Archive for Jun 2003


Impatient Web Searchers Measure Web sites' Appeal in Seconds

A recent study by Jim Jansen of Penn State finds that people typically only look at the first three results in a search result and one in five of them spend less than 60 seconds evaluating a web site to determine whether it meets their needs. By the time three minutes have elapsed, 40 percent of searchers will have moved on. Eight out of 10 times, the abstract that appears with the search results dissuades people from going to the site.
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You Can't Handle the Truth!

In "A Few Good Men," Keffe screams "I want the truth!" and Jessep fires back \\"You can't handle the truth!\\". A front page article in today's Salt Lake Tribune, is headlined "Some question value of state worker blogs," but a better title would be "You can't handle the truth!\\" Rebecca Walsh writes: Reading a Weblog is a lot like reading someone's journal. Someone's highly technical, mind numbingly boring journal. Most of the time. Then there are times when techies slather their innermost thoughts, their childish pranks online. And when the writer is a state employee, blogs can be fascinating
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Me? A Postmodernist?

In a recent post, AKMA called me "an honorary postmodernist." There are some aspects about postmodernism that make me cringe, but to the extent AKMA meant "a thoughtful study of the limits of scientific inquiry, the origins and perpetuation of unreasonable prejudices, and the ambiguities of language," I'm flattered. I do think that AKMA is doing a great service by serving as the conscience, so to speak, of digital identity and the limits of the technology in solving societal problems. In the post linked above, for example, AKMA alludes to identity being the sum total of all our experiences.
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There Ought to be a Club for Former State CIOs

BIl Campbell, the recent former CIO from Wyoming has written an article in the latest CIO Magazine entitled "How to Survive in the Public Sector". He came to see me last November, just after I'd decided to resign, but before it was public, and spent a day with me. I remember telling him I was resigning and his discouraged reaction. I think even then he probably saw the impossibility of his situation. His comments in the article echo some of my own in my Public Service Tips.
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Safari Unstable?

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that Ver 1.0 of Safari is less stable than the last beta? It just dies on me from time to time.
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Phil Windley Speaks!

I've decided to be more overt about speaking, so I've put together a page with samples, recent engagements, rates, resources, and requirements. I enjoy speaking and I'd like to do more of it.
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DNS Turns Twenty

Paul Mockapetris invented DNS while working at the University of Southern California 20 years ago in 1983. It took a number of years to catch on. I still remember editing /etc/hosts by hand on every machine I managed in 1988. Most machines didn't have complete host tables. There were a few complete host tables on various machines spread around the net. This led to a process where sending mail to someone meant that you had to pick the route using UUCP-style ! routes in the email address. The trick was to get the message to a machine that knew
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XACML: Extensible Access Control Mark-up Language

Yesterday, I wrote about SPML and a little about SAML. SAML is an XML-based language for exchanging assertions about identity. SPML is an XML-based language for interacting with identity provisioning systems. There's another important piece in the puzzle: a common format for access requests, policies, and responses. XACML provides just that. XACML is the language of the Policy Decision Point, of PDP. The PDP is the chunk of code that recieves access requests, checks to see whether they should be granted, and returns an appropriate response. The PDP is not necessarily the same as the place where credentials are
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Service Provisioning Markup Language (SPML)

The OASIS group will demonstrate the Service Provisioning Markup Language, or SPML at the Burton Group's Catalyst Conference in July. According to OASIS, ten OASIS members will show the stability of the specification and demonstrate interoperability between SPML-conformant products. You might rightly ask: What is SPML? The Security Assertion Markup Language, or SAML has been around for a while. Its an XML-based markup language for exchanging assertions about authentication and authorization in a federated identity system. There's nothing in SAML about how security credentials get created, managed, or queried. SPML is the other shoe. Its a markup language for
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VoIP in My House

I just signed up with a new phone company called Vonage. The service is delivered over my Internet connection and lets me use my regular phone. When I here "internet telephony" I picture weird software, boom mikes plugged into the back of my computer and complicated set-up. This was about as far from that as you can get. I signed up at the Vonage site about a week ago. Today, a box arrived at my house with a Cisco ATA 186, an analog telephone adapter. I plugged the ATA into my network, plugged a regular phone into the back
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Redesigned utah.gov

The utah.gov web site is sporting a new design. The new design is cleaner and less cluttered. I like it. The downside of a clean look is that there's fewer things on the homepage which means the hierachy got deeper. One of the problems with government web sites is the shear number of things that people want to find. Enforcing the three click rule is hard. That's one of the reasons why personalization is so important. The new site also features live help and a new business portal that been in the works for months. There's more to come
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How Do I Know Who You Are?

One of the biggest challenges in digital identity is authentication, the process of knowing that the person or system presenting credentials is who they say they are. A driver's license has an authentication system built-in: the picture. Humans are really good at looking at pictures and faces, making a comparison and reaching an accurate conclusion about whether there is a match. For digital ID, the problem is more difficult. At the low end, we use usernames and passwords. More sophisticated systems use retinal scanners and other biometric devices. In this interview with the New Scientist, James L. Wayman of
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Why IT Doesn't Matter Anymore: Living in the Red Zone

A recent Harvard Business School publication is entitled Why IT Doesn't Matter Anymore. The author, Nicholas G. Carr, argues that "the core functions of IT have become available and affordable to all" which reduces the strategic value of IT. He says: What makes a resource truly strategic-what gives it the capacity to be the basis for a sustained competitive advantage-is not ubiquity but scarcity. You only gain an edge over rivals by having or doing something that they can't have or do. By now, the core functions of IT-data storage, data processing, and data transport-have become available and affordable
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What Shared Authentication Means to You

Glenbrook Partners has released a report entitled Rethinking Authentication on the impact of single sign-on and the shared authentication infrastructures like the Liberty Alliance. This is not the full report, you have to pay $1000 for that, but the abstract and table of contents are worth looking at in any event and they're free. Carol Benson, the reports author, says: Like Moliere's character who discovered he had been speaking prose all along, some authenticators will discover they have always been "identity providers"; they just didn't know it. She cites financial institutions and ISPs/Telcos as the serendipitous winners and sees
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Trust and Identity Management

InfoWorld has a special feature this week on the relationship between identity management and privacy. Large organizations have a lot of relationships with customers, trading partners, and employees. Furthermore, in a service economy, digital identity matters and those relationships take the form of a collection of records in databases. This makes tools for identity management more important than ever. The problem is, that doing it right isn't easy. This article, entitled Trusting ID management technology talks to some of the privacy issues. Some of the first computers in existence were used by banks and this drive to automate hasn't
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Bizarre: Now I'm Headless Nick

The Deseret News is running a piece in anticipation of today's release of the follow-up legislative audit which was ordered last November. As usual, its full of half truths, mis-statements, innuendo, and bizarre rumors. The funniest is this one: "Nobody is going to believe that Windley's influence in state government is not being carried out through his friend, Steve Fulling," one IT employee said. "The guy has been gone for seven months, but his ghost is still there. Everyone is still freaked out about Windley." This kind of rumor isn't new. I think its funny that these people's world
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Zope User's Group Meeting

I'm at the Zope User's Group meetingin Las Vegas today. I flew my plane down this morning and planning on flying home this afternoon---its about 2 hours. The flight was a nice (early morning flights always are) and Las Vegas is its usual hectic self. There are about 8 people here including Rob Page, CEO of Zope. There's an information discussion of the newspaper business while we're waiting to get started. The Zope meeting is being held on the heels of the Newspapers Publisher's Expo, so there's a few newspaper people here. Here's a rundown of what the speakers
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Digital ID World Conference

This year's Digital ID World conference will be held in Denver, October 15-17. Last year's event (1, 2) was very well attended and full of useful and interesting talks. The thing that made it work was that it wasn't just about one facet of identity, but brought together players from many different arenas and points of view. It was one of my favorite conferences and I'm looking forward to attending this year as well.
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RSS and eGovernment

News releases are perhaps the most obvious example of how RSS can be applied to eGovernment. Government has a peculiar relationship with the news media and, consequently, issues lots of news releases. Utah's Governor's office has officially started to issue news releases in RSS. It looks like RSS 1.0. Kudos to the Governor's office for doing this and setting an example for the rest of the State. Its surprising how long it takes to get something even this simple happening. I talked to Natalie Gochnour, the Governor's Press Deputy, about RSS over a year ago and Utah Interactive was
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What is Orrin Smoking?

A story in today's Deseret News says Utah's Orrin Hatch would like to develop technology that would destroy the computers of people who download copyrighted material over the Internet. I say as long as we're going to allow companies to destroy personal property to enforce their rights without any due process, we might as well go all the way. So while we're at it, let's also develop technology that will incinerate the occupants of cars that have aftermarket parts installed. HP should be allowed to burn down your house if you install a non-HP ink cartridge in your printer.
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Small Scale and High Tech

I had a great conversation with Mark Jones of Future 2 this morning. We got to talking about infrastructure costs. He quoted the number of subscribers he needs to break ever. I thought he'd left off a zero, so I asked him to repeat it. He gave a number in the hundreds, not the thousands. Now he's got a pretty large coverage area, relative to the break even number. This is a huge win for wireless. Of course, all kinds of things can affect this: what level of support do you provide, how strong is the signal in the
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PIP Data on Home Broadband Growth

PEW has released a memo on home broadband usage (PDF) from its Internet and American Life project. The results might surprise some people since the common perception that home broadband growth is slow at best. I frequently talk to people who believe that every statistic they ever heard about Internet growth has now reversed. Most people reading this will know that's not true. According to the study: As of the end of March 2003, 31% of home Internet users had a high-speed connection at home. This is up from 24% in October 2002 and 21% in March 2002. Today,
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Thanks and Redhat Install

I've enjoyed the class this semester. Thanks for participating and asking lots of questions. That makes it more enjoyable for me. I hope you got something out of it. Please make sure you complete the online evaluation if you haven't done so already. I'm looking for someone to install Redhat Linux on 6 machines for me in the 462 lab. I'll pay $100 for the job. If you're an experienced Linux installer and would like to do this, let me know.
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Virtual Databases

One of a CIO's holy grails is integration. The primary driver is business agility. This is related to aligning IT with the business, but there's a speed component. The marketing and manufacturing departments don't need you to be aligned with them next year, they need you aligned today and tomorrow when they change their focus and direction for what seems like the fifth time this year. Integration is one strategy for building an information infrastructure that can handle whatever is thrown at it. This desire for an integrated infrastructure is behind much of the interest in Web Services and
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Steve Gillmor on RSS

Steve Gillmor has three articles on his blog that give some ideas about where he thinks RSS is going. Whether you agree with Steve or not on the specifics, I'm glad to see the speculation because its expands my thinking. I'm also happy to see more and more people recognizing the power of RSS. When I started blogging, RSS was the thing that got me excited. Steve claims that email is a subset of the RSS space. That's an interesting thought. Many people might have turned that around. I'd like to hear more from Steve on why he thinks
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Connect Magazine Column: Singularity Hints

I've recently started writing a monthly column for Connect Magazine. Connect is brand-new. Their "About" page says "connect offers an inside look at the regional economic landscape and the people driving its development. connect profiles high-tech, life science, or other innovative companies with ties to the west so you are aware of the major players in the region." I've known some of the guys involved in this venture for a while. They used to be with Digital IQ. They're bright and they've got a lot of pluck. They need it---this is a tough business. I'm impressed with what they've
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Active Noise Reduction (ANR) Headphones: You Get What You Pay For

In May, I wrote briefly about active noise reduction, ANR headphones. I've used an expensive ($500) aircraft quality ANR headset in my private plane for many years and love them. I've owned a pair of inexpensive Aiwa headphones for several years but found them to be uncomfortable on long commercial flights. So, over the past few weeks, I've conducted a "good, better, best" test of noise reduction headphones to find a pair that I can use on commercial flights in comfort. Active noise reduction is a technology that employes small microphones and digital signal processing (DSP) technology to cancel
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Zope User's Group Meeting in Las Vegas

Michael Bernstein let me know about a Zope User's Group meeting in Las Vegas this next Friday. I going to try to fly down if the weather's nice. I've been interested in Zope for a while and recently started programming in Python, so this looks like a great opportunity to combine two of my favorite things: flying and computers.
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RSS in Ads Revisited

Jenny disagrees with my comments on Ads in RSS. She says: [I]f you are providing me with the full text of the article in my aggregator, then I'm willing  to trade you my eyeballs for an ad. However, if you're just sending me the headline with a one- or two-sentence description, then that's the ad. Your intent is to get me to go to your site to read the full article, at which point I will see the ad (probably lots of ads), and the transaction is complete - I clicked onto your page and became a number you
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Investigation Concludes

After my moment of stupidity last month, the state decided to have the Dept. of Public Safety conduct an investigation. They turned their results over to the AG's office which concluded that there was no "evidence that would merit criminal prosecution." There are some times when you're really glad to have someone else agree with you and this is one of them. The article in today's SL Tribune is pretty fair and factual. The article states that I've agreed to pay restitution and that's something I'm happy to do. I think one could quibble with the amount. There's a
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InfoWorld Ads in RSS

As noted by Dave and Sam, InfoWorld announced today that they will introduce ads in their RSS feed. Before I comment, I should disclose that I write for InfoWorld and am on the masthead as a contributing editor. Believe it or not, I thought about this before I knew InfoWorld was going to do it and my thoughts haven't changed. I view this pragmatically: I'd rather see ads in RSS than not see the RSS at all. I'd rather have InfoWorld and other news sources, including the NY Times show up in my aggregator than have to go to
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Intermountain eXchange: What's New in Networking

A month or so ago, Pete Kruckenberg, Jim Sorenson and I had lunch and discussed the idea of creating a regionally based conference on next generation networks. There's a national conference called Next Generation Networks but we saw a need to sharing between regional players since much of what can and should be done is regionally flavored. From that lunch grew an effort to create and host a conference called Intermountain eXchange or IX. Today was the first meeting of the program committee The Intermountain region can be loosely defined as the states bordering Utah plus Montana. These states
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OSCON 2003

I'm going to be at OSCON, the OReilly Open Source Convention in July. I'll probably arrive on the 8th and leave Friday afternoon, although I haven't made my flight plans yet. This is a big conference with multiple tracks. Its held concurrently, if that's the right word, with the PERL, Python, and PHP conferences and also covers Apache, Applications, Emerging Topics, Java, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Ruby, and XML. Last year I have a great time and I'm really looking forward to this one.
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Network World Compendium on Weblog Panel

Network World did a nice job of covering Rock and Paul's comments from my panel at the Weblog Business Strategy conference. Rock and Paul are pioneers in using blogs in large organizations. They're both facing challenges and using blogs to help solve the problems. Their work will be worth following over the next while.
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Sonic ESB: Programmable integration

The pressure to integrate disparate systems across the enterprise is steadily increasing, but establishing connections between systems, even those designed for integration, remains a daunting task. Traditionally, enterprises connected systems using point-to-point links and custom code. More recently, integration brokers--proprietary software for creating connections among multiple systems--emerged as another solution. However, point-to-point connections are expensive to maintain, and integration brokers have been expensive to buy.  Sonic ESB is one of a new set of products billed as enterprise service buses (ESBs), lightweight integration brokers based on standards such as XML and SOAP designed to work in a distributed environment.
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Weblog Business Strategy Conference Wrap-Up

My panel is over. I felt like it went pretty well. We talked about start-up experiences, tools, culture, knowledge management, and alternate uses of blogs. The panelists were all well spoken. One issue that came up that I hadn't written about before is the hierarchy issue surrounding what a CIO, for example, might take as a casual response might have a much larger perceived effect. I'd like to do another one of these with a slightly different feel. Ask each panelist for take five minutes to present a case study (with a standard format, perhaps) ands the have the
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Tony Perkins: The Open Source Media Movement

Tony Perkins, of Red Herring fame, is the last keynote of the conference. He now edits Always On, an online high-tech journal. There is an RSS feed. I've just gone and signed up---mostly because I'm curious about the format and what he's doing. Tony believes that right now is the cheapest time to start an Internet company---its only going to get more expensive from here. Whatever we did in the past 5 years, we educated 700 million people to have a new behavior: using the Internet. That's an expensive proposition. Its done and we don't have to incur that
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The Law of the Blog

Mark E. Young, Communications Counsel, PARTNERS+simons is moderating a panel on \\"The Law of the Blog.\\" The panelists are Arik Hesseldahl, Senior Editor, Forbes.com Denise M. Howell, Counsel, Reed Smith Crosby Heafey LLP John Palfrey, Executive Director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Law School Catherine E. Reuben, Partner, Robinson & Cole LLP Maurice J. Ringel, Esq., Founder & President, Ringel Law Group, PC Denise makes the point that the root of litigation is interaction and blogs are all about interaction. John recommends the Creative Commons license and to be sure your copy right statement is baked into
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Weblogs: New Syndication Models Or Uncontrolled Platforms

David Shnaider, Former President ZDNet, Founder of Prodigy is moderating a panel called \\"Weblogs: New Syndication Models Or Uncontrolled Platforms.\\" The panelists are: Rafat Ali, Editor/Publisher, PaidContent.org Vin Crosbie, Managing Partner, Digital Deliverance Jeff Jarvis, President & Creative Director, Advance.net Elizabeth Spiers, Editor, Gawker.com Jeff says that posting in a forum is like saying something in the bar last night. No one remembers what was said or who said it. Writing it in a weblog is like crapping in your neighbors yard. You've put you're name on it and no one will forget. Their advantages is speed, variety, voices,
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Where Blogs Matter

Jason Shellen is the Associate Program manager at Blogger. He's keynoting on Where Blogs Matter. He makes the point that most blogs have an intended audience. What people write is meant to be read and blog writers get to know their audience. That's really true. I have a whole new group of people I know because I write a blog. Jason talks about some of the things that create community and points to comments as one. I've never enabled comments on my site for a couple of reasons. First, that makes it seem less like my site where I
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Matthew Berk: Digital Self-Fashioning

Matthew Berk is a Jupiter Research analyst. he's talking about what he calls digital self-fashioning. He suggests some various approaches to this task: Anthropomorphic approaches - these are metaphors for reconstituting the body in a virtual world. Topological constructions - this treats the network as a virtual place with conversational interaction. The political backdrop is about Freedom of the self - boundary transcendence Alienation of the self - a loss of presence Self fashioning is how people constitute themselves on the net through collections of content. It is done through technologies of the self, which usually take the form
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Presentations

Remember that presentations are due tomorrow unless you're the betting sort. You can email me your presentations by noon or bring it on a CD. There's no need to run your Sieve code.
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Weblogs: New Syndication Models Or Uncontrolled Platforms

David Shnaider, Former President ZDNet, Founder of Prodigy is moderating a panel called \\"Weblogs: New Syndication Models Or Uncontrolled Platforms.\\" The panelists are: Rafat Ali, Editor/Publisher, PaidContent.org Vin Crosbie, Managing Partner, Digital Deliverance Jeff Jarvis, President & Creative Director, Advance.net Elizabeth Spiers, Editor, Gawker.com Jeff says that posting in a forum is like saying something in the bar last night. No one remembers what was said or who said it. Writing it in a weblog is like crapping in your neighbors yard. You've put you're name on it and no one will forget. Their advantages is speed, variety, voices,
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Blogs as Content Management

Matthew Berk, Senior Analyst, Jupiter Research is moderating a panel on "Blogs as/and Content Management". The panelists are: Mike Amundsen, President, EraServer.NET Timothy Appnel, Independent Writer Bill French, Co-Founder, MyST Technology Partners John Robb, President and COO, Userland Software William Stow, President, Tsunamin Corporation Adam Weinroth, Founder, Easyjournal LLC John Robb says "weblogs are content management systems for the rest of us" in the same way that WordPerfect was desktop publishing for the rest of us. They are being used in a wide variety of applications in places where content management systems would have been used in the past.
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David Weinberg: Why Blogging Matters

Blogging has excited the Internet community, the technical community, the business community, and others in a way we haven't seen since the early days of the WWW. People who talk about "the bubble" clearly have missed the importance of the web. The Internet and the web are still here. What's driving this? The fact that the Internet is a place for conversation, not just a place to find things. What is a blog? We do need to get past this. Here are some characteristics: Daily A few paragraphs Reverse chronological Linked in (little acts of selflessness) Voice Not technology
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Are Weblogs a Threat or Opportunity?

Kathleen Goodwin, CEO of iMakeNews and chair of this conference is moderating a panel on \\"Are Weblogs a Threat or Opportunity?\\" Panelists are: Rick E. Bruner, President, Executive Summary Consulting, Inc. Michael O'Connor Clarke, Senior Vice President, Weber Shandwick (Canada) Beth Goza, Community Lead, Windows Client Team, Microsoft Corporation Jeff Mooney, Director, Content Product Management and Educational Services, MediaMap Carin Warner, President, Warner Communications Beth Goza, from Microsoft, says that the only marketing strategy that a company ought to have with regards to blogs is to have not strategy. By this she means that having employees have conversations about
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Dave Winer: What is Blogging?

Dave is keynoting. He started by recounting some of the history of weblogs and points to a reverse chronological series of posts he put together for Wired magazine in 1996 and an event that helped him understand the power of this format. He brings up a favorite topic: how are bloggers different than journalists? Dave's conclusion: they're not necessarily different (i.e. journalism can be done on a blog). That means that there are some things bloggers ought to do including tell the truth and disclose biases and conflicts of interest. Of course, this is a controversial topic and while
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Weblog Business Strategies: Michael Gartenberg

The introductory speaker is Michael Gartenberg, VP and Research Director for Jupiter Research. Michael asks: "Why Weblogs?" Rapid communications Rapid feedback Getting the message across Extend the brand to new audiences He asked the question of Jupiter management and the debate was furious because Jupiter isn't used to giving away content. Still, in a short time, they've had quantifiable results: clients have said they renewed because of Jupiter weblogs. Microsoft Monitor is an example of a research line with a companion weblog There's a gap between perception and reality. Michael says this is the perception: Lack of Ethos Lack
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Off to Boston

I'm off to Boston early in the morning for the Jupiter Media Business Blogging Conference. I know Dave is hosting a bloggers dinner on Tuesday but I'll be flying back to Utah then (have to be back to teach on Wednesday). If anyone's interested in dinner Monday night, I'm game---after all, you do need to eat both nights anyway.
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IT Conversations with Doug Kaye

Doug Kaye has begun something he calls IT Conversations. He's interviewing various IT folks and putting the resulting MP3 files on the net along with an associated discussion area.. He told me about this when were at ETCon and I thought it was a great idea. Perhaps because of my enthusiasm, I was one of the people he interviewed first. My interview is available now as is one my Tony Greenburg. I found Doug to be a good interviewer and it all went very smoothly. I think this is an interesting experiment in audio content. You can download the
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Using Correct Titles

I was going through Jon Udell's slides from his talk at OSCOM last week and his discussion of using the right titles on web pages caught my eye. It pointed to this column he wrote called The Google API is a Two Way Street. As I read through these, I realized that this was the answer to a problem that had nagging at me for some time: when I search the pages on my blog, the titles are all the same and, consequently, not very helpful. Fortunately, Jon even supplied a script for Radio Userland that partially solves the
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Blogs for Project Management

Jonathan Petersen wrote a well thought out piece on
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Consolidated Management, not Computers

In a refresh of an idea that has been making the rounds since the first time-share computer, HP announced that they will start selling a blade PC system that keep disks and CPUs in a central facility and push only screens, keyboards, etc. to the user's desks. The idea is that if you have 10,000 employees but only 7,000 of them need to access computers at any one time, you save that same percentage of your hardware costs. Of course, the real savings would be in managing a cluster of blades instead of 10,000 PCs on desks. Anyone who's
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Language Assignments

Here are your groups and language assignments. Note that I have moved a few people around to even things out. Dig into this and let me know quickly if you can't find a workable implementation of your assigned language. GroupGroup MembersLanguage 1Max W.Alex R. Ruby 2Brent A.David R. PERL 3Kenneth B.Melissa A. Haskell 4Kevin H.Megan F. Squeak 5Dan O.Adam Manwaring ICON 6Carl Y.Kats R. SML/CAML 7Jarom N.Maria P. MDP or SR 8Christopher H.Burdette P. XSLT 9David H. Python 10 Rebol Come prepared next Wednesday to make your presentation. I'll pick groups at random after we've taken all those who
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Changing and Building Culture

In response to my earlier posts about corportate blogging, Steven Vore pointed me to a post he'd made last year on changing corporate culture. I've read the 3-5 year timeframe before and it rings true. Its kind of depressing that it takes that long. I can serve as a witness that it doesn't take that long to build a great culture from the ground up. I've been part of such an organization and that is an exhilarating experience. In the Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge says that once a person has been part of such an organization they'll do anything
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