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.