Back to the basics

Since yesterday, I am the happy owner of an Asus EEE laptop. No, it’s not yet another machine with more cycles, megabytes, and features. Rather, the philosophy is “less is more”. EEE stands for “Easy to learn, Easy to work, Easy to play”, and as far as I am concerned, the machine fully lives up to this promise.

My version is the 4G-Surf: only a 7″ display, 512 Mb RAM, and 4 Gb solid state disk. The price? Less than 350 euros for all this goodness! There is a huge backorder for the newest models (4 Gb SSD with webcam, 8 Gb SSD), but the 4G-Surf is already definitely good enough for your daily basic mobile needs. See also my post on GrowingPains for some reflections on the impact of this development.

Some useful links:

5th Prato Community Informatics & Development Informatics Conference 2008

5th Prato Community Informatics & Development Informatics Conference 2008: ICTs for Social Inclusion: What is the Reality?

27 OCTOBER-30 OCTOBER 2008, MONASH CENTRE, PRATO ITALY.

FIRST CALL FOR PAPERS
We are seeking abstracts and proposals from academics, practitioners and PhD students for a conference and workshop event at the Monash University Centre, Prato, Italy (near Florence). The Conference will also include a development informatics stream under the aegis of the International Development Informatics Association as part of its second conference meeting.

Click here for more information.

Virtual worlds are not enough

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with Philippe Kerremans, who through his Louis Platini company is implementing Second Life business solutions. We agreed that building virtual worlds in, for example, Second Life is not enough. Additional necessary conditions are an accompanying website in “ordinary cyberspace” and process models that can be used to ensure that available functionalities are actually being used by community members in all their various roles.

IADIS International Conference Web Based Communities 2008

IADIS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE WEB BASED COMMUNITIES 2008

Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 24 to 26 July 2008

(http://www.webcommunities-conf.org/)

part of the IADIS Multi Conference on Computer Science and Information Systems

(MCCSIS 2008)

Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 22 to 27 July 2008

(http://www.mccsis.org)

* Conference background and goals

The mission of this conference is to publish and integrate scientific results and act catalytically to the fast developing culture of web communities. The conference invites original papers, review papers, technical reports and case studies on WWW in particular the emerging role of so-called WWW-Based Communities.

Ontology Management book

M. Hepp, P. De Leenheer, A. de Moor, Y. Sure, eds. (2008). Ontology Management: Semantic Web, Semantic Web Services, and Business Applications, Semantic Web and Beyond: Computing for Human Experience series, Springer Verlag, Berlin, ISBN 978-0-387-69899-1

has just been published. It contains a set of state-of-the-art chapters of ontology management. An interesting observation is that concepts like evolution and communities are starting to be seen as core elements of successful ontology management. The very formal and informal semantic worlds are finally starting to meet.

Besides having been a co-editor, I have also been a co-author of one of the book chapters:

S. Christiaens, P. De Leenheer, A. de Moor, and R. Meersman (2008). Ontologising Competencies in an Interorganisational Setting. In M. Hepp, P. De Leenheer, A. de Moor, and Y. Sure (eds.), Ontology Management: Semantic Web, Semantic Web Services, and Business Applications, Springer, Berlin, pp.265-288. ISBN 978-0-387-69899-1.

It contains a description of the DOGMA-MESS (Meaning Evolution Support System) I worked on while at STARLab, and is all about the interaction between formal semantics and the living communities of human beings involved in their definition and use. Good stuff ūüôā

Welcome to the Making CommunitySense blog

Since 2004, I have been musing about the “theory and practice on evolving virtual communities” on my GrowingPains blog. Having moved out of academia I started my own company, CommunitySense in 2007. There were many reasons for this small step for mankind, giant step for me. I have now been in business for a while, and feel the need for a new blog, in which I will share the more detailed, technical, some might say boring bits and pieces of the blood, sweat and tears of making online communities really work. Whereas with GrowingPains I try to paint the bigger “what” picture, through this Making CommunitySense blog I hope to share more of the “how to-s” of making people collaborate through the Internet successfully. Besides these blogs, you may also want to have a look at the CommunitySense website and the Making CommunitySense site, which contains background documents and related information. I hope this “mini-web” will help you understand more about the fascinating world of living, breathing online communities!

What is the Pragmatic Web?

The Pragmatic Web is still in its infancy, as are the explanations about what it is or could become. Here is one of my recent takes on the matter trying to answer some questions by Paola di Maio on the Pragmatic Web mailing list.

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Re: [PragmaticWeb] following on
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2008 10:31:54 +0100
From: Aldo de Moor <ademoor@communitysense.nl>
To: pragmaticweb@listserv.uni-hohenheim.de
References:<c09b00eb0802140033q39df5efek8ec3873b28207ba@mail.gmail.com>

Hi Paola,

paola.dimaio@gmail.com wrote, on 14-2-2008 9:33:

> – to fill such a gap, a new paradigm shift is now emerging called
> ‘pragmatic web’ designed primarily to support and automate the
> human-human web based knowlege exchange, particular emphasis is being
> place on – rule based reasoning and intelligent applications based on
> NL

To me, the PW is basically about context and purpose: making web applications more context-aware and serving purposes of (their communities of) use. In a nutshell, one could say the PW is about how to make (semantic) web technologies serve collaborating people in their messy, real-world, evolving domains of interaction. Rule-based reasoning and intelligent applications are but one of several possible “enlightened web technology” applications. Another stream that I and
several other current members of the budding PW community are particularly interested in is the marriage of web technologies and large scale, distributed argumentation support systems.

> – pragmatic web technologies are designed to function on http/ip
> protocol, and are likely to adopt owl/rdf representation if thats the
> way knowledge is going to be represented on the web, therefore cannot
> be distinguished from SW on this account.

Owl/RDF etc are the main focus of SW R&D. PW can use these representations, but is definitely not limited to them. In fact, PW research may lead to completely new forms of representation and
reasoning, much better suited to deal with the context and purpose issues mentioned above.

> – However PW research and possibly future technologies is aimed to
> study and capture the human interaction with web based technologies

Yes, it’s about putting people first. Whereas current systems development often just distinguishes “The User”, PW tries to open this box, and discover innovative ways to model human goals, communication and collaboration patterns, norms, preferences, etc. These much better understood characteristics then could and should inform the design of much more useful knowledge bases and web systems. “Intelligence” is thus not something to be captured, but an intricate interplay between human interpretation and context-aware, _augmenting_ formal knowledge systems.

Symposium “You Can Do So Much More with a Second Life…”

Second Life is hot. Just having attended the Interdisciplinary Second Life Workshop at the University of Twente, on June 21 another workshop on this themewas organized at Tilburg University by TILT (Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society), together with ECP.NL, a national platform which tries to improve the Dutch international competitive position with respect to the information society and economy. Although many of the issues were related, the focus was slightly different. The symposion was in Dutch, but the (sometimes translated) titles of the presentations should give a good idea what this was all about:

  • Barend Raaff (DNB Media):¬†Guided Tour through Second Life
  • Arno Lodder (Free University Amsterdam):¬†Best of Both Worlds: Physical Characteristics in an Electronic Environment – About Education and Conflict Resolution in Virtual Three-Dimensional Worlds
  • Jacob van Kokswijk (University of Twente):¬†Virtuality and Interreality
  • Kees Stuurman (TILT):¬†Rules of the Game or Rules of Law?
  • Ronald Leenes (TILT):¬†Privacy in Second Life: Who Needs it?

Handbook of Research on Socio-Technical Design and Social Networking Systems

Together with Brian Whitworth from Massey University, New Zealand, I am editing a¬†Handbook of Research on Socio-Technical Design and Social Networking Systems, to be published by¬†IGI Group¬†in 2008. See the¬†call for chapters. It is a massive project, requiring at least 50 quality articles. Our goal is to get researchers and practitioners talking to each other, not only by the publication itself, but also by building an author community. To be continued…

Interdisciplinary Second Life Workshop 2007

On June 14, I was at the University of Twente in Enschede to attend the Interdisciplinary Second Life Workshop. It was organized by the new inter-facultary Center for Information Technology and Society (CITS), part of the Centre for Telematics and Information Technology.

The workshop was very well-attended and lively. The speakers gave a good overview of the main promises and problems surrounding Second Life. The workshop was preceded by an inspiring keynote address by Peter Ludlow, well-known as editor of High Noon on the Electronic Frontier and founder of the Second Life Herald newspaper.

The titles of the presentations give some idea of the kind of issues addressed:

  • Peter Ludlow (Uni Michigan):¬†Emergent Gameplay, Deviant Ageplay, and the Elusive Payday of Business in Second Life
  • Dan Seamans (Open Uni, UK):¬†The Vital SPark: Managing a Dynamic Learning Space in Teen Second Life
  • Patrick Ozer and Albert van Breemen (Philips Research, the Netherlands):¬†Interreality Communication: iCat Meets Second Life
  • Robert Slagter and Wil Jansen (Telematica Instituut, the Netherlands):¬†Real Business in Virtual Worlds
  • David Nieborg (Uni Amsterdam):¬†‘Don’t Sponsor a Game that is a Playground for Criminals!’ – The Many Media Frames of Second Life

From a research point of view, everything still is wide-open. Tools, but especially governance, workflows, and business processes still are only in their infancy. However, the general consensus seemed to be that Second Life, at least as a stepping stone on the way to a whole class of virtual worlds, holds great potential, waiting to be mined.