November 2003 Archives

Weblogging Tools

Today, after reading Dave Pollard’s post on TrackBack,  I commented on my lack of understanding of the concept.  I tried it earlier, now I understand, and I will use it more frequently.  Later as I read my RSS feeds through NewGator, I found this post on Weblogging tools.   I’ve tried many of them, but found my Radio experience less than satisfactory, because much of the functionality was hard to implement and instead of fiddling with my blog software, I would rather be writing.   This post lists a lot of good tools, with explanations for their use. 

Weblogging can be as simple or as complex as you choose to make it. I hope that the technology will become more and more transparen as it evolves. allowing greater access to all knowledge-sharing, knowledge-accessing features to people in an underserved category (i.e, those who have substantive interest but low technical interest/skill).

In this entry I share with other webloggers, some of them new to the enterprise, a partial listing of the kit of tools that I am presently using. I list and explain, speak of my own present uses of each tool and project possible other uses. I hope that in so doing I help others use their own weblogs more fully. <p>

[Warning: this is a "brand specific" and, to a lesser degree "purpose specific" write-up. Since I use Radio Userland's Weblogging software (almost exclusively), this entry will be about what I do and/or think can be done with Radio to forward the knowledge-making, knowledge-disseminating enterprise. Further, it's a changeable, evolving "work in progress";depending on my interest and experience any given facet that I discuss below may, or may not, get further attention. Responses and/or questions would tend to encourage further attention to a given feature :o] ! Whether there is much or little discussion with readers I will have served an important personal purpose; writing this entry it will remind me of all the tools I have for achieving my weblogging goals].

Tool

General Purpose of Tool

My Present Usage

Other Possibilities

Blog Itself

By itself: journaling with others -- the centerpiece of a complex of powerful knowledge-building tools

 As a journal (a little) as a small (growing?) public, yet personal, workspace to develop and make known thoughts in areas of my concern and/or interest.

 As an interface to a fuller individual or group knowledge making set-up. For example, a plone site with included zwiki wiki as workspace for one or more coworkers. The weblog, in this case, would be a space in which more finished products are summarized. Public criticism and or idea support would be drawn to the organized group space where it would affect the quality, the fullsomeness of the end result.

Trackback

Gets you a record of when a blog entry has been used (by you or another). Enables follow-up

 Read other entries (if trackback not mine). Respond directly or incorporate into a blog item.

 More systematic use of trackback as a means of enchaining related developments as per interests of developers.

Comments

Allows readers to engage you in conversation over one or more of the points you have made.

Source of Critical/ Developmental Input. Process involves read and thinking: ultimately some amount of rethinking occurs followed by a written response draft, and some level of editing. (Must admit, when faced with quality of product other bloggers put out, that I have to do better copy-editing).

 Still within the more comprehensive group/individual knowledge development enterprise, comments would remain technically the same but would now be one of several means for giving feedback to germinating knowledge artifacts.

Blogstreet/ Technorati etc

Web applications, two amongst many, which track web traffic to your site.

 Gives me a chance to find sense in my web readers preferences amongst my writings.

 Not sure where I will take this as a further step

News (Rss) Aggregator

Collects entries from webloggers and news sources and puts them in one place for your review.

 I used my aggregator to collect entries in one place, as stated to the left.

Over time--as I have developed knowledge of my own repeatedly demonstrated (as opposed to theoretical) interests the aggregator collection has been modified, at least as I use it, to reflect the changing (hopefully more focused and sequential) focus of my own knowledge-making enterprise.

 Will try to get aggregations to be categorical so that I may focus my readings on only one category at a time.
Right now my reading experience has me reading all weblogs in the several of my categories of interest at the same time. Much mental sorting needs to be done and information is lost.

Radio Outliner

While outlines themselves are seen as a great personal thought/ knowledge organizer, the Radio Userland outliner is an underused ( Or so it seems in the set of Radio bloggers that I read.) online knowledge-building, knowledge-disseminating tool .

(There is also Radio's Instant Outliner. This has the potential for being used by members of a common workgroup. Each member working on different aspects of a task and subscribes to the outlines of other group members. AIM or Jabber can be used to instantly notify subscribers to the fact that your outline has been updated.)

In general terms: I use the outliner to create and publish an articulated complex of ideas and use blog, email or a static site to point out (and link to) it's existence.

 

I have not yet deployed the Instant Outliner with fellow workers on a common task.

 

At this point I write/edit/update various outlines.. save in my outlines folder and they are published as html via Marc Barrot's activeRenderer (see below)

Subsequently, its changes can be pointed out--probably automatically--though I don't know how to do that-- to those signaling interest. Example: I keep an outline of major ecological principles in my outlines folder (translated into html by activeRenderer-described on next row) changes in outline are automatically published because part of my Radio site. Rss aggregators could collect the full outline if date of content is within, say, past week.

activeRenderer

A set of subprograms and routines that translate a Radio outline into various forms of html.

 

Author: Marc Barrot

I'm really attached to this feature-- for nonsubstantive reasons. Marc's formatting of the outline allows people to consume content as their level of interest and knowledge dictates.

In the case of activeRenderer in html form.. The user clicks on any given heading to get an expanded presentation. A simple explanation can be expanded to a full-fledged training manual (or anything in between)--at the discretion of the reader.

My present uses: class notes, syllabi, links etc., and any other idea sets that I consider important and or 'evolving'. Others-- link sets by category, ecological protection hypotheses, system theory statements and hypotheses, etc.

 

 

For an explicator (e.g., writer of training manuals for complicted consumer products) or an educator.. this can be a the difference between huge success and more of the same (i.e., the manual is not lost in some pile of nonused items... and crucial use skills aren't developed).

Create a few usage conventions (e.g., high level headings have the least complicated, yet still useful, explanations . The lower the level the fuller [and more complex] the explanation) and you have the possibility of a knowledge access device that is one size fits all.

 

Omnioutliner

 

A multipowered outliner with great interface (however, for Mac only). Can be used to make outlines for publication and to edit those already in your outlines file. Will save in html format for those using other blogging tools which don't have outlining built in. Once saved in html format can be used in similar fashion to that I have described for Radio outlines (See Inspiration and/or Pivit for Windows systems.)

Wonderful expansion of my knowledge-making, knowledge-disseminating, etc. software.

Why? Works with Word, works with Radio.

Will also save directly to html.

Because it allows full-screen and attractive interface I have come to prefer editing and composing outline material here (as opposed to using Radio's bare bones outliner interface).

 

liveTopics

 

An on the fly topic generating and sorting engine for Radio's weblog.

Auther: Matt Mower

Allows me to generate 1 or more categories or, even, tohave the software suggest categories based on content of the entry.

I will occasionally have to recategorize entries based on developments that I couldn't predict. Also, I may end up consolidating categories when I see that I've put generated duplicates of categories under a synonymous label.

 I would like to move to a more general universal category generator. i would be willing to consider some variation, for example, on the Library of Congress, the Dewey Decimal or other premade category system. I am willing to add new categories but want my search of web material, and others' search of mine, to have more hits than, I think, will be produced by an on the fly system with only one individual generating extemporaneous categories.

BBEdit

While definitely not Word, Nisus or Word Perfect, etc. BBEdit is a capable partner in the weblog writing process: a)allows big window for work., b)will check or provide common standards-compliant html, c) has a spelling checker.

 BBEdit comes in several forms. BBEdit lite is free. But it doesn't check your html for you.

BBEdit -- full version--also allows edits (even on separate servers)of site materials fetching, editing and replacing painlessly. Thus you have saved the price of 'Fetch' or 'Transport' in the process of acquiring the full BBEdit

 I will do more as I learn more html.
BBEdit is a natural companion for Dreamweaver(see below); the linkage has been built-in.

 

Dreamweaver

A major piece of software at considerable expense. Interfaces well with all browers and with BBEdit (above). His built in access to the multiple programming languages, scripts, etc. for making professional grade material for publication on the web.

Expensive

 When I want to work on a complex table or position a graphic "just so", etc. This will leave less to chance than trying to do it in Radio or Radio + BBEdit.

Did I mention expensive? I don't know if I would purchase even with its extreme capabilities if I were only weblogging

 Since I use Dreamweaver for non-weblogging activity anyway (part of instruction online) I will use.
I will extend my control over the look and feel of my weblog pages via a slow and gradual enhancement of html skills.
This growth is considerably enhanced with the help of Dreamweaver

 

Omnigraffle

All purpose graphics program. Re weblogging: allows the production and insertion of pictures in weblog(however, for Mac only - see Inspiration for Windows systems). Subitems in picture can link from portion of picture to ANY meaningful web content [with an address- see box to right]. (e.g., ideas to which you refer in your entry).

 I now use Omnigraffle to illustrate processes in my weblog and/or to capture and then add to (i.e., lable, annotate)illustrations found elsewhere on the web

 Better drawing skill seems to be developing.

 

Am looking forward to some adaptation of <a href="http://www.mind-map.com/images/larser1.gif";>mind mapping</a> with links to develop/explain ideas

 

Dave Pollard wrote a post recently on trackbacks and how they work. Since I have never understood this or figured out how to use it correctly, I decided to use his advice and try it out with TypePad which has a dialog box where you can enter a TrackBack address.

Cesar Brea is blogging

We have to encourage him to bring his unique point of view to the web, especially since he is a social software guru now. See my link on the left side bar. Click through to his blog.

Regular posts

My children are home this week, so my habit of posting regularly to this weblog has been interupted. Today, however, I have a bit of time and I am finding a lot to comment on!

 Robin Good has posted a number of clippings in which he explores personal knowledge and how people integrate and share their understanding.   I wrote a comment about my reactions to his post in the comments section.

Once upon a time, in a far-away land, there was an advanced civilization of intelligent beings who wanted to be able to share their personal know-how, preferences, ideas and visions with those others that were set to work and collaborate with them. Tired of spending millions of dollars to deploy piles of useless shelfware systems like Motive, Autonomy, Verity, Serviceware, Kana, Siebel that companies bought to create a supposedly “more productive” 'knowledge-enabled' culture, some companies set out a few communication explorers to investigate if the direction taken was appropriate and if there were effective alternative approaches to it. Communication explorers...
[Robin Good' Sharewood Tidings]

One of my passions is precision and clarity and so naturally I am drawn to:

Metadata, Taxonomies, And Vocabularies...link via[elearnspace blog]

In addition, here is a link to an excellent article on understanding the basics of ontology.

Download file

Information Architecture

 Wonderful reference to a site dedicated to information architecture!

I've seen this link on several sites recently: Information Architecture References[elearnspace blog]

More affirmation of the growing viability of VoIP: Internet calling verges on mainstream

George Simmons at elearnspace blog provided this link to a cnet story on Forrester Research’s analysis of the VoIP market.  I don’t know if I am ready to accept that the technology is becoming mainstream, I have had number of good experiences with it lately.  Robin Good, for example, referred to Global Learning Day on November 15, 2003 which demonstrated Live Web Conferencing with Live Voice and Presentations.

"Global Learn Day is part global celebration, part conference, part experiment and part exploration," explained Hibbs. "We're demonstrating that education and training can be delivered affordably, from anywhere, to every nook and cranny on the planet." The yearly event starts at 00:01 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), during Columbus Day weekend in the U.S., and ends 24 hours later at 23:59 GMT.

Volunteers passionate about distance education and making learning accessible to everyone, deliver presentations over streaming audio or video. Simultaneously, other volunteers weave together creative combinations of technology to transmit that information so that no one is left behind.

I found the event a bit rag tag, and overly enamored with the technology bringing people together, but the concept of enabling distance learning and reaching a very wide audience is compelling.   iVocalize was the voice and web conferencing software used to enable the event. I listened entirely on my computer, never needing a telephone.

Keeping the internet free

Dave Winer wrote in his weblog that we should encourage the presidential candidates to take a position on the internet, and, in particular, that this medium should stay free from Media Companies. I agree, but I would add that it should stay free of taxes, government regulation, and intervention!

 Dave Pollard was one of my colleagues at Ernst & Young.  He is quite a good commentator on Knowledge Management and the discussion paper he refers to in this except is extremely insightful.

THE FUTURE OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT.

kp


Lately I've been talking to quite a few companies about Social Network Enablement, Social Software, Weblogs, the ineffective use of technology and knowledge by front-line workers (both because these tools are inadequate, and because they're not used properly), and what this all means for the discipline of Knowledge Management. I've blogged about all of these subjects recently, but if anyone is interested, I've put together this discussion paper in MS Word that captures it all in one place. I plan to produce a KM Future State Vision paper, as a companion piece, as well.


[McGee's Musings]

Flash animations and Video in Weblogs

Yes, I am thinking about adding flash animations and video to my weblog as well.  I already have a brief clip from an early iteration of a flash site that I am doing for my composer friend Frank Sacci.   It has progressed, however quite a bit as I have learned Flash MX 2004.   I am using the books I have noted on my booklist to learn the application and I found a site from www.lynda.com which has very good Quicktime training videos for a small amount of money.   Flash is quite a difficult program to master (for me at least) but you can compress animations so they are easy to publish on the web.

I'm playing with the idea of adding brief video clips to this blog, as illustrations, not news reports. This...
[Dan Gillmor's eJournal]

Communities of Practice Theory overview

This is a very good description of Communities of Practice, that includes precise definitions of terms and groups them appropriately.  I found it at elearnspace blog which is a blog I read quite regularly.

Great resource on communities of practice(CP listserv). Simple, visual explanations of terms and concepts.



theories.gif

�$640K should be enough for anybody.��

--Bill Gates, 1981

I think we should outsource CEOs to India.

The San Jose Mercury News is full of good news today.

Army of consultants smooth companies' entry to India
EXECUTIVE TOLD HE COULD `HIRE EIGHT' TO DO ONE VALLEY WORKER'S JOB, AND STILL SAVE

By Aaron Davis
Mercury News

NEW DELHI, India - Some begin with elaborate presentations, packing U.S. boardrooms with charts and graphs to show executives how much cheaper they'll have it overseas.

Others sit around British colonial-style bars in New Delhi sipping Kingfisher beer and quoting impossibly low prices for the work to be done.

They are the middlemen, an army of enablers who have helped transform the once-risky proposition of shipping high-tech jobs overseas into a red-hot, mainstream industry.

Just a few years ago, during the dot-com boom, executives had to reinvent the wheel to ship work to India: They had to navigate bureaucracies, wade through seas of novice workers and trust their computing power to India's unreliable electrical grids.

Today, however, consultants from big-time India-based offshoring giants like Infosys and Wipro all the way down to smaller family outfits have refined a kind of hand-holding service for U.S. companies entering India. They guide companies through start-up procedures, find skilled employees and promise big cost savings within months.

The Indian government has also gotten involved. In a set of cluttered offices at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in the Indian capital of New Delhi, government workers file papers and work the phones from dawn until dusk, six days a week, to deliver the ultimate business-friendly promise to foreign companies: They can start a business in India within 24 hours. By the next work day, the government will provide all needed permits, utility contracts and import waivers.

For call centers and other service work, some Indian state governments have begun standardized testing of English-speaking abilities and other skills, to make hiring even easier for foreign companies. In Bangalore, a government office even keeps top-scoring students on retainer, guaranteeing them jobs with the next suitable company. The average time before students are scooped up: less than a day.

Some of the very middlemen who help move jobs to India, however, worry that companies aren't thinking through some of their moves.

``It's like nobody wants to be left out,'' said Chance Curtis, an account executive with Keane, who advises companies on offshoring plans. ``Most executives are sold on cost before they ever see the business solutions. I think there's a big problem right now with people just doing what everybody else is doing.''

Still, cost savings seem to be the No. 1 selling point.

Avinash Vashistha, managing director at San Ramon-based offshore consulting firm NeoIT, loves telling the story of asking a Silicon Valley executive this year which jobs he could offshore.

``Could you move this person's job?'' asked Vashistha.

``Oh, no,'' the executive said. ``I couldn't move her job. She's been here for 25 years. It would take eight people to do her job.''

``Very well, we'll hire eight people to replace her,'' Vashistha said.

NeoIT calculated that the company could hire eight people to replace that one longtime employee and still save 20 percent by moving the entire division overseas, Vashistha said.

``The executive was stunned.''

Barbara Poole Artist Newsletter

I created this html newsletter for my wife, who's show, "All about me, Part II", opens in Boston on November 28th. The newsletter does not render as well as I would like, but it OK. It looks better in an email. I used MS Publisher to put together the document. It was wonderfully easy.

Download file

Gartner optimistic about fourth quarter

But what about services?  When will IT services recover?   I am still waiting!

"Strong third quarter PC sales have led Gartner Inc. to increase its fourth quarter PC shipment projections to 47.2 million units worldwide, it said Friday."

The web is an entirely bottoms up medium, evolving from the fringes.  It would be nice if metadata could be standardized to conform to an ontology, but people do not think like this.   The Semantic Web must concentrate on words and concepts.   With a conceptual framework that recognizes incompatibilities and complexities organizing principles will emerge from the weak links. 

A very worthwhile read: The Semantic Web, Syllogism, and Worldview: "Much of the proposed value of the Semantic Web is coming, but it is not coming because of the Semantic Web. The amount of meta-data we generate is increasingly dramatically, and it is being exposed for consumption by machines as well as, or instead of, people. But it is being designed a bit at a time, out of self-interest and without regard for global ontology. It is also being adopted piecemeal, and it will bring with it with all the incompatibilities and complexities that implies. There are significant disadvantages to this process relative to the shining vision of the Semantic Web, but the big advantage of this bottom-up design and adoption is that it is actually working now."


[elearnspace blog]

Best New Technologies

There is a lot of innovation going on in this area and slowly developers are beginning to triangulate of the real needs of users.  In my experience, the products are not as useful as they should be, but for a a developing product segment, they are pretty good.   I am most impressed with the offerings from Contact Networks Corporation in Boston who seem to understand how to build networks within a defined community rather than addressing the needs of everyone on the web.  Social networking products tend to overshoot the requirements of users and thus do not meet the rudimentary needs of users like me.

Best New Technologies: "The November edition of Business 2.0 (only available on-line to subscribers) has selected Social Networking Applications as the Technology of the Year."


[elearnspace blog]

The truely mobile office

Dan Sheridan wrote a good post in his NI3 weblog on working in his completely mobile office. I want to find a service so that I can take advantage of VoIP and stop paying huge rates for cell phone use.

My current employer has outfitted me with a truly mobile office that got put to the test yesterday when I had to change locations in the middle of the day without missing a beat. Everything you would expect is on my laptop: dial-up connection, Wi-Fi card, MS Office, VPN clients, IM client, etc. The unique thing is my Cisco IP Softphone (VoIP). I've been using my Softphone for a couple of month now, but have never really tested it using a Wi-Fi connection. I had to escape to a Starbucks with a T-Mobile HotSpot yesterday afternoon and had to take three hours of conference calls. I didn't want to do it on my cell phone, so I took a risk and gave my Softphone a try over 80.11b. I have a special handset from Carisys that acts like a regular phone and filters a ton of noise. I called my wife before hopping on my business calls to see how I sounded. She said I sounded like I was at home on a land line. Wow!! I have finally achieved 100% mobility with an outward appearance of complete stability.

A full year of blogging!

I have blogged for a full year, and all my posts are available via the Archives in the this weblog. My micropublishing for a microaudience adventure began last November when I was laid off from Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. Since then, I have started my own consulting buisiness, Coherence Group, worked for a good part of the year in California, learned ashtanga yoga, learned how to work out of my home, learned how to build web sites organized with CSS, learned Flash, learned how to mine RSS feeds for the most interesteing information, learned how to configure web servers, learned how to configure and run web content management systems, learned how to sell on ebay, and auditioned for sitcoms. Most if my ruminations and observations are documented.

My wife, barbara poole, is a figurative painter. Her new show opens at the Bromfield Art Gallery in Boston on November 28. Here is an example of her recent work. I think it will be a spectacular show.

Barbara-in-kitchen-with-Vam.jpg

My daughter must have told everyone in her dorm and on her soccer team that her Dad got called back after his audition for the new ABC sitcom "My Life is a Sitcom". As soon as they saw me they chirped and giggled, asking about when I was going to LA to do the show. I told them that Joe Mozian, the comedian on the show, had to be on Oprah on Friday and probably was not thinking about me or my ability to play his Dad, just yet. I have not heard from him even after my very nice thank you letter. I suppose I will never hear. My scrape with an actors life ends after one audition! Ugh. Of course, my wife tells me to give it up, I am not TV material and I am not even funny. In fact, I must be 25 years younger than Joe Mozian's real Dad, Oscar. if that makes any difference. I could be made up to look old, but right now, I am just a partly balding middle aged man.

Typepad limitations & frustrations

There is a good post in "raving lunacy" on TypePad weirdness. I agree, there are some things about this app which don't quite work. In particular, I have trouble with the posting photos and arranging them in the right order. When I do post photos I don't want to work so hard getting them in the right order by sorting them in advance and posting them in the right sequence. I would prefer a more ad hoc approach that allowed me to change the order and presentation of the photos on the fly.

Another thing that bothers me, and I have to say I have not spent any time figuring it out, is how to put in logos like Creative Commons in the blog. I have seen the instructions but have not put the logo in. INMHO, given the community that uses this tool, there should be functionality to put these kind of tags in easily.

Other than that, I am quite happy.

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