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Current Topic: Software Development

Open Digital Identity Project |
Topic: Software Development 11:20 pm EDT, May  2, 2002

Ping Identity is an open, principles based project focused on building digital identity infrastructure capable of ensuring that the rights and privileges we enjoy with our real world identities are not lost, changed or abused with respect to our digital ones. PingID stands for personal choice, privacy, security and control while ensuring maximum interoperability, openness, accessibility and an adherence to open standards.

The Ping Digital Identity Infrastructure project provides a complete open framework for developers, enterprises and service providers to deploy and embed digital identity services and functionality within their applications, devices or services. PingID provides everything required for end-users to establish, grow and exchange Digital Identity information in a secure environment, and for enterprises and service providers to provide trusted services to employees and end-users.

Open Digital Identity Project |

Where the Algorithm Meets the Electronics
Topic: Software Development 8:43 pm EDT, Apr 30, 2002

Prabhakar Raghavan, CTO at Verity, Inc., on building a secure foundation for information retrieval.

On the Web: a few tens of TBytes. In enterprises: many orders of magnitude more than that. The technical challenges inside companies are very different from those for the Web. The primary factor is what we call "fine-grained security." In summary, fine-grained security is the ability to interlace search with security at the document and individual levels. A huge technical challenge! Another challenge is the diverse types of documents.

I'll describe some of the framework for the solution ... Security is every bit as important as searching. This aspect of secure search is the foundation from which we build up deeper functionality ...

[What] I think really is the harbinger of the future, is to invoke ideas from social network theory.

Prabhakar Raghavan gave the most recent talk in the Dertouzos Lecturer Series, which I attended. In this interview, he's talking about some of the same topics. Worth reading (and thinking about). At the interface between academia and industry, the first few bits and pieces of a solution are starting to come together. At least people are now thinking about the right problems ...

Additionally, Raghavan discusses his experiences working at IBM's Almaden laboratory. As I read this section, I was thinking about the future impact of IBM's recent sale of part (most?) of this lab to Hitachi. (See my recent log entry for more details.)

Where the Algorithm Meets the Electronics

The Role of Institutions in the Design of Communication Technologies
Topic: Software Development 6:37 pm EDT, Apr 27, 2002

Communication technologies contain embedded values that affect our society's fundamental values, such as privacy, freedom of speech, and the protection of intellectual property.

Researchers have shown the design of technologies is not autonomous but shaped by conflicting social groups.

Consequently, communication technologies contain different values when designed by different social groups.

Institutions where communication technologies are designed and developed are an important source of the values of communication technologies. We focus on political, economic, social, and legal influences, institutional reactions to these influences, and decision-making issues in the review process.

The institution where a technology is designed plays a crucial role in the values incorporated into a communications technology.

In the style of Larry Lessig, this study compares the development of NCSA Mosaic, "cookies", Apache, and the Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS), looking at the role of the institution during the process and its impact on the end product.

The Role of Institutions in the Design of Communication Technologies

Hypernets -- Good (G)news for Gnutella
Topic: Software Development 5:35 am EST, Feb 19, 2002

Researchers report on their success in applying two "hyper" topologies to improve the scalability of Gnutella. This brief paper seems to be getting a lot of press.

Doesn't this seem like a "duh" to you? These topologies aren't new. I recall discussing the virtual hypertorus with Tom in ~1996 in regard to the "pipenet" idea. They are quite common in the literature of high-performance cluster computing.

In an ad-hoc P2P network, I suspect it will be problematic to discover the network topology and then force users to interconnect themselves in this way. Even so, this paper is useful in that it demonstrates (theoretically) viable alternatives to the untrustworthy Morpheus/KaZaA-style "supernode"-based architectures.

Hypernets -- Good (G)news for Gnutella

Social Harvesting of Community Knowledge [PPT]
Topic: Software Development 2:00 pm EST, Feb 16, 2002

SHOCK: A Peer-to-Peer System for Harvesting Community Knowledge

This is a 43-slide presentation given by Eytan Adar of HP's Information Dynamics Lab as the closing keynote speech at the Internet2 P2P workshop on 30 Jan 2002. Here's the closing summary slide, reformatted:

"Shock lets you find members in a community that: have expertise, and match specific criteria. Create and find interesting discussions, all while providing privacy/anonymity for profiles and messages. It's integrated into work practice and offers automatic profile generation and update. With a simple client installation and configuration, it is flexible with a rich set of profile attributes. It lowers participation costs to increase participation and usage."

I recommend the PowerPoint version, but if you absolutely can't view that, see it in HTML at

Social Harvesting of Community Knowledge [PPT]

Tutorial: Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP) | IEC
Topic: Software Development 9:00 pm EST, Feb 15, 2002

A brief tutorial on SCTP. Lots of explanatory diagrams, flowcharts, etc.

The IEC web site also has many other tutorials on telecom topics, including optical networking, global interconnection, DSL and cable modems, MPLS, SS7, WDM, FTTH, echo cancellation, GSM, HFC, SONET, UMTS, PCS, and much more.

"Stream control transmission protocol (SCTP) is an end-to-end, connection-oriented protocol that transports data in independent sequenced streams. SCTP endpoints support multi-homing; therefore, interface redundancy is built into the protocol. Through selective transmission mechanisms, SCTP resolves errors and buffers the data transmission process"

Tutorial: Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP) | IEC

Human-Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Maryland
Topic: Software Development 1:38 pm EST, Jan 19, 2002

Lots of interesting projects here, spanning such categories as visualization, information exploration, digital libraries, learning, mining creavity, and more. A few projects of note:

Codex, Memex, Genex: The Pursuit of Transformational Technologies
Excentric Labeling: Dynamic Neighborhood Labeling for Information Visualization
Treemaps: Visualizing hierarchical and categorical data

Human-Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Maryland

The Camelot Project: The Prehistory of Adobe Acrobat PDF
Topic: Software Development 1:24 pm EST, Jan 19, 2002

In the spring of 1991, John Warnock, then CEO of Adobe Systems, authored a paper called "The Camelot Project" that first presented his vision for the worldwide exchange of rich media documents. It's an interesting look at how new projects emerge in large corporations.

In this paper, PDF is viewed as a stop-gap measure until personal computers were powerful enough to render normal PostScript documents in real-time. Warnock then planned to migrate back to the use of PostScript for both printing and on-screen viewing. With the great success that PDF has now achieved, it's not likely to be replaced any time soon ...

The Camelot Project: The Prehistory of Adobe Acrobat PDF

Yet more hype for Swarmcast vaporware
Topic: Software Development 11:26 pm EST, Jan 17, 2002

New Scientist offers a brief article with several quotations from OpenCola founder Cory Doctorow. He claims running code will be released "later in 2002", but I'm not holding my breath.

Perhaps more interesting than Swarmcast's technical utility is its striking ability to attract loads of media attention that propagates unchecked claims of "infinite scalability". Considering that they apparently plan to use the Reed-Solomon FEC library I logged recently, I have much doubt in the "infinite" scalability claim.

Yet more hype for Swarmcast vaporware

Wireless Brainstorming: Overcoming Status Effects in Small Group Decisions [PDF]
Topic: Software Development 1:58 pm EST, Jan 12, 2002

Abstract: For group decision making to be effective, each group member must contribute to the outcome. However, social factors ... may prevent some from participating. A group decision support system (GDSS) can reduce social influences by allowing group members to contribute anonymously and in parallel through networked desktop computers ... This study explores how a simple and inexpensive GDSS ... can augment face-to-face groups by mitigating the adverse impact of status differences. ... [R]esults indicated that [participants] generated more ideas when they were able to do so anonymously. ... [R]esults suggest that a wireless GDSS can be used to reduce social bias that influences face-to-face decision making tasks.

Wireless Brainstorming: Overcoming Status Effects in Small Group Decisions [PDF]

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