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A place where stories, thoughts and ideas come together

Updated: 2012-04-13T00:42:33.180+02:00


Coniecto has moved


Coniecto got a new home. I postponed telling you, because the new home wasn't quite ready. But with the limited amount of time I have right now, it won't look neater anytime soon...

All the old posts (and the pile of drafts!) have been copied there, but I still have to find a solution for importing the comments (I was with Haloscan and it looks like the only way to export them is to get a paid account now that I want to leave them!)

Stop by and say hello if you haven't heard from me in a while (and you were missing my random rants) - here's the new address:

Going to Podcamp Kilkenny


Well, the Podcamp was in my calendar for the last two months, but until 3 days ago, I wasn't sure I can go. It was a tough week (and a tough month!), and I wouldn't have dared to go by bus or take the train up to Dublin and then to Kilkenny!

I had promised Sabrina Marczak (a Brazilian doing a PhD at the SEGAL group in Canada), who's visiting our research group, to facilitate a few discussions with people in the Irish software industry involved in outsourcing. I have done my best, but we didn't get many responses.

I intended to take her to an OpenCoffee in Cork, but this didn't work out. She visited Cork last week, attending the Irish HCI conference in my place, while I was stuck at home, with an injured back and hip (don't ask how it happened, because it was really stupid!)

(image) But we're coming to Kilkenny tomorrow, so who knows?! Maybe we'll have a bit of luck!

If, by any chance, you have ever been in a software outsourcing/offshoring relationship (either at the receiving or at the sending end) and you happen to be at Podcamp this Saturday, please come and say hello!

We're getting a lift with Marian, and I'm really excited to get the chance to talk to her on the way!

My passage to India


No, I didn't disappear from the face of the Earth. I just keep writing drafts here and never manage to publish them...

I am in India - another one of my childhood dreams coming true. An Indian colleague, consulted because I was very anxious before my departure, said he doesn't think I'll encounter any life threatening circumstances. His feeling was that I'll probably be disappointed. And in a way he was right...

Things here are very different. This is not David Lean's India. Neither is Mircea Eliade's.
It's a weird mixture of aggressive capitalism and thousands of years of culture. And I need time to get accustomed to it! Maybe one day I'll love it. But for the moment, I'm just overwhelmed.

I spent a week at Wipro in Bangalore. It was a great experience and I hope to blog about it this week!

Now I'm in Kerala, taking an ayurvedic massage course. I should be in the seventh heaven... only if I could be less critical!

I'm in an Internet cafe right now - I had to change a password that was expiring and I checked every Internet cafe in town if they would let me connect my laptop. Everybody else said: "impossible", until I found this nice guy at Rabby Towers. Wi fi seems not to have reached this land yet - they were looking at me as if I'd have been from another planet .

(image) Image by Ankur Banerjee via Flickr Talking about other planets- I found in a bookshop Douglas Adams' Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy and I'm reading it now!
The hotel does have Internet access - but it's an old PC in a tiny room next to the kitchen, and shared with the staff and every other hotel guest!

Going back to my hotel now, more later, world!

The culture shock


I arrived in Bangalore on Sunday morning at 5am. The airport looked impressive - it was just opened in April this year. On the way to the city, the first shock: shacks, rubbish, people selling food next to the motorway... And the red mud everywhere...The second shock was my carefully picked up hotel. In my naivety, I had picked up a hotel close to the company I was going to visit. I was going to visit Wipro in Madivala, so all I had to do was to find a hotel in Madivala and check the map. I wanted to walk there every day. I didn't want to depend on any means of transportation. This is how I found The Libra. Don't let the banner fool you: the pictures must be taken in some rich cousin's hotel in the UK. The place is not what we would call a hotel. Minimal furniture, windows overlooking piles of rubbish and construction sites, shower dripping continuously... After a first attempt to eat breakfast, I gave up and did my own shopping. There was a sheet on my matress and then an old blanket without an extra sheet. I asked for an extra sheet but couldn't get one. I spent the first night covered with the towel I had brought with me. It was warm, but not comfortable enough. This is a picture of an executive roam just like mine. Doesn't look too bad here, but it was actually not very welcoming. The rooms were under continuous camera surveillance, and I felt uncomfortable to know someone was watching me day and night.On Sunday, I took a motorickshaw into town. I enjoyed the experience, although a sudden rain drenched my whole left side. It was less than one euro, but when I tried to ask the driver how to get back - or what was the name of the place where he had picked me up, I couldn't get any answer. I stopped at the Mota Royal Arcade on Brigade Road, and I would have bought the whole place if it wasn't the very first day! I tried to get an Indian SIM card, and I found out I needed a picture and a proof of address in India in order to get one. It was Sunday, so I couldn't get my photo taken. But I had dinner in a fabulous restaurant: Just Oriental. The staff was so nice that I felt spoiled. I remember I had stuffed aubergines and they were fabulous. Nice music, nice ambiance, fantastic food and service! I went to the famous MG road and looked at book shops (almost the same books as home!), tried to buy shoes - well, for women it's basically leather made flip-flops and nothing else!) and entered an old and luxurious saree shop, where I felt a bit like an elephant in a garden: whole families were seated, having tea and discussing the options with shop assistants, who were showing there more and more fabrics.The rickshaw back was 5 times more expensive, but I was glad to see myself back safe. It got dark around 7pm, and I was very tired.My contact at Wipro sent me a car to pick me up on Monday morning, and I accepted, but told him I intended to walk once I knew were the place was. The driver arrived half an hour earlier, and I asked him to wait, because I didn't want to get there too early. He drove me through a city market and I was amazed seeing people camping there next to their merchandise. The traffic was absolutely insane, and on several occasions I feared for the lives of women and children travelling on motorcycles driven by men.It took me a good while until I got accustomed to the hunking horns - in the beginning, I was continuously terrified. After the first trip, I couldn't imagine walking there anymore, and I accepted Shiva, my driver, as guardian angel! Anyhow, my work took me to different locations, so managing without a car would have been impossible. The car trip took an hour most of the time...Another shocking thing was the fly-over getting build in the middle of the current 3 lane road, in order to separate the car traffic from buses and motorcycles. I would have never thought of such a solution!I got a Vodaphone SIM card on the second evening, not without struggle. My hotel proof of address was considered dubious. But taking into a[...]

On my way to ICSE


One more hour to spend in Dublin airport before my flight to Germany. I'm going to ICSE, the most important conference for the field of software engineering. I'll attend two workshops:
- STC - Socio-Technical Congruence - on Saturday, and
- CHASE - Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering - on Tuesday.

I'll also present our work at CHASE, and I'm pretty excited by the format suggested by the organisers, which will give us the chance to interact with the other participants. It looks like this workshop attracted 60 participants and it's one of the biggest this year.

The main conference will happen from Wednesday until Friday.
I'm looking forward to the event and excited to visit the place where my favourite baroque composer has spent a good part of his life!

Saturday in Dublin


Because most of my trips to Dublin were for work purposes, my brain stored a Dublin=work association I'm trying to get rid of. I like Dublin a lot and I'm planning to go there more often from now on.
(image) (image)

I discovered a different Dublin - empty streets and closed shops - because it was too early! I had breakfast in an Insomnia Cafe (Starbucks wasn't open yet), trying to think of the press release for 3Dcamp. I had my first walk through Stephen's Green on a sunny but fresh morning (all the other times I passed by it!), and I was deeply charmed.


I went to Deepak Chopra's talk at the NCH. I had read a lot of his books and I thought it was a great opportunity to see the man and listen to him speaking. No, for those who asked - I did not reach enlightenment on the spot, but it was a good motivational talk and the boost I needed.

He's a good speaker and unlike other people, pays respect to his audience. I was a bit annoyed by the over california-nized meditation music, but Utsav Lal, the young Indian pianist who played before the talk and during the interval, was fantastic.

I met a friend for lunch, and then I had a look at the iPhone in an O2 store - read a lot about it, but never touched one. Discovered there were 7 degrees in Dublin and 25 in Bucharest! This is not fair!


Impressions after the Social Networks discussion panel at UL


I believe we did reasonably well: according to Bernie Goldbach, we had approximately 50 participants in the Library Board Roomon Friday afternoon.There were interesting reactions to my invitation sent to the Events mailing list at the university: material for fighting students' Facebook addiction, invitations to similar events, requests to record the discussion so that it could serve as inspiration for other social networking evangelists, and apologies from people who would have loved, but couldn't be present.Nothing worked according to the plan: but I guess this was the beauty of it!Evert Bopp was in the audience and beside making meaningful contributions to the discussion, he qiked(aka recorded and broadcasted) the whole event.We had a round of introductions where we tried to explain what was the connection between Bernie, James and myself: how I discovered the Limerick OpenCoffee looking for information about the Collison brothers, how Bernie discovered me through the Jaiku channel I was using with my students, and how Bernie and James were connected through the use of TypePad.Bernie managed to write jaikus in the middle of the discussion and I guess it was spectacular for the audience to see them on the screen at the end of the discussion.We touched on LinkedIn and Facebook. We spoke about how difficult it is to be aware of the implications and persistence of personal information disclosed on the web when you're very young. We spoke about bad experiences with Shelfari and good ones with LibraryThing.We spoke about how Jaiku and Twitter can be used for getting ad-hoc information from your network. We showed and CiteULike and what can one do with them.Taken out of context, this jaiku by Bernie created a bit of confusion among non-participants:"@coniecto does not think any social network service is dangerous, as she explains to the UL socnet seminar".What I meant was that I do not believe the services in themselves are dangerous. As for any other instrument, there are good uses and bad uses. Instead of banning students from using Bebo in schools and colleges, educators and parents should try to understand what's going on there. I can understand they're freightened because they can't understand it and all they can do is read the newspapers and listening to scary stories - but playing the ostrich won't help!In my opinion, our teaching has to go where our students are and reach them. I could see this with my first year students: they're allergic to Powerpoint, but you can get their attention if you can prove your point with a video found or uploaded to YouTube ...Bernie gave a few examples of situations when he used one-liners and podcasts to pass the information to students who wouldn't read the recommended books.We spoke about "the death of books", and agreed that people who are inclined to read have more channels for getting information about books than ever before.We didn't get too many questions from the audience - half of them were students. I guess we bombarded them with a lot more information than they could digest in an hour - but let's hope curiosity will do the rest!We also managed to promote the Internet Experience in Education conference on 22 May 2008 in Thurles, the Limerick OpenCoffee and the 3Dcamp.After the event, I took James for a walk over the Living Bridge, and we had a look at the venue for the 3Dcamp. We had the vision of 100+ people enjoying the interesting talks, the green ambiance of the campus and the networking... now all we need is to turn the vision into reality:)PS Thank you, Zemanta, for saving me! I was ready to publish the post without links and go to bed, when I discovered you could actually do 3/4 of my work![...]

Panel discussion on Social Networking at the University of Limerick


It's been months since myself and Micheal O hAodha have discovered we share an interest in social networking and decided to organise an event on this topic at our university. We started with the idea of a presentation in mind, but as the date kept on slipping , the concept changed, in an attempt to make the event more lively and interactive.Taking advantage of my collaboration with Bernie Goldbach (@topgold) and James Corbett (@EirePreneur) in bringing to life the next BarCampIreland, I thought of inviting them for a discussion panel.The announcement went out to the university Events mailing list:You are invited to the panel discussion “Social Networking – Getting Beyond the Hype” in the Library Board Room, Friday 11 April, 2008, 2-3 pm. The panel will touch on the variety of existing online social networking opportunities (e.g. Facebook, Linkedin, Bebo, MySpace etc.). But instead of insisting on the potential advantages/disadvantages of social networking as sometimes outlined in the mainstream media, the panelists intend to share insights from their own experience with blogging and micro-blogging as instruments for building social interfaces, networking through "social objects" (like photos, bookmarks, references) and the numerous face-to-face events facilitated by the use of online applications. Panelists: Micheal Ó hAodha –Librarian (College of Science and Engineering-ECE,CSIS,MAE,MOE), UL – Moderator Gabriela Avram – Researcher, Interaction Design Centre, UL Bernard Goldbach - Lecturer, Tipperary Institute of Technology James Corbett – Entrepreneur and social media consultant, EirePreneur And here's a wiki page dedicated to the event.So, if you're around Limerick this Friday, you are more than welcome to join us![...]

My "interesting day" and a trip on Live Search Maps


I had a tough day. Had a medical appointment and wanted to get my bike checked at the same time. And was expecting guests from Denmark who were landing in Shannon at 12:15. My mom would have said this is my usual way of cramming things into my schedule until it blows up in my face:(

I left my bike at the bike shop and they promised it will be ready in an hour. Then I enjoyed the sun in the bus station for 35min: went through my to-do list, reorganised my priorities, made a few phone calls, and finally I had to catch a taxi to get to the hospital on time. But I've made it! Standing in front of the reception desk, I worried a bit when I noticed the appointment letter the guy in front of me was showing to the receptionist was white, and not pink like mine. Just to find out two minutes later that my appointment was for the other hospital, 5 min walking distance from my place. Apologies. Phone call to the other hospital. They promised they'll call me back. Bus to the bike shop. Bike was not ready. Phone rings: "Come here as soon as you can, the doctor accepted to see you later." Getting more and more worried. Another cyclist waiting started a conversation about the beautiful day outside. She took a day off to enjoy cycling. Did I notice how splendid the weather was? No. I had my worries. Forgot to breathe. Bike finally ready.

Cycling through the city centre. What's the best way to get to the hospital? Never mind. Any way, just to get there. Their parking has a bike rack! Now this is nice! Hurrying in. Trying to convince the receptionist to reschedule my appointment. "We'll get you in in a minute, and you'll be out shortly!" Yes - in my dreams! The door opened, the nurse brought a patient in a wheelchair out, and took me in. She was nice. Said the doctor will be in shortly. I was ready to explode! What if my guests arrived?! And then suddenly I decided there's nothing I could do about it. It was actually a beautiful spring day and it was all my fault I wanted to do too much. And I relaxed. And breathed.
The doctor came in and I got my ultrasound. He was nice too. Amazing he was not mad at me! Out. And home. 5 min after that, my guests arrived. Everything was back on track!

And in the evening, after sending my guest to bed, I got to check my mail. Someone on a mailing list pointed to a blog post: navan, carlow, wexford and limerick are available now in bird's eye view on Live Search Maps! I took a virtual trip following my daily cycling route to work. I showed my kids in Romania the shabby houses behind my apartment block. I started my first collection. I read about it. Impressed. Imagining tons of new opportunities. Ooops! midnight! Tough day tomorrow as well - must go to bed now.

This is the building I work in UL - the Engineering Research Building. It's very close to the Living Bridge. It's also the place where the next BarCamp Ireland - 3DCamp - will happen on May 24. More on this in the following days!

Time off in Dublin


On my way out from the IBM press conference at the Merrion hotel, I noticed another butler stopping a taxi in front of the next entrance. I looked around to find out who was the VIP the taxi was meant for, to discover Gabriel Byrne! OMG!

My next stop was the William Buttler Yeats exhibition at the National Library of Ireland. Ever since Mark Leslie presented at the iHCI event in Limerick last year, I wanted to go there. Unfortunately, every time I went to Dublin it was for work, and there was no way to get to the city centre during the opening hours. Except now!

I had lunch with friends at NCI , discussing usability issues and the possible impact of virtual worlds on education.

And in the evening, I went to the Jean-Michel Jarre Oxygene concert at the National Concert Hall. It was an amazing experience. Playing electronic music on a stage is probably much more complicated than recording in a studio, and pushing buttons and switches less spectacular than playing a guitar. The performance was absolutely stunning - even if the original album is 30 years old and everybody knows the pieces - the lights, the instruments, the projections and a sort of mirror hanging from the ceiling and showing an image of the scene seen from above(as in this recording) - all contributed to it!

Recordings of any kind were absolutely forbidden, and I've seen the concert hall staff invigilating this request of the artist, but of course the next morning short videos were available on YouTube! (1,2)
I was particularly impressed by the sound of the theremin and the choreography involved in playing it. And already thought of next year's Introduction to Digital Media course!

Today, I also had the nice surprise to discover a video made in Dublin by Jean Michel Jarre on YouTube!

The first IBM Cloud Computing Centre in Europe


Just like any other of the many academic collaborators IBM has across Ireland, a while ago I was invited to attend an IBM event in Dublin yesterday, March 19. The invitation email didn't give many details - an important announcement was going to be made, and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin, was going to attend.After two years of observing "life at the code face" and reading a lot about IBM's corporate culture, this was a chance to meet people at the top of the organisation and observe IBM's public (inter)face I couldn't miss.The venue for the event was the Merrion Hotel and I was lucky to see the open door and the IBM logo inside, because the building didn't bear any sign. A registration desk, a welcoming butler who took my coat and backpack, and I landed in a luxurious reception room while I was still untangling my headphones and wiping my nose. A few people I knew introduced me to others - and as usually in such circumstances, I barely retained one or two names. Plenty of formal suits, and a few more casual ones - people from the "code face". I was there early, so after having a cup of tea, I went into the conference room and flicked through the materials offered to us, trying to figure out what the announcement was about.I witnessed the arrival of breathless journalists, and the efforts of an IBMer to offer them all the explanations in a layman's language again and again, for each newcomer.I couldn't avoid noticing that the female/male ratio was probably 1 to 10, including registration staff, personal assistants and journalists.The IBM country general manager for Ireland, Michael Daly, opened the meeting - actually a press conference. The Minister Micheál Martin made the actual announcement: IBM is ready to open its first European Cloud Computing Centre which will be located in Mulhuddart - Dublin. IBM Vice President Willy Chiu followed, presenting the bigger picture: the concept of "cloud computing", the existing IBM cloud computing centres and the ones to be be created in the future, and how this trend fits into the general IBM strategy.According to Mr.Chiu, the "cloud computing" concept combines grid computing, on demand services and Web 2.o technologies (the IBM Idea Factory) to provide a new type of Enterprise Data Centre.Cloud computing is an information technology (IT) infrastructure in which dynamically shared computing resources are virtualized and accessed as a service. Cloud computing replaces the traditional data center model in which companies own and manage their own stand alone hardware and software systems. Cloud computing is an attractive proposition for small to large-sized companies. It also is a green technology model that reduces energy consumption by improving IT resource utilization, therefore requiring fewer servers to handle equivalent workloads.One of the first IBM customers who will make use of the services of the new cloud computing centre is Sogeti (the IT services firm owned by consulting firm Cap Gemini) - Michiel Boreel CTO of Sogeti had an intervention as well, showing that this initiative "jumpstarts a new innovation culture" and they are planning to "make innovation everybody's job".More details can be found in this IBM press release.The press conference was followed by a demo session and more networking.I didn't bother taking pictures with my mediocre camera, thinking there will be plenty available - the press cameras were flashing at every new slide on the screen. But none of them was actually published! Here's a list of mentions of the event I could find in the media today:- ENN- IBM to open Dublin cloud computing centre- Information Week - IBM opens 'cloud computing' centre in Dublin- ITPro - IBM moves into clouds and social networks- RTE - IBM Cloud Centre brings Dublin [...]

At the CreativeCamp in Kilkenny


I can't remember exactly when did I find out about the Kilkenny CreativeCamp. All I can remember was that my immediate reaction was: I want to go there!I guess it was from Ken McGuire's blog.There is a dedicated webpage, and the #podcamp jaiku channel was used for the day.Ken also posted a couple of pictures of the venue - the Parade Tower of he Kilkenny Castle on Flickr. Hope to see more posted on the following days (my own camera decided to break after the first picture).These were the organisers: Ken McGuire, Tom Corcoran, Keith Bohanna, and this the venue: Kilkenny Castle.The audience was very mixed: artists, geeks, start-up people, bloggers, and so forth. 120 people have registered, but probably there were up to 80 attendees.And these are my (slightly edited) notes from the event:Ina O'Murchu - Personalisation and The Social WebThe Square Room is too small - many people want to listen to Ina's talk.Ina: are you using iGoogle? iLike? - Ali interviewed on Intruders.TV - he confessed he didn't expect that viral spread through Facebook- had to get more servers.Nike + iPod-nice combination - power song for the last mile. Personal as well as social!Mashups - one of the best last year - Snow Patrol+Police.(I just noticed the online program keeps on changing - bernie and walter are now down for 11am!)Consumers are not listening anymore.Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I-IV - cutting out all the middlemen - sold everything and made a lot of money.It is much easier to do for established artists - money are not being made on music anymore - but on the add-ons.Our lives are exposed - We're constantly connected.Nova Spivack presented this week at DERI Twine - a knowledge networking application -there's a Twine Preview on YouTube.It is a bit like Wikipedia - but based on the Semantic Web.(time for me to discover Nova's talk in DERI)There are many others out there:TripIt - for organising tripsHakia - search for meaningIna promises the audience to upload the slides on her blog.Comments from the audience - daughter on Bebo and Facebook - but still using texting a lot.Someone working with O2 - works on mobile portals - Bebo and Facebook took off on mobile phones. There are 2000 iPhones on Vodaphone in Ireland!!!Damien Beresford on Outsourcing Your Personal Workload(11am Ormond Room)He gave this presentation at the Open Coffee in Waterford yesterday. He was formerly with Iona. Now with tax123.ieWhat do they outsource: graphic design, search engine optimisation, testing, java scripts, small chunks of of their negotiated tariffs: tester 13$ per day; graphic designer 8$ per icon;Java PHP $18 per day; Search Engine Optimisation $500 ongoing (one-off fee) PhillippinesValue compared to your time (~2/15split); it is 1/26 in manufacturing.You still need to spend time - defining the requirements - selecting a person, checking the work.You're the only one responsible for what you get back!How: via conduit,,,,'re all electronic market places - being the biggest.You also need to solve the IP problem- signing an NDA with a person abroad might not be very effective. Resources to follow up are also needed.Tips:New project - requirements, tests, questions in the specifications, definitive outputs, engage & check profile; repeat work is easier.Damien explains how these sites work: the intermediary keeps the money until the work gets done; an arbitration system is also provided.Once he tried to avoid rent-a-coder - they take out 15% of the price. But because Paypal is not accepted in some countries, the hassle of having to go to the bank made him give up.On the Jaiku channel, Ken McGuirre shares a link to a pic of the day's programme.Here's how it looks like:Finally, Dami[...]

BlogTalk Day 2 - afternoon session


Thomas Burg is chairing the afternoon session.Keynote talk: Michael Breidenbrücker (Lovely Systems,'s face it: Web 2.0 is all about advertisingThe Germans copy everything; StudiVZ is probably a localised version of Facebook.Another company bought them because they had a lot of traffic.How do we send this traffic to other sites? They put on ads, but they looked like old 1.0 banners-"extraterrestrial beings that happened to be on that site".In Facebook, you have newsfeeds. The same kind of feeds are produced by - what are your friends listening to - actually ads;-)If you want to push the right data to the right person, collaborative filtering doesn't work - you can't do it in real time.Connect any user to any data - instantly. But we can't do it right now. Hope the semantic technologies will help!Q&A - when you buy a book - last click recommendation; - you recommend in real time while you're listening.Andera Gadeib (Dialego)MindVoyager: an interactive journey through the collective thoughts of a selected target groupPeople who take the elevator to go to the fitness centre; who knows what's on their minds?100-200 people as target group - they are including the long tail. Have a pool of 100,000 people in different countries they screen for each study.The Mindvoyager online tool: test design, survey design.People are selected from a panel - choose an identity- an avatar. They join different rooms where they choose tags. Later on, they can see how other people tagged the same product/service. Allegedly it is fun for the participants and gives the clients an idea about what people in their target group think.Sponsored demonstration: Martha Rotter (Microsoft)Building blogs and mashing them up with Windows Live Services and PopflyMartha is talking about the Windows Live platform.- maps for Harley-Davidson owners - with photos and videos- a website built for inspiration - Contoso bicycle club- Contoso University -- not many fans of Spaces in the audience...Tafiti - a new search applicationRobert Mao (Microsoft)Social blog: turning a blog into a decentralised social networkPet project, but occupying 100% of Robert's time; he knows of several avenues he could take, but unfortunately he doesn't have more resources.Brian O'Donovan* (IBM), Gabriela Avram*, Liam Bannon (University of Limerick)What is happening behind the firewall? The emerging role of social software in IBMI have the feeling our presentation went well, but there were 100 things we didn't manage to say. I hope to blog about it in detail later.Hak-Lae Kim*, John G. Breslin (DERI, National University of Ireland, Galway) SCOT-based tag sharing servicesHe did the same mistake Martha Rotter mentioned earlier: once he showed us the toy, we all jumped on it, ruining his demo. Bad, bad audience :)[...]

BlogTalk Day 2 - morning session


John Breslin, after being a perfect host at the conference dinner last night, is introducing the first speaker of the morning:Keynote talk: Nova Spivack Semantic social software: the Semantic Web for consumers- the 3rd decade of the web - is a period in time, not a technology - a higher resolution web- the web IS the database!- web 3G - the Giant Global Graph instead web 3.0 (2010-2020)OWL SPARQL OpenID Ajax - semantic search, semantic databases, widgets- web 4.0 (2020-2030)(2030's the human body as platform??! time of the borg? I don't wanna go there...) the tagging approach the statistical approach(Google doesn't work very well when there are no hyperlinks; Autonome does a better job parsing texts) the linguistic approach - Powerset Hakia the semantic web approach the AI approach- some approaches make the software smarter, other make the data smarter- relational databases - relationships between columns- RDF - only needs 3 columns and the relationship is given (subject, object, predicate)Next, Nova gave a demo of their product Twine creating a new twine: Blogtalk2008.Twine adds semantic tags to people, organisations, places and can be used as a blog, as a wiki and in several other ways. "Google says it's trying to organise the world's information, Twine is trying to organise your information."- he invites the audience to try it - it is still in closed beta - but we can get invited.Q: why would I put my content in? To get it semantically annotated - you can pull the feeds of your blog in - get its content annotatedQ: How can you get your data out? RSS, SPARQLDavid Cushman (Bauer Consumer Media)Reed's law and the demand curve(initially announced as The long tail, and why multiple identities make it just a little bit longer)I got distracted reading David's blog and forgot to take any notes...And skipped the next two presentations because I started to feel nervous and needed to go through my presentation again... While in the lobby, I had a "dealing with procrastination" chat with Niall Larkin and Geoff Hartnett - nice occasion for procrastinating again;-)Panel discussion: Stephanie Booth, Bernard Goldbach, Donnacha O'Caoimh, Jan SchmidtFrom blog-style commentary to conversational social mediaSteph - 3 tags that express your interest in SM, and one things people do not know about youJan: academic, sociology, practice - football fanBernie: academic,syndication, watchlist - blogged from prisonDonnacha: conversation sharing photographer - interested in soccerSteph - the idea of this topic - on a panel with 4 teenagersDo you blog? No, we're using Facebook nowHow are the new tools influencing the reasons of why people blog?Jan - people's perception that think blogs are irrelevant is aggravated by Facebook and micro-bloggingBernie - transition year students introduced to blogging after being introduced to Twitter - "cool! like Bebo text!" the lack of opening for thoughtful writing, open to commentaryDonnacha - Wordpress developers worked on a tool named Prologue - takes a text message and puts it in a blog post formatSteph: different things people use blogs for - a tool and a publishing format - no limitations about the content - how did your own use of blogs changed since you started? is it because the new tools?Jan - started in 2004; researched older blogs- diaries and photo blogs;Bernie - I'm using different tools for blogging now; you can touch different people.Donnacha - several blogs: In Photos, I quit Facebook; the format imposed by the tool definitely influence the practiceSteph: easy to publish feature first; adding a lot of other tools made it a lot more complicated and reduced the amount of posts. Now she uses Twitter and facebook to communicate short and simple m[...]

Blogtalk 08 Day 1 afternoon session


Jan Schmidt is chairing the afternoon session.Keynote talk: Matt Colebourne (coComment)Conversation tracking technologies: how to improve communication in a UGC world- not everything people say is true and fair - but you have to take them into accountHD DVD hack - put on digg how to stop people from commenting?people are passionate and emotional in their opinions - if you argue with them, their argument becomes stronger52% of people are occasional players - they don't comment on blogs or write blogsPaul Miller (Talis)Realising potential in the web of relationshipsToo tired to blog about... Interesting talk although!Note to myself: Do I like slides with beautiful nature pictures and a few words on them? are they better than plain ppt? Internet waves on a background of sea waves...The number of laptops patched with stickers around me is impressive. I perceive it as a fashion crime...Sponsored demonstration: Jeremy Ruston (Osmosoft, BT)The further adventures of TiddlyWiki- innovative interface, possible to download the pageRippleRapmojo, SpeedConnect used to connect - random datingdifferent way of building mashupscollaborative notes taking for conferencesI feel a bit frustrated because my phone didn't ring during the demo; left out of the game?!One of the TiddlyWiki users: Garrett Lisi - Deferential GeometrySupport for users : tiddlyspot.comHugo Pardo Kuklinski* (University of Vic), Joel Brandt (Stanford University)Campus Móvil: designing a mobile Web 2.0 startup for higher education uses- applications for mobile devices used in Spanish-speaking universitiesJon Hoem (The Media Centre, Bergen University College)Memoz: spatial webpublishing- memoz - tribute to Vannevar Bush's memex - memory organizer- using weblogs for learning...- the concept of ship logging - combining geographical position and information- selection by association - trail blazers- - text driven -- wists -images- clipmarks - text&images- Facebook - info org in time, but not in space- geotagging of blogs, twitter - still not very helpful- images are different - have a look at how information is conveyed by this painting: Pieter Bruegel - Fight between Carnival and Lent- weblogs organise information temporarily- how does temporality support mental maps?Wim Wenders - In Defense of Places- poster about video-editing- had a look at how 15yo girls represent themselves - Piczo- collaborating on annotating a map - but is this blogging?!- Jorn Barger - collection of links on the web- yes, spatial weblogging makes senseMy note: a pity he didn't close the circle - how does this apply to teaching and learning?- Tinderbox - an example on how info can be displayed in different waysQ: would a combination between the spatial and temporal perspectives be possible?Jan Blanchard*, Conor Wade (Tourist Republic), John G. Breslin, Conor Hayes (DERI)A proposed semantic recommender network for trip planning- building a semantic trip planner together with DERI (John Breslin and Conor Hayes)- explore, share and plan trips online- cut and paste trip planners - ask you to have a travel blog- a semi-intelligent trip planner - Yahoo trip planner, Kango- so, what is missing? 3 areas: recommendation, booking, collaboration(my note: could Dopplr, Twitter, Plazes content help? nowadays we use them to get suggestions from friends...)[...]

BlogTalk 2008 Day 1 - morning session


Tom Raftery opened the morning session and introduced Salim Ismail (ex Yahoo! Brickhouse)He's back to "start-up land" now - just left Yahoo; he shows us the picture of an old "Guiness by night" t-shirt; when Damien Mulley, planning Paddy's Valley, asked him what could he bring from Ireland, Salim asked Damien for a new similar t-shirt!Entrepreneurship and social media- blogging being overtaken- 4 major drivers: XML, syndication, low latency, great UX- publish and subscribe - 00s - watching is today's pattern of information exchange- we went from email (80s) web browser (90's) to RSS aggregators (00's)- Internet 3.0 - is the nervous system, where search is the memory- the hidden web - databases that are not visible to search machines- ephemeral pages - plane tickets, eBay offers- not easily available to search engines - 95% publicly available- user fills form - data is syndicated - user receives feeds- blog - only one facet- Who do I know?(social networks), What am I doing? Where am I?- social networks - closed syndication - you have to go there to get the info- 3 ways of making money: users/advertising, subscriptions, data miningRapleaf - scrap info from several SN sites - aggregate it - sell it backInternet Entrepreneurship:- you have to do everything right AND get very lucky- market timing- team, team, team- focus, then execute- never give up - stick around long enough...Dynamics of starting a company today:- low barrier to entry, virality is key, lots of competition, focus on service rather than data- you have to break some rules to get traction - afterwards, you can become a good citizen againFlickr started as instant messaging for gamers - enabled photo posting accidentallyThoughts on Social Media: social networks are going to fail - because of the numerous ways you can relate to someone. Computers are binary!Advice for entrepreneurs:- pick up a domain you're passionate about-- choose one of the drivers- think about the risk- jump in with both feetIf it doesn't work - get yourself a new t-shirt and start again!the big problem - no of searches and no of new data published - matching data and searchespublish&subscribe - it is actually request/responseTwitter goes down - people publish - they have to match the queries (got a new tweet - who cares?)- companies opening their databases to the public - they're guarding it- big companies - forced to open their databases and position themselves as platforms- Yahoo service to come out - danger - people can figure out where other people are - implicationsThe next speaker: Joe Lamantia (Keane)The DIY future: what happens when everyone designs social media? Practical suggestions for handling new ethical dilemmas- Joe's achievements - sorting cards - framework for portal designA few sites to look at:JoeLamantia.comBoxesandArrowsUXMattersTagsonomy.comEthics & conflict in social media:- - similar story with my Shelfari one- asked his contact about his experience- deliberate design decision "It's a highly viral, albeit controversial marketing strategy"- TechCrunch- social software building blocks- design becomes conflict mediator- 3 shifts - permeation, integration, conflict- for young people - technology seamlessly integrated in life- more people are integrated in design- - defence mechanism- social networks anti-patternsspam your contacts, enter your other site login- rise of SPIME(Bruce Sterling) - world where the boundaries between information, physical objects and spaces blurr- DIY shift - shadow IT, open source, mashups- experiences are c0-created - more people involved in design - not only designers- Joe suggest the term "eco-system of des[...]

SNP Webcamp - afternoon session


First session:
* I went to [2] How Does Opening the Social Web Affect Society, Culture and Business; What Are the Rights of Users on the Social Web?

- Portable identities - do we want them? What's the benefit for businesses?
- The permanence/immanence of information
- different facets - not different identities
- who is going to decide what and when to disclose?
- data referring to relationships - who decides on them?- a relationship has two ends!
- there's no such things as one single central core identity - identity negotiated continuously
- Niall Larkin: our identity is socially assigned - socially negotiated
- any identity tag could do - passport assigned to you by the government.

For the second session, I have chosen:

* [3] Patternizing the "Teaching people to phish" anti-pattern.

- Aral Balkan exposed a possible solution - a service with the code in open source and checked daily by a trusted authority
- an explanation on what actually phishing meant - originally
- teaching people to let themselves phished - leisa reichelt's blog post

- you have to be aware that giving access to your email - you're giving access to your root account- "I trust you to behave as me" - I told my story about Shelfari.
- Stephanie:new service- oAuth - you can define the level of access - "you're allowed to do this this and that - and I don't trust you to be me!"

- "are you me? are you another entity"
- Google owning our data - should we be afraid?

Back in the big room.
Aral Balkan introducing the panel discussion:
Stephanie Booth, Dan Brickley, Ben Ward, Paddy Holahan

Summarising the breakout sessions:

Breakout Session 1

* [1] Adoption challenges (for social network portability) and ways for solving them
John Breslin

* [2] How Does Opening the Social Web Affect Society, Culture and Business
- What Are the Rights of Users on the Social Web?
Jan Schmidt - Notes from Session

* [3] Technologies for Social Network Portability and Lessons Learned from Them
o FOAF, Microformats, OpenSocial, SocialGraph API, XMPP, Be Techy and proud
Morten Høybye Frederiksen

Breakout Session 2

* [1] Digesting the Data - What can we do once the data are out there? John Breslin summarising.

* [2] Trust, Identity and Privacy for the Portable Web. Anders Conbers reports back from that one.

* [3] Patternizing the "Teaching people to phish" anti-pattern. Will Knott summarizes discussions in our group - well done!

Tom Morris - on the backchannel IRC asks: who's going to solve the problem? the hackers or the philosophers?
Niall Larkin - you need the different perspectives to find a solution; relationships are even more complicated online.

At Social Networks Portability Webcamp


Missed the first speaker - Ajit Jaokar - my 6am Aircoach from Dublin made it into Cork at 9:45.Dan Brickley is talking now, after a bit of fiddling around with the projector connection.Already spotted Nial Larkin, Steph Booth, Jan Schmidt, Will Knott and Flemming Funch in the audience.Weird how I had to look around to discover who was twittering from what corner of the room...Dan showing a cool diagram. The latest fancy name: social graph when we talk about social networks.SPARQL - a system for querying RDF databases - it is claim-based "who says John is 30?" instead of "How old is John?"Nice break - time to finally talk face to face with Will Knott and Niall Larkin! It is scary, the taxman actually checks on Linkedin, Facebook and so on...Stephanie's talk: no pics. No acronyms either ;-)How do you take with you your profile and your "friends" from one social network to another?My social network is not flat, it is lumpy! We need to organise our friends in different ways, both explicit and implicit.Steph mentions "responsible design" as explained in a Leisa Reichelt post. All these services seem to teach us phishing... And the old problem - who owns my data?What about interpolating friends?Friendfeed shows recommended people - not enough. Would like to see all the friends of my friends, so that I could pick up the ones I'd like to add!John Breslin aka Cloud shows funny drawingsinstead off PPT slides. So refreshing!1. What does Data Portability means to me?2. Data Portability Changing the way you look at the web3 Value of DP for Vendors?4. The value of DP for users5. Next steps for DPBen Ward web developer at !Yahoo Europeadmin at microformats.orgIn the beginning, there was the URL...Then came you...then your SN sites ...and your friends...and your claims...Talk on the backchannel if we should have a standard set of cliparts for things like HCard, XFN:)Google Social Graph API - I should try that!Q&A - versioning profiles - should time enter into discussion?Are we friends forever?HCards - consolidated identity. Thanks, guys, just created mine here :-)How do you feel about keeping a history of all your relationships? Hmm...Uldis Bojar - FOAF for Social Network PortabilityDan Brickley already said everything that was to be said..Just a few words about FOAF and SIOCNote: decided to publish this draft "as-it-is" before I mess something up! It happened too frequently lately - maybe I'm just too tired!Anders Conbere - crash course on XMPPTwitter, Jabber, GTalk use this...The presentation is here says @johnbreslin on Twitter.Presentations coming soon here!Very interesting talk on what you could do with XMPP...[...]

Irish Blog Awards 2008


This year, I made it! After only 3-4h of sleep per night in the last two weeks, a bit of extra sleep over the week-end would have been highly appreciated. But I decided to stretch myself a bit more, jumped on the Dublin bus at 12:30 on Saturday (the price of a one way train ticket is prohibitive!) and made it to both events:
- the Ladies' Tea Party at the Market Bar
- the Irish Blog Awards 2008 at the Alexander Hotel.

I had to go to bed around 11, because my crazy plans didn't end here. This morning I took the Aircoach to Cork at 6am, and here I am.

More on the Dublin events later!

TechLudd in Limerick - great evening!


After staying very late the previous night - doh! the Moon eclipse! - I managed to get back on my feet with 40 min of Reiki, and then headed to the George Boutique Hotel for the TechLudd.Thanks a million to Anton Mannering for organising the event! Himself and Jessica Roy were wonderful hosts of the event, and I had an excellent time.I had the chance to see again a few people I had met before (at Open Coffee Limerick, Blogger Coffee, BarCamps and other similar events). I finally met Pat Phelan in person, after late night twitter exchanges and following him on Qik for a while! And I met quite a bunch of new and interesting people!Joe Drumgoole demo-ed PutPlace(I've installed it a few days ago, but didn't quite get it!), and John Gleeson demo-ed Process Master. Both interesting products, and I think it makes it much easier to talk about your company/service/product when you can actually show something!I met Sheena Clohessy from Digital Media Forum (one of the sponsors of the event!), found out about WorldTV and discussed the many opportunities existing nowadays for spicing up 3rd level education.Conn Ó Muíneacháin and Pat Phelan were Qik-ing each other, and I made my first appearance in a qik .James Corbett and myself started plotting the future BarCamp Limerick - we still need a confirmation for the rooms we're trying to book at the university, but the most probable date is May 24.Rumors say the date for reboot in Copenhagen is not yet set , it will be either the last week in May or the first week in June.[...]

Moon eclipse


(image) I knew it was coming, I even joined the event on Facebook(confirming I will "attend" the eclipse! lol), but it was pure coincidence that I had so much work to do and stayed up that late!

There was talk on Twitter about watching it, but then I went off line to do some decent writing.
I came back online at 2:42 am to upload my submission, and suddenly both my kids jumped on me on Yahoo Messenger. It was 4:42am in Romania and it looks like they were having a deep philosophical conversation (400 km apart) on the meaning of life and the reason why we're here.

It was only then when I remembered it was time for looking at the skies - here in Limerick it was cloudy - I remember seeing the Moon for the last time around 11pm. My son (somewhere in Transylvania) went outside and came back disappointed - clouded there as well. It was only my daughter in Bucharest who got lucky: the Moon was right in front of her window in her student residence. She said she was happy to be reporting for us from "Eclipse central", and she sent us picture after picture (no qik available yet;)

Anyhow, two papers are in progress for the ICGSE'08, the slides for BlogTalk are almost ready, we made our final submission to ICSE (a workshop paper, but still an achievement!) and the work on other two papers is progressing. Means I can go to TechLudd tonight! Hurray! Hope I'll be able to keep my eyes open...

Limerick social media meetup scene


Not only that we have an Irish blog week 2008, but now we have a social media social life here in Limerick as well!

On Jan 19, we met for an exquisite Blogger Coffee Limerick at the Marriott, thanks to Alexia Golez;
I blogged about it that very afternoon, but the gods of Internet were against it, and the post disappeared without a trace. (Don't get me started on Mercury retrograde and stuff like that!)

This Thursday, Feb 7, we had the first Limerick OpenCoffee in 2008; as usual, the Absolute Hotel was the venue. Bernie Goldbach and James Corbett took care of the organisation - again, as usual. An interesting mix of people attended, and after a round of introductions and discussions on the format and a possible alternative venue for the future events, I had the chance to talk to a few people (and get a few very useful tips!)
The next one is planned for the first Thursday in March, 11am, in the Absolute. We hear that a website for Irish Open Coffee is cooking, and there's already a blog titled Cork OpenCoffee - but reporting on similar events across the whole island.
There's a Jaiku channel for it, and a calendar of the forthcoming events is available.

And now Anton Mannering is bringing the TechLudd to Limerick on February 21. Venue: the George Hotel. Can't wait, especially because I couldn't go to Dublin on the 24th of January and missed the first event of the series!

Aren't we spoiled?!

Update: wiki created at for Irish OpenCoffee, with the intent of making dates and topics of future events visible across the island and allowing for input and feedback.

Irish Blog Week 2008


Two days after myself and Ina were chatting over Skype about that busy week in March, Bernie Goldbach and Conn Ó Muíneacháin gave it a name: Irish Blog Week 2008.This is how it looks like until now:March 1st: A Ladies' Tea Party , event organised by Sabrina Dent and Ina O'MurchuIrish Blog Awards, DublinMarch 2nd:Gourmet Brunch for Food Bloggers and Fans, DublinWebCamp - Social Network Portability, CorkMarch 3rd, 4th: BlogTalk 2008 Conference, CorkMarch 8th: Creative Camp, KilkennyThere's already a Jaiku channel for it: #irishblogweekMy apologies for suffering of blogstipation lately (sorry Lexia;); I'd tell you I've been busy , but... ain't I always?! I seem to have a special talent to keep myself busy!The thought that kept me so busy these days was figuring out how to achieve work-blog-life balance... do more of the things I love doing... try and see the big picture! Not that I got to a solution, but I'm a few steps closer!The funny part is that after writing the beginning of this post, I just realised that I've booked accommodation in both Dublin and Cork for the night of March 1st! Now this is really stupid of me, we Transylvanians have the reputation of being slow, but excuse me, how slow can one get?!I will go to the Ladies Tea Party and Irish Blog Awards in Dublin on the 1st, and then will travel to Cork on the 2nd to attend the Webcamp.BlogTalk will be a less relaxed event for me this year - after 5 years, I am among the presenters again. See the programme online! Our paper was initially on a sort of waiting list - it got in because someone else had to withdraw - the competition was tough and I'm happy we made it in the end.The paper is a reflection on the social practices developed by IBM-ers around the social software tools they build and try out inside the Big Blue, and I consider myself lucky to work on this study with Brian O'Donovan and Liam Bannon.As a member of the organising committee, I was very impressed by the way the 4 chairs handled the reviewing process and by the efficiency of the software app chosen for handling it: easychair.All the papers were read , commented and assessed by two independent reviewers. It wasn't easy at all, I had to stick to my reviewer chair when everyone was enjoying the Christmas break,but I am confident we'll hear some great presentations down in Cork in March .I'm looking forward to the Irish Blog Week and would be happy to meet you at one/all of these events![...]

The economics of conversations


The following quote comes from Jay Deragon's blog The Relationship Economy, but I first got it via the Value-Networks Google Group mailing list.

I deeply resonated with this:
"The best approach to leveraging the social web is to understand the systemic nature of peoples interest, desires and needs: a relationship. Connecting the dots requires a conversation, not just a connection. What say you?"
Finally someone tells corporations that becoming involved in social networking just because it is trendy and without changing their attitude will not pay off!

Markets are conversations... and they will never ever again reverse to corporate monologues!

A Jaiku-born exchange


(image) On Thursday we had a very nice exchange with a group of Creative Multimedia students from Tipperary Institute of Technology...

All started a few good weeks ago, with Bernie Goldbach following the Jaiku channel I use with my students (Bernie recalls jaikus about Doug Engelbart received on his mobile phone while he was walking his dog:)- must have been that "toaster as medium" thingie!).

In October, I finally made it to an OpenCoffee in the Absolute Hotel and met Bernie in person. Not before spamming him with a Shelfari invite the night before:(
Photo by topgold
Still frustrated because I missed the EduCamp in June and the PodCamp in September, I invited Bernie to give a talk on podcasting to my students. Bernie thought of bringing some of his students along - and I was enthused about this!

And then all happened on Thursday - Bernard spoke to the UL+TippInst students about podcasting, jobs and entrepreneurship, asked his students to talk about their own work and encouraged the audience to ask questions. The students were a bit shy in the beginning, but when he invited them to have a look at his podcasting gear, most of them couldn't resist the temptation and the ice was broken. The two groups of students had the chance to mingle for a few minutes afterwards!

(image) After the lecture, the TippInst students visited the IDC, where Liam Bannon gave them a briefing on the Interaction Design Centre and our way of looking at technology, and Lui spoke about previous and current IDC projects. The visit finished with the grand tour and a closer look at some of our "reliques" - the Shannon Portal, the recipe pyramid...

It was an interesting exchange and I have the feeling we all learned from it!
Some opinions of my students on the event can be read on the Jaiku channel!

Note: A more formal version of this post was published on the IDC blog previously.