Introducing InstallationWiki.org

From a recent Packt Publishing press release:

Following on from the success of Wikipedia, which counts itself as one of the top ten most viewed websites on the Internet, InstallationWiki.org will provide its users with a continually updated resource, written by experts, that will help solve any software installation problem.

InstallationWiki.org has been developed using the open source MediaWiki software package and is supported by UK publisher Packt. The website has initially been populated using installation chapters from Packt books.

The aim is for InstallationWiki.org to become a one-stop source of information for installing software.

With users generating the majority of the content, the aim is for the site to grow into an exhaustive library of installation guides, covering everything from setting up a social networking platform to installing an open source Voice over IP (VoIP) system.

Although this may sound unreasonably ambitious, consider:

  1. The resounding success of Wikipedia
  2. That Packt is seeding InstallationWiki.Org with content from its own titles

That’s a great start for a great idea!

Also consider that embellishments will be provided by the community that develops around InstallationWiki.Org. As Wikipedia has demonstrated, that can be a much more sustainable and scalable model than that of traditional authorship.

There’s already some excellent content available for installation prosumers!

CANARIE’s Network-Enabled Platforms Workshop: Follow Up

I spent a few days in Ottawa last week participating in CANARIE’s Network-Enabled Platforms Workshop.

As the pre-workshop agenda indicated, there’s a fair amount of activity in this area already, and much of it originates from within Canada.

Now that the workshop is over, most of the presentations are available online.

In my case, I’ve made available a discussion document entitled “Evolving Semantic Frameworks into Network-Enabled Semantic Platforms”. This document is very much a work in progress and feedback is welcome here (as comments to this blog post), to me personally (via email to ian AT yorku DOT ca), or via CANARIE’s wiki.

Although a draft of the CANARIE RFP funding opportunity was provided in hard-copy format, there was no soft-copy version made available. If this is of interest, I’d suggest you keep checking the CANARIE site.

Finally, a few shots I took of Ottawa are available online

wikiyork: Academic Social Networking via a Wiki

I spent two days earlier this week participating in the TEL(Technology Enhanced Learning)@York 2007 event.

This year, the conference theme was “Partnerships to Enhance Student Engagement“.

Arguably, Rene Suarez’ wikiyork contribution was the most-provocative demonstration of a partnership to enhance student engagement.

wikiyork is:

  • a place to share notes, reading summaries, exam reviews, tests, assignments, opinions, etc…
  • open-source, editable by anyone, viewable by anyone
  • student-controlled (not really…everyone has equal control; everyone is a student and a teacher)
  • free (non-profit and ad-free)

In discussing wikiyork as an enabling platform for peer collaboration in an undergraduate academic setting, one of the concerns raised was the unearned benefit of such ventures to social loafers. In addressing this concern, it may benefit the wikiyork team to reflect upon the basic elements of cooperative teams:

  • Positive interdependence
  • Individual accountability
  • Face-to-face promotive interaction
  • Interpersonal and small group skills
  • Group processing

By recontextualizing these elements for wikiyork, it may be possible to (over time) turn social loafers into social contributors.

I’m not sure if wikiyork is the first of its kind. Regardless, I applaud the efforts of Rene Suarez and his collaborators, as I believe they’re on to something potentially compelling with wikiyork.

2007 Semantic Technology Conference

This is an event I wish I’d had on my radar … alas, May is already rife with conferences!

Some data (not information!) points:

  • The tutorials/presentations content looks quite good
    • I even recognize or know some of the presenters 🙂
    • The content is bleeding-edge to current to mainstream
    • Much of the content is published
  • Judging by the demographics, e.g., there are a number of vendors involved, the Semantic Web continues to get real – and some of the vendors have cool names (see the sponsors page for more 😉
  • A primer is available for those who are new to the subject
  • San Jose will be a nice place to be in May – it’s close to San Francisco … still one of my favorite places to go!

On the Use of Informal Ontologies in the Delivery of Service Oriented Architectures (SOAs)

In Service-Oriented Architecture: Concepts, Technology and Design, author Thomas Erl frames ontologies (section 10.2) in a top-down strategy for the delivery of a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) .

As the first step, in a multistep process, what starts with ontologies ultimately results in a Contemporary SOA (Erl, section 3.2.20):

Contemporary SOA represents an open, extensible, federated, composable architecture that promotes service-orientation and is comprised of autonomous, QoS-capable, vendor diverse, interoperable, discoverable, and potentially reuable services, implemented as Web services.

SOA can establish an abstraction of business logic and technology, resulting in a loose coupling between these domains.

SOA is an evolution of past platforms, preserving successful characteristics of traditional architectures, and bringing with it distinct principles that foster service-orientation in support of a service-oriented enterprise.

SOA is ideally standardized throughout an enterprise, but achieving this state requires a planned transition and the support of a still evolving technology set.

In the same chapter, Erl also provides an abridged Contemporary SOA definition:

SOA is a form of technology architecture that adheres to the principles of service-orientation. When realized through the Web services technology platform, SOA establishes the potential to support and promote these principles throughout the business process and automation domains of an enterprise.

In other words, buying into the top-down strategy can ultimately result in a Contemporary SOA and this is a big deal.

Erl also discusses the bottom-up strategy for delivering a SOA (section 10.2).

In striking contrast to the top-down strategy, and as Erl describes it, the bottom-up strategy does not incorporate ontologies. Despite the fact that “… the majority of organizations that are currently building Web services apply the bottom-up approach …” (Erl, pg. 368):

The bottom-up strategy is really not a strategy at all. Nor is it a valid approach to achieving a contemporary SOA. This is a realization that will hit many organizations as they begin to take service-orientation, as an architectural model, more seriously. Although the bottom-up design allows for the creation of Web services as required by applications, implementing an SOA at a later point can result in a great deal of retro-fitting and even the introduction of new standardized service layers positioned over the top of the non-standardized services produced by this approach.

After reading this chapter, one is left with the impression that Erl favors the agile strategy (Erl, section 10.4) as it attempts “… to find an acceptable balance between incorporating service-oriented design principles into business analysis environments without having to wait before introducing Web services technologies into technical environments.”

I would be willing to accept all of this on spec if it weren’t for the fact that it’s possible to create informal ontologies, in non-SOA contexts, during bottom-up processes.

And if this is possible in non-SOA contexts, then it’s reasonable that informal ontologies could be incorporated into the bottom-up strategy for SOA delivery.

I believe this is worth exploring because use of informal ontologies in a bottom-up strategy for SOA delivery may improve the potential for ultimately achieving a Contemporary SOA. (An outcome, you’ll recall from above, Erl stated wasn’t otherwise acheiveable.)

I also believe this is worth exploring as, as Erl states, most organizations are attempting to gravitate towards SOAs from the bottom up.

Because the agile strategy (ideally) combines the best of both the top-down and bottom-up approaches, I also believe it’s worth exploring the potential for informal ontologies in this case as well.

Although further research is required, the figure below extends Erl’s Figure 10.3 (pg. 367) with a first-blush suggestion of how informal ontologies might be incorporated into the bottom-up strategy for SOA delivery.

informal_ontology_soa_delivery

It’s important to note that Erl’s original figure illustrates a five-step process that culminates with “Deploy services”.

Based on work I’ve done elsewhere, in this first-blush depiction, I believe the steps required to make use of informal ontologies would need to include:

  • “Extract service relationships” – In the work I’ve done elsewhere, this extraction has been achieved by Gleaning Resource Descriptions from Dialects of Languages (GRDDL). GRDDL extracts relationships and represents them in RDF from XML via XSLT.
  • “Generate informal ontology” – These days, ontologies are often expressed in the Web Ontology Language (OWL). OWL is a semantically richer and more-expressive variation of XML than is XML. Much like the previous step, the generated informal ontology is expressed in OWL via processing that would likely make use of XSLT. This step might also involve the need to incorporate annotations.
  • “Integrate informal ontologies” – Because each act of modeling through deploying application services will result in an informal ontology, there will eventually be a pressing need a integrate these informal ontologies. This ontology integration, which may also involve top-down or formal ontologies, will provide the best possibilities for ultimately realizing a Contemporary SOA.

Even at this early stage, the use of informal ontologies in the delivery of a SOA appears promising and worth investigating.

Knowledge-Based Heuristics: Further Research is Required

Recently, I’ve blogged about:

In both cases, there’s a case to be made for combining heuristic with knowledge-based approaches.

Although I did find “heuristics” and “knowledge” juxtaposed in Googling for “knowledge-based heuristics”, I believe the tightly coupled examples I’ve described above have some degree of novelty.

Further research is required 🙂

A Bayesian-Ontological Approach for Fighting Spam

When it comes to fighting spam, Bayesian and ontological approaches are not mutually exclusive.

They could be used together in a highly complimentary fashion.

For example you could use Bayesian approaches, as they are implemented today, to build a spam ontology. In other words, the Bayesian approach would be extended through the addition of knowledge-representation methods for fighting spam.

This is almost the opposite of the Wikipedia-based approach I blogged about recently.

In the Wikipedia-based approach, the ontology consists of ham-based knowledge.

In the alternative I’ve presented here, the ontology consists of spam-based knowledge.

Both approaches are technically viable. However, it’d be interesting to see which one actually works better in practice.

Either way, automated approaches for constructing ontologies, as I’ve outlined elsewhere, are likely to be of significant applicability here.

Another point is also clear: Either way, this will be a computationally intensive activity!