Windows

Next Step -- The Personal VPN. I'm off into another area I don't know anything about -- VPNs. [Blunt Force Trauma]

» Since you've probably got more than one computer at home anyway I would be inclined to look into one of the cable/DSL switches that also provides VPN.  For example, the cable router that I could end up buying is the LinkSys BEFSX41 which includes built in VPN capability.  At the back of my mind not running this through Windows hopefully exposes you to less risks.

I'd appreciate more informed opinions though.

15/08/2002 12:05 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Plugging leaks in Radio security

Protecting Radio Folders. A simple Meta tag to keep prying eyes from browsing weblog folders you don't want people to see. [Blunt Force Trauma]

» Another example of the security theme that is developing.  This is obviously going to become more important as Radio seeks to be the de facto PKP tool.

15/08/2002 11:59 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Getting referrers via RSS.

Radio Wishlist - RCS Referers: RSS feed and rolling 24 hours..

Can I get my referer lists as "RSS" feeds from the "Radio Community Server"?

Can we make the list a rolling 24 or 25 hours instead of a clean sweep at midnight?

[aka Blue Sky Radio]

[a klog apart]

» Now this would be cool.

TrackBack information should also appear this way (that's how I'm implementing it).



15/08/2002 10:52 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

So what is klogging anyway...

You know, I don't like the term klogging very much.  It has meaning to us "in the know" but I think it's rather an opaque term.

I would prefer a term like Personal Knowledge Publishing which actually says a little bit about what it means, and, harkens back to the DTP revolution.

I think PKP will hail the same revolution for Knowledge Management by emphasizing that it is people that matter.  Process should follow people.  Let people do what they are good at (thinking, scheming, designing, creating) and help them get it down "on paper" and let process and automation do the rest for them.

The technology should support the individual, not binding them.

15/08/2002 10:24 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

XP meets KM

Klogging Roles.. I forsee several klogging roles.
  1. Catalyst. Alpha blogger. Someone who klogs well, leads by example, provokes and inspires others to join a klogging community. If you've used Blogtree, naming your inspirations, you know what I mean.
  2. Coach. The person who helps newbies, builds internal FAQs, nurtures laggards, acknowledges great posts. Soft skills, communication and social skills, are not evenly distributed. The coach helps everyone join and get better. Chief metablogger.
  3. Armorer. Works with IT to develop configs, scripts, integration with enterprise apps and messaging services. Power macros. Engaging templates. Technologist and architect.
  4. Practice leader. Informal leaders of subcultures in larger organizations. The one in legal who drives the whole department to start klogging. The rep in the Cincinatti sales office who gets her colleagues to start customer-specific blogs. Watch for lists of like-minded colleagues. They may also connect to like-minded communities at suppliers, customers, and the wild blogosphere.

Mix and match.

Recruit for excellence in one or more.

Hire ringers if your community is large enough.

One other point: I beleive (without hard numbers) that blogging and klogging can improve your personal marketability. I'm exploring this at Bloggers for Hire. Suggestions welcome.

[aka klogs]

[a klog apart]

» Phil's roles seem very XP like (and I'm not referring to Windows) to me which is nice as David Gurteen was just talking about XP & KM and how XP's embrace change principle applies just as much to implementing KM.  In fact many of the values embedded in the XP development philosophy apply just as well to KM:

"XP is successful because it stresses customer satisfaction. The methodology is designed to deliver the software your customer needs when it is needed. XP empowers your developers to confidently respond to changing customer requirements, even late in the life cycle."

"This methodology also emphasizes team work. Managers, customers, and developers are all part of a team dedicated to delivering quality software. XP implements a simple, yet effective way to enable groupware style development."

"XP improves a software project in four essential ways; communication, simplicity,feedback, and courage. XP programmers communicate with their customers and fellow programmers. They keep their design simple and clean. They get feedback by testing their software starting on day one. They deliver the system to the customers as early as possible and implement changes as suggested. With this foundation XP programmers are able to courageously respond to changing requirements and technology."


15/08/2002 10:18 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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This is my line of death. You cross this line, you die!

Okay I've had a belly full of reading about the DCMA, the SSSSCA and the new EUCD.  I despair about the politicians of whom the most charitable thing that can be said about them is that they are clueless.  I despair that so many of them are on the take from big business.  I despair that vested interests are so rife and make me feel so helpless.

When the day comes that I have to get the software that runs on my computer approved by the Disney Corporation I shall turn it in.   I shall bury my computer in a hole in the ground and go do something else instead.


14/08/2002 14:35 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Groove on

After some pain in getting Groove to work (related largely to Norton Personal Firewall I think) I finally got to try it out today with the help of Jeroen Bekkers who guided me around, literally.  Groove has both a shared browser (look at the same web pages together) and a shared navigation system that let Jeroen take me from tool to tool.  This is very powerful.

Despite some glitches which seem to be due to Jeroen's, shall we say, customised Groove client the whole session went very well and I shall now be looking for a real project to test this with.  Now if only it ran on a Mac!

Thanks Jeroen.


14/08/2002 10:24 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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PeerMetrics - Groove4J?

Russel Beattie wants to know why no-one has implemented a Groove-style toolset in Java.  I know of at least one such system called PeerMetrics.

It's nowhere near as slick as Groove and, when I tried it out, the toolset wasn't as good (even as basic as Groove's toolset is now) but it is Java, SOAP and XML based.  The PeerMetrics system is a community source P2P platform and they make a big point of it being easy for developers to add new services and share them among peers.



12/08/2002 23:45 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Starting my Groove experiment

The Groove experiment starts today.  Groove is now installed and I aim to starting using it.


12/08/2002 11:03 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Redesign complete

Redesign phase#1 is now complete.  There are still a couple of kinks in the template but nothing too serious.  Any comments about further improvements (and I'm guessing it's an improvement on what went before) would be appreciated.  At some point when I have a spare hour I'll go back and re-publish the entire weblog using the new template.

My sincere thanks to Bryan Bell for designing & sharing his templates.  He does good work.  In fact he also designed the template I was before.  I only hope he never saw what I did to it!

11/08/2002 22:09 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

So this is Ray Ozzie

Here's something from a piece on "Why Collaboration" by Ray Ozzie:

"And so, for most of my life since that time, it has been my goal to explore what lies at the intersection between people, organizations, and technology. To attempt to utilize technology - to mold it, to shape it into a form such that it can help organizations to achieve a greater "return on connection" from employee, customer, and partner relationships, and to help individuals to strengthen the bonds between themselves and those with whom they interact - online. Because - empirically - collaborative technology has substantive value, in reducing the cost of coordination, in providing shared awareness across differences in space and time.

The way that I explore is to build products, and to see how they are used. To see what works, and what doesn't. To listen, to interact, to refine. Because cooperative work exists at the intersection between people, organizations, and technology, collaborative systems are truly fascinating: in order to serve people effectively, technologists must, for example, understand social dynamics, social networks, human factors. In order to serve people in the context of organizations effectively, technologists must, for example, understand organizational dynamics, modularity and transaction cost economics.

The bottom line to "why?" To create real value in a dimension that I passionately believe in."


I've known who Ray Ozzie is for some time and what he's been involved in.  But I knew next to nothing about what drives him, what he is passionate about.

I just love what he says here.  Given a few years, a whole heap more experience, wisdom, and education I could have written this myself!

What lies at the intersection between people, organizations, and technology?

a fantastic question that drives me as well.

11/08/2002 20:27 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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The intranet is not a coporate brochure damnit!

Collaborative working using an intranet. Many of the magazines have perished, but Fast Company seems to keep going, though I admit I look at... [Intranet Focus Blog]

» Good pickup on how so many companies still have a narrow view of what an intranet can be.  A good intranet is an information ecosystem and not just a magazine site for the corporate communications team.

The questionnaire mentioned looks interesting too.  It is geared towards large companies and seeks to determine:

  • the potential value from developing a collaborative organization in your company.
  • the current behavioral obstacles in your organization.
  • the extent of collaborative levers currently in place in your company.

however I'm sure that many of it's questions could be usefully tailored to fit other situations.

11/08/2002 17:24 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Radio news handling

More Flexible News Scanning Needed. This really hits the mark -- I've been traveling for two weeks with very limited connectivity. [Blunt Force Trauma]

» I too wish that Radio would handle news more flexibly.  The idea of a "poll now" button would be genuinely useful as would a way to adjust the frequency with which different RSS feeds are polled.

However when you get to the point where you want to poll every 3 minutes I think you may be reaching the breaking point for the medium.  I would be thinking about moving to Groove, Instant Messenger, Shared/Instant outlining or something like that to handle a real-time interaction.  The results of that interaction could then be published klog style for everyone to share.


11/08/2002 16:30 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Gotta get into the Groove


I had Groove running on my notebook and I brought it up a few times to do things. I collaborate with some clients and people with Groove, keeping documents and discussions in sync. I also use it as a better Briefcase. And invariably, the comments were like "Wow, that's cool! I could manage my distributed project that way. I could keep track of bugs across a geographically disperse team that way. And man, you're disconnected and can sync later?" Then all of them would say "Who's Groove?" Its interesting to note that people need this kind of stuff and they have no idea its even out there or who Groove is (none of the developers in the room had ever heard of them). [...] How do we get people to collaborate? [Sam Gentile's Radio Weblog]

So then I download and install Groove, and start playing with it.  After 15 or 20 minutes of this, I'm starting to get it, so I think.  I call a few people from a client's office and get them to install it, and we start exploring what we can do.  By now, I'm getting excited about what I can do with this, and I'm starting to think I get it.  We figure out a couple of quick wins, and share a "pilot" groove space out to the team. [Greg Reinacker's Weblog]

Greg emailed me about Groove yesterday, I too had taken note of the recent posting on Groove and I'd been kicking around the idea of downloading it and seeing if anybody else at work would be interested.  Communication and collaboration are serious problems at work.  We've been using Sharepoint, but the results aren't great; we're using it as a glorified file server with a web interface.  Unfortunately, our connection to the Internet was pretty flaky yesterday and I couldn't connect to Groove the couple times I tried.  Monday, hopefully.

[Gordon Weakliem's Radio Weblog]

» Groove's one of those things.  I know it's important but it's a complex app and I never seem to get around to testing it out.  Maybe this week I'll download it again and see if Jeroen's offer to help me out is still good.

11/08/2002 15:01 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Redesign continues

The redesign is based upon the "Discreet Purple" theme by Bryan Bell.  I really love the simple, elegant style and the way it emphasizes content.


11/08/2002 13:22 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

First book on XTM topic maps?

New book on topic maps. Addison-Wesley Professional has just released a new book titled XML Topic Maps: Creating and Using Topic Maps for the Web... [Column Two]

» Looks good.  Some more info:

  • Knowledge bases can be designed that not only relate concepts together but also can point to the resources relevant to each concept."
  • Beginning with a broad introduction and tutorial of topic maps and XTM technology, the book then lays out strategies for creating and deploying the technology.
  • Along the way the latest theoretical perspectives are offered along with a discussion of the challenges developers will face as the Web continues to evolve and develop.
  • "The topic maps paradigm enables Global Federated Knowledge Interchange -- a concept that should be important to you if you are a large information owner with diversely structured information assets and international reach."

And I said I wouldn't buy any more books....

10/08/2002 23:46 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Redesign in progress.

Apologies for the interruption in service.  This weblog is being redesigned.

I don't think anyone would argue that it didn't need it!

10/08/2002 21:38 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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liveTopics and categories

The the real use of categories to my mind is to allow upstreaming to multiple locations.  That way I can have my public weblog (and maybe a salon blog too like Marc Barrot) as well as a number of private klogs.

I would still like to be able to use liveTopics when posting to a private klog, but the topics perhaps should not be shared or, if they are shared, it should be done in an intelligent way.  Specifically each category needs it's own Table of Contents where the URL's to posts are not cross-referenced.

I'll have to figure out how to do this and it probably won't be easy.

Of course a better solution would be for Radio to natively support the idea of mutli-site operations.

10/08/2002 13:57 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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PageRank and topics

The blogging network. Here's a thought: Blogging is different from simple linking, directional or non-directional, for two reasons: firstly, whether one uses blogger and blogthis! or radio with its subscription list and blogrolls, or a personal directory, there is an inherent bias in the initial set, ie, following links is not random, rather its weighted by some initial set of sources. Haveliwala model topic specific PageRank using a basis set of topics, I wonder how one ought to characterize this bias in the case of the set of favorites, in the sense that links from favorites have a greater weight. Secondly, in blogging we have inclusion of full or part of a page or RSS item, and this can happen recursively in one of the loosely coupled conversations we see. Thus links already in the item reappear and get a larger weight. Such weights can be used to figure out authoritative sources, one would think, from the perspective of each blog.. [TIG's Corner]

» Good item (and thanks to John Robb for leading me to TIG's Corner).  I'm following the Haveliwala reference to a set of papers on PageRanking algorithms.  The math is way beyond me (did I really graduate math?)  but hopefully I can make some sense of it all.

I have a strong interest in topics, and topic mapping as a way of structuring group knowledge.  Haveliwala (a Stanford researcher) has a paper here on PageRanking mechansims that use a bias towards particular topics as a way of vectoring the PageRank toward results more relevant to those topics.  Interesting stuff.


10/08/2002 12:43 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Lock up your daughters

Oh, and he called me "Mike the Rebelutionary". Egads! That sounds like some sort of Viking travelling the world and crushing opposition. It's funny how a name that I thought up on a train has 'stuck'.


» And yet, it fits :-)


10/08/2002 01:02 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

TrackBack and RSS

Staying on theme...

I see MT's TrackBack has the ability to generate some RSS output, but it doesn't actually look like RSS (as in, I don't think you could just subscribe your aggregator to it).

Here's what I have in mind.  I want to know whenever someone pings any of my pages.  I register with the TrackBack server a pattern like*

Whenever someone pings a page under that URL it gets added to a dynamic RSS feed with a URL generated for me.  I can subscribe to that feed in Radio and see all the trackback pings appear as news items.

If I'm interested in who is writing about things Dave is saying I might add a pattern* and get his TrackBack results as well.

Does MT's TrackBack do this already?  I couldn't really tell what it's RSS was doing...

09/08/2002 21:58 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Tracking back

Rahul has the solution. Trackback and comments suffer from the same problem:  they aren't seemlessly integrated into the act of posting to a weblog.  Rahul's points out that a combination of RSS UIDs and blogrolls would seemlessly pull this off.  It would automatically thread the conversation back from your post.  This is a solution that doesn't detract from the weblogging experience.  All you need to do is post, and the rest is taken care of.  The requirements to participate would be that you need to have a weblog and be on someones blogroll (in someones neighborhood).  To screen out inconsiderate particpants, just put their blogs on your block list.   It gets really simple if this is an orgnizational setting: a list of all the people that run weblogs could provide a definitive blogroll, a one-stop-shop for all participants.  Nice. [John Robb's Radio Weblog]

» Rahul's idea is interesting, but it isn't TrackBack.  It still assumes a near-line level of connectivity between two blogs.  Maybe that's okay in some situations but I don't think it should be a requirement.

As to seamless integration.  The Radio plugin I have devised provides that.  Any url you referencein a post gets pinged when that item is published.  No need to do a thing.

Of course some people will want more control.  That's okay too...


09/08/2002 21:22 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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TrackBack questions

I've had a couple of comments to the effect of "why implement TrackBack in XML-RPC when its perfectly fine in HTTP/XML?"

I guess the answer is that Frontier & Radio make it so easy to implement XML-RPC clients & servers that it was the easiest way to glue together a TrackBack solution that worked the way I had in mind.  I guess there is no no reason why it couldn't also support the same method's as MT as well.  I have no technopolitcal axe to grind here.

Something that really bothers me about TrackBack in MT though is the idea of enabling.  Have I got it right?  You have to enable a post for TrackBack before it can receive pings?  And the trackback url isn't the same as the link to the posting?  This seems clumsy to me.  Can someone explain what's going on with that?  Am I confused?


09/08/2002 20:16 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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More on TrackBack

What about TrackBack?.

While I was in the hospital in June, the Movable Type folks implemented a feature called TrackBack.

I'm not exactly sure all that it can do, but here's at least part of the story. (I'm posting this so I can get corrected if I don't understand the feature. It occurs to me that this post could use the feature, heh.)

Anyone, anywhere can send a message to any Movable Type server to associate a URL with a weblog post. That URL will be shown in the list of TrackBack links for the post.

Further, based on an email from Matt Mower, for some reason that I don't understand, this can only work with Movable Type servers. I doubt this, because from all outward appearances it is using HTTP, which could be emulated by any program capable of doing HTTP. Matt thinks this feature should be implemented with XML-RPC. I'm not sure it'll take off no matter what it's implemented in.

Here's the problem. By design it seems to assume that everyone plays fair. But eventually we all attract a relatively small number of people who would mark up every post with trash talk, if given the chance to. It's a predictable process. That's why I don't have a discussion group here (I used to), or a comments feature. It's why MSNBC is moving to weblogs over discussion software. It's basically why weblogs have a future for thoughtful discourse where mail-list-like collaboration tools are dead-ends. When I think about evolving weblogs, I try to avoid features that turn them into discussion groups.

[Scripting News]

» I think there has been a misunderstanding between Dave and I.  Maybe I misphrased something or it was misinterpreted.  Either way:

I'm not suggesting that TrackBack can only be implemented in MT.  Just that, as it is implemented in MT it can only be served by MT and is most useful to MT users.  It doesn't suit me very much.   I also don't like the way you have to TrackBack enable things, use special URL's, have bookmarklets etc..  all that gets in the way to me.

I envisage an open XML-RPC based system.  The TrackBack data should be available to & from any system and can track arbitrary URLs (no requirement to TrackBack enable anything).

Also with the prototype Radio client all the work of pinging is done for you automatically.  As part of the publishing action Radio will figure out all the posts being referenced and ping them automatically.   That's how I want it to work, you might want it different which is why I say it's a prototype.

As to the inherent design problem in trackback, well, I agree with the comments made.  From a certain viewpoint.

However I see TrackBack not so much as a weblogging tool but as a k-logging tool.  It gives you the ability to know what someone else is contributing to projects you are working on and that could be vital.  As are discussion forums and all the other collaborative tools that help people do useful work.

Will TrackBack be absused?  Sure.  But so can any technology.  If the abuse becomes a problem we can evolve strategies for addressing it.  For me this is a time for experimentation, it's too early to abandon a potentially useful idea like TrackBack because it has a potential for abuse.

Example (and shooting from the hip) : Problem: "nusiance pings appearing on my TrackBack report."  This seems a lot like the problem of spam email to me.  Collaborative spam filtering looks set to deliver good results here, maybe it could do the same for TrackBack?

[Disclaimer: TrackBack - I am a believer!]


09/08/2002 17:01 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Integrating klogs with Big-KM

In order for klogging to be successfully I think it is going to have to come to an understanding with Big-KM.

Example:  BigCo has invested half a million dollars in a big knowledge management system for their world-wide operations.  This kind of investment can become a lode-stone around any other systems neck.  For klogging to thrive here it is going to have to integrate.

Here's one idea I have for how this could work.

  1. Extend Big-KM System-X so that it can aggregate RSS feeds like Radio, MT and others do now.
  2. Extend your klogging software to allow per-post meta data.  (liveTopics does this for Radio)
  3. For each project in System-X define a set of topics that will act as trigger phrases for that project
  4. Get the kloggers to use those topics when they want to involve a post in a particular project
  5. Now subscribe System-X to every klog in the organization and watch as it indexes and archives all that information.  Each project grabbing only those postings that are appropriate (by use of the trigger phrases)
  6. This means that the klogs add value to the big-KM system.  Suddenly it doesn't just have the dry dusty project documention, but all the live vibrant stuff that people are really doing!
  7. Now extend System-X to generate a per-project RSS feed.
  8. If I am on the project I can subscribe to this feed.  Now instead of receiving email from System-X or having to go to an arbitrary web page, I get all the "official" project stuff (new documents, forms etc...) delivered in my RSS stream.

Closing the loop between the big-KM and the klog so that they both add value to each other.

Just an idea....


08/08/2002 23:08 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Klogs for project visualization

Envisioning projects a la klog?

How can weblogs contribute to project visualization?


  1. Associate each project post with one or more tasks, issues, milestones, and deliverables on a given project.
  2. Enable a few extra attributes for a post: Red/Yellow/Green Priority (U.S. cultural bias). 
  3. Create a view into a team's weblog posts organized by the work breakdown structure, another by priority  

PM is about the conversation more than formal modeling. It is how we come to appreciate project dreams and know project reality. We discover our colleagues' capabilities and limits. We negotiate commitments. We make the thousand mid-course corrections to the project plan. My project communication templates help you script some of those conversations.

But conversation is narrative and auditory. How do we get the best characteristics of project conversation into visual media? Into electronic visual media?

Thanks to experience designer Diego Lafuento for the Tufte pointer.

 [aka design]

[a klog apart] [Ron Lusk: Ron's K-Logs]

» This is an interesting idea which I need to think about some more.

The idea of klogs integrating with other systems already has me interested and this adds a new dimension.

This inspires another post.


08/08/2002 23:01 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Web Ontology

OWL Web Ontology Language Working Drafts Published. From W3C news releases: The Web Ontology Working Group has released three first Working Drafts. The Feature Synopsis, Abstract Syntax and Language Reference describe the OWL Web Ontology Language 1.0 and its subset OWL Lite. Automated tools can use common sets of terms called ontologies to power services such as more accurate Web search, intelligent software agents, and knowledge management. OWL is used to publish and share ontologies on the Web. Read about the W3C Semantic Web Activity. [ia/ - news for information architects]

» Interesting stuff.  I shall have to see how this relates to Topic Mapping and XTM.  My guess is that OWL is a layer above XTM and is used for providing the contours of the topic map.


08/08/2002 22:55 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Let's see what's on the slab...

Well in the last couple of days I have been working hard on the liveTopics 1.0 release.  It's so close I can almost feel it.  We're testing and hopefully will have the kinks worked out in the next couple of days then I can finally get this sucka out the door.

Also I'm really besotted with TrackBack but haven't seen it work the way I would like yet.  So I've rolled a TrackBack server in Frontier that comes with a Radio client.  The two communicate with a simple XML-RPC interface that would allow any klogging system to join in.

At the moment the Radio client automatically harvests each posting for links (when you submit it) and automagically pings each one.  The ping contains the permalink for the post, the Url of your weblog, the title of the post, your name & email address.  But you can drop most of this information you don't want to pass it.  I guess some people will also want fine-grained control over what they ping.  That shouldn't be too hard.

Along with this are some macros to show your TrackBack information against each item.

At the moment the server is hosted on my laptop which isn't ideal but is good enough for testing.  The next job is to find a better host and then look at adding a simple federation mechanism.  That would allow lots of different people to provide TrackBack servers and share the results.

More on this later.

08/08/2002 20:52 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Sharing is a community responsibility

Knowledge sharing and responsibility.
Key insight for me:

the sharing of knowledge, and the cooperative application of new technologies are part of the responsibility of belonging to a community of practice.

First time I've seen the notion of knowledge sharing articulated as a responsibility of community membership.

[McGee's Musings] [Ron Lusk: Ron's K-Logs]

» Hmmm... I guess it's one of those point of view things.  It seems obvious when I think about it that if you are really a member of a community then sharing is an implicit responsibility.  Whilst the value of what you have to share will vary over time, you will want to share to enable the community to grow.  Otherwise you're not really a member.

For me it's the difference between carrying a Union card and going to meetings (I never did either but hopefully that doesn't hurt my point too much).  If you don't go to the meetings then you're not really part of the Union.


07/08/2002 21:38 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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A perfect example of why TrackBack is so vital

Damn.  If I'd had TrackBack I would have seen this:

where Rajesh describes BlogStreet and how it relates to the Blog Connector (and later BlogPlex) ideas I have been musing about.  Pity it's taken me this long to pick it up.


06/08/2002 23:01 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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This just in, Shrub and friends dirtier than expected

19. The Consortium (7.4 points). Do you remember 1968? [( blogdex : recent )]

» Dear god you elected this guy president?

Well actually, no, you probably didn't.  But enough of you did that he slimed his way in anyhow.

Is this national news in the US?  Or even page 4?  I'd really like to know...


06/08/2002 20:51 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:


Got a referrer from Organica which is a crawler looking around for popular things BlogDex style.  It's certainly faster than BlogDex and it will be interesting to see whether it develops it's own identity and set of services.


06/08/2002 18:52 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

New release of Frontier on the way

Great day today.  After talking with Jake on another 5:15 AM call this morning about the next release of Frontier/Manila, I got so jazzed up that I went for a (muuuch needed -- perhaps its Dave's influence) walk in the arboretum next to my home.  An 1:40 minutes later, I returned totally energized (given that the weather in NE today is humidity free and 72 degrees -- it was a divine pleasure).  This next release of Frontier is going to be huuuge and provide us with a framework that will let us go the distance with our customers.

Speaking about customers:  thank you very much for all the business you have provided us during this gloomy summer.  Despite the depressed outlook you continue to buy our products at a solid pace.  BTW: our client list over the last month has included an extremely high percentage of the biggest names in industry, academia, and media.  Thank you!

This proves two points:

1) The demand for low cost, user-driven, content management is growing quickly.  98% of sites on the Internet (and organizational Intranets) are static flat files that need to move to an end-user driven content management framework.  This will help them shave costs,  improve flexibility, and keep end-users happy.

2) Companies and Universities are starting to deploy K-Logs networks.  Ground up knowledge sharing via K-Logs is turning into an increasingly powerful counter-weight to big vendor top-down integrated portals.  Why?  K-Logs provide a low cost of entry, organic growth, higher rates of participation, and observable results. [John Robb's Radio Weblog]

» Excellent news.


06/08/2002 18:28 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Bush sits on his hands while Egypt unfairly jails a democracy advocate

6. "Bush's Shame" (8.3 points). new york times ... big bunch of phonies [( blogdex : recent )]

» Excellent piece, worth going through the free NYT sign-up to read.

"This ties in with a larger concern that human rights activists share toward America today --- a concern that post-9/11 America is not interested anymore in law and order, just order, and it's not interested in peace and quiet, but just quiet."

This sounds right on the money, and yet I wonder what proportion of American's care about the shifting views of non-Americans towards their country.

My hopes aren't high.


06/08/2002 11:40 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Disgusted with Symantec

[Editors note: I have now edited this post for language and content]

I think this is my first blogrant but I am disgusted by Symantec's idea of customer service.

Like so many companies these days they hide any mention of a telephone number on their website.  I have one of their products though so I can find the customer service number in the manual.  I don't want customer service, I want pre-sales, but that's the only number available.  Why don't I use their web forms?  I need to wrap this up today.

So I call the number and then hold, and hold, and hold for 27 minutes until I can't listen to the message telling me about how great their web site is.  I was going to hold on just so I could vent the considerable bile I had accumulated at a human being, however in a lucid moment I realised that wasn't going to give me satisfaction.  They don't pay these people enough to care.

And that's just it, I guess what Symantec are saying is "We have a shiny but useless web self service system like every other anonymous corporation.  If that's not good enough then you can go screw yourself!"

My last company was in the CRM market.   Unless their selling a Mercedes or 30" Sony WEGA the only message you hear from customers now is "do it cheaper, screw the customer."  I guess that's why my company was failling, we were trying to improve live interaction.  It's not a space that vendors care about.

I hate this new world of anonymous companies.  The web site should be their, it should be informative.  But if all you can offer me is another empty self service channel I shall take my business to a smaller vendor, that still cares about it's customers and whether they are happy.


06/08/2002 10:53 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Tom gets it dead right again

This Modern World. They're kidding about handing that contract to Halliburton, right? []

» I love this cartoon!

05/08/2002 22:42 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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More about break reminder

I've had a couple of comments about my use of the Break Reminder software I mentioned in an earlier posting.  These are to the effect that people think it would be quite disruptive to be interrupted so much, the you lose your flow, and that you are "on break" too much of the time to get anything useful done.  These are all valid concerns.

However for me, priority 1 is not to lose the use of my hands and that means managing my pain levels carefully.  On bad days I use the settings that I indicated, on better days -- like today -- I step down a notch (4 minutes work time, 20 second micropauses, 12 micropauses to a rest break, 10 minute rest break).

Even so it's not as bad as you might think.  A micropause is not a telephone call, it does not involve a "thought interrupt."  I can keep my flow and continue to think about what I am doing.  For example I used a micropause a second ago to form this the though I have just written.  Of course it's not the same as just typing away, but I can't do that or my pain levels get too high.

Rest breaks are more likely to interrupt your flow, but on the lower setting I only get about one of those an hour.  That's probably as long as I could flow usefully without a break anyway.

In summary, yes adding these kind of breaks does impact on the amount of work you can do, yes it interrupts you to some degree but it it also keeps me working without excessive pain.  And that's what it's all about!


05/08/2002 10:09 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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BlogRings on the cheap

Check out Blogger's random site tool.  Basically you just drag the link into the link toolbar on IE 5 and it lets you randomly surf blogger blogs.  That really isn't too interesting to me.  What really would be cool if someone built a tool for Radio that let me put the sites I visit most often into a webring.  That would let me surf my favorite sites by merely clicking on a link in the link toolbar.  It also would be great if I could publish my webring link. [John Robb's Radio Weblog]

» I think you could do this using BackFlip.  Add each of the blogs to your daily routine, then add the daily routine link to your IE toolbar.

I emailed them a while back about allowing you to have more than one tour, and to allow people to share tours (you can share link folders).  They never acknowledged me.


02/08/2002 21:19 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Some feelings about starting a new venture

This passage from Synchronicity by Joe Jaworski so accurately describes what it feels like starting my new venture (my first):

"At the moment I walked away from the firm, a strange thing happened.  I clearly had no earthly idea how I would proceed.  I knew next to nothing about leadership curriculum and development.  I knew no one who could help me on the substantive side of things, no network of experts.  The resources necessary for a national effort would be enormous, far exceeding my own capacity.  I had none of this, only myself."

As Jaworski goes on to discover, myself is enough for now.  Already I don't feel so alone, I've met a lot of good people.  I'm starting to find my feet, define my purpose and understand my goals.  It's daunting, but not impossible.

Jaworski's book is full of insight and inspiration.  It was recommended to me by my life coach as useful for someone starting a new business venture.  He wasn't wrong!


02/08/2002 11:22 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Break reminder

I have a consistent but managable RSI condition.  I've had it for over 10 years so I guess it isn't going away.  In that time I've had many programs that try and help me manage my time at the keyboard.  They haven't worked for whatever reason.

I've now found one that seems to.  It's called Break Reminder, it's simple to use and free for personal use (I have no affiliation with the company involved, I just like the program).

For my condition it enforces a 30 second break (called a micro pause) every 3 minutes with a 15 minute rest break after every ten micro pauses.  It uses audio queues to keep you informed of what is about to happen and has options to allow you to ignore breaks (which I have disabled) and blank the screen (to give your eyes a rest during breaks).   Timings for during and frequency of breaks is fully configurable.

I use the rest breaks to go do other stuff, do a little exercise or just read something on my desk.

It's irritating to have my work broken up.  It can break the flow state and makes me feel less effecient.  But, in the long run, I think it makes me more effective because I feel less pain and discomfort.


02/08/2002 10:42 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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eXtreme KM?

Extreme programming, early learning, project management and KM!. Brilliant ... for some reason I have only just come across the term [Extreme Programming] (XP) ... a very similar methodology to one that Lotus Notes developers have been applying for the last 10 years or more and that was embodied in Lotus's AVM (Accelerated Value Methodology).

I apply this methodology myself whenever I can and taught AVM for a couple of years and so can highly recommend such methodologies.

An interesting insight though is that it can be applied to any project. Its about building rapid learning into the project - in fact it all about knowledge management. [Smile!]

Extreme Programming (universally referred to as XP) is a methodology of programming which involves short cycle times working closely with the customer. In XP, the development team works in two week cycles, and works on implementing customer stories: stories being small enough pieces of functionality that can be implemented in a short space of time.

The theme underlying XP is "embrace change:" since we know user requirements will change, we make a virtue of it. XP uses the metaphor of driving to illustrate this: you don't drive from Los Angeles to New York by pointing the car in the direction of New York and then closing your eyes for the next 40 hours: you have to make small corrections along the way.

[Gurteen Knowledge-Log]

» Pauses for some company somewhere to start marketing their "eXtreme KM" product suite...

Oh wait, maybe I should do that :-)


02/08/2002 08:38 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Business Plan Archive

Business Plan Archive

To help us learn from history, we are creating the Business Plan Archive (BPA) to collect business plans and related documents from the dot com era -- the "blueprints" that lay out the assumptions and strategies of Internet entrepreneurs.

Thanks Tony!

[The FuzzyBlog!]

» This looks like a very cool idea and, as someone thinking about his business plan right now, a timely one.  Unfortunately there don't appear to be any publicly available plans right now...


01/08/2002 20:21 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Traction server

Traction vs. Radio -- Not Exclusionary. Paul Kulchenko of toolbox makes some good additions to my quick-and-dirty overview "Radio vs. [Blunt Force Trauma]

» Note to self: Look into Traction.


01/08/2002 20:15 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Web credibility

Web credibility. The Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab has published a set of guidelines for ensuring web credibility. This is a good list, [Column Two]

» As someone founding a new company and thinking about building a good site I thought this was simple and useful guidance.


01/08/2002 19:51 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Navigation bars do work

Breadcrumbs *are* useful. The University of Maryland has done a study on Website Structural Navigation (aka breadcrumbs). This was the goal of their [Column Two]

» Note to self: implement an unobtrusive navigation bar on your site.  Perhaps tie it in to the search engine access widget.


01/08/2002 19:40 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Since KM is all about people, maybe we need to understand them!

GT is not always a car..

Game Theory for Real People. 'Our simple models are no longer sufficient,' said an eminent game theorist, who is calling for human passions and quirks to be taken into account, too. Diana Michele Yap reports from Stony Brook, New York.


» I know nothing about Game Theory really so I Googled and found this site which has some good basic information.

01/08/2002 19:33 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Easy topic maps

More on topic maps. For those of us who are still struggling to get a firm grasp on topic maps (and I'm definitely in [Column Two]

» More useful info on topic maps.

01/08/2002 19:10 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Good to be back

It is good to be back on the air.  For over two weeks I have been offline with no computer & no internet connection.

Feels good to have a computer again and this time I have broadband too!

Now to catch up!


01/08/2002 13:51 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments: