Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Advertisers Beware..

Your days are numbered.

Now that computers can automatically generate slogans, and pick up free imagery via tags from Flickr, there's a whole lot more pressure on you guys to actually do something REALLY impressive...

Check it out : The Ad Generator, at http://www.cogandsprocket.com/adgen/adgen.html

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Lifehack:Ahoy, Me Hearties!

As previously mentioned, I have something of a tendency to procrastinate.

I really hate that I do this. The absolute worst thing about procrastination is that there is no reward. It's kind of like you say "I'll show me! I just won't start anything until it is due..." And then you end up working like crazy at the last minute. Ha. Take that...

So, naturally, I'm always out to find a way to trick myself into more productivity.

My current tool this week is the Ship's Bell - based on the sailor's system of watches.

Once you learn to tell the time by counting the watches, it becomes a lot more apparent how much time you're wasting.
And just by associating the sound of the bells with the fact that you should be working, I've found myself focusing on single tasks for the whole 'watch' - often more.

If you'd like to try it out, you can download a little system utility for windows that will sound the bells for you from fredsplace.org.
Or you know, you can just do it later, if you want...


Hey - this is neat - the new version of blogger supports custom domains - so this blog now lives at goodgord.com instead of goodgord.blogspot.com

(but old links will still redirect. So don't panic or anything.Phew!)

That's really nice of google to offer such a service, which I'm sure took them considerable effort to build, just so I can have eight less letters in my blog address...

Friday, January 19, 2007

What a Robot Really Wants

Dean made an interesting point on the TOWER Blog today about the future of ECM, and its relationship to Knowledge Management.

Having the information at your disposal becomes a lot more valuable when you can use contextual information from other related content to analyse exactly what you have. It's just like Simon was saying about Pandora - real value comes from analysing multiple classification axes - not just one. As always, somewhere there's an academic at work on the problem - the article on Faceted Classification has some good starting points...

It reminded me of an article that I wrote for KMWorld, a publication that deals extensively with knowledge management, about robots, and how you need to empower decision makers with information.Funnily enough, when I tried to find my paper, there were a bunch of third party vendors who were charging money for me to read it. So I thought that I'd just post it here for free:

What a Robot Really wants…Knowledge at the point of decision
By Gordon Taylor, TOWER Software

A small, two legged robot stands atop a glass topped coffee table. On its two dimensional world, it has to contend with a pot plant, an old TV guide, and several coffee cups, along with the ever present danger of plummeting over the side towards the carpet below. As the robot navigates its way around, a constant evaluation process occurs inside its software ‘brain’. First, information is collected through its sensors. Secondly, that information is analyzed, using a decision tree to determine the optimal course of action.

What do the adventures of this robot have to do with knowledge management? It’s more important than you might think. You see, right before the robot takes its next step — once this simple two stage process is completed, the robot could be said to ‘know’ something. It’s collected all available information, and analyzed it. Knowledge is created through analysis of information.

So the effectiveness of our robot friend — or if you like, how ‘smart’ it is, depends directly on two things — the accuracy and relevance of the information supplied and the effectiveness of the evaluation process. Poor information, through faulty sensors or too few sensors, will result in an inaccurate picture being fed to the decision making processes. Poor analysis will lead to bad decisions, regardless of the quality of information supplied.

Now I’m sure you saw this analogy coming, but face it — your enterprise is exactly the same. To create a smart enterprise, you need to have a stable, reliable information base, and the analysis tools that allow you to create valuable knowledge — knowledge that fosters good decisions.

Information management has been refined over the years, to the point where most enterprise architects are including a central structured repository as part of their information architecture. ECM systems, built on solid data storage solutions, are the platforms that facilitate these sound information management policies.

At the heart of these information systems, is metadata — data stored about the data you store. By monitoring, storing, and indexing specific information about your business content, ECM vendors allow their customers the ability to easily find any piece of information, and its relevant business context, quickly and efficiently. These systems are built on information management policy and principles that have been around for a long time.

So, if your organization has a sound ECM policy and system in place, it’s not likely to fall off the coffee table because of poor quality information. The next generation of Enterprise systems will focus on how to manage the analysis of that information base to support your decision making process.

The DIKW Model is an information hierarchy that’s frequently cited when trying to address this problem. The model was originally recorded in a 1932 poem called The Rock from TS Eliot:

Where is the life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

In the modern, slightly less poignant implementation of the DIKW model, we find four layers:


Nowadays, thanks to advances in data storage, the science of information management, and the implementation of these systems in ECM products, the transition from data to information is largely a solved problem.

Getting from information to knowledge is much more difficult. Knowledge includes the ‘how’ aspect of a problem. Returning to our robot, it’s the analysis of the information that tells it ‘how’ to proceed.

Current efforts at solving this problem are varied, and you’ll probably recognize them as the more modern features provided by ECM vendors. Collaboration — allowing people to discuss and share information in order to facilitate progress. Workflow — prescriptive, best practice knowledge defined by a business process analyst is another attempt to provide ‘how’ information. Content Management tools, like Blogs and Wikis all provide additional published content around a topic — more published analysis to help people decide which step to take next.

Tools like these are striving to bridge the conceptual void between information and knowledge. While the jury is still out on how effective they are, the challenge is considerable. The next time you need to evaluate a system for inclusion in your Enterprise Architecture, consider how well it bridges this gap. Think like a robot. Do I have the right information available? Will this system enable me to make better decisions? Without a careful approach to both aspects, you could end up on the carpet.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

My Friend said that you said...

Big Headed Simon explains why he thinks that Pandora is better than Last.FM.

Oddly enough, This week, I too was thinking about Pandora, and what a good example it is of how taxonomy doesn't have to be boring. In fact, the article that I just wrote over on the TOWER Software Blog, explains it.

It's like we're spontaneously having a conversation about the same topic, on different sides of the planet by talking to different people...

The Internet is strange sometimes...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

How to get your message across

If you've ever wondered what the best way to present information for maximum impact, or if you've ever sat and stared at a blank Visio Canvas trying to figure out how to get your concept across, then this is for you.

The Periodic Table of Visualization Methods provides an interactive guide to all kinds of great ways to present information - from concepts and metaphors through to timelines and cluster diagrams.

How's that for inspiration? Neat...

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Just in case you've been living on another planet, Apple announced the iPhone today.

I tried not to be impressed and excited, but I just couldn't help it. I want one. It's kind of interesting that the iPhone is still designed to be a two handed experience - one of the great things about RIM's Blackberry devices are that they can be operated with only one hand - at least for checking and reading mail. The iPhone looks to me like it might be a bit of a hassle to check your email while driving. (not that that's a good idea, or I EVER do it...)

And, in a nice piece of bleeding-obvious litigation, Cisco has already decided to sue over a trademark infringement.

Still, whatever you call it - it's surely a very lustworthy piece of tech-kit....

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Cogito ergo non laboro

I just noticed (after what looks like nearly 170 days) that Stephen's Blog is alive and functional. And to top it off, he's made his applescript application for handling TRIM Context reference files available to all and sundry.

If you're using the Mac with ICE, you really need to go and download this thing -it pretty much ensured that Stephen never had to leave his beloved iBook for that hateful windows machine!

Anyways, (a very belated) welcome :)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Humans Suck at Predicting the Future

I really liked this post from Chris Fralic, which points us to all the awesome predictions of things that were supposed to happen in the Internet in 1995:
"Gopher. The lower-profile poor cousin from outta town, the media has been so absorbed in the publishing potential of Mosaic that it hasn't noticed the continued, and dramatic, growth of this easier-to-use; albeit less visually sexy; alternative. One key difference: I can always find what I want in Gopherspace with only a step or two."
Yeah - that Mosaic thing was really a flash in the pan... Still, one other prediction caught my eye:
"The first intelligent agent software packages will emerge, allowing Net users to ask for a specific piece of information like "What is the population of Fiji?" or "How far is Saturn from the Sun?" An agent will go out on the Net , find the information, and return it without the user knowing the source."
Hey! - I remember all that 'Agent ' talk - (wasn't that where Clippy came from?) But this question reminded me of something I found in HTTPSpace much more recently - Hakia.

Hakia claims to be a "meaning based" search engine, and you know it's not half bad. For instance, try the results to both of those far-off zany impossible questions:
You'll find the correct answers easily - first hit, first page. It's not perfect - but it certainly is intriguing. Mind you, Google does a better job than Hakia, no doubt - I don't even have to leave the search result page to get the answers....Truth be told, I don't know if I'd pick "Internet Search" for my first start-up venture...Having said that, I find myself constantly returning to it, which I guess is a sign that it must be kind of good.

It's no "Intelligent Agent", but I guess I've always got Search Dog for that...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Snap Happiness

Some random shots taken over the holiday :)

if (Year++){do while brain != numb...};

Happy New Year!

For my family back home in Congo, it's traditional to spend the New Year on the Beach. It usually rains a bit, but if you drink enough, nobody minds. And if you drink enough (like say - Fuzzy has been valiantly doing), then there's usually a midnight swim in the ocean, often complete with phosphorescent plankton that mirror the stars.

9903 miles away here in Virginia, things were a little different. But, not to be outdone, my excellent family and I headed for the sea anyway - to Ocean City, Maryland.

Of course, as Australia lives in the future, The New Year rolled around down under at about 8 AM New Years Eve, our time. I was a little late, but thanks to the awesome guys down at Malibu's Surf Shop, I managed to get all kitted out and ready to get into the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of winter:

The swell was small - maybe 2-3 feet. Feeling pretty gosh darn confident with all my fancy protection, I sauntered out into the water. Then I heard this strange noise as the first wave passed around shoulder height - it was kind of like the hollow sucking noise as the last of the bathtub water drains. Shortly after, I realised there was no more breathing for me. That weird sound? That was all my air spontaneously exiting my lungs.

Turns out that Northerly swell was mainly just made of melted icebergs.

I have never, ever experienced cold like that. My brain was throbbing with the worst ice cream headache I ever had. My fingers wouldn't bend, my lips went blue, and I acquired the ability to speak exclusively in profanities.

Then, almost magically, I found myself standing on the beach. I really don't remember leaving the water. Some primal protection reflex just marched me right out of there. And for a while, I seriously considered going back to the hotel for a hot shower. But no, I came here to surf, and I wasn't going to let the Atlantic ocean beat me. So, I gingerly went back in and managed to get in a decent hours worth of surfing. I also learned to be very, very careful about bailing on waves - the thought of putting my head back in the ocean was a far too intimidating prospect!

All in all, it was a pretty great experience - As crazy as it sounds, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. And I think I could maybe learn to deal with the cold. But I sure do miss the Pacific Ocean!