Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Stephen Abram and the World of Libraries

Stephen Abram is a smart guy. The first time I heard him speak was at the 2008 SLA Conference in Seattle. He was brilliant, to say the least. Abram's almost everywhere you turn your head, he is a workaholic to the nth degree. Abram is a innovative librarian who invests his energies in technology and trend forecasting.. Abram also has more than 25 years in libraries as a practicing librarian and in the information industry. In other words, I trust this guy.

Abram has also been highly acclaimed with numerous awards and leadership positions. He was named by Library Journal in 2002 as one of the key people who are influencing the future of libraries and librarianship. Served as President of both the Canadian Library Association (CLA) and Special Libraries Association (SLA). Here is a candid interview that Abram gave a year ago. He reveals he had to apply twice to get into library school, and how he learned the craft of public speaking.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Seasons Greetings

Seasons greetings everyone. This holidays, as you are enjoying your Christmas at home, please take some time in considering contributing to a worthwhile campaign. The campaign is Books for Darfur Refugees -- which give $1 for each book received as a holiday gift -- the website is:

Books for Darfur Refugees certainly appreciate your helping to spread the word, too. It is a 100% volunteer staffed; 100% of funds raised by this campaign for direct book related aid for Darfur refugees. The good news story here is the inspiration of Darfuris who self-organized their own English classes in refugee camps. For example, they view learning English as their "road to freedom."

Since sending two shipments of specifically requested ESL books to the camps in May 2008, the numbers of refugees learning English has jumped from 400 to 800 (as of July 2008) and now numbers more than 1,100! We are partnering with the British NGO, CORD, that runs education programs for UNHCR and UNICEF in the Bredjing, Treguine, and Gaga camps (60,000 refugees, about 20,000 students, about 1/2 are girls).
The website ( shows inspiring photos of the refugees smiling and holding up the ESL books that were sent to them. Happy New Year everyone.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Professor Jerry Newman on Management

A while back ago, I had written on a book I recommended as a must read for those interested in management techniques and the ways in which people interact in a fast-paced workplace The book, My Life on the McJob, explores this, as Jerry Newman, a management professor at Professor at SUNY Buffalo, decided to conduct an experiment as he worked at seven stores over 14 months – two McDonalds, two Burger Kings, one Wendy’s, one Arby’s and one Krystal (a fast food chain in the South), with the stores being located all over America, in Michigan, Florida and New York. Newman worked all jobs, grill, register, custodian, and observed and documented experiences first-hand.

Newman's case study was so fascinating that I wanted to interview him and ask him more about his book and whether it applied to libraries, which often resembles a retail fast-food chain in terms of frenetic pace with customers and rigid tension between management and staff. Here is our interview:

Question: Libraries are every bit as dysfunctional as any organization. What can libraries learn from McJob? Is your book written for fastfood and retail only? Does it apply for all?

Newman: The book is relevant to any organization that has multiple shifts in the course of a day, or that has multiple units within the organization. I think libraries qualify on both accounts. The biggest problem in multi-unit operations, and this isn't just me speaking - mcd agrees with this - is the inconsistency across time and units. To be great, first you must be consistent. This isn't always "sexy", hence the reason for low interest.

Question: What can managers learn from your book? If there is one thing they can take away from your book, what would it be?
  • Fast food jobs are HARD – both physically and mentally
  • These jobs provide opportunity to learn important life skills
    • Dealing with pressure situations
    • Communicating with peers
    • Managing conflict (with customers, peers)
  • Fast food is more representative of our country’s diversity and makeup than other industries
  • MOST INTERESTING: The store’s manager (and not corporate operations procedures and values) determines the climate and ultimately the success of the workplace

Question: What works? You had mentioned the four four R’s. What are they?

  • Realism…People like predictability, set boundaries and expectations
  • Recognition…Be an ego-architect – reinforce self worth
  • Relationships…Build a social web, identify those employees that connect with others and use them to cultivate camaraderie among the troops
  • Rewards…Gold stars still work

Question: What were some challenges you found?

Newman: How to reward your employees when money is not an option.

  • Provide constructive feedback: Gold stars worked in elementary school, still work now
  • Recognize job proficiency by make an example of a strong employee
  • Offer flexible hours and job security
  • Facilitate social interaction – build a social web, make the work-place a fun-place to be
  • Advertise opportunities to advance
  • Build positive manager/employee relationships

Question: What are some key takeaways from your research in this book?


  • Hiring decisions are key to store success and employee retention
  • Culture has the strongest impact on workers’ behavior – and managers are in control
  • Camaraderie and strong work ethic are a winning combination

Question: Were there any surprises during the extent of your experiences?


  • Fast food is not an easy job
  • No forum for employee feedback and unsolicited feedback on operations/best practices is not welcome
  • Wide disparities exist across stores – even those with the same name
  • Women are better managers
  • Recognition is a powerful motivator

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Gen-Archivaria

Archival programs in North America are few and far between. Only a handful of programs available, the majority of archive programs are narrowly focused on records management techniques. Unfortunately, for social and cultural historians, this narrow approach has its limitations. Although as a profession, archivists have worked side-by-side with historians through the ages, archival sciences is still a young academic field. As Alex Ben's Excluding Archival Silences: Oral History and Historical Absence Excluding Archival Silences: Oral History and Historical Absence argues,

archives remain, largely, material repositories of cultural memory. It is an accepted historical problematic, however, that culture is often resistant to material preservation. There exists an undeniable and profound tension between scholarly efforts to reconstruct history and interpret cultural traditions and the fragmentary, and often limited, material record. That is to say, scholarship is shaped by a sinuous negotiation around the historical silences that encompass all of material culture. Historical silences, however, can at times be marginalized (or at best excluded) by a sensitive configuration of material evidence with oral history.

The new generation archivist should be motivated by the long term preservation of moving images and by the invention of new paradigms for access to celluloid, tape, bits and bytes. It should be rooted in historical, practical and theoretical study - and rather than limiting itself to one methodology, it needs to assign equal importance to heritage collections and emerging media types.

One example of innovative ways of recording the past is UBC's First Nations Studies Program's oral history archive projects. In particular, Interactive Video/Transcript Viewer (IVT) is a web-based tool that sychronizes a video with its transcript, so as users play the video, its transcript updates automatically. In addition to searching a video's transcript for key words and phrases, and then playing the video from that point, IVT includes a tool that allows users to create a playlist of clips from interviews for use in meetings. While it took historians thousands of hours of transcription work, IVT transcribes in real-time. These are the types of technologies archivists need to be aware of, in order for us to create active archives. And this is where information professionals need to be aware - to anticipate the needs of its users.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Web 2.0 and its Identity Crisis

Web 2.0 seems to be facing an identity crisis. We don't know quite know what to do with it anymore. We're talking lots about information overload. Web 2.0 is said to be passe. Web 2.0 in fact, might never have existed at all. (It's just a fabrication of the imagination). Whatever Web 2.0 is, it's certainly an evolutwion of the world wide web, which is a reflection of human civilization. We live in a period of globalization, and the web is a manifestation of this. Take for instance. Queen Rania is launching her presence on YouTube and maximizing on the powers of the social web through her powerful video sharing.

On March 30, 2008, the queen of Jordan, Queen Rania launched her own channel on YouTube with a video in which she asked people to send her their questions about Islam and the Arab world until August 12, 2008 (International Youth Day). By intending to respond to those questions and explain the truth about various stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims, Queen Rania hopes to help heal cultural misunderstandings. She continues to post daily videos on subjects that including honor killings, terrorism and the rights of Arab women. Over the five month conversation, her YouTube site had more than 3 million views. Her success shows us the power of social media. True, Web 2.0 might have a fractured identity. But it's an imprint on globalization and our world.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Road to Web 3.0 for Librarians

Web 3.0 (Presentation)
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.

Recently, I presented to a SLAIS class, LIBR 534: Health and Information Services. I gave a talk about Web 3.0, and more specifically, the continuum from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0. I strongly believe that the road to Web 3.0 is linear, and that in between is the Semantic Web. While many interchangeably use Web 3.0 and Semantic Web, I differentiate the two and contend that only through harnessing Web 2.0's social and collective collaboration and applying it using Semantic Web's intelligent technologies can we realize the potential of Web 3.0.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Early Learning and Libraries

This is Malcolm Gladwell. His new book, Outliers, is an excellent read and in my opinion, confirms Gladwell as a public intellectual. His book makes a number of insightful findings, but perhaps the most mind-boggling is the argument that cultural heritage plays a strong part in a person's educational abilities. In his argument that Asians perform better at mathematics, Gladwell surmises that it is the inherited working culture of rice paddies which makes all the difference.

Perhaps most controversial is the assertion that upper middle class children often score better on standardized testing because their backgrounds allow for concerted cultivation - that is, the abilities. It's the summer time that makes the difference. Rather than looking at test scores at one time period, we need to take a closer look at the test scores over an entire year, and examine the difference in improvement during the entire year. And what we find is astonishing. The reason for the disparity between the social classes is that privileged children are given more resources to practice and study during the summer time. Perhaps this is not surprising, as libraries play a huge role in the lives of young children. I certainly remember that as a young boy, I went to the local library often. (I only wish I had gone more now that I know how much a summer makes).

Libraries are seminal institutions in a child's early learning and educational experience. I like American Libraries' 12 Ways Libraries Are Good for the Country. It's an excellent thesis to why libraries are important for society:

1. Libraries inform citizens

2. Libraries break down boundaries

3. Libraries level the playing field

4. Libraries value the individual

5. Libraries nourish creativity

6. Libraries open kids’ minds

7. Libraries return high dividends

8. Libraries build communities

9. Libraries make families friendlier

10. Libraries offend everyone

11. Libraries offer sanctuary

12. Libraries preserve the past

Thursday, November 27, 2008

PR 2.0 for Information Pro's

Brian Solis, Principal of FutureWorks, an innovative Public Relations and New Media agency in Silicon Valley, along with Jesse Thomas of JESS3, has created a new graphic that helps chart online conversations between the people that populate communities as well as the networks that connect the Social Web. The Conversation Prism is free to use and share. It's their contribution to a new era of media education and literacy.

The conversation map is a live representation of Social Media evolves as services and conversation channels emerge, fuse, and dissipate. As the authors argue philosophically, if a conversation takes place online and you’re not there to hear or see it, did it actually happen? Indeed. Conversations are taking place with or without you, and this map will help all to visualize the potential extent and pervasiveness of the online conversations that can impact and influence your business and brand.

As a communications, service, and information professionals, we should find ourselves at the center of the prism - whether we are observing, listening or participating. Solis and Thomas' visual map is an excellent complement to The Essential Guide to Social Media and the Social Media Manifesto, which will help us all better understand how to listen and in turn, participate in the Web 2.0 world. A new, braver, world.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Christmas gift from Malcolm Gladwell came early this year. And I just bought a copy. His new book, Outlier, is a magnificent read. In Outliers, Gladwell, the ever-curious mind, examines why some people succeed, living remarkably productive and impactful lives, while so many more never reach their potential. Analyzing historical nuances from Asian rice paddies to the birthdates of Canadian junior hockey players, Gladwell forces us to re-examine our cherished belief of the "self-made man," and throws out the long-held notion that "superstars" do not come from nowhere. Although born with innate genius and talent, successful people are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot.

While there are a plethora of intellectual points for discussion, 'practical intelligence' in my opinion, is the new key term to take away from Gladwell's book. PQ is a term that psychology Robert J. Sternberg proposed, when he argued that there are three intelligences in human cognition:

(1) Analytical intelligence - the ability to analyze and evaluate ideas, solve problems and make decisions

(2) Creative intelligence - involves going beyond what is given to generate novel and interesting ideas

(3) Practical intelligence - the ability that individuals use to find the best fit between themselves and the demands of the environment.

The three intelligences, or as he also calls them three abilities, comprise what Sternberg calls Successful Intelligence: "the integrated set of abilities needed to attain success in life, however an individuals defines it, within his or her sociocultural context." While society tends to have bought into the idea that innate talent, through such test devices as IQ tests, can predict the success of a person, Gladwell re-examines this piece of wisdom, and argues otherwise. This book will be useful for anyone with a curiosity for success. It gives us a better, more complex, inquiry into what fuels success. And it's not just about brains, you know.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Calling All Librarians - Reference Extract

Calling all librarians. Reference Extract is coming to you all. Envisioned as a web search engine, like Google, Yahoo and MSN. Reference Extracts will be built for maximum credibility by relying on the expertise and credibility judgments of librarians from around the globe. However, unlike other search engines, users enter a search term and get results weighted towards sites most often referred to by librarians at institutions such as the Library of Congress, the University of Washington, the State of Maryland, and over 1,400 libraries worldwide. The Reference Extract project is being developed by the Online Computer Library Center and the information schools of Syracuse University and the University of Washington. With a $100,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Reference Extract strives to build the foundation necessary to implement it as a large-scale, general user service.

My thoughts? It's not unlike similar attempts to outdo Google. Have you heard of Refseek? RefSeek does not claim to offer more results than Google; instead, it strips any results not related to science, research and academia. It’s different from Google Scholar in that it indexes documents that includes web pages, books, encyclopedias, journals, and newspapers. It also has more results from .edu and .org sites as well as various online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia and With Refseek and Reference Extract, are we having much of the same, except in a different shape and size? We'll see...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Secret Life on the McJob

If there is one book you need to read for this Christmas holidays, make it My Secret Life on the McJob. I just couldn't put it down after coming across it up from my local library. My first position out of university was for a big box retail bookstore, and it was tough. (It brings back haunting memories that resonates today). Retail is tough. And professor Jerry Newman of University at Buffalo's State University of New York explains this in pristine detail as he worked undercover in the lowest rung minimum wage labour world of fast food restaurants to reveal insightful, and at times, disturbing practices in retail culture.

In my opinion, My Secret Life on the McJob is a paradigmatic shift in the field work analysis of organizations. Too often Library and Information Science educators are narrowly confined to questionnaires and quantitative analyses and equally narrowly churning out generic, boring, and unusable data about user statistics. Instead of viewing from the top-down, Newman does the exact opposite. Jerry Newman turns a stunted methodology of interviewing and statistical analysis on its head by actually doing a personal sacrifice (physical risk included) through experiencing the problems and flaws of organization behaviour and working as a covert fast food worker. What does he discover? The inefficiencies of retail, fast food, and traditional hierarchical management techniques passed down by the Ford Assembly Line era are not working in our globalized, mobile workforce era.

What Newman forces us to review about our workplace is that people are important. It's about the people. Good ideas come from the front lines. This applies not only to the retail world, but businesses of any kind, and especially libraries.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Are Libraries Knowledge Cafes?

World Cafés are an emerging phenomenon. It's a conversational process based on an innovative yet simple methodology for hosting conversations about questions that matter. These conversations link and build on each other as people move between groups, cross-pollinate ideas, and discover new insights into the questions or issues that are most important in their life, work, or community. As a process, the World Café nurtures the collective intelligence of any group, and in doing so increases people's capacity for effective action in pursuit of common or similar aims.

The World Café refers to a living network of conversations that is continually co-evolving as we explore questions that matter with our family, friends, colleagues, and community. In helping us notice these invisible webs of dialogue and personal relationships that enable us to learn, create shared purpose, and shape life-affirming futures together, the metaphor of the "World as Café" is a growing global community of people, groups, organizations, and networks using World Café principles and processes to harness wisdom of the crowds.

As information professionals and librarians, we need to take notice of such trends and see how it can be applied in our own work spaces. Many knowledge managers today are introducing what they call knowledge commons in which employees can freely (or not) chat among themselves as they commute to and fro during the day. As a result, this space is turned into a knowledge hub where gossip, conversation, and useful ideas normally trapped within the confines of cubicle and office walls are broken free and released into the work place, making for a growth of a healthy work culture and environment.

In a way, this is done everyday in the form of Web 2.0 technologies through social network and instant messaging programs such as Facebook, Twitter, instant messaging, and blogs. Employers, especially knowledge workers, must find a way to integrate this into their working spaces. In my opinion, libraries and information centres need to look towards the knowledge cafes model. Libraries must turn towards becoming information cafes and less as gatekeepers of information.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Web 2.0 Publishing

In Vancouver, there are two publications which have very divergent approaches to not only Asian Canadian issues, but also the use of media and the web. Ricepaper Magazine, established in 1994, as a forum for up and coming Asian writers and artists in Canada, limits its definition of "Asian" to the Pacific Asian Rim ethnic groups Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Focusing mainly on writers of these ethnic origins, Ricepaper depends mainly on the quarterly print publication as its main point of distribution and have a very static website with limited updates.

Contrast that with Schema Magazine. Schema Magazine strives to reflect the most culturally mobile and diverse generation of Canadians, the generation it coins cultural navigators. We showcase their unique sensibilities, interests and their pursuit of ethnic cool. As Schema's focus on the Vancouver Asian Film Festival shows, the focus of "Asian" is broad and widely interpretable. Schema also uses Web 2.0 technologies as its main channel of communication. Not only does it use a content management system for its webpage, it also has a Youtube channel of Schema's interviews.

The two rival Asian Canadian organization offer an insightful examination into the changing landscape of media and publishing. Staff-wise, both are similar - yet, when it comes to coverage and reach of audience, Web 2.0 simply wins out.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Web 3.0 in the Era of Pledging

Are you ready to be tracked, monitored, and followed? Every step of the way? Well, you better get ready. That's what Web 3.0 technology will be about I predict. That's where we're going, and that's where we'll be. But is PledgeBank a Web 3.0 service?

PledgeBank is a service that helps people get things done, especially things that require several people. How does it do this? Heather Cronk argues in Pushing Towards Web 3.0 Organizing Tools that is a Web 3.0 tool. Couldn't be farther from the truth. If it looks like a Web 2.0, smells like Web 2.0, and quacks like Web 2.0 . . . then it's likely Web 2.0. Which is exactly what is. No matter how many ways you analyze it and dissect the features, it's simply an aggregated social networking engine. Perhaps not even that.

PledgeBank allows users to set up pledges and then encourages other people to sign up to them. A pledge is a statement of the form 'I will do something, if a certain number of people will help me do it'. The creator of the pledge then publicises their pledge and encourages people to sign up. Two outcomes are possible – either the pledge fails to get enough subscribers before it expires (in which case, we contact everyone and tell them 'better luck next time'), or, the better possibility, the pledge attracts enough people that they are all sent a message saying 'Well done—now get going!'

That's not Web 3.0. That's simply wishful thinking. Web 3.0 is about third generation web computing. It's about the webtop. It's about digital outreach in its purest form. It's about the ability to have the intelligent web at your hands, having your settings uniquely tailored to you. It's beyond the Web and into our daily lives. Something that PledgeBank simply is not. So . . . back to the drawing board . . .

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Information Architecture for LIS Educators

I remember back in LIS school how a prof had told the class that LIS was no longer 'library' school. We didn't need to think so narrowly about working in physical 'libraries.' I didn't quite believe him, and didn't quite understand what options were available for someone with a LIS degree but wanted to pursue other fields. I ended up in an academic library, but that's because I enjoy the university environment and still get to play with emerging technologies for my position. But what my prof had said is true. A friend of mine is currently working in Japan, as a virtual librarian for a North American-based company. I think it goes to show that the world-is-flat-theory is even more true - wirelessness is enabling the world to communicate and collaborate in ways never imaginable before. This is where information professionals come in. Take a look at the job description below. It's a perfect fit for an LIS grad that has the skills, flexibility, and foresight to go far.

Interactive Information Architect - Carlson Marketing Canada - Toronto

As an Interactive Information Architect (IA), you will be responsible for designing new and enhanced functionality for new and existing Client sites, with an emphasis on usability. The role requires well-demonstrated skills in interaction design, solidly informed by usability principles, user interface design standards, and best practices. To be successful, you must quickly understand current applications and new requirements, be able to derive the IA from documented functional requirements, and collaborate with fellow designers, account managers and programmers. Multiple stakeholders will have input and feedback on design output. Expect work to be highly interactive.


(1) Must communicate clearly and effectively; strong analytical and oral communication skills, able to collaborate actively with cross-functional teams.

(2) Must be organized, independent, and able to switch rapidly between different projects in a fast-paced and exciting environment.

(3) Must be able to develop new approaches to complex design problems and meet aggressive deadlines.
(4) Must have an eye for detail and can put ideas into a tangible form.

(1) Must have experience in E-commerce, custom application development, brand sites and consumer promotional environments (game theory background an asset)
(2) Thorough knowledge of the web site design process: creative brief, user interface design, task modeling, wire frame and user flow diagramming, usability testing, etc. Be prepared to show interim deliverables, rather than final work in the interview process.
(3) Proven skills in information synthesis, conceptual modeling, task modeling, UI design principles, human factors, User Centered Design, interaction design, usability methodologies, industry standards and trends, platform standards, and software development process.
(4) Strong understanding and experience with HTML, Java, JavaScript, Flash, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, Microsoft Visio, Dreamweaver, Axure
(5) Capable of adhering to project schedules and effectively tracking progress to meet challenging deadlines and corporate initiatives.
(7) Ability to work both independently and as part of a team
(8) Proven track record of successful IA deliverables.
(9) Designing for wireless devices a plus

Monday, October 20, 2008

Calling all Librarians and Info Pro's

Calling all those who want to make a difference in this up and coming new Web. Now's your chance to say what you need to say. I don't usually make announcements, but this is one worth the call.
Semantic Technology Conference 2009 Logo

"SemTech 2009:

June 14-18, 2009
Fairmont Hotel, San Jose, California


Start the Submission Process...

Interested practitioners, developers and researchers are hereby invited to present a paper at the fifth annual conference focused on the application of Semantic Technologies to Information Systems and the Web. The event will be held on June 14-18, 2009 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, California.

The conference will comprise multiple educational sessions, including tutorials, technical topics, business topics, and case studies. We are particularly seeking presentations on currently implemented applications of semantic technology in both the enterprise and internet environments.

A number of appropriate topic areas are identified below. Speakers are invited to offer additional topic areas related to the subject of Semantic Technology if they see fit.

The conference is designed to maximize cross-fertilization between those who are building semantically-based products and those who are implementing them. Therefore, we will consider research and/or academic treatments, vendor and/or analyst reports on the state of the commercial marketplace, and case study presentations from developers and corporate users. For some topics we will include introductory tutorials.

The conference is produced by Semantic Universe, a joint venture of Wilshire Conferences, Inc. and Semantic Arts, Inc.


The 2008 conference drew over 1000 attendees. We expect to increase that attendance in 2009. The attendees, most of whom were senior and mid-level managers, came from a wide range of industries and disciplines. About half were new to Semantics and we expect that ratio to be the same this year. When you respond, indicate whether your presentation is appropriate for those new to the field, only to experienced practitioners, and whether it is more technical or business-focused (we're looking for a mix).

Tracks (Topic Areas)

The conference program will include 60-minute, six-hour, and three-hour presentations on the following topics:

Business and Marketplace
Industry trends, market outlook, business and investment opportunities.

Collaboration and Social Networks
Leveraging Web 2.0 in semantic systems. FOAF, Semantically-Interlinked Online Communities (SIOC), wikis, tagging, folksonomies, data portability.

Data Integration and Mashups
;Web-scale data integration, semantic mashups, disparate data access, scalability, database requirements, Linked Data, data transformations, XML.

Developing Semantic Applications
Experienced reports or prototypes of specific applications that demonstrate automated semantic inference. Frameworks, platforms, and tools used could include: Wikis, Jena, Redland, JADE, NetKernal, OWL API, RDF, GRDDL, Ruby On Rails, AJAX, JSON, Microformats, Process Specification Language (PSL), Atom, Yahoo! Pipes, Freebase, Powerset, and Twine.

Foundational Topics
This will include the basics of Semantic Technology for the beginner and/or business user including knowledge representation, open world reasoning, logical theory, inference engines, formal semantics, ontologies, taxonomies, folksonomies, vocabularies, assertions, triples, description logic, semantic models.

Knowledge Engineering and Management
Knowledge management concepts, knowledge acquisition, organization and use, building knowledge apps, artificial intelligence.

Ontologies and Ontology Concepts
Ontology definitions, reasoning, upper ontologies, formal ontologies, ontology standards, linking and reuse of ontologies, and ontology design principles.

Semantic Case Studies and Web 3.0
Report on applications that use explicit semantic information to change their appearance or behavior, aka "dynamic apps". Web 3.0 applications. Consumer apps, business apps, research apps.

Semantic Integration
Includes semantic enhancement of Web services, standards such as OWL/S, WSDL/S, WSMO and USDL, semantic brokers.

Semantic Query
Advances in semantically-based federated query, query languages such as SWRL, SPARQL, query performance, faceted query, triple stores, scalability issues.

Semantic Rules
Business Rules, logic programming, production rules, Prolog-like systems, use of Horn rules, inference rules, RuleML, Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Business Rules(SBVR).

Semantic Search
Different approaches to semantic search in the enterprise and on the web, successful application examples, tools (such as Sesame), performance and relevance/accuracy measures, natural language search, faceted search, visualization.

Semantic SOA (Service Oriented Architectures)
Semantic requirements within SOA, message models and design, canonical model development, defining service contracts, shared business services, discovery processes.

Semantic Web
OWL/RDF and Semantic Web rule and query languages such as SWRL, SPARQL and the like. Includes linked data. Also progress of policy and trust.

Semantics for Enterprise Information Management (EIM)
Where and how semantic technology can be used in Enterprise Information Management. Applications such as governance, data quality, decision automation, reporting, publishing, search, enterprise ontologies.

Business Ontologies
Design and deployment methods, best practices, industry-specific ontologies, case studies, ontology-based application development, ontology design tools, ontology-based integration.

Design and development approaches, tools, underlying disciplines for practitioners, vocabularies, taxonomy representation, taxonomy integration, relationship to ontologies.

Unstructured Information
This will include entity extraction, Natural Language Processing, social tagging, content aggregation, knowledge extraction, metadata acquisition, text analytics, content and document management, multi-language processing, GRDDL.

You are welcome to suggest other topic areas.

Key Dates & Speaker Deadlines

Proposal Submissions Due
All proposals must be submitted via the online Call for Papers process HERE.
November 24, 2008
Speakers notified of selection December 16, 2008
Speaker PowerPoint files due May 18, 2009

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hakia and the Semantic Search

Good for you, Hakia. Don't try to beat Google at its own game. Make your own rules instead. Collaborate with librarians.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Talis' Integration

Talis is an innovator of information technologies for libraries. Richard Wallis, of Panlibus and a contributor to Nodalities' podcasts, explains how Talis can easily integrate its APIs into applications.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Financial Crisis 2.0

I am re-reading Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat. With the recent financial crisis, this is almost an appropriate time to examine the world's political and economic infrastructure. Forfuitously, Yihong Ding has written an interesting entry on the financial crisis' effect on China and the United States. Ding, who is not only a computer scientist, but also philosopher, historian, and political commentator - offers a unique blend of intellectualism and insight in arguing that the crisis in the markets will actually benefit the US while hurting the Chinese economy. As someone who is deeply interested in Chinese history, I am intrigued by Ding's insight, particularly in regards to how the financial crisis is interconnected with Web 2.0 and technology. He points out that:

By studying the dot-com bubble, researchers have found that the optical network built during the hype period had become the foundation of the following economic boom at the Web industry, namely the Web 2.0 hype. Without the investment of these optical networks and without the bankrupt of the original optical network investors, we were not able to obtain the cheap price of network usage which is an essential reason behind the Web 2.0 hype. By this mean, it was the IT crisis that constructed the foundation of the new Web-based industry. . .

. . . In comparison we may watch China. The future is, however, not optimistic at all because of this financial crisis. The deep drop of the stock market will greatly hurt the industrial innovation. Moreover, western investors are going to invade China on its debt market and real estate market to cause severe economic inflation in China. As we have discussed, the high price of real estate in China will hurt the formation of Chinese Web-based small businesses. As the result, the technological distance between USA and China will not decrease but increase. As a Chinese myself, I am quite sad on this prediction of the future. However, be honest I would say that it is the future most likely to happen.

Friedman's thesis is a stark contrast to Ding and Chinese economist Junluo Liu's contention. According to the Flat World premise, developing countries such as India and China are quickly catching up to the US due to their increasingly educated and dedicated workforce. Entrepreneurs, particularly in wireless telecommunications industries, no longer require real estate. Everything can be done remotely in era Globalization 3.0. Indian entrepreneurs are very happy to stay in Bombay as America supplies them with outsourced work. True, nothing can replace land; but then again, nothing can replace a talent and creativity.

China had fallen behind due to ten years of a disastrous Cultural Revolution, and trampled by a century of civil war and foreign invasion. But the past is behind us. With a workforce that continues to grow not only in talent, but also in fierce nationalism, can they overcome this upcoming crisis?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Project10X is a Washington, DC based research consultancy specializing in next wave semantic technologies, solutions, and business models. The firm’s clients include technology manufacturers, global 2000 corporations, government agencies, and web 3.0 start-ups. The semantic wave embraces four stages of internet growth. The first stage, Web 1.0, was about connecting information and getting on the net. Web 2.0 is about connecting people — putting the “I” in user interface, and the “we” into a web of social participation. The next stage, web 3.0, is starting now. It is about representing meanings, connecting knowledge, and putting them to work in ways that make our experience of internet more relevant, useful, and enjoyable. Web 4.0 will come later. It is about connecting intelligences in a ubiquitous web where both people and things can reason and communicate together.

Over the next decade the semantic wave will spawn multi-billion dollar technology markets that drive trillion dollar global economic expansions to transform industries as well as our experience of the internet. Drivers and market forces for adoption of semantic technologies in web 3.0 are building. Project 10X has come out with a Semantic Wave 2008: Industry Roadmap to Web 3.0 Executive Summary. It's worth a read.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Hakia Question

Calling all librarians. The Semantic Web is looking for you. Everyone on board! Right? Well, maybe. My colleague The Google Scholar, has mixed feelings about Hakia's call out for free service from librarians and information professionals. And he has a right, too. Hakia's is suspiciously similar to Google's asking librarians to help Google Co-op -- and not surprisingly, it failed miserably.

But at the same time, I see it as an opportunity for librarians to make a case for their expertise in information retrieval. We can keep quiet and let others do the work for us; but that only leads to further marginalization. And we'll be left out again, which we did with Web 2.0.

What we librarians should do is not only learn about the SemWeb and come up with solutions, but to offer our knowledge and recommendations, as librarians do in their every day work. If search engine companies are intelligent enough to realize the importance that librarians offer in the search and information retrieval, they'll realize librarians are partners in this race to the SemWeb. Librarians must step up to the plate, it's an opportunity -- and not one to take lightly either. Here is what Hakia has issued:

Yesterday we issued an open call to librarians and information professionals for credible Website submissions at the WebSearch University in Washington D.C. We are glad to report that the immediate feedback is overwhelmingly positive.

Currently, hakia is generating credibility-stamped results for health and medical searches to guide users towards credible Web content. These results come from credible Websites vetted by the Medical Library Association. For an example of a credibility-stamped result, search for What causes heart disease? and mouse over the top search results. We are now aiming to expand our coverage to all topics.

Librarians and information professionals can now suggest URLs of credible Websites on a given topic by joining the hClub. Our credibility site definition is transparent and fulfills most of the following criteria:

Peer review. The publisher of the site must have a peer review process or strict editorial controls to ensure the accuracy, dependability and merit of the published information. Most government institutions, academic journals, and news channels have such review mechanisms in place.
No commercial bias. The publisher of the site shall have no commercial intent or bias. For example, for travel related recommendations consider U.S. Department of State travel portal and not Travelocity.
Currency. The information on the site should be current and links should be working.
Source authenticity. The publisher (preferably) should be the owner/producer of the content.

Upon submission, hakia will process the suggested sites with QDEX (Query Detection and Extraction) technology and make them available to Web searchers in credibility-stamped search results. Each month we will give away thank-you prizes, ranging from a book donation to two conference grants, to participants. To learn more or suggest credible Web sites, please visit

We are looking forward to hear your feedback! This is just the beginning of a long journey.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Future of the Semantic Web . . . Is Here?

The future of the Web is here. Based in Los Angeles, Cognition Technologies has developed innovative Semantic Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology which adds word and phrase meaning and "understanding" to computer applications, enabling them to be more human-like in their processing of information. Applications and technologies which utilize Cognition's Semantic NLP(TM) technology are positioned to take full advantage of Web 3.0 (the Semantic Web).

Market Watch has released an interesting article with Cognition Creates World's Largest Semantic Map of the English Language With More Than 10 Million Semantic Connections discussing Cognition Technologies' releasing of the largest commercially available Semantic Map of the English language. The scope of Cognition's Semantic Map is more than double the size of any other computational linguistic dictionary for English, and includes over 10 million semantic connections that are comprised of semantic contexts, meaning representations, taxonomy and word meaning distinctions. Technologies incorporating Cognition's Semantic Map will be able to provide users with more accurate and complete Search capabilities, the ability to personalize and filter content, and improve the user experience by significantly reducing the amount of irrelevant information presented. Cognition Technologies' lexical resources encode a wealth of semantic, morphological and syntactic information about the words contained within documents and their relationships to each other. These resources were created, codified and reviewed by lexicographers and linguists over a span of 24 years.

Cognition's Semantic Map provides software applications with an "understanding" of more than four million semantic contexts (word meanings that create contexts for specific meanings of other related words). It encompasses over 536,000 word senses (word and phrase meanings); 75,000 concept classes (or synonym classes of word meanings); 7,500 nodes in the technology's ontology or classification scheme; and 506,000 word stems (roots of words) for the English language. This enables applications to have a more accurate and relevant understanding of content and user interaction, and can be deployed in a wide variety of markets, including Search, Web-based advertising and machine translation augmentation, to name just a few.

Cognition's comprehensive Semantic Map is a critical component for the next phase of the Web's evolution, a.k.a. the Semantic Web, or Web 3.0 because it gives the computer a depth of knowledge and understanding of language far beyond the current keyword and pattern-matching technologies in place. As Nova Spivak has said, the future of information gathering will involve a combination of the Web and desktop, or 'Webtop' content. Our Semantic Map will enable these technologies to be more efficient and effective intermediaries in the process through such applications as Semantic Search, sentiment extraction and business analytics. I'm excited. Are you? I just wish somebody tried to discern Web 3.0 and Semantic Web though. . .

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Web 2.0 and 'Live' Videos

We've heard of real-time video, but this is really taking it to another level. Yahoo Live! might just be onto something here. In many ways, it combines all the elements of Web 2.0 PLUS being live. Think about it - you get to social network with friends (or at least users you permit to see you), you customize your own content, and it's dynamic with its imbedding and mashup capabilities with API coding. Watch New York City from sunrise to sunset -- 24/7.

Y! Live is a community of broadcasters. It’s a place to socialize around live video content through broadcasting, viewing, and embedding. These guidelines are a structure for maintaining the creative environment and positive community vibe of Y! Live.

Let's put aside the privacy issues for a moment. And think of all the marketing possibilities this offers. It's like . . . Facebook with real faces :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Minding the Planet

One of my favourite thinkers of the Web - Nova Spivaks, is a moderator of this panel of visionaries and experts and their ideas of the evolution of the Web.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cultural Diversity in a world of Web 2.0

We often forget that the Web is a multilingual, enriched with the different yet unique multilingual flavours of different nationalities and ethnicities all streamlined under the guise of a common language. But that is simply not the case. We mustn't forget that behind the layers of technology and programming are people: real human beings who navigate the web behind their own cultural lenses and perceptions. Patrick Chau's "Cultural Differences in Diffusion, Adoption, and Infusion" of Web 2.0 is certainly worth a read.

While most cross-cultural studies in information systems studies are based on Hofstede's cultural dimensions, not much -- if any -- has been inquired into the state of Web 2.0. This is particularly ironic considering Web 2.0 is pegged to be a "social web." How can that be? Chau delves into these issues and re-examines Hofstede's five dimensions between cultures that are individualistic (Western) and cultures that are collectivist (Eastern). It's certainly food for fodder for those of us mired in the enthusiasm of Web 2.0 and Semantic Web. While a great deal has been written about social networks geographically, not enough emphasis has been put on how transnational flows of people as global citizens vary in terms of their use of Web 2.0 technologies. Can they be measured? If so, how?

(1) Personality orientation - Idiocentric or allocentric?

(2) Self contstrual - Independent or interdependent?

(3) Communication style - Low-context communication or high context communication?

(4) Time orientation - monochrome or polychromic?

(5) Cultural Framework - Long-term orientation vs. short-term orientation

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Portal Consultant, Anyone?

Every now and then, I look back upon my career, and reflect on how how the profession has changed, and what direction it will lead in the future. Am I going in this same direction? What is an "information professional?" What is a librarian? Clearly, the lines have blurred with the so-called traditional lines of our work. Take for example Accenture, a global management and technology consulting firm. It is a huge company, with branches in key places all over the world. As such, it requires a very streamlined, efficient, and networked content management system. It's also hiring. On the surface, this job posting seems appropriate for applicants with a business background. But is it really?

Information professionals have grown out of just the confines of OPACS and databases. Librarians and information professionals manage content management systems, develop web portals, and are the information architects of web projects. Many are leaders of Web 2.0 innovation and some are even dabbling in the next version of the Web. A great many more are adept with computer programming languages, XML, AJAX, Perl, PHP, etc. But there appears to be a disjunct. Why aren't information professionals and librarians moving into these positions? There is a market to be met; it's a matter of time. We should take advantage. Sooner or later, someone's going to notice. And they won't be disappointed at all.


Portals Consultant, Vancouver BC-00056637


If you join Accenture you can make great ideas happen for some of the world's most dynamic companies. With broad global resources and deep technical know-how, we collaborate with clients to cultivate ideas and deliver results. Choose a career at Accenture and enjoy an innovative environment where challenging and interesting work is part of daily life.

Accenture's Consulting workforce is involved in business consulting, process design work and the application of technologies to business. A career in Consulting is varied and stimulating because each project presents a new challenge and will give you exposure to new clients, business issues, technologies and people. We need people who are able to challenge conventional thought, offer unique perspectives and conceive more innovative solutions for our clients.

Working as a consultant with Accenture, you will build core business, technology and industry expertise helping to deliver world-class business and technology solutions that enable clients to become high performance businesses. Consultants must be professionals who have an interest in how business processes work and interact. In addition, consultants need to apply their skills in project and program management while exhibiting leadership in process re-engineering and implementation of process, technology, and organizational change. Finally, consultants also need to have a working knowledge of the industry and/or the functional areas they serve.

The Consulting workforce is made up of three groups: Management Consulting, Systems Integration Consulting and Technology Consulting. This consulting group structure provides outstanding opportunities to develop highly specialized skills that will help you advance your career.

Job Description

Systems Integration Consulting professionals are responsible for delivering large-scale, complex programs that marry processes with technology to help our clients achieve high performance.

Information Management professionals define, develop and deliver solutions that enable the collection, management and processing of information from one or more sources and delivery of information to audiences who have a stake in or right to that information.

Portals professionals design, develop and deliver solutions, typically Web based, that enable a company's employees, customers and/or business partners to search for and retrieve relevant corporate information from across various systems and databases.

Key responsibilities may include:
• Supervising process and functional design activities
• Creating functional requirements as an input to application design
• Developing and testing detailed functional designs for business solution components and prototypes
• Supervising application build, test, and deploy activities
• Planning and executing data conversion activities (e.g., test data)
• Driving test planning and execution


• Experience in Enterprise Portal - General, Portlets, Portal Installation and Configuration, Portal Development, Portal Scaling and Loading, Enterprise Intranet, Information Architecture / Site Taxonomy, BEA-WebLogic Portal, AquaLogic-User Interaction, Computer Associates-Cleverpath Portal, IBM-WebSphere-Process Server, Microsoft-SharePoint-Portal Server, Oracle-Portal, SAP-NetWeaver-Enterprise Portal, Sun Microsystems Java System Portal Server, Vignette-Application Portal, Adobe-Intelligent Document Platform, Day Software-Communique, EMC-Documentum-Web Publisher Portlet Builder, EMC-Documentum-Web Publisher Portlets, Open Text-Livelink Portal Integration Toolkit, Percussion-Rhytmyx Express Portal, IBM-FileNet-Portal Integration & Connectors, Oracle-WebCenter, Microsoft-Office SharePoint Server

• Ability to travel 100% of the time
• University level education is required

Professional Skill Requirements

• Proven success in contributing to a team-oriented environment
• Proven ability to work creatively and analytically in a problem-solving environment
• Desire to work in an information systems environment
• Excellent leadership, communication (written and oral) and interpersonal skills

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With deep industry and business process expertise, broad global resources and a proven track record, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills and technologies to help clients improve their performance. With approximately 170,000 people in 49 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$19.70 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2007. Its home page is .
We are committed to employment equity. We encourage all people, including women, visible minorities, persons with disabilities and persons of aboriginal descent to apply.


Systems Integration

Primary Location

Canada-British Columbia - Vancouver

Other Locations

Canada-Quebec - Montreal, Canada-Ontario - Toronto





Sunday, September 14, 2008

Four Ways to Handle the Third World Digital Disorder

A while back ago, I wrote a small review about Everything is Miscellaneous. It's not quite finished yet. Weinberger's such an enigmatic writer -- he's got a lot to say -- and so have I! I quite like his four viewpoints of this new disorder, which in many ways, is due to the information anarchy that is partly caused by Web 2.0. As an information professional, I find it highly engaging and thought-provoking:

(1) Filter on the Way out, Not the Way In - There's a lot of stuff on the Web which would never have made it in the physical realm (think New York Times). But that's okay. In the Web 2.0 universe, everything and everyone has a niche.

(2) Puch Each Leaf On as Many Branches As Possible - Think tagging. Unlike the HTML-world, it's an advantage to hang information from as many branches as possible in the Web 2.0 world. Think Craigslist.

(3) Everything is Metadata and Everything Has a Label - It's true. On Google, "To be or not to be" (in quotations, of course), is in fact a great piece of metadata. Type that and press enter, and you'll get Hamlet.

(4) Give Up Control - There's no point of trying to control it, just go with the flow. Information may not be easily findable, but at least it's easily searching. The finding part comes next.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Web 2.0 + Semantic Web = Web 3.0

Finally, the latest issue of Talis' Nodalities it out. One of the brightest minds of the SemWeb industry, Alex Iskold has written an article, Semantic Search: Myth and Reality, which is really worth the wait and the read. He argues that the SemWeb shouldn't about competing with Google since its algorithm has so successfully ruled the web for over a decade. Why fix something that's not broken?

Try typing in the query: "What is the capital of China?" And Google automatically spits out the answer. But when you need it to answer a question such as "What is the best vacation for me now?" and the answers that a search engine provides might not be so clear afterall; in fact, probably impossible. That is where the SemWeb comes in.

In analyzing SemWeb search engines such as Search Monkey, Freebase, Powerset, and Hakia, Iskold proposes that the SemWeb should be about solving problems that can't be solved by Google today. In fact, the search box must go, in order for the SemWeb to work.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Quantum Computer Reviewed

Back in the 80's, quantum computing was viewed as something of a futuristic scenario, something out of a sci-fi flick like Minority Report. However, in 1994, interest ameliorated immediately after Peter Shor, then at Bell Laboratories (now at MIT), published his famous quantum factoring algorithm capable of undermining widely used cryptosystems that relied on the difficulty of factoring large numbers.

Currently, there are physicists, computer sciencists, and engineers in more than 100 groups in universities, institutes, and companies around the world are exploring the frontiers of quantum information, encompassing quantum computing, as well as recently commercialized quantum cryptography and quantum teleportation communication techniques.

Ross and Oskin's Quantum Computing is definitely worth a read. Exponentially scalable computing power that could solve problems beyond the capabilities of conventional computers. The key is exploiting the superposition of quantum-entangled information units, or qubits. But the research challenges are daunting: How to create and reliably compute with the qubits, which require the seemingly mutually exclusive conditions of exquisite classical control while being isolated from any external influences that could destroy the entanglement.

What does this mean for information professionals? A lot. With Web 3.0 around the corner, information processing at high levels will be necessary. It's still cloudy as to how it will all look like. But with quantum computing, we're on the right track.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Third Digital (Dis)order

Just finished reading David Weinberger's Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder. A terrific ideas-driven text, which proposes the idea that we have to relinquish the notion that there is one of way organization information hierarchies. From the Dewey Decimal System to the way we organize our CD collections, Weinberger critiques and takes a shot at everything along the way. But he does make an exellent argument: in the digital world the laws of physics no longer apply. Just take a look at your computer files, and you realize you can organize your music by any number of criteria -- artist, genre, song name, length, or price -- you name it, you've got it. Because the Web is a hyperlinked web of information that grows organically, it's really a mess out there. And Web 2.0 doesn't help at all with the glut that has emerged.

Weinberger proposes that in this new digital world, there are three planes to disorder:

(1) Physical Disorder - The natural state of disorder, when things are left as they are, disorder inevitably arises.

(2) Metadata Disorder - Because of this disorder -- lists, classification systems, hierarchies, taxonomies, ontologies, catalogues, ledgers, anything -- that brings order to the physical realm

(3) Digital Disorder - In the digital world, it makes bringing order that much more difficult, yet also that much more interesting and convenient. There are more ways than one to bring order to the chaos. Just look at Wikipedia.