29 August 2008

Tech News

Given that Fairfax reporters are on strike, I figure here's my chance to fill the gap by recycling old news and presenting it as something that has just happened. Shame the KM front is a bit dull - other than the exciting news that the actKM08 conference just put out it's program and call for award submissions.

So here's some interesting technology tidbits I've picked up:

Windows 7 is moving ever closer to its eventual release, and you can track its progress on the new Windows 7 blog.

Windows 7 is the follow-up to everyone's favourite slow-moving target Vista, and is hoped to be the equivalent of 2000/XP, against Vista being the equivalent of the almost universally derided Windows ME. I have to say, I am actually quite fond of Windows ME - and not just because the ME OS-tan is so cute. I still have - and use - ME, and if offered the choice between ME and Vista, I'd choose the former, although I think Vista does cop more flak than it deserves (it still deserves quite a lot though). Still, there are some interesting KM asides in it that I will get to soon.

Apple is almost to be launching a new-look iPod nano (plus a revised Touch) and dropping the price of some of its non-iPhone range

Every so often I toy with the idea of picking up an iPod or an iPhone. Aside from the "cool and new" factor (which is significant), I keep going back to not needing one. I get around not having said funky device with other funky devices - a Nokia n95 and a Sony PSP. Convergence means a lot of the functions of these devices overlap, but the iPhone can't give me anything that I can't get from either, except maybe iTunes - and I'm not losing any sleep over not further supporting that DRM juggernaut. Still, the number of times my phone has died because I've used the mp3 player at the gym means I might still consider it. I'll see if the new range rocks as much as Apple claim over the next 24 hours, and Speaking of the old PSP...

New PSP is due in October

The new PSP is due in October, for what its worth - that's a hell of an under-rated piece of hardware, IMHO. I'm watching movies on it all the time (well, all the time I'm not playing games on it). I've got a MicroSD to MS Pro adapter plugged into it, which gives me an additional 4Gb of memory for about A$20 whenever I need it. 4GB is very handy - that's about 5 albums, an entire series of Doctor Who, and 2 or 3 movies on hand whenever I need them. Whenever I feel deprived about not having an Apple Something, a quick dip into Syphon Filter, Final Fantasy or God of War usually brings me around. Shame about the battery life.

22 August 2008

actKM08 - Conference Program Available

The actKM08 – Managing for Competitive Advantage conference program is now available from the actKM website. I know this of course, because I was the one that put it on the website – although this doesn’t explain why its taken me near 24 hours to post about it – that has more to do with the vagaries of the life expectancies of wheel bearings.

Anyway, after the (almost surprising) success of last year’s conference, great things are expected this year, especially with the line up of presenters including Dave Gurteen, Dave Snowden, Dave Williams, as well as KM practitioners and theorists who aren’t named “Dave”. Also expect a lot of “2.0” in some for or another – Web 2.0, World 2.0, KM 2.0, etc. I wonder if all the 2.0 will ever get out of beta testing, although my perspective is that good 2.0 is almost synonymous with beta testing, since continuous improvement and refinement is always part of it.

Also at the conference will be the actKM Awards, which recognise excellence in knowledge-based work. Last year's winner was a real cracker, and a great anodyne to the focus on 2.0 and technology (remember, this is ME saying that!). The awards are open to any Australian organisation, and the process and criteria for nominations is available here. If you’ve been doing something and would like to get the word out, you should have look.

19 August 2008

Google now acknowledge humans have feet

One of the biggest bugbears I've had with using Google Maps is the - not entirely illogical - assumption that you go everywhere by car. Its a real disadvantage when you look at getting directions off the thing when you want to go by foot, and has been the one clear advantage that whereis.com.au has (aside from the fact that I think whereis is marginally more accurate). For this reason alone, I've been reluctant to use Google Maps as a primary resource for map directions.

Well, Google look to finally have gotten around to this, with the addition of getting walking directions. This is especially handy in cities where you get a lot of one way streets that make no difference if you're on foot. This - combined with the ability to customise and personalise multiple maps and locations, probably gives GM the edge now. It’s just creepy that they know where I live!

13 August 2008

knols are stupid and confusing - and that's good news

You know, I started deriding knols because they had such a stupid (and to me, mildly offensive and potentially dangerous) tagline. I now find myself defending the effort, even though my POV is the same.

I've got to applaude Google for at least muddying waters that have been in danger of clearing, in terms of "authoratative" answers from wikipedia. What I like about the knols is that you can have the same thing defined multiple times, and so don't get the single answer that wikipedia appears to the average Web-Searcher.

The single answer is what most non-professional searchers are looking for, and the mirage of its existence scares me frankly. I don't have so high an opinion of most searchers that I think that they'll see the wikipedia entry come up in their search, click on it, read it, have the answer they need, and then go looking for more details that will make the answer less clear. Why would they? The same people know that a healthy diet will make them live longer, yet Hungry Jacks still exists!

I still think there are some fundamental flaws with the knol model, such as the option to earn revenue by placing ads against an entry. Also, it re-raises the question of how you can provide content as well as search content independently (Yahoo! Answers, anyone). Still, to me knols are trying to present an information landscape that is closer to reality, by making simple answers harder to get. Its not an intrinsically bad idea, any more than Yahoo! Answers or wikipedia are. Maybe the goal should be to force those 3 resources to be at the top of any search, regardless of the engine.

Legal Implications of Gathering Competitive Intelligence

From the world of competitive intelligence, comes this interesting bit
of speculation from the US
. It seems that there are concerns
about the legal liability of a firm in relation to any competitive
intelligence activities they undertake. I've been doing some work on CI
lately - in particular looking at using narrative to extract CI held
internally. (One thing that this does is make you a little bit paranoid
about things like blogging - what competitive intelligence might I give
away by talking about competitive intelligence. I can see how major
intelligence agency stuff can become so nutty. )

I've always thought that he really tricky legal implication might be the
'human intelligence' - the stuff you gather from people in the field. To
me, this is where the real wealth is, and where you are going to get the
legally questionable stuff if you undertake work to gather, analyse,
distribute, and act on it. Such an activity carries the inherent risk
that a bit of info gets passed around that really shouldn't have. Of
course, this is nothing new, but the use of narrative techniques to
gather this kind of information means that it is more likely to be
recorded and retrievable - I mean, that's the whole idea. And a
conversation that has been transcribed and stored on a hard drive is
much harder to deny any knowledge of (makes me wish that the briefings
to Howard Government ministers on SIEV-4, children overboard, and AWB to
name a few where undertaken using a narrative approach).

Previously though, I've had less concern around the stuff that's
publicly available because it's publicly available. A lot of the
information isn't overly useful on its own, and requires a lot of
gathering and analysis activity before it becomes intelligence. The
implication now is that the act of knowingly gathering this information
for purposes which are very nearly the antithesis of what it was
provided for - instead of selling a service, the information is being
used to guide a competitor on how to beat them to a sale - could be
illegal under current US laws. That makes a trick area of work just that
little bit trickier.