Reflecting on 2010 – in Dublin, Ireland

Dublin by night
Image via Wikipedia

It’s been a pretty frightening year on the economic front, here in Dublin, Ireland.  Finally, despite all the protestations of the Government the EU and IMF rode into town.  A deal has been done – premised on significant growth it might be doable…if the growth does not materialise – then eventually some debt will have to be written off.

On the technology front – for me personally the smartphone wins out (currently favouring the Android platform): greater access and availability wherever you are (wherever I am).  Seems to me the Cloud has matured into something that is not going away – in fact that looks like it will win out.  I think the objections will be addressed and moved aside. On the semantic web front – lots of activity from various providers of tools/ solutions using semantic technology. Disappointing, given the presence of DERI in Ireland, that we do not see more publicity/ traction within our own smart economy.  And we trail other countries dismally on initiatives to push publication of data (using linked open data standards)  by government departments.

Snow in the suburbs
A whole new world

The last few weeks have been challenging on the weather front – in particular on the East Coast.  It would have to be said that our local government/admin/ transport has failed miserably and consistently in addressing the weather challenges.  To see major roads not being cleared each night is pretty depressing – be it shortage of money to pay the overtime, trucks to clear the snow/slush,salt to treat the roads or poor planning/management and execution.  But there is a real cost – most likely including loss of life – because of this repeated failure.

Katie Taylor, Graeme McDowell, Tipperary hurlers, U23 cross country runners and many more – great memories and inspiration in a difficult year and looking forward to challenging years.

There was my short break with my wife in Budapest – what a marvellous city and such hospitable people.  But then we had the fun courtesy of Volcanic Ash – our four day trip home was quite luxurious by comparison with the hardship experienced by others.

Best book I read was the 10th anniversary edition of The Cluetrain Manifesto.  Also often found myself returning to ideas from The Power of Pull.

And Wikileaks has caught the imagination as the year closes out.  I was not very positively disposed to Mr Assange when this began – but the overreaction from certain quarters is not doing much to reinforce my doubts.  I think we all need to reflect a little on this. Some of the ideas referenced by Clay Shirky in Here Comes Everybody and by Don Tapscott in Macrwikinomics are playing out in front of us.

All in all looking forward to the break – a chance to enjoy some of the best things in Ireland – company, craic, ceol, food, literature, scenery, catching up with the visiting diaspora…and time to do some dreaming.  Because we all need to use our imaginations and our creativity in order to ensure that we do beat our targets next year – be that winning a major, winning a football championship, keeping a job, hiring a new employee, starting a new business, teaching a student, helping someone.

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Semantics – for data and for documents

No doubt about it – linked data seems to be where it ia and will be for some time.  CEOs traditionally have one eye on the external and one eye on the internal – relying on COOs, CFOs etc to drive the inside efficiently while they figure out the positioning, the alliances, the competitive advantage.  Most of the CIO work has been focused on providing the systems to enable the COO, CFO, etc run the organisation efficiently.

The CEO needs linked data.  She needs to be able to compare and contrast using external data, preferably in conjunction with internal data.  That’s all about linked data – in spite of the data being held in completely different structures. (Enter semantics, tags, RDF, etc).

Have spent a lot of time in the last 18 months working with companies figuring out their document management strategies for the first time – down to detailed taxonomies.  Now, in the context of linked data and semantic web am looking at ontologies.  Without doubt thinking through the ontology questions forces people to figure out processes, relationships and different types of structures.  Seems to me now that the linked data and the document management imperatives are not separate – rather they require a more holistic approach to the analysis and design.

I would expect linked data, content management, mashups, collaboration – all to become part of the same thinking and solutions.  Indeed wikis and blogs are part of this – as they challenge the traditional role of wordprocessing type documents – through providing greater interactivity/ collaboration.  Even developments such as wiki enabled web based training soltions (cf DERI and pergamon) are further examples of this merging of tools, environment and solutions.

So you may come at this from a collaboration and document management perspective or from a BI and data useability/ refereneabililty perspective.  But much of the thinking and problem solving are common, interlinked and overlap.

Semantic web in Ireland

On a day of doom and gloom – the emergency budget in Ireland – was lucky enough to spend a couple of uplifting hours in the Institute of European Affairs, Ireland (www.iiea.com).

I was listening to and interacting with Liam Moran, business development manager, Digitial Enterprise Reseach Institute (Galway, Ireland).  DERI (www.deri.com) is the type of thing this country needs (‘The vision of the Digital Enterprise Research Institute is to be recognised as the leading international web science research institute interlinking technologies, information and people to advance business and benefit society’).  Set up with some real foresight, backed by the Irish government and Europe, real leadership (including Tim Berners Lee) and lots of brilliant minds.

Very exciting applications emerging from the research – the latest being SIOC to be adotped by the US government.  Visit the site (www.deri.com) for a better insight.

Liam gave a comprehensive review of Web o, 1, 2 & 3 and painted some great images of what could happen.

One particular observation caught my attention – how do we avoid getting bogged down in simply copying (even plagiarising) others to the exclusion of original, creative, thought?  Not being a music composer I often wonder where song writers continue to come up with new ideas?  Reminds me in some wasy of being back in school – when you were studying Shakepeare did you try to understand Hamlet for yourself and provide your own analysis/ commentary or did you simply buy ‘Coles Notes’ and regurgitate the standard bumph?