Reinventing the Web II

June 16, 2014 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageUpdated 19 Jun 2016 Why isn't the Web a reliable and useful long term store for the links and content people independently create? What can we do to fix that? Who benefits from creating spaces with stable, permanently addressable content? Who pays? What incentives can make Web scale permanent, stable content with reliable bidirectional links and other goodies as common and useful as Web search over the entire flakey, decentralized and wildly successful Web? Here's a good Twitter conversation to read:

How the Web was Won

I believe Tim Berners-Lee's original HTTP and HTML protocols succeeded beyond his original vision of a globally scalable, loosely coupled network of Web pages that anyone could edit. The fact that his original protocols were simple, decentralized, and free for anyone to use were essential to success in a world of competing proprietary Internet publishing and commerce "standards" from Microsoft and others. But in my opinion, the Web won by turning permanence and stability into a decentralized economic decision.

Berners-Lee's original W3C protocols appeared at the right time to open clear field opportunities for distributed publishing, marketing, sales and advertising that fueled the Web's growth and evolution. Recapping the argument from my first Reinventing the Web post:

The idea that any sensible person would rely on a global hypertext system where links on one computer pointed at locations on another computer which would break whenever the remote computer was unilaterally moved, renamed, taken off line or abandoned seemed absurd.

The idea that you would have no way to know what incoming links would break when editing or refactoring content seemed just as bad.

The Word Wide Web protocols looked like they would work for relatively small cooperative groups like CERN who could keep things from breaking by having shared goals, and using peer pressure plus out of band communication to keep distributed content alive.

Actually that intuition was pretty good, because the World Wide Web took off in a direction based on other incentives compatible with those assumptions - and grew like crazy because unlike alternatives, it was was simple, massively scalable, cheap and eliminated the need for centralized control.

1) The Web became a distributed publishing medium, not the fabric for distributed editing and collaboration that Tim Berners-Lee and others envisioned. People and Web publishing engines like Amazon created content and kept it online while it had economic value, historical value (funded by organizations), or personal value. Content hosting became cheap enough for individuals or tiny groups. Advertising supported content became "free".

2) Search engines spanned the simple Web. Keeping content addressable now gained value since incoming links not only allowed people to bookmark and search engines to index what you had to publish (or sell), but the incoming links gained economic value through page rank. This provided even greater motivation to edit without breaking links, and to keep content online while it retained some economic, organizational or personal value.

3) People and organizations learned how to converse and collaborate over the Web by making it easy to create addressable content others could link to. The simple blog model let people just add content and have it automatically organized by time. The Wiki model required more thought and work to name, organize and garden content, but also creates stable, addressable islands of pages based on principals that reward cooperative behavior.

4) Search engines, syndication and notification engines built over the Web's simple, scalable protocols connected the Web in ways that I don't think anyone really anticipated - and work as independent and competing distributed systems, making rapid innovation possible.

Tim Berners-Lee made an inspired set of tradeoffs. Almost every concept of value on the Web: search engines, browsers, notification is built over his simple, open, highly scalable architecture.

I believe it's possible to provide what TBL calls "reasonable boundaries" for sharing sensitive personal or organizational data without breaking basic W3C addressable content protocols that makes linking and Web scale search valuable. That should be the goal for social and business software, not siloed gardens with Web proof walls.

Building a better Web over the Web we have

Telephone companies used to call their simplest and cheapest legacy service POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service). I believe it's possible to build a richer and more stable Web over POWS (Plain Old Web Services) without necessarily starting from scratch.

One answer to "who benefits?" and "who pays?" are the businesses who benefit from a richer and more stable Web connecting the systems they use to get work done. Stable fine-grain links and bi-directional relationships connecting systems of record and systems of engagement open the door to business systems that are more flexible, effective, simple to develop, and pleasant to use - more like the public Web than traditional line of business systems.

Museums, libraries, and archives such as Brewster Kahle's Internet Archive, the Library of Congress and others have a mission to collect and curate our cultural heritage and knowledge. The Internet Archive shows how little it costs to collect and index an archive of the content of the visible Web.

Commercial publisher monetize their archive, but have weaker economic incentives to maintain stable links to content outside their own domain.

Commerce sites and providers of consumer-focused Web services may have the greatest economic incentive for deep linking with stable references and relationships spanning devices you own, your home, your health and healthcare providers, your car, your family - and your work, see Continuity and Intertwingled Work.

If I'm right, there are economic incentives for Web content creators to make their work more linkable, visible and useable using straightforward, decentralized, and non-proprietary upwards compatible extensions of Plain Old Web Services.

I believe that indices spanning permalinked locations as well as incoming and outgoing permalink references to content in "stable islands in the storm tossed sea" can be created and maintained in near real time at Web scale, preserving the integrity of links to archival content distributed across the Web.

For example, any domain could publish an index to its permalinked content. Other domains implementing the same protocol could make incoming references to that content by permalink. This is a simple decentralized protocol, no more magical than the published external references that a link editor or dynamic linking system uses to resolve references connecting independently compiled modules of code.

Domains that agree to implement the same protocol, and use permalink (URI) references for content in other compatible domains then have a more stable, decentralized model for permanent links. If domains also publish their own permalink outgoing references (external as well as internal), a Web level service could build and maintain reliable inverted indices of bi-directional internal and domain spanning links. The federation of such domains could be spidered by any number of independently developed services, creating a more stable and useful Web as a decentralized service without breaking the simple Web protocols that every browser and other Web service relies on.

I don't know who has suggested this before; it seems obvious, and is a straw man not a solution. I'm using it to argue that we can and should invent ways to improve the capabilities of the Web using the same simple, decentralized philosophy that made the Web wildly successful versus "better" hypertext systems.

See Michael Peter Edson's Dark Matter essay and my Thought Vectors - Vannevar Bush and Dark Matter response.


Update 19 Jun 2016 See the Internet Archive Decentralized Web Summit, 8-9 June 2016 Locking the Web Open. See videos of the Summit and Brewster Kahle's notes: "Building a web that is decentralized— where many websites are delivered through a peer-to-peer network– would lead to a the web being hosted from many places leading to more reliable access, availability of past versions, access from more places around the world, and higher performance. It can also lead to more reader-privacy because it is harder to watch or control what one reads. Integrating a payments system into a decentralized web can help people make money by publishing on the web without the need for 3rd parties. This meeting focused on the values, technical, policy, deployment issues of reinventing basic infrastructure like the web."

Reinventing the Web (2009) Ted Nelson, Tim Berners-Lee and the evolution of the Web. Ted Nelson wants two-way links, stable transclusion, micropayments. Tim Berners-Lee wants a new Web with open, linked data. I believe that most of what they want can be delivered using the current flakey, decentralized and wildly successful Web as the delivery medium for richer, more stable, more permanent internal models, as stable federations of islands in a storm-tossed sea.

The Internet's Original Sin by Ethan Zuckerman, The Atlantic, Aug 14, 2014. Ethan confesses his role - invention of the pop-up Ad - stating "It’s obvious now that what we did was a fiasco, so let me remind you that what we wanted to do was something brave and noble." He makes a convincing case that the apple in the Web's garden is Investor storytime "... when someone pays you to tell them how rich they’ll get when you finally put ads on your site." A darkly comic but heartfelt essay on the past and future economy of the Web: "It's not too late to ditch the ad-based business model and build a better web"

Intertwingled Work (2010) No one Web service or collection of Web servers contain everything people need, but we get along using search and creative services that link content across wildly different sources. The same principal applies when you want to link and work across wildly diverse siloed systems of record and transactional databases.

Dark Matter: The dark matter of the Internet is open, social, peer-to-peer and read/write—and it’s the future of museums by Michael Peter Edson on May 19, 2014.

Continuity and Intertwingled Work (2014) A level above an Internet of Things: seamless experience across devices for you, your family, your health and trusted service providers, at home and at work.

Reinventing the Web III (2014) followup Twitter conversation with @zeynep, @jeffsonstein, @kevinmarks, and @roundtrip.

The Web of Alexandria (2015) by Bret Victor "We, as a species, are currently putting together a universal repository of knowledge and ideas, unprecedented in scope and scale. Which information-handling technology should we model it on? The one that's worked for 4 billion years and is responsible for our existence? Or the one that's led to the greatest intellectual tragedies in history?"

And Victor's followup post "Whenever the ephemerality of the web is mentioned, two opposing responses tend to surface. Some people see the web as a conversational medium, and consider ephemerality to be a virtue. And some people see the web as a publication medium, and want to build a "permanent web" where nothing can ever disappear. Neither position is mine. If anything, I see the web as a bad medium, at least partly because it invites exactly that conflict, with disastrous effects on both sides."

Update 13 Jul 2014 Added new section headings, added the inline recap and economic benefit examples, added a link to a Jul 2014 Reinventing the Web III Twitter conversation on the same topic.

Update 23 Aug 2014 Added link and brief note on Ethan Zuckerman's fine essay on advertising as the Internet's Original Sin.

Update 29 May 2015 Added links to Web of Alexandria and followup by Bret Victor on why the Web is a bad medium.

Update 19 Jun 2015 Added link to Brewster Kahle's summary of the Internet Archive's Decentralized Web Summit of 8-9 June 2016.

Thought Vectors - Vannevar Bush and Dark Matter

June 13, 2014 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageOn Jun 9 2014 Virginia Commonwealth University launched a new course, UNIV 200: Inquiry and the Craft of Argument with the tagline Thought Vectors in Concept Space. The eight week course includes readings from Vannevar Bush, J.C.R. Licklider, Doug Engelbart, Ted Nelson, Alan Kay, and Adele Goldberg. Assignments include blog posts and an invitation to participate on Twitter using the #thoughtvectors hashtag. The course has six sections taught at VCU, and an open section for the rest of the internet, which happily includes me! This week's assignment is a blog post based on a nugget that participants select from Vannevar Bush's 1945 essay As We May Think. Here's mine:

Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified. The lawyer has at his touch the associated opinions and decisions of his whole experience, and of the experience of friends and authorities. The patent attorney has on call the millions of issued patents, with familiar trails to every point of his client’s interest. The physician, puzzled by a patient’s reactions, strikes the trail established in studying an earlier similar case, and runs rapidly through analogous case histories, with side references to the classics for the pertinent anatomy and histology. The chemist, struggling with the synthesis of an organic compound, has all the chemical literature before him in his laboratory, with trails following the analogies of compounds, and side trails to their physical and chemical behavior.

The historian, with a vast chronological account of a people, parallels it with a skip trail which stops only on the salient items, and can follow at any time contemporary trails which lead him all over civilization at a particular epoch. There is a new profession of trail blazers, those who find delight in the task of establishing useful trails through the enormous mass of the common record. The inheritance from the master becomes, not only his additions to the world's record, but for his disciples the entire scaffolding by which they were erected.

This quote is part of a longer section in Bush's essay describing his concept of the Memex, a desktop machine imagined as an extension of 1940's microfilm and vacuum tube technology.

This quote stuck me while reading Michael Peter Edson's essay Dark Matter published on in May 2014.

Edson's essay begins "The dark matter of the Internet is open, social, peer-to-peer and read/write—and it’s the future of museums" explaining:

I am talking about museums, libraries, and archives—heritage, culture, knowledge, and memory institutions—and there is really nothing like them on the face of the earth. And whether we’ve realized it or not, my colleagues and I who work with technology in these institutions have been participating in an extraordinary project — the building of a planetary scale knowledge sharing network for the benefit of everyone on earth.

He writes:

Despite the best efforts of some of our most visionary and talented colleagues, we’ve been building, investing, and focusing on only a small part of what the Internet can do to help us accomplish our missions.

90% of the universe is made of dark matter—hard to see, but so forceful that it seems to move every star, planet, and galaxy in the cosmos.

And 90% of the Internet is made up of dark matter too—hard for institutions to see, but so forceful that it seems to move humanity itself.

And it’s not necessarily that the glass of museum, library, and archive technology projects is half empty, as opposed to half full; it’s the fact that the glass of the Internet and the dark matter of open, social, read/write cultural engagement is so much bigger than museums, libraries, and archives are accustomed to seeing and thinking about. And the glass keeps growing at exponential speed, whether we fill it with good work or wait in committee meetings for the water to pour itself…

Edson concludes that museums, libraries, and archives "can play a huge role in the story of how Earth’s 7 billion citizens will lead their lives, make and participate in their culture, learn, share, invent, create, cry, laugh, and do in the future" by going back to Tim Berners-Lee's original vision of the Web, where every person can be a writer as well as a reader.

Cultural Web sites, blogs, Google, Facebook, Twitter and are part of the solution, but Edison's challenge goes beyond that.

I believe there are three parts to his challenge:

The role of trail blazer: Just as Bush suggested in July 1945, I believe there's a need for people to act as explorers, guides, and trail blazers over knowledge they know and love. You can experience that personal knowledge and passion on a tour, at a talk, or in a conversation on a bus, at a party - anywhere you meet someone who loves one of these institutions. I think it's particularly valuable to have trail blazers who are also skilled professionals personally represent and communicate the values, knowledge, and heritage of their museum, just as a great reference librarian becomes a library's ambassador.

The medium: Museums have long had lectures, journals, and newsletters. Most cultural institutions now have web sites, blogs, and Twitter or Facebook accounts, which can be really interesting depending on who does the writing and response. In Dark Matter Edson goes well beyond the comfort zone of most museums into the world of video blogging, Reddit, Pinterest, Tumbler and more. Of the video blogging brothers who created 1,000 plus videos on the YouTube Vlogbrothers channel, Edson writes:

It is evident from watching 30 seconds of any of their videos that they are nerds, and they proudly describe themselves as such. If you announced to your museum director or boss that you intended to hire Hank and John Green to make a series of charming and nerdy videos about literature, art, global warming, politics, travel, music, or any of the other things that Hank and John make videos about you would be thrown out of whatever office you were sitting in and probably be asked to find another job.

The mission: A little less than a year before the end of World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote a letter to Vannevar Bush, asking Bush how to turn the "unique experiment of team-work and cooperation in coordinating scientific research and in applying existing scientific knowledge" during WWII to the peaceful pursuit of scientific knowledge after the end of the war. President Roosevelt concluded: "New frontiers of the mind are before us, and if they are pioneered with the same vision, boldness, and drive with which we have waged this war we can create a fuller and more fruitful employment and a fuller and more fruitful life." Bush responded to then President Harry S. Truman in July 1945, the same month As We May Think was published in The Atlantic Monthly. Bush's report, titled Science the Endless Frontier, lead to the creation of the National Science Foundation.

The Dark Matter mission is different, but it calls on museums and other cultural institutions to rethink how they bring together the heritage they preserve and the broader society they serve. I believe that the skills and passion of trail blazers can help connect the people and the common record of their culture by creating trails that can be seen and built upon now and by future generations. Anyone can now create a trail, and museums should become the richest and most welcoming sources for trail creation. Museums can help by opening up access as well as by creating and curating trails - across all media - as part of their core mission, a unique experiment in team-work and cooperation.

See Dark Matter and Trailblazers - @mpedson and Vannevar Bush for more quotes from Michael Peter Edson's essay, quotes from As We May Think, and President Roosevelt's wartime letter to Vannevar Bush.

Update Oct 30, 2014 See Michael Peter Edson's Internet Librarian International 14 keynote slides, Dark Matter 

Update Jan 21, 2015: See The Museum of the Future Is Here by Robinson Myer, The Atlantic, Jan 20, 2015. A thoughtful redesign of the Smithsonian's Cooper Hewett museum adds a stable URL for every object in its collection, as well as an API for accessing related content.

What the API means, for someone who will never visit the museum, is that every object , every designer , every nation , every era , even every color has a stable URL on the Internet. No other museum does this with the same seriousness as the Cooper Hewitt. If you want to talk about Van Gogh’s Starry Night online, you have to link to the Wikipedia page . Wikipedia is the best permanent identifier of Starry Night-ness on the web. But if you want to talk about an Eames Chair, you can link to the Cooper Hewitt’s page for it ...

“When we re-open, the building will be the single largest consumer of the API,” said Chan.

In other words, the museum made a piece of infrastructure for the public. But the museum will benefit in the long term, because the infrastructure will permit them to plan for the near future.

And the museum will also be, of course, the single largest beneficiary of outsider improvements to the API. It already talks to other APIs on the web. Ray Eames’s page , for instance, encourages users to tag their Instagrams and Flickr photos with a certain code. When they do, Cooper Hewitt’s API will automatically sniff it out and link that image back to its own person file for Eames. Thus, the Cooper Hewitt’s online presence grows even richer.


"Thoughtvectors in Concept Space badge" by @iamTalkyTina my posts |


As We May Think - Vannevar Bush, Atlantic Monthly, July 1, 1945

Reinventing the Web - Blog post on the creation and evolution of the Web and thoughts on making the Web a more writerly medium based on Berners-Lee's original intent and the vision of Ted Nelson.

Doug Engelbart's copy of As We May Think - with Doug's 1962 notes scribbled in the margins - Blog post also includes links to the Oct 1995 Brown/MIT Vannevar Bush Symposium on the 50th anniversary of As We May Think, with videos of talks and panel sessions.

Doug Engelbart | 85th Birthday Jan 30, 2010 - Blog post celebrating Doug Engelbart's 85th birthday, includes quotes and links to resources. One of the quotes from Engelbart's talk at the Brown/MIT Vannevar Bush Symposium became the tag line for this VCU course:

Doug Engelbart: ... So, moving your way around those thought vectors in concept space - I'd forgotten about that

Alan Kay: You said that, right?

Doug Engelbart: I must have, its so good. [laughter] Its to externalize your thoughts in the concept structures that are meaningful outside and moving around flexibly and manipulating them and viewing them. Its a new way to operate on a new kind of externalized medium. So, to keep doing it in a model of the old media is just a hangup that someplace we're going to break that perspective and shift and then the idea of high performance and the idea of high performance teams who've learned to coordinate, to get that ball down the field together in all kinds of operations.

Continuity and Intertwingled Work

June 12, 2014 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageAt Apple's WWDC 2014 on 2 Jun 2014, Apple demonstrated how to build a great user experience spanning a your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Apple calls this OS level capability Continuity. It enables you to continue what you're doing across devices and applications by securely encapsulating your identity and the context of your action as an object. From picking up a draft email message started on an iPhone and continuing work with that draft on your Mac, to answering an incoming iPhone call on your Mac, I believe this opens the door for a level of seamless experience that everyone will want for personal use, their family, and at work.

Here’s why. I believe Apple aims to connect:

  • Your actions, across the devices you use
  • Your family (Family Sharing);
  • Your home (HomeKit);
  • Your health and healthcare providers (HealthKit);
  • Your car (CarPlay) See what Apple is offering via auto OEMs;
  • Your work (by extension I'll call this WorkKit) If Apple wanted to play in the enterprise software space. [Apple does want to play, see IBM/Apple Update below - grl]

Regardless of Apple’s intention as a platform for business applications, if Apple succeeds in the personal space, I believe this vision of continuity sets a benchmark for user experience at work, and will kick off a new level of competition to win the attention of enterprise developers and IT departments, working top down rather than bottom up.

1) Apple is using SDK extensions to bridge access to other Apps and OS services. My understanding of the SDK extensions introduced at WWDC 2014 is that personal information and context flows across Apps and iOS services based on extension of the App sandboxing that has kept iOS relatively malware free and consistent. This is critical if you believe that Apple’s strategic goal is to become the trusted, secure home for a fabric of personal information that includes a record of your actions in context. The fabric links you, your devices, your family, your health information, and other things you own or use including your home, car, and what you use at work. The record of actions in context makes it possible to learn, use, and reason about the verbs (actions) and nouns (things) you use every day, including the context in which you use them. It's what I believe is needed to make an Internet of Things usable.

2) Google, Yahoo and others gather correlate, analyze and use personal identity metadata including your location, search history, browsing history to monetize for their own purposes or to sell to others. I believe Apple is trying to build a counter story on security using identity and services encapsulated in devices you own. [Confirmed. See 17 Sep 2014 A message from Tim Cook about Apple’s commitment to your privacy and links below - grl] In addition to continuity, examples include OS8 MAC address randomization for WiFi localization privacy and hardware partitioned storage of iOS fingerprint data.

3) Folk who dislike the Apple’s walled garden and curated applications sometimes fail to acknowledge that many people value a safer, more consistent, curated, and delightfully designed user experience to a toolkit.

4) I want my personal information and keys to access health, home, car, family information stored in a walled garden in a device I own, with gated access looking in for Apps I authorize, and delegated freedom to search, link and use anything I have rights to looking out. Apple appears to be developing its stack top down, starting from a vision of a seamless user experience that just works, giving developers the extensions they need to innovate and prosper.

5) I believe Apple’s principles of continuity and identity are also what businesses need for a safe, secure, consistent, delightful, and productive user experience for people at work, see Intertwingled Work and Work Graph Model: TeamPage Style.

Update 12 Aug 2014

IBM's 15 July 2014 partnership announcement with Apple caught many analysts by surprise. To me, it makes perfect sense as a path to broaden Apple's market. Over the past several years Apple's iOS security, provisioning, and deployment investments removed barriers and eliminated friction for Enterprise customers bowing to Apple as the inevitable Bring Your Own Device of choice. IBM's position as a trusted supplier and developer for Enterprise customers complements Apple's position and focus as your lifestyle hub - for healthcare, home, family, car, and work - and the Internet of Things. I see Google as Apple's only potential competitor. Look for interesting times.

Tbits: Putting IBM MobileFirst in (Apple’s Enterprise) Context Andrew Laurence writes: "Since the iPhone, Apple has developed a subtle enterprise strategy, so subtle that many pundits miss it. Instead of pursuing business sales directly, Apple has quietly worked to remove barriers that might impede usage of its products, including in enterprises. This approach enables Apple to pursue design and user experience while also making its devices more useful to business and fitting enterprise concerns better..."

"Although commonly known as a “computer company,” IBM is really a software and services company, focused on developing and supporting applications for customers. And not only applications, but whole solutions, which requires combining development, hardware, software, management, and more. When a company hires IBM, they also sign on to purchase software licenses; for IBM to supply, manage, and service hardware through its lifecycle; and to purchase support for it all through the life of the contract. The service contract includes not only development of the application if necessary, but also ongoing support and management services: provisioning and deployment, as well as integration of the application and hardware into a cohesive whole to provide a coherent solution..."

For IBM’s customers, the MobileFirst endeavor represents just such an opportunity. Their applications can be developed and deployed on Apple’s popular iOS platform, drawing on IBM’s deep well of enterprise development experience and letting IBM bask in Apple’s reflected glory. I imagine that IBM will get special pricing for Apple products sold through MobileFirst; I also suspect these devices will be provisioned through Apple’s Streamlined Enrollment and tightly managed (via mobile device management policies) through IBM’s Endpoint Manager and MaaS360 products, with software procurement managed through Apple’s Volume Purchase Program."

How IBM could help Apple win one of the biggest markets of all Ryan Faas writes in CITEworld: "Apple's partnership with IBM may deliver more value to Apple than just expanding the iPad's penetration in the business world. Although the partnership will certainly focus on creating business apps, the focus on creating industry-specific apps may boost Apple's fortunes in one of the fields that it is actively seeking to disrupt -- health care."

Update 23 Aug 2014

Apple HealthKit and VRM. A thoughtful essay by Doc Searles. Doc methodically examines Apple's HealthKit from the perspective of Vendor Relationship Management (VRM) principles, goals, and tool requirements - all relating to customers ability to define and manage their own relationship with vendors, rather than vice versa. He finds that HealthKit's principles appear to be an encouraging match, quoting this blog post on "security using identity and services encapsulated in devices you own".

On points 3) and 4) of this blog post, Doc says:

"As a guy who favors free software and open source, I agree to the extent that I think the best we can get at this stage is a company with the heft of an Apple stepping and doing some Right Things. If we’re lucky, we’ll get what Brian Behlendorf calls “minimum viable centralization.” And maximum personal empowerment. Eventually."

Doc see one big unanswered question:

In all cases the unanswered question is whether or not your health data is locked inside Apple’s Health app. Apple says no: “With HealthKit, developers can make their apps even more useful by allowing them to access your health data, too. And you choose what you want shared. For example, you can allow the data from your blood pressure app to be automatically shared with your doctor. Or allow your nutrition app to tell your fitness apps how many calories you consume each day. When your health and fitness apps work together, they become more powerful. And you might, too.

Update 18 Sep 2014

We're Building Privacy Into Everything You Use Every Day Apple on privacy. The moment you begin using an Apple product or service, strong privacy measures are already at work protecting your information. We build extensive safeguards into our apps and the operating systems they run on. Apple examples include: iCloud; Safari; Maps, Siri and Dictation; Mail; Apps and the App Store; Pay; Health; HomeKit; Spotlight Suggestions; Randomized Wi-Fi Addresses; Security by Design]

A message from Tim Cook about Apple’s commitment to your privacy Quotes:

At Apple, your trust means everything to us. That’s why we respect your privacy and protect it with strong encryption, plus strict policies that govern how all data is handled...

Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of all our hardware, software, and services, including iCloud and new services like Apple Pay. And we continue to make improvements. Two-step verification, which we encourage all our customers to use, in addition to protecting your Apple ID account information, now also protects all of the data you store and keep up to date with iCloud...

A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.

Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.

One very small part of our business does serve advertisers, and that’s iAd. We built an advertising network because some app developers depend on that business model, and we want to support them as well as a free iTunes Radio service. iAd sticks to the same privacy policy that applies to every other Apple product. It doesn’t get data from Health and HomeKit, Maps, Siri, iMessage, your call history, or any iCloud service like Contacts or Mail, and you can always just opt out altogether.


Apple's WWDC 2014 Continuity Demo: Identity, Security, User Experience - Storified clipping of the Twitter conversation with @dhinchcliffe @DylanTWilliam and @haydn1701 that motivated this post.

Internet of Everything - Four Questions (with Tweets) - Ron Miller moderated a 20 Jun 2014 Twitter conversation on The Internet of Everything. Ron defined IoE: "For context think of the Internet of Everything as the Internet of Things plus people, process and data." A few Tweets from me specifically related to the topic of this post:

"When I walk into a room, every device and system should know who I am, what I'm interested in, what I can do."

"Not just "May I refill your coffee?" from the coffee pot, but "whoops looks like widget supplier will be late" on ERP wall."

“Device/owner delegates authority to trusted service to securely collect data and act on things on behalf of owner” vs

"Assumes HQ is safe and challenges device in field to prove to what level it and its owner can be trusted"

Software design is taught in the wrong department. Interactive software is a branch of cinema - Ted Nelson, April 2001

Intertwingled Work (2010) No one Web service or collection of Web servers contain everything people need, but we get along using search and creative services that link content across wildly different sources. The same principle applies when you want to link and work across wildly diverse siloed systems of record and transactional databases.

The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style ... the units of work (tasks, ideas, clients, goals, agenda items); information about that work (relevant conversations, files, status, metadata); how it all fits together; and then the people involved with the work (who’s responsible for what? which people need to be kept in the loop?)

A new TeamPage logo, and a new look at Traction

June 9, 2014 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageYou'll be seeing the new TeamPage logo here, on Twitter, Facebook, across the Web, and next to TeamPage sites shown in your browser's tabs; I hope you like the it! I also hope you like the the new look at Our customers believe TeamPage is ideal for work that combines collaboration and action tracking, including quality management, human resources, project work, intelligence analysis, knowledge management, and compliance. We want to tell this story simply and clearly, and we'll continue to improve this site just as we continually improve TeamPage. Please contact us for insights into how customers use TeamPage to get work done, along with a free trial.

Where Collaboration Meets Chess

April 4, 2014 · · Posted by Jordan Frank

In 12 Habits of Highly Collaborative Organizations, @Jacob Morgan draws awesome parallels between collaboration strategy and chess strategy:

Chess is virtually an infinite game yet somehow we have grand-masters who are always at the top. How do they succeed in this infinite game? They identify patterns and look for identifiable scenarios. This same approach is applicable for collaboration.

Jacob outlines 12 strategies for successful collaboration. They're numbered but there's no specific order here -- the key is to assimilate these strategies and match them to any as a means to develop the right mix of approaches that will turn a grass roots effort into a collaborative productivity engine for your organization.


These strategies are vital when you seek improvement opportunities with social process engineering. To tackle this grand problem, I like to look first at one working group's key artifacts - whether they are process documents, issues to track, or any other material that passes over your desk regularly - then I start at "6. Integrate into the flow of work" and develop an approach that is supported by the other 11 principles outlined by Jacob.

Thinking like a chess master enables you to make a first tactical move, but do so within a framework that sets you up for success further down the line when use cases are added and new stakeholders must be convinced.

An Infinite Number of Cats on Keyboards: Ted Nelson & Computer Lib at Homebrew Computer Club Reunion

November 16, 2013 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

Order a perfect reprint of the original version of Computer Lib / Dream Machines directly from Ted Nelson, autographed if you wish. Highly recommended.


Ted Nelson's original 1974 edition of Computer Lib / Dream Machines was tour de force on hypertext, personal computers, and more. It was printed tabloid size, with Ted's hand drawn diagrams, neatly scribbled annotations, pasteup text and graphics in a style that has to be seen to be appreciated: think Whole Earth Catalog for computer geeks, film buffs, authors, philosophers, cartoonists, carnival barkers, and children of all ages.

In 1987 Microsoft Press did a good deed by reprinting the book, but chose a standard trade paperback layout which lost much of the charm.

The 1974 edition printed by Hugo's Book Service in Chicago has two front covers (one for Computer Lib and one for Dream Machines). Both books share the same binding, and you flip to read in either order. An original edition sells for over $250 when you can find a copy.

Read a fine essay and authorized sample from Computer Lib / Dream Machines as well as other classics at New Media Reader Excerpts, by Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort (Editors), MIT Press 2003.

In Nov 2013 Ted announced that you can order a perfect reprint directly from him for $100 including US postage ($108 for California residents).

See Mark Graybill's blog post on meeting Ted at the Homebrew Computer Club Reunion, 11 Nov 2013.

Here's the back of the Computer Lib flyer including payment address, terms, and email ordering address:


Ted Nelson speaks at the HomeBrew Computer Club Reunion, 11 Nov 2013 (YouTube video)

Update: On April 24, 2014 Chapman University hosted INTERTWINGLED: The Work and Influence of Ted Nelson. The conference "examined and honored the work and influence of this computer visionary and re-imagined its meaning for the future". Speakers include: Belinda Barnet, Dame Wendy Hall, Alan Kay, Ken Knowlton, Jaron Lanier, and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Concluding remarks by Ted Nelson. See conference session videos.

Update: Intertwingled, The Festschrift-- Ebook celebrating Ted Nelson Day at Chapman University, 2014 (Springer-Verlag) (via @TheTedNelson, 12 Jul 2015) A free Springer ebook edited by Douglas R. Dechow and Daniele C. Struppa. Chapters by Alan Kay, Brewster Kahle, Belinda Barnet, Ken Knowlton, Dame Wendy Hall, and others. Closing chapter What Box? by Ted Nelson. I highly recommend this book.

Ada Lovelace Day | Marissa Ann Mayer, Software Engineer, Product Manager, and Executive

October 15, 2013 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

Ada Lovelace Day celebratesImage the contributions of women in science and technology, follow @FindingAda for news and events. This year I've chosen to write about Marissa Ann Mayer Software Engineer, Product Manager, and Executive, currently President and CEO of Yahoo! Over her career Ms Mayer earned exceptional recognition for Computer Science teaching (while working for her Stanford degrees), software engineering, design, product management, and her executive skills. Ms Mayer joined Google as employee number twenty in 2009 and played an instrumental role leading Google Search for over 10 years.

In 2013 Ms Mayer ranked 31 in the Forbes Magazine list of the World's 100 Most Powerful Women, and the first woman listed as number one on the Fortune Magazine's annual list of the top 40 business stars under 40 years old.

Quoting from her Yahoo! biography: "During her 13 years at Google, Marissa held numerous positions, including engineer, designer, product manager, and executive, and launched more than 100 well-known features and products. She played an instrumental role in Google search, leading the product management effort for more than 10 years, a period during which Google Search grew from a few hundred thousand to well over a billion searches per day. Marissa led the development of some of Google's most successful services including image, book and product search, toolbar, and iGoogle, and defined such pivotal products as Google News and Gmail. She is listed as an inventor on several patents in artificial intelligence and interface design.

Prior to joining Google, Marissa worked at the UBS research lab in Zurich, Switzerland and at SRI International in Menlo Park, California. She graduated with honors from Stanford University with a B.S. in Symbolic Systems and a M.S. in Computer Science. For both degrees, she specialized in artificial intelligence. While at Stanford, she taught computer programming to more than 3000 students and received the Centennial Teaching and Forsythe Awards for her contributions to undergraduate education. In 2008, the Illinois Institute of Technology awarded her an honorary doctorate of engineering."

"Companies with the best talent win." Marissa Mayer, CEO Yahoo!

Ada icon by Sidney Padua Download the Thrilling Adventures of Babbage & Lovelace for your iPad (free). Enjoy their adventures, backstory and more on author Sydney Padua's 2D Goggles Web page.

Previous years

Ada Lovelace Day | Sunita Williams, Astronaut and Captain U.S. Navy 2012

Ada Lovelace Day | Betts Wald, US Naval Research Lab 2011

Ada Lovelace Day | Fran Allen, IBM Fellow and A.M. Turing Award Winner 2010

Ada Lovelace Day | Professor Lee S. Sproull, Stern School, NYU 2009

The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style

October 11, 2013 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageJustin Rosenstein wrote an excellent option piece for Wired, The Way We Work Is Soul-Sucking, But Social Networks Are Not the Fix. Justin begins: "With Twitter’s recent IPO filing, the most popular graph dominating conversation is the “interest graph.” Before that, it was the “social graph,” courtesy of Facebook. But we’re now seeing the emergence of a third important graph: the work graph." The work graph term is new - and useful - but I believe the model dates back to Lotus Notes and even Doug Engelbart. In this blog post I'll review Justin's definition and use it to describe Traction TeamPage's work graph model. I'll also show how TeamPage leverages its work graph model to meet challenges of information overload, work with external as well as internal teams, and work that needs to span siloed systems of record.

Work graph defined

"...A work graph consists of the units of work (tasks, ideas, clients, goals, agenda items); information about that work (relevant conversations, files, status, metadata); how it all fits together; and then the people involved with the work (who’s responsible for what? which people need to be kept in the loop?).

The upshot of the latter data structure is having all the information we need when we need it. Where the enterprise social graph requires blasting a whole team with messages like “Hey, has anyone started working on this yet?”, we can just query the work graph and efficiently find out exactly who’s working on that task and how much progress they’ve made. Where the enterprise social graph model depends on serendipity, the work graph model routes information with purpose: towards driving projects to conclusions." Justin Rosenstein, Wired 9 Oct 2013

Just so!

TeamPage's work graph

TeamPage watches what you do, and automatically maintains two-way links and relationships as you edit, keeping an accurate version history of everything so you can easily see what changed, when, and who did what.

TeamPage's work graph automatically connects articles, comments, status messages, tasks, milestones, projects, links, shared references, and relationships stored in TeamPage to the TeamPage profile of the person who created, edited or tagged the work, along with a time stamp for the action.


This concept of a work graph is helpful in describing what TeamPage automatically creates and maintains as you work.

But what counts is how TeamPage uses its work graph model to cut clutter, make it much easier to work with people anywhere inside or outside your organization, and make files and records already in IT systems easily accessible to get work done.

The same work graph information is organized and presented two different ways: by person, or by unit of work. This enables TeamPage to show activity feeds, dashboards and calendars of people, linked to the work they created or edited, as well as activity feeds, dashboards, and calendars for specific tasks, projects, and spaces where many people work together.

Dealing with information overload - use the work graph to add context to de-clutter activity streams, navigation and search

You can start by creating a new task directly attached to any paragraph in a TeamPage article. TeamPage links the task and paragraph to make it simple to see what the task is about, in the context of the original meeting notes, spec, or question that kicked off the followup action. You don't need to explain much to define the task, because the task has a direct link to the original source - in context - making it much easier for anyone to come up to speed. Or just click the New Task button to create an independent task.

No more fumbling through your own email, hoping that the person you're working with can find their own copy of the right email or file, or wasting time sending copies to people who just realized they don't have the right stuff. Send a link to any TeamPage task or other item by email or your favorite messaging system when you want to talk about a complicated item during a phone call or video chat.

You can collect a set of tasks to manage as a named Project, and use name Milestone to specify common Start or End dates for related tasks.

You can focus on any specific project or collaboration space and see its dashboard and activity stream without irrelevant noise and clutter. You can also zoom out to a birds eye view which shows a dashboard, activity stream, or calendar view spanning everything you have permission to read. Or click any person's profile to see a dashboard, activity stream, or calendar view focused their work units and actions (clipped to what you're allowed to read).

You can shift your focus whenever you want. You can also watch any article, task, project, or other unit of work and get an automatic email or inline notification when it changes or is commented on. Click on the link in the message to zoom back to that context, or simply reply to the email notification to add a comment in the right place. Or subscribe to TeamPage's email digest for an automatically generated daily summary of activity with links you can click through to read more or reply.


Working with external and internal teams - use permission rules to clip what the work graph lets you see

TeamPage's work graph model includes permissioned access that automatically clips content to show just those work items, relationships, and search results each person is allowed to read.

This makes it simple to use TeamPage for work that can cross boundaries, linking customers, suppliers, partners and internal teams with different permissions to different business activities on the same TeamPage server.

TeamPages' work graph model allows you to put a private comment (or task) in a more private space where it's only visible to a smaller group. For example, an internal team discussion on a customer's question.

Typically each external client has a private space (like separate clients of a law firm), and internal team members have a birds eye view across all clients and most or all internal spaces. TeamPage makes it simple to set up granular access rules for spaces based on individual names, Active Directory, LDAP, or TeamPage group membership.

There's one TeamPage work graph connecting all internal, external, public and private content. Permission based filtering of TeamPage's work graph happens automatically and efficiently at a very deep level whenever activity stream, dashboard, comment thread, or search results are shown to any person. This technology is covered by Traction Software's US Patent 7,593,954.

With TeamPage you don't have to stand up multiple systems and juggle posts, conversations, and tasks across multiple social software silos to work with customers, clients, partners or internal teams working on different activities with different permissions.

Extending the work graph to content on the public Web, Intranet pages, and siloed systems of record.

TeamPage's Social Enterprise Web enables you to share, tag, task or comment on any page your browser can see on the public Web or on your private intranet. Just install TeamPage's Web browser plug-in extension for modern browsers including Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

The Social Enterprise Web also lets you add a TeamPage share button (like Facebook or Google+ share buttons) or comment box (like Disqus) to any public or intranet Web page your organization controls. Comments are stored in TeamPage , and link back to the external Web page, which is treated as part of the TeamPage work graph.

As a bonus, the content of a page linked to TeamPage with the browser plug-in, share button, or comment box is automatically indexed for TeamPage search and drill down navigation.

The Social Enterprise Web makes pages on the public Web or your organization's intranet simple to see, share, find and connect to TeamPage tasks. A task or question on an internal purchase order page can tracked and used part of TeamPage's work graph without complicated or expensive custom integration.

For example, add a TeamPage comment box to an Purchase order page in a Web based ERP system by adding a JavaScript snippet, and see something like this:


Contextual Computing At Work:

"In the world of work, I believe it's incredibly valuable to capture and connect the natural objects of your attention and interest, including tasks, projects, work product, relevant discussion, related references even if you're standing in for Siri or Google Now.

When Mr. Dithers shouts: "Bumstead! Where are we on the Acme Account?", the most timely, frequently discussed and contextually relevant version of Dagwood's Acme tasks, projects and work should pop up near the top of the result list, along with the cloud of tags and people who have touched or talked about tasks, projects and other related to the Acme account and its associated activity streams.

The important requirement is making tasks, projects, pages, discussions and other work products first class sharable, named objects that can be connected to each other and what you're working on, discussed, tagged, tasked, and navigated as well as found using search. Being able to talk about tasks and projects relating to Acme captures one important part of your interest and behavior graph (activity stream), and links these items to the names and behavior of other people working with or discussing the same objects.

The objects and connections made in the context of work are more reliable than connections that need to be inferred from your behavior - and they're available now, including the ability to connect tasks, projects, pages and discussion in TeamPage and files, discussion, email and SQL databases in your external systems of record. They record valuable context for Siri and Google Now when used at work - but there's no reason to wait to get started."

TeamPage examples

How to make your ISO Auditor Smile; And Make Your Professional Life Much Easier Use TeamPage to create, edit, view work instructions from concept to shop floor, tracking every part qualification and compliance issue and notifying everyone when a significant change has occurred so they can read about and adopt the new procedure on their own. Result: a happy and productive team, and a smiling ISO auditor.

Zoom in to focus, zoom out for awareness, bubble up items in the flow of work TeamPage shows dashboard, activity stream, and calendar views of any project, task, milestone when you want to focus on a specific action, or zoom out to get a dashboard that shows a birds eye view of all business activity (based on what each person has permission to read). You can also click to any person's TeamPage profile and see a dashboard, activity stream, or calendar view of all of that person's actions (based on what each person has permission to read).

Contextual Computing At Work Peter Morrison argues that the future or work isn't mobile, it's contextual: "Always-present computers, able to sense the objective and subjective aspects of a given situation, will augment our ability to perceive and act in the moment based on where we are, who we’re with, and our past experiences. These are our sixth, seventh, and eighth senses." The objects and connections made in the context of work are more reliable than connections that need to be inferred from your behavior - and they're available now, including the ability to connect tasks, projects, pages and discussion in TeamPage and files, discussion, email and SQL databases in your external systems of record. They record valuable context for Siri and Google Now when used at work - but there's no reason to wait to get started.

The Future of Work Platforms: Like Jazz When you watch a skilled team in action, it's like watching a great jazz group - there are themes, there is structure, and there are limits, but a team shines in individual excellence combined with coordination, improvisation, innovation, handling exceptions, and seemingly effortless awareness of where others are and where they're headed. The TeamPage action tracking model focuses on making it simple for individuals and teams to plan and coordinate the daily, weekly and monthly activities that drive effective teamwork, with task that can be pinned directly to any paragraph of a TeamPage article or comment.

Extending the fabric of work, or How to Be Emergent A question found in a customer email stored in Exchange, an issue with a new drug application filed in Documentum, a fact in a legacy document stored in SharePoint or a File server S: drive, a record in an SQL database can all be discovered, discussed, tagged, and tasked for follow-up action in TeamPage without converting or importing data from its original source. Systems of record look and act like they are part of the same permission-aware TeamPage fabric used for collaboration, communication, and action tracking in the flow of daily work.

Intertwingled Work Observable work needs to cross silos and systems. Business context makes observable work easy to index and follow. Functionally specialized transactional systems in an organization will likely remain silos of structured information - but market forces will drive vendors to make their content addressable using simple Web standards and services - with consistent authentication and visibility based on context dependent business rules.

A Fabric, not a Platform Apple and Google are competing to build a fabric that connects everything you own and use, working outward from the globally meshed supercomputer people now carry in their pockets. Both are applying deep learning technology to AI assistants, and opening up their AI's and bots to other app, bots, and cloud services reachable through their fabric. This richly connected fabric makes bots useful and AI assistants valuable by teaching them how to identify objects you're talking about as well as what you want done. The same applies at work. Making this happen requires a shift from the traditional definition of a platform to a fabric which makes it possible to connect people and the actionable objects they use, in context

Three primary knowledge domains: intelligence, dialog records, and knowledge products Want to talk about work graphs? Here's how Doug Engelbart dreamed up and build the first hypertext system to link work units and people with the NLS/Augment software, starting in 1968 (no typo). See Remembering Doug Engelbart, 30 January 1925 - 2 July 2013

Original Traction Product Proposal Original proposal from October 1997, including Traction business case and references, released under Creative Commons license.



Dec 2015 | Quality Management, Signature Requirements - Adds Feedback, Non-Conformance, and Corrective Action forms and dashboards to TeamPage's standard support for authoring, sharing and tracking updates to quality and compliance documentation.

Oct 2015 | Personal Worklists, Quick Forms - Track and share what you plan to work on. It's easy to add, rearrange, organize, checkoff and share items on your personal worklist.

July 2015 | TeamPage Live Task Lists - Shared task lists keep everyone in synch on order of execution for tasks as well as planned start and end dates.

May 2015 | TeamPage Bookmarks, interactive filters, and Japanese search improvement - Focus on what interests you; return to any filtered or standard view with one click.

March 2015 | TeamPage 6.1 Burn-up charts, interactive tables, SDK extensions - Track progress and summarize activity in context.

Dec 2014 | TeamPage @ Mentions - Bring an article, comment, status post or other object to someone's attention by typing their name.

July 2014 | TeamPage Notifications - Inline and email notifications. Watch what interests you, reply inline or by email.

How to make your ISO Auditor Smile; And Make Your Professional Life Much Easier

August 27, 2013 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageJordan had a conversation with a TeamPage customer in Sweden who agreed to document and publish a TeamPage case study, but the ISO auditor story is too good to wait. The customer is small precision machined products manufacturer. They initially supplied prototypes to the Swedish defense industry, but now focus on precision products for heavy vehicle manufacturers.

The company is ISO/TS 16 949 certified for Quality Management, ISO 14 001 certified for Environmental Management, and rightly proud of their reputation for producing high quality products and close cooperation with their customers. They use TeamPage for their Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) process and Product Part Approval Process (PPAP). When the conversation took place, they had moved 90% of their procedures and shop floor work instructions from Microsoft Word to TeamPage. This gave everyone in the company live access to TeamPage procedures, for quick reading, search, moderated editing, ECO, and issue tracking from concept to shop floor.

Then the ISO auditor paid a visit:

"We had an audit last week and because we have incorporated about 90% of our procedures in TeamPage and also having the output from them in TeamPage our auditor was freakin' ecstatic. I demoed the 'Add' button for sections and a template article and I see his jaw drop. Pretty funny to see, these guys are very seldom impressed.

We also use TeamPage for work instructions read/used mainly by 40 machine operators. We also post news about new work instructions and change information on updated ones.

Earlier the same day the auditor came to see us we received a customer complaint. That is serious stuff in our line of business. I wrote an 'Quality Alert' in TeamPage (based on a template) and in this particular Quality Alert there were a few things that the operator needed to do and inspect so that we are again able to supply parts within customer specifications.

The auditor picked-up on this immediately when he arrived. I showed him the procedure written in TeamPage, the Quality Alert in TeamPage and the updated work instructions in TeamPage. He said “Good, but have you talked to the operators?” and I said “No, I don't need to. I would have but I have been to busy preparing for this audit”. He walked directly to the machining area and started interrogating operators. I was grinning, he looked surprised. It was amazing. All operators knew exactly what they were supposed to be doing, the information distribution and the Quality Alert simply worked. It always works.

  • Thank you Traction Software for making my professional life so much easier."

You're very welcome!

The quotes are from our Quality Manager contact (used with permission), writing in that company's space on Traction Software's TeamPage server. A company space is used to work with Traction Software folk privately, versus posts made to one of the Forum spaces shared by all TeamPage customers, friends, and Traction Software employees.

See TeamPage Solutions: Quality Management


Decagon Devices: Plans, Products, Projects, Procedures and ISO 9001 Quality Management

Athens Group - Traction TeamPage for Quality Management, Training and Knowledge Base

The Future of Work Platforms: Like Jazz

Enterprise 2.0 Schism

Remembering Doug Engelbart, 30 January 1925 - 2 July 2013

July 4, 2013 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageI was very sad to learn that Doug Engelbart passed away at his home on 2 July 2013. Doug had a long life as a visionary engineer, inventor, and pioneer of technology we use every day - and technology where we're just starting to catch up to Doug and his SRI team in 1968. Doug had a quiet, friendly, and unassuming nature combined with deep knowledge, iron will, and a determination to pursue his vision. His vision was to aid humanity in solving complex, difficult and supremely important problems; Doug's goals were noble and selfless. The sense of dealing with an Old Testament prophet - a kindly Moses - is perhaps the greatest loss I and countless others who have met and been inspired by Doug feel today. I've written frequently about Doug in the past, and I'll continue to do so. Here are a few remembrances and resources that seem appropriate. I'll update this list over the next several days. Farewell Doug and my sincere condolences to his family and many friends.

“Someone once called me ‘just a dreamer’. That offended me, the ‘just’ part; being a real dreamer is hard work. It really gets hard when you start believing in your dreams.” — Doug Engelbart, Dreaming of the Future, Byte, September 1995.

Press and public valediction

DOUGLAS C. ENGELBART, 1925-2013 Computer Visionary Who Invented the Mouse John Markoff, New York Times, 3 July 2013. "It was his great insight that progress in science and engineering could be greatly accelerated if researchers, working in small groups, shared computing power. He called the approach “bootstrapping” and believed it would raise what he called their “collective I.Q.”"

In Memoriam: Douglas Engelbart, Maestro of the Mouse and So Much More Harry McCracken, Time, 3 July 2013. "Engelbart was able to see things that most people couldn’t, and make them real. But he was also a passionate believer in what he called Collective IQ — the ability of teams to do things that lone guns cannot.

Computing pioneer and GUI inventor Doug Engelbart dies at 88 Dylan Tweeny,, 3 July 2013. "Although Engelbart is often referred to as the inventor of the mouse, that’s a bit like saying Henry Ford was the inventor of the steering wheel. The mouse was a clever invention, but it was merely one component of a larger vision of how computers could increase human intelligence, or what Engelbart called our collective IQ."

Doug Engelbart, visionary Robert X. Cringley, I Cringley, 3 July 2013. "To most people who recognize his name Doug Engelbart was the inventor of the computer mouse but he was much, much more than that. In addition to the mouse and the accompanying chord keyboard, Doug invented computer time sharing, network computing, graphical computing, the graphical user interface and (with apologies to Ted Nelson) hypertext links. And he invented all these things — if by inventing we mean envisioning how they would work and work together to create the computing environments we know today — while driving to work one day in 1950."

Chris Nuzum's fine valediction for Doug: "RIP Doug Engelbart, and thank you. For taking the time to walk a few miles after dinner in 1995 with a young admirer, for your urgent encouragement to do something about my ideas, for your generosity with your time in providing feedback and encouragement, and for the lifetime of work your poured yourself into with boundless enthusiasm and determination. Your inspiration lives on." See photo

Douglas Engelbart's Unfinished Revolution Howard Rheingold, MIT Technology Review 23 July 2013. "To Engelbart, computers, interfaces, and networks were means to a more important end—amplifying human intelligence to help us survive in the world we’ve created. He listed the end results of boosting what he called “collective IQ” in a 1962 paper, Augmenting Human Intellect. They included “more-rapid comprehension … better solutions, and the possibility of finding solutions to problems that before seemed insoluble.” If you want to understand where today’s information technologies came from, and where they might go, the paper still makes good reading."

Engelbart's First, Second and Third Order Problems. Jonathan Stray's 4 July 2013 Twitter valediction, a Storify collection with some links expanded. "First order is doing. Second is improving the doing. Third is improving the improving."

If you truly want to understand NLS, you have to forget today. Brett Victor wrote A few words on Doug Engelbart 3 July 2013 in honor of Doug Engelbart life and passing. A few very well chosen words. A Storify collection with a few links expanded and quoted.

"The least important question you can ask about Engelbart is, "What did he build?" By asking that question, you put yourself in a position to admire him, to stand in awe of his achievements, to worship him as a hero.

But worship isn't useful to anyone. Not you, not him. The most important question you can ask about Engelbart is, "What world was he trying to create?" By asking that question, you put yourself in a position to create that world yourself."

Doug Engelbart Resources The Doug Engelbart Institute was was conceived by Doug Engelbart to further his lifelong career goal of boosting our ability to better address complex, urgent problems. It contains an excellent history, archive of papers, photos and other published resources as well as links to Doug's current projects.

Douglas Engelbart Interviewed by John Markoff of the New York Times Outracing the Fire: 50 Years and Counting of Technology and Change Computer History Museum oral history interview, March 26, 2002.

Doug Engelbart Video Archive: 1968 Demo - FJCC Conference Presentation Reel Dec 9, 1968 Internet Archive, the so called Mother of All Demos. See also From Pranksters to PCs chapter about Engelbart's 1968 FJCC demo from John Markoff's book What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry, authorized excerpt.

Video Archive MIT / Brown Vannevar Bush Symposium: A Celebration of Vannevar Bush's 1945 Vision, An Examination of What Has Been Accomplished, and What Remains to Be Done. Oct 12-13 1995, MIT. Talks and panel discussion with Doug Engelbart, Ted Nelson, Andy van Dam, Tim Berners-Lee, Alan Kay and others. See also ACM Interactions summary (free access), transcript of day 1 and day 2 panels.

Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework. by Douglas C. Engelbart, October 1962 (SRI AUGMENT, 3906) A work Doug referred to as the bible of his research agenda, it also outlines the motive for his work: enabling groups of people to respond to the increasingly complex and urgent problems of humanity. If you want to read Doug's original works, start here:

By "augmenting human intellect" we mean increasing the capability of a man to approach a complex problem situation, to gain comprehension to suit his particular needs, and to derive solutions to problems. Increased capability in this respect is taken to mean a mixture of the following: more-rapid comprehension, better comprehension, the possibility of gaining a useful degree of comprehension in a situation that previously was too complex, speedier solutions, better solutions, and the possibility of finding solutions to problems that before seemed insoluble. And by "complex situations" we include the professional problems of diplomats, executives, social scientists, life scientists, physical scientists, attorneys, designers--whether the problem situation exists for twenty minutes or twenty years. We do not speak of isolated clever tricks that help in particular situations. We refer to a way of life in an integrated domain where hunches, cut-and-try, intangibles, and the human "feel for a situation" usefully co-exist with powerful concepts, streamlined terminology and notation, sophisticated methods, and high-powered electronic aids. 1a1

Man's population and gross product are increasing at a considerable rate, but the complexity of his problems grows still faster, and the urgency with which solutions must be found becomes steadily greater in response to the increased rate of activity and the increasingly global nature of that activity. Augmenting man's intellect, in the sense defined above, would warrant full pursuit by an enlightened society if there could be shown a reasonable approach and some plausible benefits. 1a2

Traction Software Blog posts

Tricycles vs. Training Wheels Jon Udell writes: "Easy-to-use computer systems, as we conventionally understand them, are not what Engelbart had in mind. You might be surprised to learn that he regards today’s one-size-fits-all GUI as a tragic outcome. That paradigm, he said in a talk at Accelerating Change 2004, has crippled our effort to augment human capability." Doug's discussion with Alan Kay at the 50th Anniversary of As We May Think (including links).

Traction Roots - Doug Engelbart Elements of Doug's work that directly inspired Traction TeamPage, what we do, and how we work. A personal remembrance.

Original Traction Product Proposal - Annotated references and appendices on the work of Doug Engelbart and Ted Nelson.

Flip Test 1971 | Email versus Journal Doug Engelbart's Journal versus email - an alternate history.

And here's what Enterprise 2.0 looked like in 1968 | Dealing lightning with both hands... The 1968 Mother of All Demos and John Markoff's What the Dormouse Said

Enterprise 2.0 Schism Doug Engelbart and Peter Drucker are the two patron saints of Enterprise 2.0. And why.

Doug Engelbart | 85th Birthday Jan 30, 2010 Doug Engelbart's mission, goals and accomplishments, including a dialog with Alan Kay at the 50th Anniversary of As We May Think symposium.

Doug Engelbart's copy of As We May Think - with Doug's 1962 notes scribbled in the margins From the Doug Engelbart digital archive (see links). Original donated to the Computer History Museum.

Happy Birthday Doug Engelbart! Video highlights from Doug's talk and panels at the 50th Anniversary of As We May Think symposium, Oct 1995. Videos of Doug's talks including his famous Dec 1968 Mother of All Demos are now part of the Doug Engelbart Digital Archive maintained and managed by The Internet Archive

Pharma and Biotech Risk Management

June 17, 2013 · · Posted by Jordan Frank

Risks are the leading cause of costly delays in the process of bringing a biotech product to market. Risk management in the product development process all too often means one person juggling a list of risks in a spreadsheet. It's hard to edit, but even harder to open a discussion on an existing risk when someone has a question, sees a problem, or wants to add a new risk. Traction Software partner Rosemary Vu used TeamPage's Section Table widget and extended TeamPage's Article to create a Risk form. For more on TeamPage Section Tables, see Q: How do I link to an Excel file? A: Why Would you Do That?

Here's an example of a Section Table of Risks, including risk type, module, hazard, cause, severity, likelihood of occurrence, and other attributes.


Unlike a spreadsheet, you can easily expand and comment on any entry in the table. Click the Add button to add a new Risk to the table and raise the Risk form. Rosemary created the Risk form as a specialized extension of a TeamPage article, inheriting all standard TeamPage comment, task, tag, edit history, search and activity feed capabilities, while adding editable attributes as pulldown choices or fill in the blank field. Like other TeamPage extensions the Risk form is packaged as a plug-in to make extension installation, sharing, and maintenance very simple. Rosemary created the Risk form on her own with no IT help or programing experience by incrementally modifying a free plug-in example from Traction Software's SDK Forum Library.

Here's an editable view of the third Risk:


The TeamPage Risk form has fields, pulldowns and a free text description that makes it very easy to enter and edit. Risk values are formatted in a way that makes them easy to read when a Risk is shown as single Teampage article (below) as well as when a Risk is referenced in a Risk table.


Using TeamPage to manage Risks makes it easy for anyone to submit a risk, update a risk, and comment on the issues associated with it. TeamPage's extensible and customizable architecture makes it possible for a power user with no programing expertise to extend Teampage, and easily share that extension with other TeamPage customers. Rather than relying on just one person to manage all risk information in a spreadsheet, the whole team gets involved and plays a part in identifying and resolving risks. Accountability is raised and communication is much more efficient. TeamPage's easy extensibility makes risk management in biotech and other similar tasks in other domains clearer, easier, faster, and more effective.

Working Across Boundaries

June 16, 2013 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageIn his Jun 2, 2013 blog post, Chess Media analyst and author Jacob Morgan asks: How Open is Too Open? He asks "Would you be comfortable working in an all glass building where people can see everything you do and every move you make?" Jacob outlines the benefits of transparency: "Keep everyone on the same page; Build trust and fostering better relationships; Allow employees (and customers) to contribute ideas and value when they see the opportunity to do so." Jacob recognizes that a balance needs to be struck, but not being transparent enough may do more harm than good. He ask: "How open is too open?" I agree with the benefits Jacob outlines, and believe the answer to Jacob's question depends on the answer to a critical question: "Transparency for what purpose?" I'll start the ball rolling in with this post, including some real-life customer examples.

For example, if you work for a consulting (or law) firm, your clients have a strong, natural expectation that their work with the firm will be kept private from other clients, even if client work is more broadly shared internally among members of the firm. Some work within the firm may be more closely held for good reason - ranging from employee health records to Board meeting minutes. I believe it's a mistake to limit collaboration to work that must be visible by all members of the firm. I also believe it's extremely valuable to work with external clients, suppliers, and partners as well internal teams, within and across necessary and natural boundaries. The question I'd like to discuss is: "How do you balance transparency, boundaries, and the need to work across boundaries?"

Jacob recognizes that a balance needs to be struck, and uses an analogy that compares a glass building vesus "a regular building that just doesn't have locked doors."

"I do believe that organizations need to be much more open and transparent but there’s a balance that needs to be struck here. There’s a big difference between showing everything to everyone vs making things open to people should they want to see it. To use an analogy it’s the difference between constructing a glass building vs constructing a regular building that just doesn’t have locked doors." - How Open is Too Open?

I'd say "very few locked doors, where needed to get work done, particularly with external stakeholders."

In an early Three Places for People blog post, I use a similar analogy:

"Great architects of physical places know that people bring expectations and norms about the kind of behavior that's appropriate and enjoyable to any physical space. Architects are skillful in designing spaces to match their clients desires and expectations by providing cues that are easy to perceive and appropriate for the intended purpose, but a lot of the norms of the same physical space become clear only from social context.

If you walk into a conference room with a group of people you don't know talking quietly around a table - and someone closes the door behind you - you'll likely speak and act differently than if you walk into the same room with people you know laughing, eating and drinking. If you walk into a theater you'll probably seat yourself quietly in the audience rather than striding onto the stage (see the Re-Placing Space reference).

What fascinates me about social software is how we're learning to create places with perceived affordances - features and user models - that seem natural for different purposes and intentions. I use Facebook, Traction Software's TeamPage server, and Twitter as three separate places: my neighborhood, my workplace, and the public commons I like to use." - Three Places for People

One Traction TeamPage customer matches the consulting firm / client example precisely. The firm is near the top of the list of 100 global firms in their market. They use separate TeamPage spaces for each client, but allow members of the consulting firm to work across all client spaces. Members of the firm use TeamPage's project, task, milestone or client space dashboards to focus, and can also step back to a bird's eye view across all activity that they are permitted to see, organized by Space or by Person (with activity stream, project, task and milestone tabs on each individual's Profile). See Action Tracking, Project and Case Management in TeamPage

Another Traction TeamPage customer provides services to customers worldwide, with over 5,000 employees operating in over 150 locations and 75 countries. The firm uses TeamPage to get new clients onboard; author and share client and location specific procedures; track and communicate status including response to weather conditions and other forces that require changes to planned procedures. Shared access to procedures, notifications, and changes build strong business relationships that are a competitive advantage for the firm. Tens of thousands of complicated procedures need to be constantly changed and reviewed in near real time by both the firm and clients. The shared procedures are the core operating plan for the firm and the basis for everything the client values and pays for. TeamPage dashboards, notification, action tracking and search provide simple, reliable and secure access for each client, while allowing members of the firm to maintain global awareness, diving into any project, task, or space to quickly resolve an issue or come up to speed, see Deep Search.

In summary, I believe there's no reason to settle for a collaboration and action tracking solution that only handles internal collaboration, or assumes that everything happens in a building with glass walls and no doors. Real business value and sustainable competitive advantage often depends on working easily within and across boundaries that need to be in place to do business.


The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style - Working with internal and external teams

Borders, Spaces, and Places - Walks through specific examples of boundaries and boundary crossing activity

Explaining Twitter - One of Three Places for People - About the social architecture of three places: 1) a public commons (like Twitter); 2) a place for friends and family (like Facebook); 3) a place where you work (for me, Traction Software's TeamPage server).

Intertwingled Work - Working across siloed systems and boundaries set up to meet business purposes - like the consulting firm client example.

A Circle is not a Space - How Google+ circles make it possible to share individual conversations with a list of circles each individual controls (later extended to groups) versus sharing work within one or more spaces. Some distinctions are important to understand when you want to handle collaboration for a business or other purpose over an extended period of time.

Open Cafe: E2.0 Implementation and Adoption

May 29, 2013 · · Posted by Jordan Frank

@JeffMerrell posed a series of questions for his Master's Program in Learning & Organizational Change. I'll offer my own experience as it pertains to each of his question areas.

Question Area: Implementation of new social technology platforms

When stepping into E2.0, there's a temptation to go enterprise wide while also wanting to meet a specific need and show success. Invariably, it's easier to define a specific need for a small group and get adoption there at the "local" level. In my own experience and with customers, the same pattern is generally evident: Shooting for instant enterprise adoption is OK for short-lived processes like an idea jam while long lasting adoption with sustained return occurs when a small group identifies a "process" need and organizes around that.

I think the sweet spot occurs when a particular group's collaboration can benefit an entire organization. Over at Athens Group, there was a need for a focused group to put together process and training information which was valuable on an on-going basis to all their consultants. I've also seen this pattern with competitive intelligence use cases.

Question Area: Adoption of new social technology (by individual users)

Jeff asks what tells you when you've hit a tipping point. For sure that's when a super-user says "my customer's stats just passed my own!" That happened recently at site of a consulting company using TeamPage for their customer requirements and project implementation tasking.

Motivating adoption is always tricky, no matter how good the tool. But organizing spaces around a space dashboard clearly identifies what's important is critical. Then folks can understand where the value is found, and how to play along.

I talk about this in Emergineering which focuses on meeting the freedom required by collaboration with a simple structure that encourages it.

As for incentives, they're questionable since motivation is better when it comes from within. See Blog2031: Problem and Process rather than Incentives for E2.0 Tools

Question Area: Formal and informal community management

We all wish communities would manage themselves. One problem with communities is they aren't necessarily directed towards a particular goal. In a sense, communities are optional. So, the key is to figure out how it can sustain itself.

One of my earliest customers was a pharmaceutical division of a Fortune 100. They pushed they had a competitive intelligence need which was a terrific basis for building communities by market area.

There were 25 individuals which were easily identified as being involved in sharing and developing competitive and market intelligence with another easily identified set of managers. We were able to setup spaces by market area. Information was posted to the market area communities rather than through individual emails. The result was a vibrant pattern of communication which not only increased efficiency, but created greater awareness across the division and even showed some instant gains as a wider set of people could validate and amplify the key intelligence, e.g. a case of a competitor working on a new drug which a scientist was able to indicate would fail based on their own internal experiments.

In this case, the community managed itself by running user group meetings on a regular basis to check their progress and improve the quality of their information gathering based on surveys and reactions of key management and sales constituents. They also wrapped their management objectives around participation.

Question Area: Measuring activity, outcomes and value in social technology platforms

Activity and value can be attacked through efficiency, adoption and any number of other metrics. They aren't always obvious, and the outcomes aren't always predictable when you get started.

At one Pharmaceutical firm, it was evident the system was providing value when usage metrics increased after roll-out and leveled out to a consistent pattern. At that point, it was clear from behavior that it was delivering value and had hardened as an organization process. See page 10 of the PDF attached to Blog119: Thierry Barsalou, IPSEN CIO, Speaks at Gilbane Conference on Content Management.

At Alcoa Fastening Systems, a Deloitte study highlights a 62% reduction in time spent on compliance activities. There's a case where compliance was converted from a chore to something that just happens along the course of getting work done!

Question Area: Knowledge sharing to learn as well as to perform

I think the term knowledge development hits the mark closer than knowledge sharing. Knowledge development happens in the course of documenting processes, policies, and FAQs. This is a Wiki type approach where you develop and refine knowledge over time. This is the case in the Athens Group study mentioned above. Some customers have even received ISO certification for their process of managing process and training documentation. Having these core information assets makes leverage easier to achieve when questions are asked and current procedures are challenged by new opportunities for improvement.

Contextual Computing At Work

May 28, 2013 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageIn Co.Design May 24, 2013 Peter Morrison of Jump Associates writes The Future of Technology isn't Mobile, it's Contextual. He says that the way we respond to the world around is based on situational awareness. "The way we respond to the world around us is so seamless that it’s almost unconscious. Our senses pull in a multitude of information, contrast it to past experience and personality traits, and present us with a set of options for how to act or react. Then, it selects and acts upon the preferred path. This process--our fundamental ability to interpret and act on the situations in which we find ourselves--has barely evolved since we were sublingual primates living on the Veldt.

Here’s the rub: Our senses aren’t attuned to modern life. A lot of the data needed to make good decisions are unreliable or nonexistent. And that’s a problem.

In the coming years, there will be a shift toward what is now known as contextual computing, defined in large part by Georgia Tech researchers Anind Dey and Gregory Abowd about a decade ago. Always-present computers, able to sense the objective and subjective aspects of a given situation, will augment our ability to perceive and act in the moment based on where we are, who we’re with, and our past experiences. These are our sixth, seventh, and eighth senses."

Peter argues that we need four graphs to make contextual computing work:

  • The Social Graph - how you connect to other people and how they are connected to one another, including the nature and emotional relevance of those connections.
  • Your personal graph contains (gulp) all of your beliefs - data relating to a your deepest held beliefs, core values, and personality.
  • The Interest graph - what you like - is about curiosity
  • Your behavior graph - sensors that record what you actually do versus what you claim you do

I agree that one great value of Peter's contextual computing is to make agents like Apple's Siri or Google Now much more effective in answering questions, making recommendations, and delivering what you want based on how you express it in your own words or gestures, taking into account your current situation, recent requests and interests. But this augments a more fundamental capability: human content navigation, including but not limited to search.

In the world of work, I believe it's incredibly valuable to capture and connect the natural objects of your attention and interest, including tasks, projects, work product, relevant discussion, related references even if you're standing in for Siri or Google Now.

When Mr. Dithers shouts: "Bumstead! Where are we on the Acme Account?", the most timely, frequently discussed and contextually relevant version of Dagwood's Acme tasks, projects and work should pop up near the top of Dagwood's result list, along with the cloud of tags and people who have touched or talked about tasks, projects and other related to the Acme account and its associated activity streams.

The important requirement is making tasks, projects, pages, discussions and other work products first class sharable, named objects that can be connected to each other and what you're working on, discussed, tagged, tasked, and navigated as well as found using search. Being able to talk about tasks and projects relating to Acme captures one important part of your interest and behavior graph (activity stream), and links these items to the names and behavior of other people working with or discussing the same objects.

The objects and connections made in the context of work are more reliable than connections that need to be inferred from your behavior - and they're available now, including the ability to connect tasks, projects, pages and discussion in TeamPage and files, discussion, email and SQL databases in your external systems of record. They record valuable context for Siri and Google Now when used at work - but there's no reason to wait to get started.


Join us at E2 Boston 2013 - Traction Software is Social and Collaboration Track Sponsor

May 17, 2013 · · Posted by Jordan Frank

ImageHow well you work with your colleagues, online and off, will make the difference when trying to win the next deal, design the next product or craft the next winning strategy. Consider how important people are to process and how social collaboration (versus some pre-ordained workflow) is the barrier to or the enabler of successful outcomes. We see immense value when people document their knowledge, streamline their communication and track actions to completion in TeamPage. We hope you can join us to see TeamPage and learn from the leading analysts and practitioners at E2 Boston June 17 through 19.

Traction Software is a track sponsor this year for the Social and Collaboration Track. The sessions range from Going Beyond the Activity Stream to the Rise of the Connected Workplace and Evaluating Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise.

Please visit the E2 Social and Collaboration Track site to learn more and register for this upcoming event. There are other tracks on Big Data, Cloud, Mobility, UX, and People, Process and Engagement. That's a lot to learn in a few short days!

Register with discount code CMTRACTION to earn $200 off Full Event Passes, $100 off Conference registration, or a FREE Keynote + Expo Pass.

Lost Roots of Project Management: Think Agile that Scales

April 25, 2013 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

The Manhattan Project, Atlas, and Polaris projects are cited as roots for traditional phased stage-gate Project Management, but didn't use that model. New high innovation projects shouldn't either; think agile that scales. Read this fascinating 2009 paper by Sylvain Lenfle and Christoph Loch of INSEAD, cited on Twitter by Glen B. Alleman who calls it "breathtaking".

Launch of an Atlas B intercontinental ballistic missile - Wikipedia USAF photo

Lost Roots : How Project Management Settled on the Phased Approach (and compromised its ability to lead change in modern enterprises) 
Sylvain Lenfle and Christoph Loch, 2009/59/TOM
INSTEAD Research Working Paper

Quoting from Introduction:

“Modern” Project Management is often said to have begun with the Manhattan Project (to develop the nuclear bomb in the 1940s), and PM techniques to have been developed during the ballistic missile projects (Atlas and Polaris) in the 1950s. The Manhattan Project “certainly displayed the principles of organization, planning and direction that typify the modern,management of projects.” “The Manhattan Project exhibited the principles of organization, planning, and direction that influenced the development of standard practices for managing projects.

This characterization of the roots of PM represents a certain irony – the Manhattan Project did not even remotely correspond to the “standard practice” associated with PM today, and both the Manhattan and the first ballistic missile projects fundamentally violated the phased project life cycle: both applied a combination of trial-and-error and parallel-trials approaches in order to “stretch the envelope”, that is, to achieve outcomes considered impossible at the outset.

However, the Project-Management discipline has now so deeply committed itself to a control-oriented phased approach that the thought of using trial-and-error makes professional managers feel ill at ease. In our seminars, experienced project managers react with distaste to the violation of sound principles of phased control when they are told the real story of the Manhattan Project (or other ambitious and uncertain projects). The discipline seems to have lost its roots of enabling “push the envelope” initiatives, de facto focusing on controllable run-of- the-mill projects instead.

How could this happen? And does it matter? In this paper we describe how the discipline lost its roots and we argue that it matters a great deal: it has prevented the project management discipline from taking center stage in the increasingly important efforts of organizations to carry out strategic changes and innovation.


Update Feb 6, 2016: See Glen B. Alleman's Herding Cats blog post, Agile at Scale - A Reading List (Update 9)

The Future of Work Platforms: Like Jazz - The social dance of getting things done, dealing with exceptions, and staying aware of what’s going on around you

Intertwingled Work - Working and scaling like the Web

Big Data, Meet Long Data, Meet Blog Data

April 2, 2013 · · Posted by Jordan Frank

Big Data Meet Long Data by Jeff Bertolucci - @jbertolucci - column appears this week in InformationWeek to reminds us that "Long Data" or historical data is vital for analysis and comprehension of trends that span years.

Bertolucci's article links to a Wired article from January 2013 titled Stop Hyping Big Data and Start Paying Attention to ‘Long Data’ where the author, Samuel Arbesman - @arbesman - says "Big data puts slices of knowledge in context. But to really understand the big picture, we need to place a phenomenon in its longer, more historical context."

Bringing this home to a company's context, Bertolucci quotes Benjamin Bruce (Pitney Bowes - Marketing Director) as saying "Big data is more about taking a slice in time across many different channels" and that "long data involves looking at information on a much longer timescale. Ignoring customer data and records that go back decades can limit a company's ability to connect with its customers."

Taking a long-data trip back to May 2008 brings us to a quote from Now Everything is Fragmented by Dave Snowden - @snowded - in KMWorld where he said:

"Over the last decade as I have worked on homeland security, we have had the chance to run some experiments that show that raw field intelligence has more utility over longer periods of time than intelligence reports written at a specific time and place. In other experiments, we have demonstrated that narrative assessment of a battlefield picks up more weak signals (those things that after the event you wished you had paid attention to) than analytical structured thinking."

He continues with explanation: "we live in a world subject to constant change, and it’s better to blend fragments at the time of need than attempt to anticipate all needs." Amen.

So when you leave data on the chopping block after completing an analysis, you are denying the next person an opportunity to go back to the raw data and run their own analysis, possibly for the same or different purposes.

I'll assert that what's needed is the thin slicing in big data concepts combined with the long data trends that allow for understanding change and gathering some picture of the future.

Bringing this back to "blog" data - thats where we can capture the vital narrative that Snowden says carries the weak signals. The blog data helps to annotate the context where big data lives.

Blog data in a TeamPage demo also offers a simple and easy example to explain the importance of thin slicing over long trends. Here is a tag cloud from one of my demo servers. It's set to All Time. The tags tell a story, of sorts. Interpret it as you may.


Now, when we use a date selector control, we can see it tells a very different story in 2012 vs. 2011.

Date Selector: Year 2010 Date Selector: Year 2011
Image Image

In the example, you can see the company's attention has shifted from competitors like Nike and Vibram in 2010 to competitors like Merrell in 2011. It also looks like they've done less work with Policy work in 2011 and have shifted away from HUMINT (human intelligence collection).

This sort of tag cloud view offers a pretty blunt view across a whole server or a particular space at a time. Greater precision is often required. Another way to slice the content is with our premium search which is powered by Attivio's Active Intelligence Engine. You can search for any set of words and get a tag cloud for the search, then even slice that into a time period or by any other facet or set of tags.


In this search interface, Attivio also helps us extract and display tag cloud style views of any facet, including keywords, spaces, content authors, and more. From the keywords facet, you can quickly see there are 5 hits on Marathon Training and Injury Prevention.

This brings us to Small Data. Once we can thin slice small, relevant, data, we can quickly assess what topics are prominent even before digging in to read the source content or more quickly understand trends.

A thick slice across all time isn't adequate to explain a course of events - a long view with thin slices and supporting narrative is vital. With all this, you might take a long music trip back to the 80s and You May ask Yourself How Did I Get Here? ...and actually come to a good answer!!

Or, if you want to consider more thought provoking ideas about tags, other meta data and the role of time, please click over to my Tag Mush presentation linked at the bottom of Ontologies & Tagsonomies at Taxonomy Boot Camp to read more about the Information T.


This Information T model talks directly to the importance of Long Data, Big Data and context from Blog Data.

Problem and Process rather than Incentives for E2.0 Tools

February 15, 2013 · · Posted by Jordan Frank

Over on Quora, Ben Lopatin @bennylope has a best-answer to a question on the best ways to incentivize people to use E2.0 knowledge management and collaboration. He starts by shunning external incentives (as I do in Need for Incentives, and other Innovation Myths) and works through a few key principles which I've seen work time and time again:

  • Focus on the problem for which the tools are to be employed. Most people don't care about enterprise wikis, they care about being able to do their jobs,
  • Provide people with a working demonstration of an existing business process.
  • Actively help people figure out how their processes, tasks, etc, can be accomplished with the new tools
  • Get people up the ladder using the new tools... if you want to achieve pan-organization adoption you need leadership to show that they're using it, too
  • Be careful about overestimating how easy the tools are for everyone. And not just the interfaces, but changes in underlying concepts.

I wish I had an Blog1326: Emergineering! badge to put on this answer because it captures the essence of understanding the problem and underlying process, figuring out how to address it in a way that enhances productivity, and finally getting the organization around the new approach. That's just what's needed for folks to figure out how to turn "social software" into "social productivity software" and really start using these tools for more than very basic and fleeting conversation.

I'd also hand out the badge to Catherine Shinners @catshinners for amplifying the benefits of social process transformation.

In her notes from the E2.0 Innovate conference, she wrote:

There are specific benefits of a social business process:

  • immediacy - better access to the information
  • serendipity - enabling discovery of new information
  • transparency - supporting honest and ethical behavior through openness

A business process does not become social simply because it's in a social network. Hughes called out the different types of social business processes

  • unstructured processes – the opened ended “hey I've got a question does anyone know the answer” or easy invitational “why don't we?” kind of interactions
  • semi-structured – direct queries to engage a constituency or cohort in a group conversation or comment about artifacts i.e., “please review or provide feedback”
  • structured – business process workflow kinds of structure “approve my expenses - request time off”

Beyond simple productivity gains of moving process from email and the water cooler to E2.0 platforms, or flexibility achieved by moving them from structured but hard to manage custom systems, this outline offers a clear sense for why a social platform is not only more ethical, its more effective because its observable and encourages team participation.

PLM Gets Social, Untangles Ball of Confusion

November 27, 2012 · · Posted by Jordan Frank

Stan Przybylinski - @smprezbo - of CIM Data advised an audience at Social PLM 2012 on inevitable social side of product lifecycle management. In the talk (video on YouTube here), he identifies companies including Traction Software (Minute 9:06) whose platforms are being used by product teams for everything from building requirements, to managing risks and simply discussing product issues.

I particularly liked his slide on "How Things Actually Get Done - Can You Say Ball of Confusion?"


The essence of this is that traditional PLM offerings capture some but not all work in progress and don't support the communication loops around project communication or problem solving. Social platforms are filling the gap, and in many cases are actually supporting the whole PLM cycle.

TeamPage Action Tracking can help firms manage informal tasks, track issues or risks, and manage entire projects. TeamPage is also used to manage documentation or work-in-progress and discuss anything that's happening.

E-Mail: an On-Ramp for Enterprise Social Media

November 20, 2012 · · Posted by Jordan Frank

Bill Ives, @billives, points to Nathan Eddy's eWeek column titled Businesses Still Reliant on Email as Social Media Use Grows. The column reminds us that Email is still the dominant go-to application of choice and that's not changing any time soon. Rather than run away from email habits, social software in the enterprise has to embrace it. Back in 2004, I gave a presentation at the INBOX conference advocating for the use of Email as an on-ramp for collaboration and an off-ramp for notification.


Dennis McDonald, @ddmcd, in a comment, concurred in a comment and pointed to his post on Social Media Engagement Tips where he said "Email operates as an extended user interface for many applications."

In TeamPage, we've steadily enhanced support for email as an extended user interface with hooks for Publishing from email including the ability to post new articles, status posts, and tasks. You can also setup notifications on any kind of addition or change. Changes can include edits, tag changes, and assignee changes (for tasks). There's also iCal links to permission filtered server, space, project and personal calendars. You can also reply to comment on notifications, so that you don't have to shift your user experience from your email client or smart phone when a notification needing your immediate response is needed.

TeamPage SAAS / Cloud Hosting Helps Bring Customers Closer, Improves Support

November 7, 2012 · · Posted by Jordan Frank

ImageAs we've put more attention to our cloud hosting (see Traction Software and Traction Software Japan) with free trials and an increasing hosted customer base, I'm seeing first hand how the customer relationship can become much closer, more interactive and more informed. In the last 24 hours, I was able to quickly help:

- a Global Logistics customer find a set of attachments which were removed when a page was edited 8 days ago.

- an IT / Management consulting customer determine the best way to setup a subcommittee dashboard where they can track issues, manage tasks, conduct discussion and share meeting agendas / outcomes.

This was possible to do asynchronously and quickly around our busy schedules because of a mutual bond of trust (so they allow me into their systems) and because their software is not buried behind a firewall.

Most customers still deploy software behind their firewall for a variety of good reasons. In those cases, we use web conferencing and issue tracking in TeamPage customer support spaces. This still works great, but I'm definitely seeing many cases where the cloud option opens up new opportunities for better support and better value for TeamPage software.

Carving a Path to Productive Knowledge Management: How?

October 24, 2012 · · Posted by Jordan Frank

I gave the following presentation at the first ever meeting of the Boston Chapter of the Knowledge Management Association today. As this was a first meeting, I thought I'd raise the issue that "managing knowledge" is about as daunting a task as "herding cats."

After we pick apart components of knowledge and understanding how context is critical to understanding it, I offered a two step process to bring an organization to towards a KM and collaboration strategy that starts with asking How? and relies on Emergineering to work knowledge management and context into daily social processes on platforms like TeamPage.

JSB on Capturing Context not Just Content

October 17, 2012 · · Posted by Jordan Frank

In John Seeley Brown's KMWorld Keynote (live streamed 17 Oct 2012 at, he makes an important point about how knowledge has no boundaries. @johnseelybrown #KM12


He goes on to say that the way to manage knowledge in today's age is about capturing context along with content. That's the driving point around Traction TeamPage: Connected Work. It's the reason to build wiki style knowledge bases, integrated with blogs, discussion and tasking.

He goes on to talk about the futility of building profiles and managing inventories of skills by bringing up a case at SAP where the average time to ask and get an answer to a question is 17 minutes. He highlights another case at MITRE where social bookmarking exposes the knowledge and interest areas of each of the employees, while they work.


That's why we built the Social Enterprise Web module, to make social bookmarking easy and to enable discussion and tagging right into the context of enterprise systems.

In JSB's words - this helps meet a goal he states as the need "to build social and intellectual capital" by capturing the output of emergent processes.

He calls sharing in this way as intimate legitimate peripheral participation. PIt's a way to be intimate within working groups, but allow for social listening at scale.

Another terrific example he raises is how to cope when an ERP calls out an exception condition. A social process has to take over.


Employees have to raise, discuss and resolve the issue. Exception handling is a key issue brought up by his work at Deloitte. A system process issue becomes a social process issue to be handled and resolved. Knowledge about the decision is brought together, from content, context and active problem solving.

That's connected work, and why it matters. That's why connecting context with content is relevant and why we could "inherently want to share."

Ada Lovelace Day | Sunita Williams, Astronaut and Captain U.S. Navy

October 16, 2012 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageAda Lovelace Day celebrates the contributions of women in science and technology. This year I've chosen to write about Suni Williams, NASA Astronaut and US Navy Captain currently commanding Expedition 33 on the International Space Station. I hope young women reading about Ada Lovelace Day now are encouraged by her example to pursue their dreams where ever they may lead - here on Earth or as the first Earthling to set foot on Mars.

Captain Williams graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1987 with a B.S. Degree in physical science and was designated a US Naval Aviator in 1989. She served as a helicopter combat support officer and officer in charge of a H-46 detachment for Hurricane Andrew Relief Operations before being selected for NASA's Astronaut Training program in 1998. She served as crew for on International Space Station Expedition 14, setting new records for female astronauts in space (195 days) and spacewalk EVAs.

On July 14 2012 Captain Williams launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome to join ISS Expedition 32 as Flight Engineer and Expedition 33 as Commander. On Aug 6, 2012 she and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide completed a pair of spacewalks totaling more than fourteen hours to install a balky Main Bus Switching Unit, bringing her total EVA time for six spacewalks to over 44 hours. She is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and the Society of Flight Test Engineers. Read Captain Williams' Why Did I Become an Astronaut interview for her personal story. Follow @Astro_Suni on Twitter.


Ada icon by Sidney Padua: I strongly recommend that you download the thrilling adventures of Babbage & Lovelace for your iPad (free), and enjoy more of their adventures on author Sydney Padua's 2D Goggles Web page.

Previous years

Ada Lovelace Day | Betts Wald, US Naval Research Lab 2011

Ada Lovelace Day | Fran Allen, IBM Fellow and A.M. Turing Award Winner 2010

Ada Lovelace Day | Professor Lee S. Sproull, Stern School, NYU 2009

Creating GWT Date / Time Pickers That Work in Any Time Zone

September 6, 2012 · · Posted by Andy Keller

We're working on new features for the next release of TeamPage that allow people to create events on a calendar. For the edit event dialog, we needed date and time pickers that allow people across different time zones to edit the dates and times of events. We ended up creating new GWT controls and adding them to our open source gwt-traction library .

Edit Event Dialog

It seems easy enough to implement using our own secret sauce of HTML/XML/SDL, some GWT, and a bit of CSS to make it look nice. I had almost everything working in an hour or so. Most of the fields use widgets provided by GWT or controls we've already written ourselves. I saved the Start Date and End Date fields for last.


I've used a bunch of different calendar applications and looked around the web for inspiration. Could there be a time control that I could just use? I found a lot of people with similar questions and a few decent solutions. I found this question on Stack Overflow. Eventually I decided that I was on my own. Not a big deal. I've written widgets before and we like to share them with the GWT community, so everyone wins.

I'd need two fields: a date input and a time input that together specify a time, independent of timezone. On the server we store them as the number of milliseconds since January 1, 1970, 00:00:00 GMT, the same value used by the Java Date object.


There's a nice date picker control that is part of GWT called a DateBox.


However, we noticed that it doesn't handle time zones very well, so we created the UTCDateBox. It makes it so that whatever Date you choose, you get a Long value as midnight in UTC of the date selected. The GWT DateBox control returns Date values and they are different values depending on the TimeZone in which you select the date. In the places we choose dates, we want a date independent of timezone.

For example, New Years Day is always Jan 1st even though it's still Dec 31st in the US when people start celebrating it in Japan. So using the UTCDateBox, if I'm in JST (Japan) and choose Jan 1st 2013, that will be the same as choosing Jan 1st 2013 in EST (US Eastern). They'll both have the same selected value (midnight Jan 1st 2013 UTC), independent of the time zone in which they were selected. We're happy with this solution for Dates and have been using it for years.

Time however, cannot be specified independent of TimeZone. I can't just say let's meet at 2pm on Dec 2nd and expect people around the world to show up at the right time. A time like 2pm is only meaningful in an associated TimeZone.

Since 2003, TeamPage has allowed users to create and edit articles, comments, files, tasks, etc. in their own TimeZone and Locale. It can be a little tricky to make sure everything is properly parsed and formatted, but we're used to the issues involved. It's important to keep the data that you store in a normalized format that you can query and sort.


Here's the UTCTimeBox that I decided to build. It's a TextBox with some special parsing that allows time to be entered in the user's preferred time format or other common formats. It's pretty lenient about parsing, so 6 is 6:00 AM, 6p is 6:00 PM, 645pm is 6:45 PM, etc. When you click the box, you get a drop-down list of a possible times in 30 minute intervals, formatted in your Locale.


Even though we have two separate controls for date and time, we still store a single Long value on the server side as milliseconds since January 1, 1970, 00:00:00 GMT. Ideally, we'd just have a single composite widget with these two controls implementing HasValue<Long>. setValue would split the value into separate date and time values and set the value of each controls, getValue would combine them, and this would all work in the user's preferred TimeZone which might be different than the server or browser TimeZone.

I spent a while on this until I realized that there just isn't enough information about TimeZones available to JavaScript. Other people have reported the same problem. I hate wasting time implementing things that can't work.

Since we can't properly split a single Long value into date and time parts in the browser, we'll have to do it on the server. I decided that the UTCTimeBox would just edit a value of milliseconds since midnight, independent of time zone (e.g. 12am is 0, 12pm is 12*60*60*1000).

When a user submits the form, the server, which knows the user's time zone, creates the corresponding Date value. When we edit the form, the server will split the values into appropriate values for the user's time zone. Nice and symmetric and the client code is much simpler. We made the server-side processing code available here.

Now we can edit events and the value is properly stored on the server.


The final piece is creating some interaction between the start and end dates to make it easier to create and maintain proper ranges. When you move the start date forward, the end date should move forward, maintaining a fixed duration. When you move the end date, the duration should adjust unless you move it before the start date. In that case it should move the start date back and maintain duration. It's the kind of interaction that you don't really notice but appreciate. This behavior is implemented by the UTCDateTimeRangeController.

HTML5 date/time inputs for iOS

HTML5 has new inputs for date, time, month, datetime, and more. iOS has particularly nice controls for selecting dates and times. Using deferred binding in GWT, we created a separate HTML5 implementation of the UTCDateBox and UTCTimeBox widgets. Currently we only present these to versions of Safari that support the "datetime" input (which is currently only iOS). While Opera supports these inputs, we think our text based controls work better than their dedicated date and time inputs.


As a developer using the UTCDateBox and UTCTimeBox, you don't need to do anything special to use the HTML5 versions in iOS. They will be presented automatically and use the same Long values described above instead of the standard HTML5 values.

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