Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Facebook applications

There is much talk in the blogosphere about third party facebook applications. In the strategic perspective it has already been analyzed in much detail - here I'd like to post just two obserwations.

  1. The applications seem to be not integrated with the underlying platform at all. I have not yet tried myself to write anything there - so I don't know how much it is the fault of the programmer and how much it is the platform itself, but when an application asks me to create a new user id and password for it then it is kind of missing the whole point (this was one of the instant messaging apps).

  2. The model where at the registration of the new application you invite your frieds is faulty. At that time I don't know what is the utility of the application, I have no information to deduce who of my friends would like it and who would not. Please Facebook change that.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The web is more meta and meta

Today I've
googled for "database table name plural singular"
and what I see as the first result?

Yes - the first result was 'Googled "database table name singular plural", I find this issue has been discussed many times. I feel the only compromise of plural school, ...'.

Unfortunately I cannot find that phrase on the linked page.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Wikis and fora - other ideas

I am really fan of the idea of integrating wikis and fora. Fora are good for conversations - wikis are good for storing knowledge. For a good theory building system you need both. The question, of course, is how they should be integrated. It is not easy. Ideas start with conversations - then they can crystallize to some semi stable state - but it never ends there - the crystallized ideas produce more discussions and eventually can be completely changed. There are users who addictive follow the whole process - and those who come at some later stage, the former have the whole history of the conversation in their head, the letter need some introduction that would inform them about the summary facts without reading the whole history. There are also occasions where you would like to refer to the exact words of someone for political reasons.
It's all very complex - and I guess we shall never have some ideal solution that will work for all purposes - but I believe we should experiment with different settings.

The integration solutions that I've seen thus far are mostly about adding some forum functionality to wikis: a discussion page paired to a 'main' page (on wikipedia), a 'attach to page' method that adds a comment to the wiki page with some special visual style that makes it different from the other content. But there can be many more ways of doing that integration. In particular I see many ways of doing it the other way around - by adding wiki functionality to forum sites and letting it's users:
  • edit the list of subjects just like they would edit a wiki page
  • 'overwrite' a part of the conversation with a summary that would be a wiki page, editable by all the participants in the overwritten part of the conversation with the expectation that it will contain a consensus between them on what was written, the overwritten text could be available behind a link
  • edit some small 'pagelets', or menus used for navigation (with more and more screen realestate we can add more of them)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Niagara 2 - the first Open Source main stream processor?

This sounds like news:
the blueprints for our UltraSPARC T2 (I personally like the moniker, "Niagara 2" - named after Niagara Falls, btw, and the great volumes of water that pass over them), the core design files and test suites, will be available to the open source community, via its most popular license: the GPL. Making Niagara 2 the only commodity silicon whose core designs are available to the open source community - whose strength, and market power, only grows by the day.
Jonathan Schwartz in his blog

I wander how will it be vexed by the Free Software community.

And by the way - will this amount of parallelism help Hurd.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Return of Fora?

The most interesting presentation at the yesterdays London Wiki Wednesday was a talk by Alan Wood and it was not about a wiki - but something more like an interenet forum (or biulettin board system or ... whatever).

I was always of the opinion that there is much unrealized potential in this old software genre.
It is message based - like email or RSS - so in fact it fits better the conversational nature of most communication then document based wikis. But it is also centralized - and that means you can do many things you cannot with a decentralized system (like version control of attachments, uniform visualisation of the conversations - i.e. less need for quoting, moderation, statistics etc.). All the talk now is about Social Networking Sites - but in fact the networking part is so insignificant in all of them - and most of the interaction that happens there is exactly the same as you had on internet fora and BBSes.