Saturday, June 30, 2007
I'm putting up an electric fence around my rose garden as a deer deterrant. Lowe's had a package of danger signs which I purchased to warn away children and neighbors, should they wander near the fence. A plastic yellow sign which says "Electric Fence" (in three languages, for well travelled deer) seemed self-explanatory, but nooo...this is so much more...
The packaging points out that they have "two holes in top for fastening to fence wire" which I thought was nice of them. But it continues, "or for nailing to wood post." Wow! Without those holes I couldn't have done it.
Lest you think I'm being over-critical, let me share the final line of the description. "MADE OF RUSTPROOF PLASTIC." I'll sleep well tonight knowing my plastic signs will never rust.
What will them thar Tennessee folks (Fi-Shock inc) think of next? Dehydrated powder?
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
His book, Made in America, honors skilled labor within the United States. The following excerpt caught my attention:
ON WORKERS: The manual arts always has and always will take precedence over the fine arts. Everything physical that the fine arts depends on—from theaters to canvases to printing and binding—depends on the manual arts. Educators who make the rules have bought into the popular notion that we’ve moved out of an industrial economy and into an information age, and therefore, they think, every student has to be educated in the same cookie-cutter way that ignores the importance of manual skills.
I guess I should at least look for his show on the Discovery Channel.
The World Wide Web is an information system. The world participates and search engines like google make it useful. It'd be technically simple to create an all new WWW and use a different port and protocol, but futilely ignorant. The world uses the WWW. Join the system or be irrelevant.
Wikipedia.org is effective because that is the wiki that the world updates. There must be millions of other public wikis, but they don't work as well as wikipedia...because the people use wikipedia. It is an information system all its own. Join the system or be irrelevant to it.
Digg, Delicious, and reddit are information systems for labelling and sharing information on the Internet. These systems can be useful when that is where the people and information reside. Same with myspace,facebook,live spaces,xanga, and tons of others. Which tools will eventually win over the people? Those will be the ones with relevance.
How many information systems exist within your organization? How do you migrate people from one system to another? Every system has it's strengths and weaknesses, so 100% buy in is impossible when you suggest any "upgrade." The result is a splintered mess of information systems which do not work. The solution is seldom technical. The solution lies with the people.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Professional Development for anyone associated with education should include updating http://www.wikipedia.org/. It'll be easy to add to your list of personal goals. It'll be a little tougher to add it to your co-workers' list of goals. It'll be even harder to get credit noted as part of promotion and tenure, but it *should* happen.
The reasons are many. Fill in your own. Meanwhile, start with updating a private wiki if you'd like, but make it a priority to edit wikipedia.org. Blogs may be nice because everyone has something to say, but wikipedia is better because everyone has something to add!
The best part if the deal is that your additions will then be reviewed and made better by
The challenge is to make it happen.
Friday, June 15, 2007
(The "Network Redneck" content is simply that I'm able to be social after taking out the trash without using foul language.)
Saturday, June 9, 2007
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
'Nuther social networking site -- ning.com
How many social relationships can a person maintain?
Dunbar's Number http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar%27s_number
Source code search tool http://www.krugle.com
MDM -- Master Data Management -- new buzzword. Rich Kochhar's advice "Don't start with the technology as the centerpiece of the solution. Start with the corporate strategy."
Funny...back to that question..."What is the strategic goal of the University?"
Saturday, June 2, 2007
I was recently discussing with a colleague that RSS feeds and newsreaders weren't really anything new, since Usenet has been doing that since 1979. Why should I really care about RSS? The difference I was told, is that Usenet is now gone but RSS is still here. I'm not really sure which viewpoint was more obsurd.
Usenet news is as popular now as it ever has been. My organization abandoned our feed because we were unable to keep up with the volume. We kind of let it slip into oblivion without a second thought. When you are researching a technical problem and don't find the answer you need on google.com what do you do next? You click "google groups" of course, since there's as much up to date technical information (if not more) available there as archived on the web. Did you know that Google Groups searches a Usenet News archive? If you'd like to download audio books or other likely copyrighted works while "flying under the radar" where do you turn? Still Usenet News. Sites like "www.easynews.com" have nice interfaces to let you read or download news, since you've probably forgotten or never heard of the now ancient "nn" news reader and it's many counterparts. The interfaces may have changed, but Usenet News lives on.
That brings us to RSS feeds. 'Blogs, forums, and discussion boards all tend to have RSS built into their websites. RSS gives us a mechanism similar to Usenet News (syndication) for obtaining information. What's new is that this technology exists over the top of web pages. In other words, it is basically a way to subscribe to only the updated pages on web sites which cover topics of your interest. That's almost perfect, since it means you can use a newsreader (like Google Reader) to get new content without having to visit a list of websites. What's just as important is that the same content is also accessible from a web browser for those slow adopters not inclined to use a newsreader.
I say "that's almost perfect" because there's very little reason (ok, no reason at all) to keep an RSS feed on topic. This is my 'blog and even though I've posted relatively few times, the topics are all over the map. Eventually the tagging systems and filtering mechanisms will evolve to maximize the signal to noise ratio in RSS. Until then, I'm not terribly impressed with RSS, but will continue to use it just as my colleagues continue to use "Google Groups."
Incidentally, it seems quite simple to feed Usenet News to a website and syndicate it via RSS. Is that not being done? Seems like a great project for www.archive.org or google.