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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Multiculturalism 2.0

Alden Habacon is an up and coming leader in Canada, perhaps globally as well. He offers a refreshing look at the multicultural mosaic that is Vancouver, B.C. His article is an exceptional piece - a seminal work in fact. Habacon is the Manager of Diversity Initiatives for the English Television Network of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). In many ways, he helps set the cultural agenda of Canada, as he designs and manages the implementation of initiatives that support CBC's commitment to accurately reflect Canada's diversity – both on-the-air and behind the scenes.

In coining the term, "Multiculturalism 2.0," Habacon argues that Web 2.0 has changed the way multicultural citizens perceive, interact, and communicate. There are two particular thought-provoking concepts worth elaborating:

(1) Social Networking - There are a number of reasons why technology exerts a greater influence than demographics. Technological change is moving at a rate much faster than demographics; advances in technology are being driven by industry and commerce. Facebook has become the staple of everyone’s discussion. For the first time in the Internet’s history, something other than pornography is driving the Web—namely, social networking.

(2) Schema Model - The “schema” model of multiculturalism is based on the Internet. Imagine each one of the websites you use on a daily basis as an online space you occupy. Using this, you could draw a map (or schema) of the spaces you navigate through and essentially create a snapshot of your online identity—which, like your cultural identity, is fluid and is not limited to “websites about websites.” The Schema model includes all forms of culture: work cultures, music sub-cultures, academic cultures, virtual on-line cultures, media consumption cultures, and the most commonly shared Canadian cultural space: sports.
The most Internet-savvy new immigrants who arrive in Canada have better survival skills and have done more real research before they arrive. Many already have friends they have met online, and have found a place to stay on Craigslist. They may even have found a job before landing in Canada. The new immigrant of 2017 will be more savvy, more virtually mobile, and more connected as industry-driven advances in communication and media technology continue to rocket forward.

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.