Google Sites and the AJAX universe

JavaScript has been a feature of browsers since way back in 1995. Often derided as a "toy" language, JavaScript used to be seen as an optional extra -- where turning it off would have no great detrimental effect on the workings of a site.

How times have changed.

Now, after the AJAX revolution, JavaScript is not only vital to the proper functioning of web pages, but the performance of the JavaScript engine is vital.

I'll give you a simple example. Try using the new Google Sites using IE6 and then try again using the Firefox 3 release candidate. The difference is simply astounding.

Why ODF beats OOXML

While any documented, open standard is better than none at all, I have to agree with Rob Weir when he says:

[Does] a standard ... [represent] reasonable engineering decisions, not just for that one application, but for general use? Or in ISO terms, does it represent the "consolidated results of science, technology and experience"? ...

[L]et's take a look at how OOXML and ODF represent a staple of document formats: text color and alignment. I created six documents: word processor, spreadsheet and presentation graphics, in OOXML and ODF formats. In each case I entered one simple string "This is red text". In each case I made the word "red" red, and right aligned the entire string. The following table shows the representation of this formatting instruction in OOXML and ODF, for each of the three application types:

Fujitsu BToPPe & Results Chains

At a meeting a few weeks ago with Fujitsu representatives, I heard about their BToPPe framework. This is a system that can help to ensure that companies understand all relevant dimensions of investments which are made.

I hadn't heard of this framework before, but found it interesting:

Essentially, it's just a SWOT analysis, but focusing the enterprise on overlapping domains that may impact on the potential success of a project. For complex issues, it may be a good tool to examine possible impacts in a structured way.


XMLKit is a bundle of useful XML conversion and validation programs using batch files to simplify their deployment and use. Available programs include:

Validate XML against RelaxNG and RelaxNG Compact schema
The Sun Multi-Schema XML Validator allows validation of XML documents
in RELAX NG, TREX, XML DTDs, and a subset of W3C XML Schema
Validates RELAX NG with embedded Schematron support

The limits of reductionism

If you've been trained in Computer Science, there's a good chance that you see problem solving as primarily about breaking down big problems into lots of small, solvable problems.

(Alternatively, you may have learnt to create solutions to small problems independent of the big problem, which might then be usable when solving the big problem, but either way, it's the same pattern: small used to solve big.)

The drawback with this approach is that it leads to a tendency for reductionism; the idea that the universe is just a big problem waiting to be broken down into ever-smaller problems that need solving. The ideal reductionist position is to prove everything from the theorems of physics (dealing as it does with the fundamental particles of the universe).

Social norms and market norms

There's a book called "Predictably Irrational" by Dan Ariely. While I wouldn't really recommend the whole book, it did contain one experimentally-supported concept which I found interesting.

In essence, the experiment tested the idea that humans operate according to either social norms, or market norms.

If true, this would explain why some companies struggle to achieve effective collaboration: their environment emphasises market norms, and thus the what's-in-it-for-me principle wins out.

On the other hand, if the company achieves an environment where social norms are dominant, effective collaboration is much more likely.


In an ongoing debate on actKM about the relationships between knowledge and information, Foucault's concept of pouvoir-savoir has been raised by Michael Olsson. The original quote is here:

« Il n'y a pas de relations de pouvoir sans constitution corrélative d'un champ de savoir, ni de savoir qui ne suppose et ne constitue en même temps des relations de pouvoir... Ces rapports de "pouvoir-savoir" ne sont donc pas à analyser à partir d'un sujet de connaissance qui serait libre ou non par rapport au système de pouvoir ; mais il faut considérer au contraire que le sujet qui connaît, les objets, sont autant d'effets de ces implications fondamentales du pouvoir-savoir… » (« Il faut défendre la société »)

Here Comes Everybody

I have a confession to make.

Most of Web 2.0 leaves me cold. All this hype about Wikipedia, social networking solutions that will magically sustain themselves and revolutionize the world (Facebook, I'm looking at you) is generally just so much marketing bullshit, frankly.

So I tend to yawn a bit about books that yammer on about harnessing social power. But after reading the Ars Technica interview with author Clay Shirky as part of a review of Here Comes Everybody, I had to revise my opinion.

Critique of 43 definitions of Knowledge Management

Ray Sims has done a sterling job in assembling 43 54 different published definitions of Knowledge Management.

As most people who have worked in the area know, one of KM's commonly quoted flaws is that there isn't one "gospel" definition of KM.

I thought it would be interesting to work through the definitions and summarize how these definitions talk about KM.

xpatch (take 2)

This is a follow up to my previous proposal on xpatch.

Joe has rightly pointed out that XPath is not sufficient to handles XML files where ordering is not guaranteed. For example:

    <attendee name="Dream" status="Confirmed" />
    <attendee name="Desire" status="No reply" />

If I want to update Desire's status, but don't know a priori which order these elements will be returned, xpatch won't work:

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