Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Web OS

There's been considerable buzz about a new Web Operating System in the last year. The prominence of the web is so strong in the usage that most of the users are doing on their daily tasks that a lot of people are thinking we should have some type of operating system. The idea is that when you start a computer you're in a web browser and a web environment where all happens around internet access and such.

I believe something like this makes sense. As a user I need something like a WebOS. The concept to me is mostly about being able to access my personalized desktop from any computer/device. The exact way it will come I'm not sure, but I think these are some interesting options:

1. Web Sites operating as OS. A good example is youOS
. I love this web site, they did capture what a user needs. It provides a virtual desktop and it remembers it unless you tell it to start a new session. I am a total freak with preserving my desktop status, so this is exactly what I was looking for. They definitely need a capital injection to improve the looks, provide more applications, allow a better scheme for third party developers to build YouOS applications. But, as a proof of concept of what could be done with a virtual web OS, they deliver.

2. Real operating systems in the traditional way could become the new standard with modifications to make them more web focused. A great candidate seems to be Ubuntu, one of linux flavors. I have a computer at the office dedicated to Ubuntu (mostly for the occasional visitor with browser needs ;). I love their marketing, simplicity, open source philosophy. I believe they will do a great advancement as more and more applications convert to web, but I don't see them taking over the rest of the OSs.

3. A thin client application running on top of each and all the rest of the current OSs could be the new WebOS. This thin client would allow you to login once and enter to your virtual desktop that would be stored in some server. The functionality is similar to the web site WebOS, except that it would not be limited to a web browser page and it could do a much better use of local resources. It would be easier to add online/offline functionality. If you think about it, a web browser today is a minimum expression of this WebOS, but of course it's far away from becoming an OS.

4. One last options is that it remains like it is now, but it becomes more and more integrated through improvements in browsers and sites. Firefox today has the capability to remember your session for instance, which to me is one of the ingredients of the WebOS. There are many signs that the web is going in this direction of integration and becoming a huge interconnected application in the users eyes. An example of such unique identification systems is openId.

Read/Write Web makes some interesting points on how this might happen and bets as Google being the main actor of the WebOS. I'm not so sure about that either ...

I personally would bet on 1. web server WebOS or 3. thin client WebOS on top of any OS. Of course if you want to compete with Microsoft like Apple, Google and Ubuntu do, then you probably would bet more on 2. a new real OS built to be the WebOS.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Memory and Reminders

Because I have what I consider to be a very bad memory, I am frequently thinking about some kind of reminder system.
The basic idea would be to have some type of capability to define reminders that can come back to the me when programmed to do so. I think it's time that we add some active component to our external memory (meaning all digital data outside my our brains) that so far was only being pulled from the net from an active user’s decision to a pop situation from the net is coming back to me and saying ‘hey you need to remember this’. I personally use outlook alerts, but it's only calendar driven and media limited as it only alerts in one environment and a unique contact way.

The way I see it a remainder would be an object of some type that needs to get to my attention given some triggering event and the alert would be communicated to me according to some settings:
Reminder: Object + Triggering event + Settings

An object could be some text, some contact info, a note of my notebook, an email I could be reading, a blog entry, a video/image, a page the user is browsing or a search that the user is launching, etc. Whatever is the content I need to be reminded of.

Triggering event would be for instance a particular datetime, a calendar event (public or private, such as Halloween, or when I next time I travel to Orlando), proximity to a GPS position, an agent triggered event (such as an agent that is searching for the lowest fare for me and when this agent that is a third party program comes up with a particular result).

Settings could be: priority (high, regular, low), notification method and device to send reminder (maybe cell phone sms, desktop alert, email alert, etc), type of reminder, etc.

Another way of seeing alerts would be rules:
Reminder: Do Action with Settings if Condition

Thursday, December 21, 2006

One robot in every home

This is the name of the Jan'07 Scientific American's cover article by Bill Gates. Also it was a prediction made public by the South Korea's prime minister on April of 2006 that by 2015/2020 every home in South Korea would have one.
I was actually thinking about this in the past week or so, it definitely is an industry to watch and we'll just see it grow fast, more so in Asian markets probably than in the West.

My view on this subject:
1. Software: Microsoft is betting hard into this area and software wise it looks like we the path is being cleared to go.
2. Hardware: robotic parts (servos and sensors basically) are slowly getting cheaper but it's still expensive to get them. Not getting to the "kids in the garage" level yet, except for the LEGO Mindstorms which is actually great and is probably giving us the next robot developers generation.
3. Challenges: when we try to create machines that have glimpses of the intelligence we humans have, we need to emulate the massive parallelism of the brain and this is the challenge both in the hardware and software level. Bill Gate's article explains a bit of this and how their software solution has come up with couple solutions to this : concurrency and coordination run-time (CCR), taking advantage of multicore and multiprocessors systems and also a technology they call decentralized software services (DSS) that is supposed to simplify the writing of distributed robotic applications.

The article mentions possible uses including helper robots for the elder or people with disabilities. He didn't mention the "robot avatar", being like an alter ego for people with disabilities, that Dan was mentioning in his comment to one of my posts couple weeks ago, but we sure will get there ;)

The field is becoming amazing as it always was interesting but now it looks like all the pieces are coming together to really make it happen in the next couple decades. Seems likely that Microsoft is indeed paving the road to "One robot in every home".

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

From my mobile

Just testing sending text/photos from my mobile to
Nicole and Ale.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Inspi(RED) and the long tail of philanthropy

I should have gone (RED) on Dec 1st ... but better late than never ...
This is a really great initiative, Bono summarizes it in a great way here.
The way I see it, like it or not, we are part of something bigger than ourselves, the interaction of all of us over Earth dancing on an energy field of "coincidences", makes us part of a huge body. With this perspective in mind, I try to get some distance and look at the planet and I can see a face in the total light act of admiring/criticizing itself on the mirror (America comes to mind). Then I look further and see a leg that is sick, cells dying here and there, chaos, hunger, poverty (Africa for instance). Look further and see other areas with a total need for peace, non-violence, education, freedom for women (Arab countries).
Some months ago I thought of how to really change this, and what came to mind is using technology to create a viral campaign where every person with a computer could become part of a network of support for all these different causes. At that time I thought about a plug-in to instant messaging applications that would turn you visibly somehow into a cell in the network (like somehow changing your avatar/text for instance). I thought of advertisement that would be benefiting one organization a day. One day funds would go to (RED), another day to Breast Cancer fight, etc.
It would be so powerful to be able to contribute globally to make this a better world, more just, healing this body one cell at a time ... I think such a project has two goals. One is to get each of us thinking about this, thinking that you can't be a silly face looking at a mirror thinking how good you look today while you're loosing your leg. The second is to actually find the long tail of beneficence, a way for each of us to do a super small contribution that because of being so massive it would still be enough to make a difference.
I would love to submit a project to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Any ideas/collaborators are welcome!!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Bionic eyes

Because of personal reasons, this is a subject I look at closely. Every now and then in the last 5 years there are news regarding retina implants that will contain electrodes that when stimulated they produce some kind of vision in the brain. Mostly for now it's about light/dark spots, but it really promises a lot. This kind of bionic eyes that will originally have as a first objective to bring back sight to blind or half blind people will become more and more interesting. That got me thinking ... thinking in a future day when they finally get a person to see directly in their brain with a retinal implant, obviously the retinal implant will be connected to a camera ... then next thing I imagine is why not a wireless camera? and what we get at that point starts becoming interesting. It could become common to have a retinal implant that connects to a remote camera, maybe multiple remote shared cameras ... this would be I think the first version of the distributed human being, where you can be seeing something as if you are in another place, you might rent these cameras and have a trip through some remote place while not leaving home (I guess we'd have to figure out how to switch to/from our attached eyes as well).
I guess one day when more senses are re-wired to wireless devices our whole person might become distributed, shared and this brings up the fact that the only irreplaceable part of ourselves is most probably the brain.
Got a little futuristic for a change, it reminds me of Bev (where are you Bev Evans? I totally lost track of you since Kansas '97), an old friend that once told me: "when your dreams come true, go get new ones!!". Once our old science fiction becomes closer and real let's go get new science fiction ;)

Couple interconnected tools

I recently seen stikkit and when I saw the demo it sounded very promising. It's basically a notes program, which I personally think is very useful to store information as little notes. The interface is really cool. They are monitoring the text continuously for particular text formats that are recognized as calendar, contacts, to-dos or bookmarks. It didn't work completely for me, but it looks like a nice little application interconnecting information.
In a more company oriented line, I tried Zimbra. It's basically an inbox application that has a server side and client side component. It has great linking capabilities between email, contacts, calendar, etc. It allows you to define your own links, such as when you have an eBay item number or an invoice number in an email you can define a link to your operational application automatically. This kind of application seems great to have workflow and regular email in one same inbox.
I'm glad to see more and more connectivity inside applications like these two.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Outdated education

I'm a total believer in paperless, the problem is I was raised to think with pencil and paper and I find myself still a little limited by that every time I try to just think in front of the computer. It's probably a combination of things, for one thing tools in the computer are not good enough to substitute one of those sketches you can do in paper, with drawings, some writing, those useful arrow connections, etc. On the other side I tend to believe that part of the limitation is that all the generations up to today are being raised with pencil and paper and then they have to "convert" to a growing digital world. Newer generations that were born with computers as a fact, will get so much farther in building the tools that are needed to become digital, as they have less of this limitation. Further more, I believe if a kid today were to be taught to read and write directly in a computer, they will have a great advantage on their side and they will be able to integrate the digital world to a greater extent, creating the right tools and taking the best advantage of being totally digital.
Our generations are caught up in the middle of the digital revolution, you still need paper but paper is no longer good. I'm amazed to see how much behind is our education system around the world. I'm disappointed to see how my 6 year old is being taught in almost the same way I was, 30 years later! I feel like saying, hey, wake up! the world changed!! We need to give our kids the opportunity to be better prepared to survive in a digital world. It'll happen sooner or later, we're going towards a paperless world, but the sooner the better ...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Lego Mindstorms, greatest toy ever

We got it on Sunday, for $250 you get all you need to build your robot (vehicle, animal or humanoid) and program it as well. Nicole (6) and I started with the basic vehicle robot and we had fun building it (similar to puzzle activities, very calmed and focused activity which is great for Coco) and then we programmed it to go and come back at different speeds and simple things like that. The following days we added one build feature a day and programmed it. The latest one is able to go, sense a ball, grab it and come back (it doesn't always work, but pretty cool).
This weekend we'll get into the human bot and we'll experiment with more sensors. Nicole does not completely grasp the programming part, which basically is choosing a tool for a particular function (go, wait for sensor, sending forward or back movements to servos, etc) and then setting some properties (for instance which port to use, it has 3 output and 4 input ports). She gets the tool part but still didn't get much involved with the properties, as for now it was all new, we'll focus in some things at a time.
It really seems to be a great learning tool. For one thing she can program a machine and see the results out there in the real world, which is for sure easier to grasp and similar to what the future world will be more and more about. On the other hand it does require a certain degree of conceptualization, logic thinking to program something you need to define the steps to go from A to B to C, etc.
I think it'd be nice to have some tool simpler even than their dev language to teach my little one Angelina, when she's about 4 probably.
We plan to add other devices like a wireless camera to send images to the computer and extra stuff like that when we're done playing with the lego set. The Microsoft Robotics Studio is supposed to be able to program this lego bot as well.

Google co-op search and outgoing links

I tried Google's co-op search tool couple weeks ago. Unless you're a non-profit it'll display ad words. It allows you to create your own search engine experience customizing the web sites to be included on your search, refining labels, and other settings.
This morning I was thinking that it's a pain to have to manually maintain the list of websites that should be including, most likely a growing list over time.
Then, I was thinking that if you consider your included websites as the core of your search and you follow outgoing links you will highly probably find the list of your extended neighborhood where your search should be targeting.
Right now when you setup your co-op search engine you select between two preferences:
"How to search included sites:
. Search the entire web but emphasize included sites.
. Search only included sites."
There could be a third option that would be, "Search the entire web but emphasize included sites and proximity sites". The definition of proximity sites would be those sites that have less outgoing link distance to the included sites (the included sites have 0 distance, the sites linked from the included files have one degree of distance, the ones that those ones link to have a two degrees of distance and so forth).
This way the search would give the most relevance to the included sites (increased page rank), then some extra relevance to the sites in greater proximity to the included sites (some page rank increase depending on degree of proximity) and lastly it’ll be bringing search relevant unrelated sites (standard Google page rank).
It does reduce the maintenance time, as if I forget to include newly linked sites into my included sites, it will happen automatically for me as soon as I include a link on any of my included sites to a new one and exponentially through the new of proximity links.
Another alternative would be to offer this option to the end user when they do the search. (search: co-op name, co-op name proximity, web search), this way you could define a Google search for your website without having to set any set of included sites but just looking at the site you include the link itself and automatically calculating the closer neighborhood.
Actually this search is opposite to the 'Similar pages' link that appears in the regular search, so another option would be from the search result page to have 'Neighborhood pages'.
I know outgoing links have had no relevance whatsoever in the current search scheme, but I think that changes when you're site centered as opposed to web centered.
Anyway ... just a thought ...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bots, bots, bots

Some areas where bots are growing strong:

1. Microsoft just launched their November CTP for the Robotics Studio. It allows you to program a real bot plus it has a nice simulation tool running on top of DirectX. It also allows you to program web based interfaces for controlling bots remotely.

2. Lego Mindstorms is a great "toy" for kids. It has a nice visual programming tool with a simulation space as well. The bots and software are rather expensive but it seems to be a wonderful introductory programming tool for kids with results they can see on real life. They can program their toys, love this!

3. IM bots are getting better. Microsoft closed in September their contest and there seem to be some nice entries. It has to get a lot smarter than it is now. A big natural language interpretation challenge, but nice examples and a lot of potential. IKEA has Anna that does a not too bad job as help desk. Help desk bots is an area that will sure just expand. I remember being on the phone with first line of support for products such as wireless network adapters, and really I would have been better off talking with a bot than a person like the one I had on the phone. You will still need your second line of support, but for sure it can save you a lot.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


This Sony gadget called "My Life Online" is a nice little innovative device introducing the concept of wi-fi skype phone with browsing and messaging capabilities. As the wi-fi cloud expands this kind of devices will make more sense as an alternative to mobile phones specially for the youngsters as they do not need of a monthly service fee (and no minute or messages limit to exceed, a big problem in cellphones among youngs).
I'm surprised it does not have a camera and no gaming experience which coming from Sony is indeed surprising.
Something I'm glad to see is that it also competes with the iPod, as it has music capabilities. It is time for some gadget to save us from the iPod, which I believe will be seen historically as a great marketing success and a very limited gadget (a Swiss army knife to the extreme, no tools just the knife ;). No doubt people like it simple ... but eventually the needs overcome the simplicity drive, I hope.
Summarizing, it competes with mobile phones, iPods and in third place it seems to be a big push for the web as a platform paradigm as it's an all non-microsoft internet based services providers alliance. I like it!
It definitely can't beat the Windows Mobile phone/pocket pc experience in the short term, but it seems like a nice option that can grow in the future.
Interesting little device. It might be a nice Santa's gift if that gaming browser experience is good enough ...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Perception Teasers

I've been reading some blogs on human consciousness and found a link to some fun perception teasers I enjoyed:

optical illusions I to IV

In the ones that trick perception into seeing different things (usually 2) in one same image (old and young ladies, duck and rabbit) I love going from one to the other really fast.
There are a bunch that explore Escher type of images involving either recursion or impossible architecture, I love those two. I guess the familiarity of recursion makes it fun as life is recursive itself (tree and seed, kid and parents, web and pages).

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Search engines and the new web

According to different sources when users open a web browser in more than 80% of the cases they go to a search engine page. The user perception of the web has changed in the last years. Today, users perceive the web as one continuous of information and resources. They don't really care that much for who is providing the information, they'll go to a search engine and with couple key words and clicks they'll get the info/service they need. The average time a user spends in a home page is about 30 seconds and it only hikes to average 60 seconds for an interior page. Then, most of the time without even noticing the visited website they move on to a new search (sometimes from the same page with right button "Search the web for ..."). I'm sure a user only remembers a very reduced set of the web sites he actually uses on a daily basis, specially when it gets there through a search engine. This obviously gives tremendous power to search engines, they have access to this pile of information and they can track users habits, and of course having the possibility to monetize it in different ways.
This fact is really confirming the vision of Google founders. In the words of Sergey Brin: "The solution isn't to limit the information you receive. Ultimately, you want to have the entire world's knowledge connected directly to your mind."
The bionic brain is already starting to be a reality. I like to joke answering any question with "the answer is on the internet for sure". When I tell this to my daughter it's kind of frustrating as she looks at me like "Yeah, of course.", not a glimpse of amazement. It's probably like my grandma telling me as a kid, "and we can phone someone", and I'd be like, "Yahh, what else is new?". Nicole was born with the internet as a fact so I guess she can't have the same kind of high I get out of this ;)

The survival of the fittest, unpredictable evolution

I guess part of the fun of thinking about how things will evolve is that there is no easy answer or sure bet when referring to evolution. There's been multiple examples of how the technological superiority is not necessarily the winning hand, being the QWERTY one of the most cited ones even if it's of doubted historical accuracy.

This thought came to mind when I was reading "The Web According to Ballmer" some days ago. When asked about Microsoft's top competitors, he was doing a nice analysis including three totally different strategies companies came up to compete with Microsoft:
. open source (linux business model), their strategy extend their value and compete.
. advertising as a business model (I'd call it Google paradigm: web as a platform), their strategy embrace.
. software monetized through hardware (iPod), specially interesting to get markets as China, India and Southamerica that will not pay for software as much as for hardware, again strategy compete (Zune).
It might get really interesting if some or all of the competing paths' companies partnership and unite. There seem to be many signs that a lot of that is happening already.

Anyway, this article just let me wondering how unpredictable evolution is ... how many different avenues can be taken to address one same problem (such as how to defeat the current software giant?), and how hard it is to predict the outcome.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

SearchMash - Google's sandbox

Google recently launched SearchMash, their super Ajax'ed, testing environment for the search experimentation. It introduces a drop down list for now including web and images, I was wondering about this as a minimalist evolution of their growing link menu (web, images, maps, more ...). You can change the position of the searched results by drag & drop, which could be a first indication of the search engine being ready to receive feedback from users, although it's not clear how it's being used. The green url links open a menu with options not provided by the browser such as "More similar pages". The effect of the paging I loved so far!! I saw a presentation in youtube that included a preview of each web page result on the right pane which I really liked as a speed up tool for searches. I guess they might have experienced performance issues as this is not there as part of searchmash.

Oktoberfest 2006

What's so interesting in a bunch of drunks together celebrating their love for beer? Well, it was fun! Probably being as massive as it is makes part of the attractive. Like in the tent (that's how they call it although is not a real tent) I stayed there were probably around 5,000 people, and there's close to 20 of these I think. I also liked the traditional part of it, clothing and the enthusiastic chanting accompanied by cheers following the band. There is a little glimpse of time traveling when you celebrate traditions like this.
The Bavaria monument is pretty impressive when seen from below, apparently it was possible to see the inside at some point, but it doesn't seem to be open anymore.
It made me think for some reason of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in Carnaval, as far as a social massive drinking craziness goes, although I haven't been there but I would expect the later to exceed this.
Here are couple photos:
DSC02262 (Small)
DSC02207 (Small)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Massage technology

Munich Golf show was the slowest in years and you could tell. It was sooo slow that I went ahead and tried one of those big massage chairs with the whole meditative experience (music + glasses with suggestive lights). I used to hate those things a bit in the past, but I have to admit that this nice leather chair embraced me for about half an hour and I was ready to fall asleep in total relaxation. The thing first scans your body to know your dimensions and stiffness and then runs some programs with different types of massages that were for moments believable of being human hands. A similar one to the one I tried: Sharper Image. It involves sensors and robotic technologies that seems to have advanced a lot in the last years. It might sound silly or weird but I was impressed with the warm human kind of sensation that they're accomplishing. In a rather not serious note I have to say that they are not too far away from building a virtual reality "love" machine with this technology I would think ... I can see specially Asian markets developing more of this ...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Going to Munich

I'm on the plane to Munich for the Golf Europe 2006. We'll be using an internal version of our new website design for the Show Closest 2 the Pin Contest, not as ready as we'd like it to be but ...
Hopefully we'll get some German translation from our distributor in key pages, like the leaderboard that we usually show on a TV screen. Using the GXTranslation Tool it should be pretty easy to import the new literals back into GeneXus, we'll see ... Time differences with software factory and Oktoberfest permits ;)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Google Paradigm: Web as a Platform

To me the release of Google Spreadsheet and the purchase of Writely was a turning point. This means without a doubt what we all knew, Google is competing directly with Microsoft in a very evident way. This same battle, has been attempted by many, particularly by the operating systems Mac and Linux before. What's different this time then?
I believe the huge difference this time is Google is looking at things totally out of the box. They believed in the web and embraced the platform. They re-invented web search and they provided a variety of tools that eventually will make web a self-sufficient platform. Some day, following the Google paradigm, we will be getting to any device web enabled with a simple browser of any kind and we'll be doing all we need to do for our daily tasks. Once this is true, we got complete independence from the operating system, we freed ourselves from the operating systems battle and the battle will be happening completely on the web platform arena. New computers will provide the cheaper operating system out there as it really will be un-important which operating system you're using. Computers won't need so much processing power, storage capacity, etc, it will be a comeback of the server power and a total minimization of the thin client (which makes a lot of sense applying the concepts of Grompone on dialectics and double negation, I'll come back to this in some other post). It looks like Microsoft got the message as well as they declared some time ago (in 2006!!) the web as primordial priority for their company. Probably, I would think, too little, too late ...
In order to accomplish this Web Platform Paradigm there are many issues that need to be faced. Some of them I can think right now: security of the data, extent of the data stored (we need higher amounts of data out there which means users might need to get used to pay for their storage space), users need to feel like they own their data by being able to backup and export to different service providers.
Once the web platform gets established in users minds and hearts there is one great advantage that Google has and it looks to me like it's being over-viewed (but of course I don't know what is happening behind the scenes ;). They have all these applications but they have very little coupling among them. I'm talking of applications connectivity, I want to see emails suggesting links to Google Maps, suggesting creating a Google Calendar appointment, document attachments being opened in Writely and spreadsheets opened in Google Spreadsheets, etc. I've been waiting for this to happen with the suite of Windows products for a long time, and I know Google is closer now as they already have the AutoLink functionality in their Toolbar. The AutoLink functionality if implemented in a Web Browser itself or at least between Google applications would be amazing, specially if some day we end up having the Semantic Web. Right now it's like we have applications (tables in a simile with relational database world) but we can't link to other applications as we should. To me applications need to grow in the same direction relational databases did. SOA might be part of the answer, but we definitely are in time to think of applications interconnectivity.
To me it's really awesome to see a company going with such resolution and great execution in this direction. I personally believed and embraced the web since the early years when DHL's tracking system was an example to follow, one of the first dynamic database web applications out there. Years later I still see a great opportunity for the web and those who believe in it.

GeneXus Usability, bringing down barriers for the American market

When Breogan Gonda, in the typical closing of the GeneXus Event, presented the graphic with the axes Productivity, Completeness, Universality and Usability and announced the company has gone to great extent in the three first axes and now is working hard in Usability, it reminded me of a user comment I heard some years ago.
In 1998, I was doing some consulting and training for Direct TV in LA. At some point in the training a user got frustrated with some simple usability issue GeneXus would not handle correctly and he told me: "This tool does not have industrial strength. I can tell there have not been enough number of users for it so far". It was a tough moment for me and I always remember it. The project got aborted arguing different business reasons. Before I went back to Kansas I got to drive all the way along the cost up to Point Reyes near SF, an unforgettable trip. Anyway, lots of improvements, years and versions later it's great to see that ARTech is working on bringing down probably one of the last barriers to get into the American market, community and usability strength.
Users like Enrique Almeida are doing a great contribution to this purpose with his blog series "Usabilizando GeneXus" (sorry, spanish).

My brain was out for some fun in Southamerica

It's always great to get together with all my old friends from Uruguay.
Other than the personal friends, which I always love to see, I had some great technology related conversations.
During the event, I got to pick on Gustavo Moreira's brain in multiple conversations on Artificial Intelligence, we talked about rule based systems, decision making systems and neural nets as well. He pointed to Weka as an open source tool for data mining and other AI subjects. I definitely need to look into it. After taking to him I came up with a better idea on how to combine rules and bayesian networks for the memory assistant project that still obsesses me. (I'll post an entry with an example of how it'd work soon).
My last night I went to Italo's home (we stayed up to 6:00am, luckily I could sleep on my way back to California on Thu). I got plenty of philosophic ecstasy. Ernesto our dear friend from high school times joined us and Maria from Spain who was visiting Italo was there as well. Italo met Maria when he was doing his Doctor degree in Mechanical Physics in Spain couple years ago. Maria is more into the chemical engineering thing but she's very broad. Ernesto is into IT as well. We covered sooo many subjects from macro-economics, to neural nets, to evolution (a classic). It was awesome. Italo recommended the book "Shiva's dance" by Grompone, got it but not read it yet. At one point the three of them got me against the net in a discussion about how kids today don't know how to do math anymore and they just rely on a calculator. I was arguing that we need to find another way to teach logic to kids other than math alone. It would be cool to introduce some basic pure logic and fun programming to kids in their early years. This reminds me of Alejandro Panizza's blog about teaching his kid Squeak. I got to get back to this as well ... Nicole will love it ...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Biomedical Ethics and Genomics Research Program

I'm very very happy today. My brother Roberto just told me he got his post-doc in the recently boosted Biomedical Ethics and Genomics Research Program in Mayo Clinic.
I'm super happy for him, but I confess I'm soo happy for myself as well as genetics was my frustrated love since my young years (computers took over). Now I have a chance to be very close to what I think is going to be one of the most polemic subjects in the next 50 years. Well done bro!!

GeneXus XVI International Meeting

As always a great event! Very glad of having been there, to be part of this new development paradigm and to be part of such a wonderful community. GeneXus development team (which I was once part of) can and will always impress me. The TCP of Rocha's version left me wooowing ... The SOA architecture of the tool itself and the extensibility possibilities that come with that is amazing. The power of patterns becoming internal to GeneXus and dynamic is going to be of great impact in productivity and consistency of interfaces. I guess a cool application of extensibility would be to make a tool for reverse engineering from a canonical pattern example to a pattern itself, making then this powerful tool available to everybody in the community. It's not trivial but it's possible. Other than that in my personal opinion, this particular event reflected a bit the internal status of the product. GeneXus is in a moment of profound internal reconstruction and all the fun will happen when Rocha is released hopefully next year.
The welcome party for the international clients/distributors was a lot of fun. Tango is not one of my favorite styles but after that I could get up to date with the rest of the music Uruguayans like. I apologize one more time to everybody for not knowing the song "Tengo la camisa negra" de Juanes ;)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Beware! Hard drives do crash!!

I was so worried trying to disable every possible little service so my 2 batteries would be enough for my long trip to Uruguay until after a blue screen, 2 reboots, a very wired sound and a total crash my hard drive died.
I've got to admit that I felt pretty lost without my computer and it took me some hours to get over the thought of getting farther and farther away from my home backups ... In the meantime I was trying to review the inventory of my memory. What things I desperately need would be on my brain memory and which on my extended RAM??
Anyway, I decided that I could only relax until I get back from my trip and get re-joined with a new harddrive and backups. Also, I decided that I'm getting one of those online backup systems as soon as I'm back up. Logmein seems to have a cheap service for backup, I'll probably try it.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Back from Prague - plane hotspot

I'm back home!! I got a plane with hotspot on my way back, that was way cool! Of course, as soon as I signed up I started this casual conversation with my neighbour, that lasted mote than 4 hours. It was worth it anyway, she was a cool gal and we discussed about religion with as much logical thinking as we could, she was a christian, open to any reasoning except any entertaining of any scenario that would make her one and only truth be questioned (this one being that Jesus is the only way to God). I tried to question the relativity of a one and only truth, the concept of reality vs. interpretation of reality, etc, we couldn't go far on that side ... but still it gave me some historic perspective to finally understand the sacrifice thing. It was a respectful and good discussion. On the other side, as sleepy as I was I got to MSN with my brother and sister, dear friend MJS and whoever else wanted to say hi as they new I was in a plane.
As always I enjoyed meeting everybody in the international team. UK guys smart and funny as always. We have english guys in the UK, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and a new one now in Dubai (P.J. a total character). The russian guys always ready (after a few drinks) for some traditional songs are tons of fan. Met new people from Taiwan, glad to see a women there, Sophia.
Anyway, a great trip, and always nice to be back in Prague even if only the last day I got to walk to the Castle and astronomical clock.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Summarized by Pattern

The GeneXus's Pattern Generator still blows my mind off! It's an amazing way to save the developer work by allowing to standardized behaviors, share templates and minimize the mechanical side of programming. Anyway, I decided to try the newly developed Summarized by Pattern to bring in some statistics in the simulator's usage viewer.
This particular pattern allows you to generate with a few clicks some web pages that will provide the user with summarized information on any chosen indicator (money, time, etc) analyzed by chosen dimensions (customer, dates, product, etc). Even being a unreleased beta version of the Summarized By pattern (thanks Enrique!) it worked out very well and gave me a product to show in just a few hours. I just reported a few minor things just to be a good beta tester ;)
Some of the issues: having to import the standard pattern xpzs manually, a inference issue where it tried to infer the description attribute for the first attribute in a two att foreign key table, and some other issues mostly related with the way I did my settings in the pattern instance (XML). In the end, just a few clicks, some tweaking here and there and voila! I have my simulator's time usage information summarized with nice graphics!! Pretty amazing.

Going to Prague

I just finished my little presentation, it all went cool, everybody got excited about the new projects and the direction we're going so this is relax time for me and I feel like blogging.
Before I forget one more time: Chicago connections suck! I don't know why I forget about it once and again, but the weather there is half the time impossible, so on my way to Prague I ended up loosing my United connection and having no luggage for several hours. The flight was to Frankfurt Lufthansa instead of United in the end which was pretty cool as they have this great german DJ music channel.
The other day I was talking to Josh our graphic designer for Full Swing Golf, who is a DJ as well, we were talking about digital music and how it is great to listen as you develop/design, specially when it's not too vocal. It really works out great for me while I'm working, it keeps me up (to the beat) but it does not interfere with my left brain at all (I hope my laterality worked here:), it actually helps me concentrate.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Macintosh Dashboard vs Google Personalized Home Page

Both Macintosh Dashboard with their widgets and Google personalized home pages seem to be pointing in the same direction. There is a definite need for a centralized view of information that comes from different sources. In my previous post WiFi washers and driers I was talking about how all the home devices need to have a centralized software to control them, but obviously it's centralized only in the sense of being able to see it and control it from a unique place, the architecture is intrinsically distributed and it looks to me like the two approaches (Macintosh's and Google's) are totally covering this need. The schema is pretty similar, allow third parties to develop their widgets in one case and content components in the other and allow the user to have this unified space to see it all/control it all.
Macintosh dashboard does it with the typical graceful design, which is indeed pretty neat. Google on the other side, does it faithful to the web platform.
I believe Google has a wining hand because the platform will determine a greater and easier adoption, but there something in Google's personalized home pages that is not enough, too static maybe? I've been exploring flash in combination with web services in previous posts (Flash and Web services) and I think flash could give Google the best of two worlds staying in the web platform paradigm but at the same time allowing it to meet the design and interface requirements that today's world needs.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Flash and web services, the Pandora model

Three years ago, Daniel, my co-worker, showed me a book that was talking about developing Flash applications with web services together to provide dynamic graphic web applications. I developed an example and it worked pretty neat, but at that time I thought it was too cumbersome a process and forgot about it.
Now, using Pandora, I realize it's the first example of a website that did a great use of this technology meshup. It's the first time that I see a web application where using Flash makes all the difference in the user experience and it makes total sense. I assume they have webservices behind the scenes, although there could be a database direct access as well.
For me, three years and pandora and ajax later, I'm thinking on using Flash + web services to implement some areas of my next project, as it can give us the online flashy gamy look, it can give me the opportunity to accomplish completely independence of the design, and we can use GeneXus to easily generate the web services. It certainly would be much much less work (I need to find the flash counterpart that we can easily outsource in Uruguay) than implementing a similar, not so nice looking page in ajax ...
The one dis-advantage of this approach when comparing with the ajax approach is not being native in the browser as ajax is ... I'd think most users have the plug-in already installed.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The ultimate question

Yesterday, shortly after her 6th year old birthday, my daughter Nicole asked us what I believe is the ultimate question: what are the humans here for? (in spanish: para que estamos las personas en la tierra?). Not how? not why? what for?!! She's asking about purpose ... Even if I was unconsciously waiting for this moment I wasn't prepared for it at all. My husband and I were leaving the house at that moment and we just looked at each other, seeing that the ball was in my field I said something like there are many answers to this question and we'll talk about it later. Now, having thought about it some more, I realize that:
1. I want to reward and cherish this moment and this question, so first thing I'll do is take Nicole with me and find a way to celebrate with her. I want her to know this is a great moment in her personal history.
2. As I think more about it, it all comes up to it's all infinite and the only possible purpose is to exist and evolve, both individually and as a whole. You can choose the god of your preference, but that doesn't eliminate the fact that someone else needed to create god or god always existed which in any ways makes it infinite. Basically, like my co-worker Daniel pointed out earlier today, Lavoisier's law essentially is also saying all that is has always been and will always be, it might transform but will never disappear. If it's all infinite, there's no purpose on creation or destruction, the only purpose is in existence and transformation which in turn is Evolution.
3. I'll try to personalize on her own life to get some balance so she doesn't feel totally lost being a little piece in a gear. Our individual purpose is to expand to best of our potential, to be happy, share, learn and evolve. I hope she's happy with that answer ... we'll see for how long ...

Friday, August 11, 2006

"Extended memory" childish like

I believe the way I feel about my memory today (including "extended" memory) is very similar to what my 2 years old feels like about it.
I put a bunch of things there but I can't reach them when I need them. I probably don't even realize I need to reach it even, which is a much bigger problem.
What things need to change in order for my extended memory to feel mature again:
1. Physically. The memory storage needs to be available all the time from everywhere. This implies residing on the net for all my storage needs. I've been carrying my notebook everywhere for more than a decade now and I have a permanent internet connection (while in the US), but I'm kind of tired of that. Also, sometimes I don't want to open the notebook and wait for it to un-hibernate so a PDA came handy, specially when together with the phone meaning it's highly probably I will have it with me most of the relevant time. Even then, and assuming blue tooth synching it's one more device to carry around. Internet is the answer, I don't feel comfortable with internet email, but I'm thinking seriously about it ... I should try some x drive thing as well consistently ...
2. Programs. Then there's the software part of it. Associations are so poor in today's storage world. Basically you save files/documents/photos/source, etc, and you can just hope you can retrieve it with a simple text search. I tried google desktop search some time ago, I wasn't that impress with it. We need to link things, much like the autolink in google's toolbar (another example of browser evolution taken over by a plug-in), but happening more automatically in our whole storage base (today meaning windows desktop applications, or meaning we don't use those at all anymore) and suggesting many other links than maps, books and car VIN's. A lot more to elaborate on the software area.
3. Interfaces. The last component on accessing memory is how to communicate your needs and get your retrieves back. For now the standard keyboard is long away to die in my opinion. I tried to use a tablet pc couple years ago. It was an interesting experience to find out that as long as all our applications are designed to work with a keyboard: you need one!! Tired of carrying the tablet plus the keyboard I gave up on the tablet thing in less than 6 months (I really really tried ;). Keyboards will probably change becoming more an on and off thing. Interfaces could change to have more voice recognition (although I don't see much evolution on this side for some type of applications because of the lack of privacy and other issues) and possibly direct mind connection, there are nice experiments already done such as a paraplegic person already handling the mouse with their brain, very promising.

I'm most of the time thinking about 2, anybody could have guessed that :)

Internet makes cross discipline research possible

It looks like science has become so compartment-ed that we end up re-inventing the wheel in different disciplines without even knowing of the previous research in other areas.
I realized this several times when talking to my brother who is on the other end of the dial than myself when it comes to science viewpoint. Me being on the side of computers and biology mostly and he being an anthropologist and sociologist, when we get into theoretical discussions I often see how information systems would benefit of understanding the social networks. For instance, the other day I was talking to him about the evolution of websites in the sense of how they leverage today community knowledge and all the crowdsourcing stuff, etc. Then he said something about anthropologists having studied social networks for years and knowing about key things that happen in social networks such as legitimation. Then it just clicked in my mind why some sites such as eBay have been so successful because they found a way to port the social legitimation into their website with the feedback concept.
Also, today, by another coincidence, someone mentioned Cognitive Therapy and when I looked at it, it become clear to me that Cognitive Science has a lot to offer to Computer Science. They talk about Core belief system, conditional beliefs (rules), protective behaviours, all applied to psychology but so interesting and applicable when thinking on building a computer belief system.
There's great value in what one discipline can get from the rest and Internet is making it possible in a cheap way for everybody to cross these frontiers and maybe integrate science back to a way it hasn't been for a long time.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Fuzzy Logic and Bayesian Networks

For many many years now, I've been obsessed with understanding how our memory works, basically how we store things, how we retrieve them and the whole triggering process that supports decision making, etc.
In 1994, I was traveling in a car with some friends across the US. Somewhere in the way from Texas to South Dakota I catch-ed myself thinking on the way we make decisions. In university I studied binary logic (true, false) and three values logic (true, false, unknown). I couldn't believe it, all I studied couldn't be farther away from reality. When we make decisions we use probabilistic calculations, we have a range of options from the ones that are known as facts to others that are just a very slim possibility and we operate with multiple clauses with different percentages of assertion. Luckily I was in the US when I had this thought and less than an hour apart I was in one of this huge american bookstores (no internet at that time ;) where I found this book about fuzzy logic that explained exactly how the logic of n-values worked. Fuzzy logic didn't go far on the practical side of Artificial Intelligence, although when I think about it Bayesian Networks are kind of a "modern" implementation of Fuzzy Logic.
Whenever we implement computer systems that involve some learning processes as well as some decision making capabilities we need to look inside our mind and figure out how it works. Then, the computer resolution of the same issue doesn't necessarily have to be exactly the same as ours, but it'll be a start.
Marvin Minsky with the society of the mind is a great attempt to achieve this analysis. He defines all this little agents that operate in our mind which is very computer oriented as an architecture.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Wifi Washers and dryers

They're already doing consumer testing on washers and dryers that can send status information to emails/msns/cell phones. They can also accept simple commands like start, stop or change cycles. I don't believe it's a great advancement in itself, specially because as everybody notes it won't do the load/unload/transfer load that would be really cool ho have.
Nevertheless, I'm excited with this news because its one more step forward in the direction of having the "smart" house. One in which you can have status information on more and more devices, control in a way all that's going on in your house. I'm sure one day houses will have a digital brain. I always tended to think of a centralized way to manage all home related stuff, including probably fridge status, pantry inventory, car monitoring, some gps for family members maybe, home security, internet connection, phones, centralized digital media system (tv, movies, music, all downloadable), air conditioning, computer stations, watering system. I would include centralized financial information, like all bank accounts integrated and integrated bill system (not only the bill amounts and status but also detail such as what I bought in the store last Monday), but I'm sure most of the people would freak out about this one. All this information could be in a centralized home server connected to the outside or just reside on an external web server. Security would be a big issue, I imagine some biological sensor as a secure way to do it. Even if I know the digital print readers are not considered secure, I love having my little ones get into their computer profiles with the touch of a finger, more for the fact that they have a little bit of the future in their hands with the no password approach than for nothing else.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ajax: Pushing the limits of the web architecture

The first time I heard about ajax, it impressed me deeply: to break the monolithic browser/server interaction into this tiny interactions was such a powerful thing. Right away I tried it, loved it and embraced it in the current project that I was managing at that time Peoplecenter ... Today when looking for some books in Amazon I played with their tags system (a nice implementation of folksonomies) or when trying the auto-correct features of the new google toolbar, I was very impressed with the extent to which the web is really changing thanks to ajax. It's obvious that we're abusing the web's architecture and original purpose (isn't that what users always do??) and having to come up with such a complex solution as ajax is, development-wise, is a consequence of this lack of original intent in the browser. The web architecture was not conceived to do what it does today, and was not designed either to do what I suspect it will do tomorrow with Semantic Web, but still, the web platform is an evolutionary path we can't argue with. Most probably we'll be seeing more and more of this patches, work-arounds and evolution of the web as it was originally envisioned, until eventually we'll have to come up with something that has all we love about web as an end result for the user and main platform characteristics but re-engeneered to make sense development-wise as an architecture.
Hopefully in the meantime GeneXus can come up with some more "magic" to allow their users to benefit from ajax without having to deal with the annoying (for most of the mortals) details, like they're already doing with Transactions. I was hoping we see an ajax implementation of the IsValid event in Web Panels soon, although I understand the scope is not minor ...

New Google tool bar

The new google bar has many nice features. They keep enlarging their integration with third parties, like they did before with the home page. This time they added 'Search Types', where third parties can provide searches in their own websites, so you can tell it to goolge just BoingBoing for instance.
The Bookmarks tool sounds del.icio.usly familiar ;) I guess google is pursuing the bookmarking market and they're doing so using their data as always as the empowering factor. You can start recording all your google search results' so you can go at a later time and bookmark the relevant ones. They remain very purists in their search basics, no tagging added which I think would be very useful. Not a glimpse yet of any networking sharing for this bookmarking feature ... so I guess they still are not too ahead in the bookmarking business. I like the fact of recording and going later to mark what's important to remember. I always have been a fanatic of recording. It makes a lot of sense to record in a superficial, unprocessed level all the things we do, see, hear, etc and having the possibility to go back to it and do come cleaning, tagging, long term storing of the info (I belive the aborted Xanadu project was all about that). This to me, resembles the way our memory actually works so I believe it's a step closer to having computers be our extended memory. What is really cool is that once we unveil the secrets of having this extended memory we also will have the possibility to have a shared memory.
Anyway, back to the google toolbar, two more features that were there before but I never noticed:
1. The Autolink feature. I see a lot of potential on this one. I'd love to see more autolinks, like dates to calendars, contact info to address books, etc.
2. The check spelling thing is great, I'm saved!! ;)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Panjab Bhangra music

When I was in Beijing earlier this year, because of one of those little coincidences in life, I happened to end up in a 5 star hotel ... really neat, didn't use the butler at all (who needs a butler? give me a robot one and I might deal with it in the future ;). Anyway one thing that I loved there was they had a great sound system connected to the bathroom where you could just adjust the volume basically. I noticed some years ago in Shan-hai that there is a lot of influence of indian music in China, and I came across this really cool indian music that thanks to my falty memory I could never listen again. Couple weeks ago, Time magazine had India as cover story and in their article about the super cool city of Bombay that I hope I get to go some day. They mentioned that they're sounding this panjab bhangra music. For what I understand it's a remix of some traditional indian music with a DJ spin. Really cool!! Later found and loved "Om Nama Shiva" from Donna de Lory, powerful mantra with awesome, transporting music, it'd be great for my yoga class. Amazon has a free download for the song. Of course I have a radio station in Pandora giving me more of this stuff, I'm thinking I need a third monitor to have just Pandora there ...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Pandora and 'why?' links

I've found Pandora when looking at Andres Aguiar's blog some days ago. They did an awesome work with this product. I loved the music genome concept they invented/implemented. In addition they have a great freemium product as their free version ads are really non-invasive (nice partnerships developed as well). The one thing that was so right that was even hard to notice is their "why?" links. I thought it was such a cool idea to explain the users why things are the way they are ... Their welcome email impressed me as well, super warm, personal and open to hear back from new members. They even left me thinking which other things might the "genome thing" apply and I've been listening to my own radio stations for a while now, pretty cool ... Way to go Pandora!!

Monday, July 24, 2006

blog, wiki- my own view, my network views and more

There is something about wikis and actually blogs that does not convince me. I keep thinking why they became so popular, especially in the case of blogs, that seem so sequential in a sense. You either search them or you go by date. I read a post from Enrique Alemida talking about structuring wikis and I thought yes, that is kind of what the wikis are missing, and probably in my view the blogs too: different areas or spots, some kind of organization, such as my personal view, my networks views, my talks, my posts, views by tag groups. Then today, reading cafe au lait I found one blog talking about Why blogs work. An intersting view, the guy gets to see blogs from the perspective of a non-technical person and realizes that "normal" people don't use hierarchies the way we programmers do. This is a different analysis that like someone else comments in his blog, explains in turn this something that I feel is missing in blogs and probably wikis as well ...
Then, in the end even if I still suspect that there are improvements that would make blogs better, I'll try to keep in mind this non-hierarchical view of non-programmer mortals.

2GW Second Generation Web - alternatives to Web 2.0

After all this Web 2.0 discussion, where the name of an emergent collective techology ended up being "owned" by couple people I was thinking on how will this naming thing continue ... the concepts are as powerful as before, that's why they were embraced by the web community, but I guess sooner or later it'll have to have a name, and I doubt people will continue to call it Web 2.0.
I just thought of this name to call the "Second Generation Web", why adopt a new nomenclature if we already have one. So, instead of re-inventing the wheel, we could call the second generation of Web 2GW, consistent with the standard of the languages 3GL, 4GL, etc.
I won't patent this one ;)
Seriously talking the web of the future is the semantic web ... I'll come back to this soon ...

Some rights reserved - View Source

This is a very interesting concept also known as "hackability" and remixability. Systems like the original web, RSS, and AJAX all have this in common: the barriers to re-use are extremely low. In my personal opinion the web browser's view source feature was one of the great things that helped make web development viral. You didn't need to go to any books (or the web that did not exist as is today) to find out "how are they doing this cool thing?". You would just click on the
"View Source" option and you'd be seeing THE SOURCE!!! Soon came cgis and new languages and technologies such as java/asp/aspx etc and all that kind of went backwards. In the case of AJAX, where a lot of the power was back to the client and the browser viewable source, there is a little bit of excitement back to the remix picture.
I'm not arguing against source protection. It's great to have source protection, in fact it's important and has a true value, but, this doesn't mean that in other cases it'd be really nice and harmless to let users access to the source code of the page they're viewing. So, I'm wondering if we'll see any "View Source" implementation for server code. At least for the open source movement it seems like a natural thing to do, particularly so with open source projects and for people sharing sample code on the web.
I guess it might imply taking the open source to another level ...
Maybe the GeneXus community, which is a very vanguardist community, might embrace this idea and would share most of their code to make GeneXus code virally expand over the net.
I wonder if it'd make sense to have a more seamless integration between browser and not only client but server code as well. Eventually it might allow better ways of hacking and re-mixing ... waiting for the day when source code flows as music, in the public domain ...

Artificial Intelligence vs. Intelligence Augmentation

This is antother subject I've been thinking for a while until I came across other people wondering about it and formallizing it as well.

The simplest way to think about it is, what path of evolution will win?
  • making machines think and become intelligent? or,
  • making machines just power the bionic brain?

  • In the first case, we're talking about "Artificial Intelligence", which has been on and off a hot thing in Information Systems throughout the times. It's like it'd be nice to have, and it's doable as well, actually we've been adding some kind of AI to our systems all this time. But ... we don't seem to be ready to make machines learn the way we do, to think the way we think, to interact the way we do.

    In the latter case, we're talking about what has been called "Intelligence Augmentation" or "The Bionic Brain". I came across some of Tim O'Reilly's posts mentioning these denominations. This leaded me to Pattie Maes, in her article "Intelligence Augmentation, a talk with Pattie Maes". She studied for years with the AI guru and one of my personal heroes Marvin Minsky (first ever mentioned to me by Nicolas Jodal when I asked him some weird questions about computer learning many many years ago). Back to the IA thing, what seems to be the alternative to making machines think, is to use computer networks, software and databases as the wires of our brain, as the myelin that keeps humanity super brain together, glued, connected. The internet and all the cool software we're building today, making users collaborate, making wired social networks, being a live memory for society (like having as global mind a bunch of extra RAM memory).

    It's hard to tell which of these evolutionary paths will win ... I would think that a combination of both, machines will become more and more intelligent and the bionic brain will grow even more so because of the addition of machine intelligence to human intelligence. Maybe the future is collaboration between machines and humans? humans teaching computers their strengths while using machine strengths for their own empowerment and the oposite hopefully as well. I for one will be some day writing manifests about machine "human????" rights :)
    Anyway, it all will come back to cyborgs in the end, that's my humble opinion.

    In AI it looks like Bayesian belief networks is a promising thing (thanks Jodal for this one too). In IA topic maps and semantic web seem to be the future.

    Time tracking as one of the earliest ubiquitous technologies

    I've been wondering for some time how personal computers will evolve in the sense of becoming ubiquitous. I thought of another example of technology that evolved to be ubiquitous that could make a nice comparison.
    Here's the paralelism: let's compare time tracking technologies with computers and let's see if we can draw some conclusions.

    When time started to be measured for the first times, it was done by external huge devices (for instance stone constructions that together with the sun would track time).
    Eventually humans slowely but surely got to have a big clock per city, and later one in each house (that does sound familiar ;), and of course most of the people ended up having one on their pocket first and their wrist lastly (for now ... but who knows what's next). It makes sense that it'll mesh up in evolution with other devices when them as well become ubiquitous.

    From this evolution I think we can expect computers to follow a similar path of evolution, as intuition and market already show. Eventually computers will become physically attached to our bodies and we'll even sleep, shower, etc. with one close by. Computers will actually go much farther with neural comunication to be implanted into our heads or bodies or plugged somehow anyway to have a seamless operation with our brains, visual devices, and who knows what else ...

    It'd be interesting to get some historic dates and accuracy, I'll ask some people or wikipedia ;)
    Especifically, measuring the evolution of time tracking might shed some light as well on how accelerated evolution is today comparing those timeframes with timeframes for computers to become ubiquitous.
    It'd be interesting as well to think of previous ubiquitous technologies and posterior as well. Maybe money would be another example? All of them start as a physicall thing that end up being digital and ubiquitous.

    It looks like becoming ubiquitous is a standard characteristic of technology, a natural path for complexity and evolution. Mhh ... I wonder if there are a set of such characteristics that we could find ...

    Sunday, July 23, 2006

    Starting evoluzination

    In this blog I'm going to be dumping thoughts, ideas, questions and curiosities in the belief that we're building a bionic brain through technology and blog posts are just thoughts in the collective mind.
    I was inspired to write this log after I received an email from Adaptive Path Newsletter. For the second time I read this thing about Web 2.0 and this time around having some extra time I googled it more and got to read Tim O'Reilly's paper "What is Web 2.0?". I have to admit it was a really cool article, I enjoyed it deeply, lots of food for thought. Some's, flickr's, boxxet's, topic map's, folksonomy's, tag clouds's later I had a great buzz in my head, evolucination in action right there ;) After a while I also got to read the whole patent polemic so the Web 2.0 name doesn't feel so right anymore. Especially coming from someone talking about the new era of collaboration the issue doesn't seem minor.
    Nevertheless, and regardless of the name, patented or unpatented, the concepts are still amazing and I'll be talking about some of them in next posts.
    Anyway, better later than never, all this got me started with my procrastinated blog, so I'm thankful for that. I'll start sharing and thinking out loud from this place and we'll see what's next.