collaboration

Accountability Appliances: What Lawyers Expect to See - Part III (User Interface)

I've written in the last two blogs about how lawyers operate in a very structured enviroment. This will have a tremendous impact on what they'll consider acceptable in a user interface. They might accept something which seems a bit like an outline or a form, but years of experience tell me that they will rail at anything code-like.

For example, we see

:MList a rdf:List

and automatically read

"MList" is the name of a list written in rdf

Or,

air:pattern {
:MEMBER air:in :MEMBERLIST.


and know that we are asking our system to look for a pattern in the data in which a particular "member" is in a particular list of members. Perhaps because law is already learning to read, speak, and think in another language, most lawyers look at lines like those above and see no meaning.

Our current work-in-progress produces output that includes:


bjb reject bs non compliant with S9Policy 1

Because

phone record 2892 category HealthInformation

Justify

bs request instruction bs request content
type Request
bs request content intended beneficiary customer351
type Benefit Action Instruction
customer351 location MA
xphone record 2892 about customer351



Nearly every output item is a hotlink to something which provides definition, explanation, or derivation. Much of it is in "Tabulator", the cool tool that aggregates just the bits of data we want to know.

From a user-interface-for-lawyers perspective, this version of output is an improvement over our earlier ones because it removes a lot of things programmers do to solve computation challenges. It removes colons and semi-colons from places they're not commonly used in English (i.e., as the beginning of a term) and mostly uses words that are known in the general population. It also parses "humpbacks" - the programmers' traditional
concatenation of a string of words - back into separate words. And, it replaces hyphens and underlines - also used for concatenation - with blank spaces.

At last week's meeting, we talked about the possibility of generating output which simulates short English sentences. These might be stilted but would be most easily read by lawyers. Here's my first attempt at the top-level template:

 

Issue: Whether the transactions in [TransactionLogFilePopularName] {about [VariableName] [VariableValue]} comply with [MasterPolicyPopularName]?

Rule: To be compliant, [SubPolicyPopularName] of [MasterPolicyPopularName] requires [PatternVariableName] of an event to be [PatternValue1].

Fact: In transaction [TransactionNumber] [PatternVariableName] of the event was [PatternValue2].

Analysis: [PatternValue2] is not [PatternValue].

Conclusion: The transactions appear to be non-compliant with [SubPolicyName] of [MasterPolicyPopularName].



This seems to me approximately correct in the context of requests for the appliance to reason over millions of transactions with many sub-rules. A person seeking an answer from the system would create the Issue question. The Issue question is almost always going to ask whether some series of transactions violated a super-rule and often will have a scope limiter (e.g., in regards to a particular person or within a date scope or by one entity), denoted here by {}.

From the lawyer perspective, the interesting part of the result is the finding of non-compliance or possible non-compliance. So, the remainder of the output would be generated to describe only the failure(s) in a pattern-matching for one or more sub-rules. If there's more than one violation, the interface would display the Issue once and then the Rule to Conclusion steps for each non-compliant result.

I tried this out on a laywer I know. He insisted it was unintelligible when the []'s were left in but said it was manageable when he saw the same text without them.


For our Scenario 9, Transaction 15, an idealized top level display would say:


Issue: Whether the transactions in Xphone's Customer Service Log about Person Bob Same comply with MA Disability Discrimination Law?

Rule: To be compliant, Denial of Service Rule of MA Disability Discrimination Law requires reason of an event to be other than disability.

Fact: In transaction Xphone Record 2892 reason of the event was Infectious Disease.

Analysis: Infectious disease is not other than disability.

Conclusion: The transactions appear to be non-compliant with Denial of Service Rule of MA Disability Discrimination Law.



Each one of the bound values should have a hotlink to a Tabulator display that provides background or details.



Right now, we might be able to produce:


Issue: Whether the transactions in Xphone's Customer Service Log about Betty JB reject Bob Same comply with MA Disability Discrimination Law?

Rule: To be non-compliant, Denial of Service Rule of MA Disability Discrimination Law requires REASON of an event to be category Health Information.

Fact: In transaction Xphone Record 2892 REASON of the event was category Health Information.

Analysis: category Health Information is category Health Information.

Conclusion: The transactions appear to be non-compliant with Denial of Service Rule of MA Disability Discrimination Law.




This example highlights a few challenges.

1) It's possible that only failures of policies containing comparative matches (e.g., :v1 sameAs :v2; :v9 greaterThan :v3; :v12 withinDateRange :v4) are legally relevant. This needs more thought.

2) We'd need to name every sub-policy or have a default called UnnamedSubPolicy.

3) We'd need to be able to translate statute numbers to popular names and have a default instruction to include the statute number when no popular name exists.

4) We'd need some taxonomies (e.g., infectious disease is a sub-class of disability).

5) In a perfect world, we'd have some way to trigger a couple alternative displays. For example, it would be nice to be able to trigger one of two rule structures: either one that says a rule requires a match or one that says a rules requires a non-match. The reason for this is that if we always have to use the same structure, about half of the outputs will be very stilted and cause the lawyers to struggle to understand.

6) We need someway to deal with something the system can't reason. If the law requires the reason to be disability and the system doesn't know whether health information is the same as or different from disability, then it ought to be able to produce an analysis that says something along the lines of "The relationship between Health Information and disability is unknown" and produce a conclusion that says "Whether the transaction is compliant is unknown." If we're reasoning over millions of transactions there are likely to be quite a few of these and they ought to be presented after the non-compliant ones.

 

 

Accountability Appliances: What Lawyers Expect to See - Part II (Structure)

Submitted by kkw on Thu, 2008-01-10 14:16. :: | | | | |

Building accountability appliances involves a challenging intersection between business, law, and technology. In my first blog about how to satisfy the legal portion of the triad, I explained that - conceptually - the lawyer would want to know whether particular digital transactions had complied with one or more rules. Lawyers, used to having things their own way, want more... they want to get the answer to that question in a particular structure.

All legal cases are decided using the same structure. As first year law students, we spend a year with highlighter in hand, trying to pick out the pieces of that structure from within the torrent of words of court decisions. Over time, we become proficient and -- like the child who stops moving his lips when he reads -- the activity becomes internalized and instinctive. From then on, we only notice that something's not right by its absence.

The structure is as follows:

  • ISSUE - the legal question that is being answered. Most typically it begins with the word "whether" "Whether the Privacy Act was violated?" Though the bigger question is whether an entire law was violated, because laws tend to have so many subparts and variables, we often frame a much narrower issue based upon a subpart that we think was violated, such as "Whether the computer matching prohibition of the Privacy Act was violated?"
  • RULE - provides the words and the source of the legal requirement. This can be the statement of a particular law, such as "The US Copyright law permits unauthorized use of copyrighted work based upon four conditions - the nature of use, the the nature of the work, the amount of the work used, and the likely impact on the value of the work. 17 USC § 107." Or, it can be a rule created by a court to explain how the law is implemented in practical situations: "In our jurisdiction, there is no infringement of a copyrighted work when the original is distributed widely for free because there is no diminution of market value. Field v. Google, Inc., 412 F. Supp 2d. 1106 (D.Nev. 2006)." [Note: The explanation of the citation formats for the sources has filled books and blogs. Here's a good brief explanation from Cornell.]
  • FACTS - the known or asserted facts that are relevant to the rule we are considering and the source of the information. In a Privacy Act computer matching case, there will be assertions like "the defendant's CIO admitted in deposition that he matched the deadbeat dads list against the welfare list and if there were matches he was to divert the benefits to the custodial parent." In a copyright case fair use case, a statement of facts might include "plaintiff admitted that he has posted the material on his website and has no limitations on access or copying the work."
  • ANALYSIS - is where the facts are pattern-matched to the rule. "The rule does not permit US persons to lose benefits based upon computer matched data unless certain conditions are met. Our facts show that many people lost their welfare benefits after the deadbeat data was matched to the welfare rolls without any of the other conditions being met." Or "There can be no finding of copyright infringement where the original work was so widely distributed for free that it had no market value. Our facts show that Twinky Co. posted its original material on the web on its own site and every other site where it could gain access without any attempt to control copying or access."

  • CONCLUSION - whether a violation has or has not occurred. "The computer matching provision of the Privacy Act was violated." or "The copyright was not infringed.

In light of this structure, we've been working on parsing the tremendous volume of words into their bare essentials so that they can be stored and computed to determine whether certain uses of data occurred in compliance with law. Most of our examples have focused on privacy.

Today, the number of sub-rules, elements of rules, and facts are often so voluminous that there is not enough time for a lawyer or team of lawyers to work through them all. So, the lawyer guesses what's likely to be a problem and works from there; the more experienced or talented the lawyer, the more likely that the guess leads to a productive result. Conversely, this likely means that many violations are never discovered. One of the great benefits of our proposed accountability appliance is that it could quickly reason over a massive volume of sub-rules, elements, and facts to identify the transactiions that appear to violate a rule or for which there's insufficient information to make a determination.

Although we haven't discussed it, I think there also will be a benefit to be derived from all of the reasoning that concludes that activities were compliant. I'm going to try to think of some high value examples.

 

 

Two additional blogs are coming:

Physically, what does the lawyer expect to see? At the simplest level, lawyers are expecting to see things in terms they recognize and without unfamiliar distractions; even the presence of things like curly brackets or metatags will cause most to insist that the output is unreadable. Because there is so much information, visualization tools present opportunities for presentations that will be intuitively understood.

And:

The 1st Lawyer to Programmer/Programmer to Lawyer Dictionary! Compliance, auditing, privacy, and a host of other topics now have lawyers and system developers interacting regularly. As we've worked on DIG, I've noticed how the same words (e.g., rules, binding, fact) have different meanings.

 

I can only imagine...

Submitted by connolly on Sun, 2007-12-09 09:30. :: | | | |

I have a new bookmark. No, not a del.icio.us bookmark; not some bits in a file. This is the kind you have to go there to get.. go to Cleveland, that is. It reads:

Thank you
for you love & support
for the Ikpia & Ogbuji families
At this time of real need.
We will never forget
Imose, Chica, & Anya

Imose, Chica, & Anya

Abundant Life International Church
Highland heights, OH

After working with Chime for a year or so on the GRDDL Working Group (he was the difference between a hodge-podge of test files and a nicely organized GRDDL Test Cases technical report), I was really excited to meet him at the W3C Technical Plenary in Cambridge in early November. His Fuxi work is one of the best implementations of the way I think semantic web rules and proofs should go. When he told me some people didn't see the practical applications, it made me want to fly there and tell them how I think this will save lives and end world hunger.

So this past Tuesday, when I read the news about his family, the only way I could make my peace with it was to go and be with him. I can only imagine what he is going through. Eric Miller and Brian and David drove me to the funeral, but the line to say hi to the family was too long. And the internment service didn't really provide an opportunity to talk. So I was really glad that after I filled my plate at the reception, a seat across from Chime and Roschelle opened up for me and I got to sit and share a meal with them.

Grandpa Linus was at the table, too. His eulogy earlier at the funeral ended with the most inspiring spoken rendition of a song that I have ever heard:

Now The Hacienda's Dark The Town Is Sleeping
Now The Time Has Come To Part The Time For Weeping
Vaya Con Dios My Darling
Vaya Con Dios My Love

His eulogy is also posted as Grandparents' lament on The Kingdom Kids web site, along with details about a fund to help the family get back on their feet.

Free Culture: Why buy the Amazon Kindle when you can give and get an OLPC XO-1 for the same price?

Submitted by connolly on Tue, 2007-11-20 02:11. :: |

I just discovered Kindle: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device. About $10 per e-book sounds ok, but $0.10 to put my own files on it?!?! It can read blogs like Slashdot and boingboing for as little as $.99 per month over the $399 purchase price. It comes with wikipedia. Say... that sounds familiar... where else can I get wikipedia on a device with a nice display that works in daylight...

Oh yeah! The OLPC XO-1. For the same $400 (+ shipping) you can get one and give one away.

Håkon brought one to the video panel at the W3C TPAC this month, while the voice of Lawrence Lessig was still ringing in my head: What have we done about it? he asked again and again in his powerful OSCON 2002 talk:

Lawrence Lessig: I have been doing this for about two years--more than 100 of these gigs. This is about the last one. One more and it's over for me. So I figured I wanted to write a song to end it. But then I realized I don't sing and I can't write music. But I came up with the refrain, at least, right? This captures the point. If you understand this refrain, you're gonna' understand everything I want to say to you today. It has four parts:

  • Creativity and innovation always builds on the past.

  • The past always tries to control the creativity that builds upon it.

  • Free societies enable the future by limiting this power of the past.

  • Ours is less and less a free society.

 

I don't sing all that well either, but I play a little guitar, so when Håkon walked into the HTML WG meeting as un-conference pitches were next on the agenda, I pitched a jam session. I dedicated the opening number,With a Little Help from My Friends, to Sam Ruby whose comment prompted me to watch the Lessig show before the trip. The InstantGig was "surreal (but awesome)" according to one account.

Håkon's pitch for open standard video for our cultural heritage inspired One laptop per Kyle, the story of getting an XO-1 for my 8-year-old boy instead of the Windows PC he says he want in order to play the games that his friends all play. Before the trip he told me that he wants to build a web site with lots and lots of games and I thought "but you're just one little boy." But I think I get it now...

He has a new name, by the way: Burn, as in Rip, Mix, an Burn. Rip, after 1 year of musical training, can sound out the Mario theme on trombone or piano in an afternoon, something I can't do after 20 years of training my mediocre ear. And the middle child, Mix, is so charming that if you stop at a red light, he'll have a new friend before the light turns green.

I have one give-one-get-one package on order for Burn; if you're feeling like a patron of the arts and you want to see what happens if Rip and Mix get one too, feel free to send us a Christmas Card with a little something inside.

And look out for SwordPedestal.com, which Kyle picked out. It's only a dream now, but I have a hunch it may one day rival Nintendo for the hearts and minds of a few million people.

Soccer schedules, flight itineraries, timezones, and python web frameworks

Submitted by connolly on Wed, 2007-09-12 17:17. :: | | | |

The schedule for this fall soccer season came out August 11th. I got the itinerary for the trip I'm about to take on July 26. But I just now got them synchronized with the family calendar.

The soccer league publishes the schedule in somewhat reasonable HTML; to get that into my sidekick, I have a Makefile that does these steps:

  1. Use tidy to make the markup well-formed.
  2. Use 100 lines of XSLT (soccer-schedfix.xsl) to add hCalendar markup.
  3. Use glean-hcal.xsl to get RDF calendar data.
  4. Use hipAgent.py to upload the calendar items via XMLRPC to the danger/t-mobile service, which magically updates the sidekick device.

But oops! The timezones come out wrong. Ugh... manually fix the times of 12 soccer games... better than manually keying in all the data... then sync with the family calendar. My usual calendar sync Makefile does the following:

  1. Use dangerSync.py to download the calendar and task data via XMLRPC.
  2. Use hipsrv.py to filter by category=family, convert from danger/sidekick/hiptop conventions to iCalendar standard conventions pour the records into a kid template to produce RDF Calendar (and hCalendar).
  3. Use toIcal.py to convert RDF Calendar to .ics format.
  4. Upload to family WebDAV server using curl.

Then check the results on my mac to make sure that when my wife refreshes her iCal subscriptions it will look right.

Oh no! The timezones are wrong again!

The sidekick has no visible support for timezones, but the start_time and end_time fields in the XMLRPC interface are in Z/UTC time, and there's a timezone field. However, after years with this device, I'm still mystified about how it works. The Makefiles approach is not conducive to tinkering at this level, so I worked on my REST interface, hipwsgi.py until it had crude support for editing records (using JSON syntax in a form field). What I discovered is that once you post an event record with a mixed up timezone, there's no way to fix it. When you use the device UI to change the start time, it looks OK, but the Z time via XMLRPC is then wrong.

So I deleted all the soccer game records, carefully factored the danger/iCalendar conversion code out of hipAgent.py into calitems.py for ease of testing, and goit it working for local Chicago-time events.

Then I went through the whole story again with my itinerary. Just replace tidy and soccer-schedfix.xsl with flightCal.py to get the itinerary from SABRE's text format to hCalendar:

  1. Upload itinerary to the sidekick.
  2. Manually fix the times.
  3. Sync with iCal. Bzzt. Off by several hours.
  4. Delete the flights from the sidekick.
  5. Work on calitems.py some more.
  6. Upload to the sidekick again. Ignore the sidekick display, which is right for the parts of the itinerary in Chicago, but wrong for the others.
  7. Sync with iCal. Win!

I suppose I'm resigned that the only way to get the XMLRPC POST/upload right (the stored Z times, at least, if not the display) is to know what timezone the device is set to when the POST occurs. Sigh.

A March 2005 review corroborates my findings:

The Sidekick and the sync software do not seem to be aware of time zones. That means that your PC and your Sidekick have to be configured for the same time zone when they synchronize, else your appointments will be all wrong.

 

 hipwsgi.py is about my 5th iteration on this idea of a web server interface to my PDA data. It uses WSGI and JSON and Genshi, following Joe G's stuff. Previous itertions include:

  1. pdkb.pl - quick n dirty perl hack (started April 2001)
  2. hipAgent.py - screen scraping (Dec 2002)
  3. dangerSync.py - XMLRPC with a python shelf and hardcoded RDF/XML output (Feb 2004)
  4. hipsrv.py - conversion logic in python with kid templates and SPARQL-like filters over JSON-shaped data (March 2006)
It's pretty raw right now, but fleshing out the details looks like fun. Wish me luck.

Collaboration and crime at a distance at HASTAC, WWW2007

Submitted by connolly on Thu, 2007-05-17 13:44. :: |

I went to the 1st International HASTAC Conference, April 19-21, 2007 at Duke University in Durham, NC, USA. My stated role was to tell the story of How the W3C Process Got Its Stripes to this humanities research community on a The World Wide Web Evolves panel that Harry Halpin arranged.

After a short history of my role in the development of the Web and W3C, I noted that the Internet not only faciiltates remote collaboration; it also opens the door to crime at a distance. Extortion of the form "say... nice web site you got there; it would be a shame if something happened to it" is a reality. I'm interested in research into how much the Internet can tolerate before we see the tragedy of the commons.

I noted the Proof-of-work proves not to work result by Laurie and Clayton in 2004 as a fairly surprising result based on what looks like fairly straightforward and unsophisticated economic analysis of spam, zombies, etc. Does the humanities research community have expertise in statistics and economics of preserving cultural values such as open communication? (Oh yeah... and I meant to encourage them to look at social/ethical issues around OpenID and distributed authentication, but I completely forgot.)

While HASTAC is somewhat on the leading edge of the humanities community, I'm not sure their scope includes what I'm looking for.

Meanwhile, at the Web Science panel at WWW2007 in Banff, Peter asked "Where are the cultural anthropologists?" I was pleasantly surprised that some of them were there. Again, at Harry Halpin's prompting.

The Mercurial SCM: great for lots of stuff, but not the holy grail

Submitted by connolly on Fri, 2007-03-23 15:44. :: | |

I have been tracking the mercurial project for a couple years now. First just a bookmark under python+scm, then after using hg to code on an airplane about a year later, I was hooked. I helped get the microformats testing effort using mercurial about a year later, and did some noodling on Access control and version control: an over-constrained problem? around that same time.

Yesterday I played host to Matt Mackall as he gave a presentation, The Mercurial SCM, to the W3C Team. In the disucssion that followed, we touched on:

  • fractal project organization (touching on PartiaClone and the ForestExtension)
  • the toplogy of update flows in a large development system with
    overlapping communities with differentt access rights
  • comparisons with Darcs
  • hg hosting, large projects, user support

It seems that hg scales to very large projects, as long as they're fairly uniform, but it doesn't support the sort of tangly fractal web of inter-project dependencies that would make it the holy grail of version control systems.

Celebrating OWL interoperability and spec quality

Submitted by connolly on Sat, 2006-11-11 00:29. :: | |

In a Standards and Pseudo Standards item in July, Holger Knublauch gripes that SQL interoperability is still tricky after all these years, and UML is still shaking out bugs, while RDF and OWL are really solid. I hope GRDDL and SPARQL will get there soon too.

At the OWL: Experiences and Directions workshop in Athens today, as the community gathered to talk about problems they see with OWL and what they'd like to add to OWL, I felt compelled to point out (using a few slides) that:

  • XML interoperability is quite good and tools are pretty much ubiquitous, but don't forget the XML Core working group has fixed over 100 errata in the specifications since they were originally adopted in 1998.
  • HTML interoperability is a black art; the specification is only a small part of what you need to know to build interoperable tools.
  • XML Schema interoperability is improving, but interoperability problem reports are still fairly common, and it's not always clear from the spec which tool is right when they disagree.

And while the OWL errata do include a repeated sentence and a missing word, there have been no substantive problems reported in the normative specifications.

How did we do that? The OWL deliverables include:

OWL test results screenshot

Jeremy and Jos did great work on the tests. And Sandro's approach to getting test results back from the tool developers was particularly inspired. He asked them to publish their test results as RDF data in the web. Then he provided immediate feedback in the form of an aggregate report that included updates live. After our table of test results had columns from one or two tools, several other developers came out of the woodwork and said "here are my results too." Before long we had results from a dozen or so tools and our implementation report was compelling.

The GRDDL tests are coming along nicely; Chime's message on implementation and testing shows that the spec is quite straightforward to implement, and he updated the test harness so that we should be able to support Evaluation and Report Language (EARL) soon.

SPARQL looks a bit more challenging, but I hope we start to get some solid reports from developers about the SPARQL test collection soon too.

tags: QA, GRDDL, SPARQL, OWL, RDF, Semantic Web

On the Future of Research Libraries at U.T. Austin

Submitted by connolly on Sat, 2006-09-16 17:14. :: | | |

Wow. What a week!

I'm always on the lookout for opportunities to get back to Austin, so I was happy to accept an invitation to this 11 - 12 September symposium, The Research Library in the 21st Century run by University of Texas Libraries:Image: San Jacinto Residence Hall

In today's rapidly changing digital landscape, we are giving serious thought to shaping a strategy for the future of our libraries. Consequently, we are inviting the best minds in the field and representatives from leading institutions to explore the future of the research library and new developments in scholarly communication. While our primary purpose is to inform a strategy for our libraries and collections, we feel that all participants and their institutions will benefit.

I spent the first day getting a feel for this community, where evidently a talk by Clifford Lynch of CNI is a staple. "There is no scholarship without scholarly communication," he said, quoting Courant. He noted that traditionally, publishers disseminate and libraries preserve, but we're shifting to a world where the library helps disseminate and makes decisions on behalf of the whole world about which works to preserve. He said there's a company (I wish I had made a note of the name) that has worked out the price of an endowed web site; at 4% annual return, they figure it at $2500/gigabyte.

James Duderstadt from the University of Michigan told us that the day when the entire contents of the library fits on an iPod (or "a device the size of a football" for other audiences that didn't know about iPods ;-) is not so far off. He said that the University of Michigan started digitizing their 7.8million volumes even before becoming a Google Book Search library partner. They initially estimated it would take 10 years, but the current estimate is 6 years and falling. He said that yes, there are copyright issues and other legal challenges, and he wouldn't be suprised to end up in court over it; he had done that before. Even the sakai project might face litigation. What got the most attention, I think, was when he relayed first-hand experience from the Spellings Commission on the Future of Higher Education; their report is available to those that know where to look, though it is not due for official release until September 26.

He also talked about virtual organizations, i.e. groups of researchers from universities all over, and even the "meta university," with no geographical boundaries at all. That sort of thing fueled my remarks for the Challenges of Access and Preservation panel on the second day. I noted that my job is all about virtual organizations, and if the value of research libraries is connected to recruiting good people, you should keep in mind the fact that "get together and go crazy" events like football games are a big part of building trust and loyalty.

Kevin Guthrie, President of ITHAKA, made a good point that starting new things is usually easier than changing old things, which was exactly what I was thinking when President Powers spoke of "preserving our investment" in libraries in his opening address. U.T. invested $650M in libraries since 1963. That's not counting bricks and mortar; that's special collections, journal subscriptions, etc.

My point that following links is 96% reliable sparked an interesting conversation; it was misunderstood as "96% of web sites are persistent" and then "96% of links persist"; when I clarified that it's 96% of attempts to follow links that succeed, and this is because most attempts to follow links are from one popular resource to another, we had an interesting discussion of ephemera vs. the scholarly record and which parts need what sort of attention and what sort of policies. The main example was that 99% of political websites about the California run-off election went offline right after the election. My main point was: for the scholarly record, HTTP/DNS is as good as it gets for the forseeable future; don't throw up your hands at the 4% and wait for some new technology; apply your expertise of curation and organizational change to the existing technologies.

In fact, I didn't really get beyond URIs and basic web architecture in my remarks. I had prepared some points about the Semantic Web, but I didn't have time for them in my opening statement and they didn't come up much later in the conversation, except when Ann Wolpert, Director of Libraries at MIT, brough up DSPACE a bit.

Betsy Wilson of the University of Washington suggested that collaboration would be the hallmark of the library of the future. I echoed that back in the wrap-up session referring to library science as the "interdisciplinary discipline"; I didn't think I was making that up (and a google search confirms I did not), but it seemed to be new to this audience.

By the end of the event I was pretty much up to speed on the conversation; but on the first day, I felt a little out of place and when I saw the sound engineer getting things ready, I mentioned to him that I had a little experience using and selling that sort of equipment. It turned out that he's George Geranios, sound man for bands like Blue Oyster Cult for about 30 years. We had a great conversation on digital media standards and record companies. I'm glad I sat next to David Seaman of the DLF at lunch; we had a mutual colleague in Michael Sperberg-McQueen. I asked him about IFLA, one of the few acronyms from the conversation that I recognized; he helped me understand that IFLA conferences are relevant, but they're about libraries in general, and the research library community is not the same. And Andrew Dillon got me up to speed on all sorts of things and made the panel I was on fun and pretty relaxed.

Fred Heath made an oblique reference to a New York Times article about moving most of the books out of the U.T. undergraduate library as if everyone knew, but it was news to me. Later in the week I caught up with Ben Kuipers; we didn't have time for my technical agenda of linked data and access limited logic, but we did discover that both of us were a bit concerned with the fragility of civilization as we know it and the value of books over DVDs if there's no reliable electricity.

The speakers comments at the symposium were recorded; there's some chance that edited transcripts will appear in a special issue of a journal. Stay tuned for that. And stay tuned for more breadcrumbs items on talks I gave later in the week where I did get beyond the basic http/DNS/URI layer of Semantic Web Archtiecture.


tags:, ,

on Wikimania 2006, from a few hundred miles away

Submitted by connolly on Thu, 2006-08-10 16:26. :: | |

Wikimania 2006 was last week in Boston; I had it on my travel schedule, tenatively, months in advance, but I didn't really come up with a solid justification, and there were conflicts, so I ended up not going.

I was very interested to see the online participation options, but I didn't get my hopes up too high, because I know that ConnectingAudiences is challenging.

I tried to participate in the transcription stuff real-time; installation of the goby collaborative editor went smoothly enough (it looks like an interesting alternative to SubEthaEdit, though it's client/server, not peer-to-peer; they're talking about switching to the jabber protocol...) but I couldn't seem to connect to any sessions while people were active in them.

The real-time video feed of mako on a definition of Freedom was surprisingly good, though I couldn't give it my full attention during the work day. I didn't understand the problem he was speaking to (isn't GFDL good enough?) until I listened to Lessig on Free Culture and realized that CC share-alike and GFDL don't interoperate. (Yet another reason to keep the test of independent invention in mind at all times.)

Lessig read this quote, but only referred to the author using a photo that I couldn't see via the audio feed; when I looked it up, I realized there was a gap in this student's free culture education:

If we don't want to live in a jungle, we must change our attitudes. We must start sending the message that a good citizen is one who cooperates when appropriate, not one who is successful at taking from others.

RMS, 1992

These sessions on the wikipedia process look particularly interesting; I hope to find time to see or listen to a recording:

I bumped into TimBL online and remind him about the Wikipedia and the Semantic Web panel; he had turned it down because of other travel obligations, but he just managed to stop by after all. I hope it went allright; he was pretty jet-lagged.

I see WikiSym 2006 coming up August 21-23, 2006 in Odense, Denmark. I'm not sure I can find justification to make travel plans on just a few weeks of notice. But Denny's hottest conference ever item burns like salt in an open wound and motivates me to give it a try. It looks like the SweetWiki folks, who participate in the GRDDL WG, will be there; that's the start of a justification...

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