Anatomy of a Well Formed Log Entry

Sam Ruby’s Wiki describes the conceptual data model for a well formed log entry. This is what he wrote:

Authentic Voice of a Person. Reverse Chronological Order. On the web. These are essential characteristics of a online Journal or weblog.

Given the statements above, a well formed log entry would contain at a minimum an author, a creationDate, and a permaLink. And, of course, content.

As to content, a well formed log entry would have well formed content: in the case of HTML, this would include characters properly escaped, tags perfectly nested and closed.

Content would not be limited to HTML. It would include images, audio, and video.

The goal is to help create standards.

A bit about Sam Ruby. He is a member of the IBM Emerging Technologies Group. Excerpts from an interview:

Web logs are extremely intriguing to me. When I said that I found open source addictive, I was talking about the collaboration that I found, the fact that I could post a question and there would be answers within minutes, and that was without me having a prior contractual relationship with somebody. It was just that somebody was interested in the same thing I was, and we were just trying to help out each other.

I’m finding the same addictive nature in Web logs. I just simply post something out there and say, “This caught my interest,” and somebody else says, “Well, that caught my interest too,” and they either comment on my Web log, or they comment on their Web log. And people follow the links.

In open source, much of the collaboration is structured around a very tangible thing: a piece of code. This is not as structured. I’ve thought about it a lot, and I’ve not yet figured out what the magic is that makes it all work. In theory, what you do in Web logs, you could do in a newsgroups.

I have to believe that there are ways we could integrate this into things like business processes or things that have real value to customers.

Tech Recovery

NYTimes writes on “the tech rebound that isn’t quite” as companies try and do more with less:

Long gone is the irrational optimism of the 90’s and the notion that technology alone can transform a business. Today, corporate executives regard technology as simply a tool though a crucial one, if used wisely. But it is also a costly tool: Information technology accounts for nearly 60 percent of all business equipment investment. So there is plenty of incentive to restrain spending.

Technology is still a big corporate expense, but technology budgets have flattened out, if not fallen, at most companies.

There is quite some discussion related to HBR’s article by Nicholas Carr entitled “IT Doesn’t Matter”.

All the more reason for IT companies to look at emerging markets like India for growth – but these markets need lower-priced solutions.

Nokia bets on mobility

Dan Gillmor writes after a visit to Nokia:

“Life goes mobile,” Nokia’s president Ala-Pietila said recently in an interview at the company’s headquarters. “That is a much more powerful vision than the one we had.”

Nokia is betting it can again capture the market’s emerging sweet spot as mobile communications expand beyond their foundation in voice conversations to incorporate a multitude of data and multimedia features and services.

The company wants to keep leading in mobile voice and simple messaging, and then pull together a variety of goodies for mobile users of corporate data and consumer multimedia.

Consider photographs and videos, Ala-Pietila said, or getting key corporate data to people on the move. You first ask what functions are natural to extend to a mobile environment. Then you must figure out how to provide them on an end-to-end basis among various kinds of devices and communications services.

ts newer devices, including the increasingly common camera-equipped phones, have great potential in a service-focused world. An upcoming mobile game platform called N-Gage may draw snickers from serious PC or console gamers, but the mobility may well be a killer feature. No one knows for sure, but Nokia can afford to take the risk. Another new device, which combines an MP3 music player with phone and messaging, also looks like fun.

The next growth wave, Ala-Pietila said, will “build on the services and needs derived from mobile enterprise data and mobile consumer multimedia.”

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RISC Rationale

Atanu Dey writes more on RISC – Rural Infrastructure and Services Commons. “A RISC is located away from the majority of the population. You have to get on your bicycle and pedal for an hour to get there. But when you do, you find that you have come to a mini-city where you get everything that you need internet access, telecommunications, market services, distance education, agricultural extension, banking, health services…”

There is what can be called the first degree of poverty the absence of resources. To make matters worse, we have a second degree of poverty: the inability to efficiently use what little there is. Though there is no escaping the first degree of poverty, there are ways of preventing the second degree of poverty.

This is what motivates me: what can be done with the limited resources so as to make the best use of them.

Given limited resources, we have to put them to that use which has the maximum return on investment. Computing for the masses is a great idea. But can we afford that right now? Probably not. What we can do, and should do, is to bring computing to those that are most capable of benefitting from it.

It is a war out there, as they say. In that context, the concept of triage is very important. The big dic defines triage as “the sorting of and allocation of treatment to patients esp. in battle and disaster victims according to a system of priorities designed to maximize the number of survivors.”

Trying to do everything for everyone at the same time leads to nothing being accomplished at all.

So my thesis is this: build a bridge across the digital divide but don’t try to get everyone across the divide all at once. It cannot be done because the bridge we can afford to build will have a limited capacity. Try to get all of them on board at once, and we all end up at the bottom of the divide.

The solution is to provide a consistent solution that will be useful for at least some part of the rural population, rather than a solution that is all pervasive but of little use to anyone.

Atanu and I spent many days talking about RISC recently. We have to do it. In fact, listening to Atanu talk about RISC, I realised that many of the ideas he talks about can be applied to various segments – SMEs and their problems, for example.

A few thoughts to ponder over from J. Bradford DeLong: “William Gibson once famously said that the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed. Guess what: The present isn’t evenly distributed, either. The human race today has a tremendous degree of wealth and productivity, with an extraordinarily unequal distribution. There are still more than a billion people whose lives look very similar to those of half a millennium ago. Bringing the future to the world’s leading-edge cities is a piece of cake. The challenge is bringing more than a few bread crumbs’ worth of the present to the rest of the globe.”

Are we up to the challenge?

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Linux in India

Linux Journal (Frederick Noronha) writes about how Linux is making an impact in India giving plenty of examples of its use. A nice quote by Prof Nagarjuna: “Software is like knowledge. The more you sell, your stocks don’t get depleted. Software is not to be treated like a (scarce) commodity. The only business model that follows from here is the service model. Don’t use any technology which you don’t have the rights to repair. Enterprises should have control over what they do.” (Robin Bloor) writes about Linux on the desktop and the growing interest in emerging markets:

Interest in Linux is also exploding elsewhere in the third world from Brazil to the Philippines, so the possibility arises that the Linux desktop will proliferate from the ground up, storming the North American and European markets after establishing economies of scale in the third world.

An IDC market survey made available last week, suggests that Linux is acceptable to only 15 percent of global desktop PC users, but that’s interesting because Linux PCs only account for a few percent of PC sales, so its acceptance looks to be on the increase. Given all of this, our expectation is that the Linux desktop will ‘cross the chasm’ this year, and start to proliferate next year. It is beginning to look unstoppable.

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RSS Power 2

A few more quotes on the potential and impact of RSS:

  • Jim McGee on RSS: “I love RSS and my aggregator. They are the ‘secret sauce’ that gives me immense control over my information environment…
    I get annoyed with sites that don’t provide a full RSS feed and insist on offering snippets or headlines only. Sites that provide no RSS feed essentially don’t exist for me…95% of my online information comes to me by way of my aggregator. For much of what I am interested in — business uses of information technology and knowledge management related topics — important stories hit my aggregator two to three weeks before they show up in conventional online sources.”

  • Robert Scoble: “The biggest thing to happen to the Internet since 1994 [is] RSS. I find I’m using more and more Smart Clients (read: not a browser) to read sites lately. That’s where the Web is moving to. And it’s moving VERY fast. I would not be suprised to learn that more sites today are published as RSS/XML than are published in XHTML…I think our best hope is to get people onto the RSS bandwagon (and other XML-based protocols) and build Smart Clients that take people beyond the Web browser.”
  • Rahul Dave [in response to a post I had written]: Rajesh gets this exactly! There is more to the process of blogging than meets the eye. I’d even go out on a limb to say that making RSS routing natural is probably the most important user interface issue we need to solve. The usual way to read an aggregator is on the web, or local 3-paned app, or in outlook, or in your favorite mail reader thanks to blogstreet’s RSS-Imap aggregator. This adresses the demand side. But we equally well need to address the supply side in RSS, and it is here that everyone has focussed on blogging and has neglected the UI. (A pet peeve is everyone writing their own 3 paned aggregator…whats the originality in that? If you want a 3 paned aggregator use the Outlook plugin or Blogstreet and your emailer.) Why not have all authoring done on an operating system produce a RSS feed. A file needs a summary with an enclosure, thats all. One can then organize according to spaces or projects, and publish to the scope intended, which may be private, or to a group, or to the world at large, comcommitant with a blog pointer..

    The last part of what Rahul says – we are hoping to enable just that, built around the Info Aggregator.

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  • TECH TALK: The PubSubWeb: Microcontent and Events

    The central ideas behind the emergence of the PubSubWeb are as follows. Tools like wikis and weblogs are making writing easier. Search engines like Google make finding information and websites easier. Yet, repeated, periodic reading of an information source triggered by when it is updated remains hard. To get the incremental content on a website, one needs to not only remember that site but also suffer through while a lot of seemingly irrelevant content is downloaded around the content we really want.

    What is needed is a mechanism for microcontent from the sites (or people or databases) we want to be delivered to us in near real-time. Ideally, we should be able to do this with the tools that we already have, specifically the email client and the browser. There is no need to add to the complexity of downloading and learning yet another application.

    Another way to think of the PubSubWeb is as an EventWeb. Each update of the content (publishing) is akin to the occurrence of an event. What is needed is for us to be able to (a) subscribe to the event stream and (b) receive notification and details of the event as and when it happens. From a publishers point of view, there may also be a need to restrict access to who can subscribe to the event stream.

    What we think of as microcontent or events is only limited by our imagination: a breaking news story, a commentary published by one of our favourite writers, an intimation of a speech in the town we live, the birthday of a friend, a stock quote, the latest scores of a cricket match, an alert about a flights arrival or departure, a snippet about an SME wanting to buy something we are selling, an alert about the most recent credit card transactions, or perhaps an update on the new leads that have come in to the sales department.

    Of course, we are able to get access to most of this information and in some cases, even receive the appropriate notifications today. But it isnt easy. Because, so far, the tools that we have been using have been focused on one-way flow of information. Our ability to customise what we see and focus only on the incremental information has been extremely limited. In most cases, we have to go seek out the information source and pull in the information we need. In most cases, push would have worked far better. But so far, there hasnt been a standardised way to make this happen.

    Tomorrow: RSS Revolution

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