Roll your own stack

Okay, compiling my own stack has already frustrated (and scared) me to death before, but this set of instructions seems almost simple enough to follow:

Set up the Command Shell for Windows 2000/XP/2003
Building Perl
Building Apache with SSL, Security & Compression
Building OpenSSL
Building mod_perl 2.0.2

Supercharge your Perl on Windows

Perl's looking a little long in the tooth these days -- there are so many more exciting languages out there, like PHP, Python and Ruby. But there's still an enormous wealth of programs being written and updated on CPAN, and Perl still excels at the text-based manipulation which it got famous for.

If Perl 6 ever comes out, that may be interesting, although I'm still unsure of the impact of all the syntax and keyword changes. Seems even more complex than before!

On the other hand, I just found out about the PAR-Packer tool, which allows you to easily convert any Perl program into an EXE file. Previously, the only easy method to my knowledge was the proprietary perl2exe tool from IndigoStar.

Do you want to design an XML schema?

Then check out xFront, and particularly their article XML Schemas: Best Practices.

(UPDATE: Their Design Goals Questionnaire is also really useful.)

Practical advice from the xml-dev mailing group, so these people do it every day.

New domains, new terms

It's funny how as soon as you move into a new technical domain, there is a corresponding new set of jargon. For example, I've recently started working at the National Museum of Australia, and am learning heaps about information management, and data interchange. These guys have forgotten more about managing large semi-structured and non-structured datasets than most IT people ever learn!

(Sidenote: The sheer number number of XML and non-XML dialects to describe different structures of information is quite staggering, for example. Finding anything "definitive" in terms of standards is really quite tough.)

Writing a strategy document

Update: I'm now the Director and Principal Consultant at knowquestion, a specialist consulting firm in Information and Knowledge Management.

If you like what you read here today, please feel free to contact our firm to find out more about what we can do for you.

Being flexible about categorization

These quotes from Kelly Green caught my eye from an actKM discussion:

Information systems require clearly delineated properties. I think many people involved in this space would agree that this is an artificial boundary and that the boundaries in "real world" are more elastic.
Ontologies are good for illuminating subjects -- but they seem to also constrain them.

Maybe the Web world needs a space for "fuzzy categories" -- call them "associations" or "resemblances"? Where a topic can be 70% related to 'fluffy bunnies'?


Alex St John

This is old, but read this article. Now.

(a) Microsoft plays hard ball.
(b) They really don't understand people very well.

Strange attractors

The four key elements of modern enterprises are people, process, technology, and content.

Patrick Lambe has produced a fantastic diagram (p.15) which shows how many information-related disciplines (and many which people think are not related) can be placed on a visual diagram where the job's "attraction" to one of these poles is noted by how close it lies to that pole. (NB: Patrick uses the term "business" instead of "process".)

Chaos, information ecosystems and information management

Thought for the day:

  1. Modern organisations collaborate on demand, producing an unstructured and informally managed set of information flows and feedback loops.
  2. At a sufficient point of complexity, the results of these information flows will exhibit characteristics of a non-linearly dynamical or chaotic system.
  3. Many natural ecosystems are non-linear and mapping information flows from this free-flowing collaboration would exhibit many characteristics of an ecosystem. (Let’s call this information map an information ecosystem.)

Getting started with ontologies

The term "ontology" isn't well-understood by lay people. Part of the confusion stems from its similarity to another term dealing with classification, the better-known "taxonomy". (There is a great primer document on the differences between ontology, taxonomy and classification available online.)

The word "ontology" is derived from Greek words meaning "the study of being or existance". Personally, I find it helps to think of ontology as the "science of thing-ness". So ontology asks the questions: What is this? What is that? And (critically) how does this relate to that?

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