Monthly Archives: March 2003

First look at InfoPath

First look at InfoPath. The next version of Microsoft Office is, among other things, a family of XML editors. I have discussed the XML modes of Word and Excel (see XML for the rest of us and “Exploring XML in Office 11”), and described the newest member of this family, InfoPath 2003, a tool for gathering XML data (see “Ten things to know about Xdocs”). Now that I've had a chance to work with InfoPath, its role and value are becoming clearer. [Full story at InfoWorld.com] [Jon's Radio]

Use a Firewall, Go to Jail

Freedom to Tinker: Use a Firewall, Go to Jail.

The states of Massachusetts and Texas are preparing to consider bills that apparently are intended to extend the national Digital Millennium Copyright Act. (TX bill; MA bill) The bills are obviously related to each other somehow, since they are textually similar.

Here is one example of the far-reaching harmful effects of these bills. Both bills would flatly ban the possession, sale, or use of technologies that “conceal from a communication service provider … the existence or place of origin or destination of any communication”. Your ISP is a communcation service provider, so anything that concealed the origin or destination of any communication from your ISP would be illegal — with no exceptions.  [Privacy Digest]

Publishing a project weblog

Publishing a project weblog. A couple of years ago I predicted that Weblogs would emerge within the enterprise as a great way to manage project communication. I'm even more bullish on the concept today. If you're managing an IT project, you are by definition a communication hub. Running a project Weblog is a great way to collect, organize, and publish the documents and discussions that are the lifeblood of the project and to shape these raw materials into a coherent narrative. [Full story at InfoWorld.com] [Jon's Radio]

Location-enhanced web: get people out of the house

Location-enhanced web: get people out of the house. “We knew there were quite a few webloggers in London – we sometimes meet up – but no one knew how many or where they were,” he says. People do know now – or at least they know to which tube stations the 350 bloggers who have added themselves to the map are nearest.

Henderson says his map “seemed like a fun thing to do”. But there is a serious side. The Bloggers' tube map puts a sense of place back into cyberspace. By doing so, it has the potential to help a group of people doing things online recognise themselves as a real world community and build closer links.

It does more than reveal who's blogging in Brixton. The Bloggers tube map also shows one of the key directions for the development of the web. When the net first went mainstream, people talked up cyberspace as some sort of alternative global space, a new frontier where distance was dead and you were free to associate with like minds around the world. Where you were in the real world wasn't supposed to be that important.

Now, things are beginning to move in the opposite direction. People are beginning to see that location is important and that linking the net to the real world may open up all sorts of interesting possibilities. A location-enhanced web will get people out of the house and give them new ways to interact with the world around them. The net might be a tool for localisation as much as for globalisation. That's the dream. [Smart Mobs]

Detecting social networks via email

Detecting social networks via email. The trio wondered if they could identify distinct communities within Hewlett-Packard's research lab simply by analysing the IT manager's log of nearly 200,000 internal emails sent by 485 employees over a couple of months.

They plotted the links between people who had exchanged at least 30 emails with each other, and found the plot included 1110 links between 367 people. In a network as large and complex as this, the plot alone will not tell you which groups people are.

So to pick them out, the researchers used a computer algorithm that looks for the critical links that form bridges between separate groups – what the team calls links with high “betweenness”. By severing these links one by one, the algorithm gradually isolates people into different communities of groups who are emailing each other.

To make sure the order in which links are severed does not distort the picture, the team repeated the task 50 times, each time cutting a different link first. Most individuals popped up in the same group every time; they were excluded from a group only if they failed to appear in it at least four times. [Smart Mobs]