analysis

Definitions of extranet

From Justin Hibbard’s “Lack of distributed object development delays extranets” in Computerworld (17 March 1997):

An extranet extends an intranet to trading partners, suppliers and customers via a secure Internet link.

From Robert Hertzberg’s The Raw Power of an Idea: in WebWeek (31 March 1997):

The extranet … revolves around the notion of business partners opening up their intranets to one another.

Or here’s another definition:

Internet: open access
Intranet: company access
Extranet: company, clients, partner access

CNN’s innovations & insights

From Joel Kurtzman, Interview with Gary Hamel, Strategy & Business (4th Qtr 1997):

One of the most interesting cases of all is CNN, which “saw at least three things that had already changed in our world that others had not yet put together”: technology changes produced small satellite uplinks that made it possible to report from virtually anywhere; lifestyle changes meant we don’t all get home in time for the six o’clock network news; and regulatory changes allowed cable operators to undermine the monopoly of regional broadcasters.

4 basic functions of knowledge management

From Carl Frappaolo’s “Four basic functions” in Computerworld (23 February 1998)

The four basic functions of knowledge management are externalization, internalization, intermediation and cognition …

Externalization is capturing knowledge in an external repository and organizing it according to a classification framework or taxonomy. At the low end are technologies that simply provide a means to capture knowledge and store it online …

The next level of externalization holds more powerful and promising search tools and document management systems that classify the stored knowledge and identify similarities among separate information sources. …

Ultimately, the role of externalization is to make your captured knowledge available to knowledge seekers through internalization or intermediation. …

Whereas externalization seeks to discover the existence of similar bodies of knowledge, internalization tries to discover bodies of knowledge relevant to a particular user’s need. With internalization, you extract knowledge from the external repository and filter it to identify what is relevant to the knowledge seeker. Internalization helps a researcher communicate a problem or point of interest and map that against the bodies of knowledge already captured through externalization. …

Whereas internalization focuses on the transfer of explicit knowledge, intermediation brokers tacit knowledge. It matches a knowledge seeker with the best source of knowledge. By tracking the experience and interests of individuals, intermediation can link people who need to explore certain subjects with people who appear to harbor knowledge in that area. … Intermediation is automated through technologies such as groupware, intranets, workflow and document management systems….

Cognition is the application of knowledge that’s been exchanged through the preceding three functions and is the ultimate goal of knowledge management.

Get rid of high schools

From Stephen L. Talbott’s “Is High School Dispensable?”, in 19 August 1999 issue of NetFuture (#93):

Sensible words can show up in strange places — in this case, People Magazine. Bard College President Leon Botstein is interviewed in the July 12, 1999 issue, and he says bluntly that we should get rid of high schools. After tenth grade, students should move on to higher education, job training, or some form of national service.

This makes eminent sense if the only alternative is high school as we now have it — a ghetto walled off from the larger society and from the world of adult work, and, all too often, with no meaningful family life for the student to fall back on. Isolate kids from the grounding potentials of a stable community embedded in a real landscape and pursuing real work, and they will create their own society with its own, very likely warped values.

Learning drops quickly over time

From “Building Better Bosses” in Workforce Magazine, May 2000:

Research shows that 30 minutes after adults hear new information, they will remember only about 8% of it. A day or two later, recall drops to 2%. But if people learn a little bit of information and practice it right away, retention balloons to 90% immediately and deflates to as much as 50% to 60% over time.

15 fundamental desires and values

From ABC News:

Curiosity: desire to learn

Food: desire to eat

Honor: (morality) desire to behave in accordance with a code of conduct

Rejection: fear of social rejection

Sex: desire for sexual behavior and fantasies

Physical exercise: desire for physical activity

Order: desired amount of organization in daily life

Independence: desire to make own decisions

Vengeance: desire to retaliate when offended

Social contact: desire to be in the company of others

Family: desire to spend time with own family

Social prestige: desire for prestige and positive attention

Aversive sensations: aversion to pain and anxiety

Citizenship: desire for public service and social justice

Power: desire to influence people

Strange mental conditions

From A Collection of Unusual Neurological States:

Kluver-Bucy Syndrome: Damage to the front of the temporal lobe and the amygdala just below it can result in the strange condition called Kluver-Bucy Syndrome. Classically, the person will try to put anything to hand into their mouths and typically attempt to have sexual intercourse with it. A classic example is of the unfortunate chap arrested whilst attempting to have sex with the pavement. …

Capgras’ Syndrome: … The Capgras’ patient will typically identify people close to them as being imposters – identical in every possible way, but identical replicas. Classically, the patient will accept living with these imposters but will secretly “know” that they are not the people they claim to be. …

Cotard’s Syndrome: … this syndrome is characterized by the patient believing that he is dead, a walking corpse. This “delusion” is usually expanded to the degree that the patient might claim that he can smell his own rotting flesh and feel worms crawling through his skin (a recurring experience of people chronically deprived of sleep or suffering amphetamine/cocaine psychosis). …

Fregoli Syndrome: This is an extraordinary experience where the person misidentifies another person as someone who clearly he is not. Indeed, he may begin to see the same person everywhere he looks …

Alien Hand Syndrome: Probably a version of “left hemi-neglect”, brain damage in the right place can disconnect the left hand (controlled by the right, unconscious cerebral hemisphere) leaving the left hand without conscious control and the person at the mercy of the unconscious whims of the right hemisphere.

Will a technology become revolutionary?

From "The Challenges Facing Nanotechnology", on Ockham’s Razor:

Let us now examine nanotechnology, and assess the hurdles it must overcome before it becomes a society-transforming revolution. In our view there are four major issues:

Feasibility: can we do what we claim we can do, or is it as fantastic as the Nanobot?

Secondly, economic value: does it change the economy in any way? Does it open new sources of wealth?

Third, safety: is it safe, or does it create new dangers we don’t yet know how to handle?

And finally, necessity: do we really need to do it? And have we a choice about it?

These are the major questions all new sciences should face, and nanotechnology is no different.

Movie studios and their genres

From Neither the Power Nor the Glory: Why Hollywood leaves originality to the indies, on Slate:

Back in the old days of the studio system, the brand of a Hollywood studio meant something to the moviegoing public. Each studio, with its roster of stars under contract, came to be identified with a particular genre of movies: MGM (musicals and romantic comedies); Paramount (historical epics); Warner Bros. (gangster stories); 20th Century Fox (social dramas); Universal (horror movies); Disney (cartoons).

6 distinct food consumers

From "Lies, Deep Fries and Statistics", at Ockham’s Razor:

So why is that, if so many people state that they are concerned about GM foods?

An indication of why has been provided by Environics International, a Canadian company which has done some cluster graphs on consumer attitudes to food and whose research translates well into Australia. The general finding of its research shows that attitudes towards GM foods are more driven by general attitudes towards food than attitudes towards gene technology.

They have defined six distinct consumer segments:

The first, Food Elites, who prefer to eat organics and the best foods and will pay for them ( about 1 in 10 amongst the population ).

Then, the Naturalists, who prefer to buy from markets rather than supermarkets ( about 1 in 8 ).

Fearful Shoppers, who have concerns about most foods, predominantly elder consumers ( about 1 in 5 ).

Nutrition Seekers, who treat food as fuel for the body ( about 1 in 5 ).

Date Code Diligent, who read labels, but generally only look at the use-by date and fat content, predominantly younger women ( about 1 in 8 ).

And The Unconcerned, who don’t really care too much about what they eat, predominantly younger men ( about 1 in 8 ).

Those top three, the food elites, the naturalists and the fearful shoppers, are concerned about many food issues and also concerned about GM foods. The bottom three, the nutrition seekers, the date code diligent and the unconcerned have specific concerns only, or aren’t too concerned about foods at all and are not concerned about GM foods.

What makes a great hacker?

From Paul Graham’s "Great Hackers":

… In programming, as in many fields, the hard part isn’t solving problems, but deciding what problems to solve. …

What do hackers want? Like all craftsmen, hackers like good tools. In fact, that’s an understatement. Good hackers find it unbearable to use bad tools. They’ll simply refuse to work on projects with the wrong infrastructure. …

Great hackers also generally insist on using open source software. Not just because it’s better, but because it gives them more control. Good hackers insist on control. This is part of what makes them good hackers: when something’s broken, they need to fix it. …

After software, the most important tool to a hacker is probably his office. Big companies think the function of office space is to express rank. But hackers use their offices for more than that: they use their office as a place to think in. And if you’re a technology company, their thoughts are your product. So making hackers work in a noisy, distracting environment is like having a paint factory where the air is full of soot. …

Indeed, these statistics about Cobol or Java being the most popular language can be misleading. What we ought to look at, if we want to know what tools are best, is what hackers choose when they can choose freely– that is, in projects of their own. When you ask that question, you find that open source operating systems already have a dominant market share, and the number one language is probably Perl. …

Along with good tools, hackers want interesting projects. …

This is an area where managers can make a difference. Like a parent saying to a child, I bet you can’t clean up your whole room in ten minutes, a good manager can sometimes redefine a problem as a more interesting one. Steve Jobs seems to be particularly good at this, in part simply by having high standards. …

Along with interesting problems, what good hackers like is other good hackers. Great hackers tend to clump together …

When I was in grad school I used to hang around the MIT AI Lab occasionally. It was kind of intimidating at first. Everyone there spoke so fast. But after a while I learned the trick of speaking fast. You don’t have to think any faster; just use twice as many words to say everything. …

I’ve found that people who are great at something are not so much convinced of their own greatness as mystified at why everyone else seems so incompetent. …

The key to being a good hacker may be to work on what you like. When I think about the great hackers I know, one thing they have in common is the extreme difficulty of making them work on anything they don’t want to. I don’t know if this is cause or effect; it may be both. …

The best hackers tend to be smart, of course, but that’s true in a lot of fields. Is there some quality that’s unique to hackers? I asked some friends, and the number one thing they mentioned was curiosity. I’d always supposed that all smart people were curious– that curiosity was simply the first derivative of knowledge. But apparently hackers are particularly curious, especially about how things work. That makes sense, because programs are in effect giant descriptions of how things work.

Several friends mentioned hackers’ ability to concentrate– their ability, as one put it, to ‘tune out everything outside their own heads.’ …

Notes

It’s hard to say exactly what constitutes research in the computer world, but as a first approximation, it’s software that doesn’t have users.

BSD vs. Linux

As a Linux user, I don’t have a lot of daily experience using BSD. Oh sure, I use it on a couple of servers that I rent, but I certainly have never used it on the desktop. And while I certainly understand the concepts, history, and ideas behind Linux very well (although there’s always more to learn), I don’t really know that much about BSD. So it was a delight to read BSD vs. Linux.

“It’s been my impression that the BSD communit{y,ies}, in general, understand Linux far better than the Linux communit{y,ies} understand BSD. I have a few theories on why that is, but that’s not really relevant. I think a lot of Linux people get turned off BSD because they don’t really understand how and why it’s put together. Thus, this rant; as a BSD person, I want to try to explain how BSD works in a way that Linux people can absorb.”

In particular, I thought the contrast between the non-unified nature of Linux and the unified nature of BSD was pretty darn fascinating. As the author points out, this is not to criticize Linux – it’s just the way it is. It’s not a value judgment. Here’s the author on BSD:

“By contrast, BSD has always had a centralized development model. There’s always been an entity that’s “in charge” of the system. BSD doesn’t use GNU ls or GNU libc, it uses BSD’s ls and BSD’s libc, which are direct descendents of the ls and libc that where in the CSRG-distributed BSD releases. They’ve never been developed or packaged independently. You can’t go ‘download BSD libc’ somewhere, because in the BSD world, libc by itself is meaningless. ls by itself is meaningless. The kernel by itself is meaningless. The system as a whole is one piece, not a bunch of little pieces.”

11 pages of really interesting, well-explained analysis. If you’re a Linux user, go read it. You’ll learn about the other great open source OS.