Archive for the ‘Ideas & Proposals’ Category.

everyone wants to know you

Late night coding thoughts…as a prerequisite to any ultimate organizer we need an open source way to represent a packet of public and private info about self – the private encrypted. Then you can upload this packet to youtube, facebook, linkedin and all the Gb sites that want to know you, if you want them to. Allow peer to peer updates or have software that knows who you gave it to when you update it, or specify one site as the master and update it there first. Only sites with your private key that you trust could access/update your private data, or use it only locally. This will speed the development of organizer/personalization apps by decreasing the cost of updating profiles…and organizer apps would focus on the private data more

Clojure makes the JVM a friendly place…

Yes! Someone gets it – “It has always been an unfortunate characteristic of using classes for application domain information that it resulted in information being hidden behind class-specific micro-languages, e.g. even the seemingly harmless employee.getName() is a custom interface to data. Putting information in such classes is a problem, much like having every book being written in a different language would be a problem. You can no longer take a generic approach to information processing. This results in an explosion of needless specificity, and a dearth of reuse.”
–Rich Hickey, http://clojure.org/datatypes

Data is just data. Please, coders – free the data from all those bureaucratic OO controls on it, and just expose the rules if any, let us obey them thoughtfully our own way. It has got to be better than all these little bureaucratic fiefdoms exerting paranoiac control over their bits of data.

Ok, so it sounds good…now to finish the clojure koans, having realized that the ___ construct is just where you put your answers and not a new triple-underscore special variable. But I’m also hacking on a larger clojure app while learning the basic syntax…it really does seem promising…

need flat, fast namespacing + tags

tags are ok but they are missing a namespace; maybe there is implicit one from the blogger but for global discovery what about

tech:lein
finance:lien
gvelez:chickens (means my chickens, not chickens in general)

quick to write without requiring much forethought or looking up namespaces, but more precise and less prone to overlap than flat tags

expand on the rel= link attribute

It seems sort of amazing, that with all the man-hours of development of the semantic web, that I’m still not aware of a widely-used standard for tagging a link with a meaning. Page tagging has gotten us pretty far, but as I understand it what Tim BL’s original app did, was to assign a meaning to each link.

We do have the rel= attribute, which we’re allowed to expand upon according to the spec:
http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/types.html#type-links

Since a source doc, target doc, and link tag comprise a triple, why not leverage this more by encouraging the use of vocabularies in the rel= attribute? It would seem to me to be the simplest possible solution and could be supported by many different tools.

rel= is indeed used within the RDFa spec, but I’d argue that by itself a link containing a rel= tag is sufficient to define a triple. I’d also like to see a commonly used curie of

en:anyword

to mean ‘anyword’ in the english language. Lets also leverage the existing structure of language – Google does!

Can blogging help…

…us actually talk to that omnipresent ‘they’ in our daily conversations? ‘They’ as in, ‘they ought to do something about that building before the roof falls in’; or ‘they really should make it easier to see where our tax money is going’; or even ‘they are driving me crazy with this phone system!’.

Sometimes it can: find a commentable online profile of a company and post a complaint or suggestion, and odds are that sooner or later someone high up at that company is going to read it.

What if, though, you don’t know yet who the ‘they’ are? What if you know something about a specialized subject area and can see clear needs that not everyone knows about, but its not clear who or how those needs will be met?

Needs are also opportunities.

A need for a nurse at a hospital for a better way to manage patient information, is an opportunity for an IT firm somewhere. That nurse has no resources to pay the IT firm, and even the hospital may not have the resources to sponsor custom software development for the exact needs they have. However: if some long-term thinking VC’s (Venture Capitalists) and eager young programmers understood the need clearly and precisely, maybe they would create out of the box software that would solve the problem nicely and cost effectively.

Even if the need doesn’t have a clear cash flow opportunity – say the need to deliver more books to developing countries – sometimes there may be a nonprofit with a mission that could align itself with that need, or a philanthropist looking for a genuine cause to donate some dollars to.

The purpose of this section is to document concrete needs identified by people in different fields. Speculative ideas are ok too. Its a little like http://shouldexist.org, in which people submit ideas of things that ’should exist’ in the world. Maybe a lot the same. But one difference is, that some postings here may be produced by interviews with people who might not otherwise post to a blog like this.

In the spirit of the blogosphere, not all posts will be made directly to this blog. Some will be made to more subject specific sites and just linked to from here. If you write something along these lines for another site, feel free to post a link here.

Coming soon: Clearinghouse for recycled building materials aimed at contractors and architects ; ‘Books Please!’ on the need for more books, regular physical books, into the hands of more people in more languages ; A Micropayment Implementation ; IT and Recycling ; IT and the Grid ; Credit Ratings for Contractors ; and lessons learned from ShouldExist.org

The ultimate personal organizer…

Posted some thoughts on my personal blog at

http://goldavelez.org/blog/2009/10/30/the-ultimate-organizer-will-it-be-a-web-app/

about the ideal organizer (smart, quick, easy, fast, private, snappy…). As someone much smarter said a long time ago, using your computer should feel like playing the violin – assuming, that is, that you know how to play the violin. But it should come to feel natural, like an extension of the body and mind. For humans, this means millisecond level feedback.

A new kind of CMS is in order

WordPress is not a bad CMS.  Fairly simple, well documented, has the requisite features like version control, trackback, authentication, and a nice set of user contributed themes and plugins.  Its pretty damn good.

But.  The basic CMS assumption that ‘the content originates here’ is flawed.  In today’s world, sometimes there may be another authoritative source of the content I wish to aggregate on my blog.  Even if I wrote it, for some reason I may have wanted to write it first on blogspot, or facebook, or linkedin, or some other site – but still have it appear on my central blog site.  What would be even better would be the ability to edit it on my primary site and have the edits propagate back to the other locations, if permitted.

WordPress, Drupal, other leading CMS’s do have the ability to pull in feeds and insert content from other sources, but they manage those feeds differently from ‘normal’ posts, as if they were an afterthought or add-on.

I’d like to see a CMS that has a single central content management system, which has additional fields for each bit of content:

- original/authoritative source
- rules/actions for edits
- rules/actions for updates from external sources

This would make it easier to manage content from multiple sources and in one place manage the rules for propagating that content.  An API should be exposed to request updates to the content, which other similar CMS’s could tap into.

While I’m at it, this ideal CMS would store a copy of all content in flat text files.  This would make searching faster and easier (not having to spider and then extract the essential content) and would allow use of all the existing text file tools!  (Like, Perl scripts ;-)   The name and path of the text file would indicate which bit of content it corresponds to, and the rules could be set to allow direct text file edits, or not.  Direct edits could be propagated back into the system.  This would make it much easier to bulk edit large amounts of content, not for theming, but for content accuracy, as is sometimes necessary.

Perhaps this could all be accomplished with some sort of WordPress-CodeIgniter hybrid?  Would be a shame to start something from scratch and lose all the cool themes people have made.  Well – will have to wait til another day.