27 April 2006

Job Opportunity (Ottawa) - Drupal Programmer / Developer

I have a 5 months (approx) casual employment opportunity to offer - Canadian Federal Government, in Ottawa, CS-02 level. If you are a good and motivated Drupal programmer / developer, or know someone like this; please check my post on drupal.org. A gifted member of my team, François Dupras, is moving on to an acting opportunity elsewhere in the Office of the JAG and I need to replace him (even if you are irreplaceable François) ;-)

This is an exciting opportunity: you can be part of one of the first Canadian Federal Government efforts in using Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) to address a range of information management requirements in a governmental context, in accordance with the applicable federal government guidelines on the use of FOSS. I would expect gosling members to be interested in this opportunity, for example.

Drupal has been featured as the cover story of php architect (vol 4 issue 12 - that would be december 2005 I think). In his article, Titus Barik characterizes Drupal as follows:
Drupal provides a flexible, extensible framework - an alternative to roll-your-own content management solutions. It can be refit for a variety of different content systems, including community portal sites, personal weblogs, and resource directories, simply by adding and removing sophisticated modules.

Drupal offers you a working, tested framework for building components, and handles the insignificant but tedious details of module management, user management, and integration [...]

Unlike a dedicated content system such as WordPress for blogging, or osCommerce for e-commerce, Drupal aims to be flexible, to suit any type of web platform.
Drupal has also been positively commented upon, several times, in the book "Open Source for the Enterprise : Managing Risks, Reaping Rewards" by Dan Woods and Gautam Guliani. I have been impressed by the long list of Drupal-powered web sites, of which I bookmarked a few examples.


BarCamp Ottawa in The Ottawa Citizen

BarCamp Ottawa

Check out The Ottawa Citizen today, two full page spreads (and more) on BarCamp Ottawa, pages F1 and F3. Great article written by Peter Hum.


22 April 2006

How Blogs are Transforming Legal Scholarship

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Law School, is hosting a free and open to the public symposium on Bloggership: How Blogs are Transforming Legal Scholarship on April 28th, 2006, and a webcast will be available:
Web logs (“blogs”) are transforming much of American society, including government, politics, journalism, and business. In the past few years, blogs have begun to affect the delivery of legal education, the production and dissemination of legal scholarship, and the practice of law. We are delighted that over twenty of the nation’s leading law professor bloggers have agreed to join with us for the first scholarly conference on the impact of blogs on the legal academy.
Thanks to Library Boy (Michel-Adrien Sheppard) for this info!


Government 2.0 Think Tank at BarCamp Ottawa

BarCamp Ottawa

Wow! What a day! BarCamp Ottawa was truly mind-invigorating. The following sessions were my favorite. There were others that I would have liked to attend; but many of them were held concurrently, so I had to pick... My favorites:
  • iotum, a successful Canadian startup, currently beta testing and crowned DEMO God in 2006, made a great presentation on "What Makes A Great Demo";
  • Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the eclipse foundation, presented on "Open Source Communities | All About Platforms: Lessons Learned from Eclipse". I was particularly interested in Mike's answer to "How do you create a [successful] community around a platform?" In his words, it takes: (1) great technology; and (2) broad adoption; (3) architecture of participation (I think this ingredient is, perhaps, the most important one); and (4) "hijacked by a fanatic community". A little later in this post I will explain how his presentation will influence the shaping of the G2TT community;
  • Bain McKay, CEO and Chief Scientist of Kayvium, gave a very-forward looking presentation on the semantic web in the context of a desktop application being capable of establishing and navigating semantically meaningful links between information sources, by leveraging ontologies and pattern recognition. On a scale of 0 to 4, 0 representing unorganized information and 2 information organized with taxonomies and controlled vocabularies, Bain talks and lives at the 4 level. I have asked him for a "progressive bibliography" on topic, in other words, what should one read in order to develop a better understanding of the theoretical concepts behind the capabilities Kayvium offers. I will share with you his suggested list of readings when I have it.
I also presented at BarCamp today, in my personal capacity (it has nothing to do with my full time job and employer - I made that disclaimer at the beginning of my presentation), and engaged participants in discussing:
  • Open Source Government. The concept of Open Source Software is explained at wikipedia. To be successful, as Mike Milinkovich from the eclipse foundation suggested, a community built around an open source software must possess several characteristics. Thinking about these characteristics, I was particularly interested in seeking out the opinions of the audience on how to best transpose these "Open Source Software" community characteristics (see for example What makes a good open-source project?) into an "Open Source Government" context, such being the context and community spirit advocated by Government 2.o Think Tank;
  • Government 2.o Think Tank ("G2TT"). G2TT is a not-for-profit private association to be launched in June 2006. G2TT is about open source government, one project at a time. In a sense, it has the potential of being analogous to sourceforge.net, and to be what sourceforge.net is to open source software - by providing an architecture of participation (in Mike Milinkovich words) built around projects instead of software. Instead of code, G2TT projects have, as deliverables, "reports". G2TT projects will always result in the production of complete reports with standard headings (Assumptions, Problems/Challenges, Solutions, Opportunities and Recommendations) and other headings depending on the nature of the project. The first G2TT project is Leveraging Web 2.0 Technologies in Government and you can find its draft Table of Contents here;
  • Leveraging Web 2.0 Technologies in Government (the first G2TT project). Web 2.0 as an Internet phenomenon generally encompasses the collection of trends and technologies enabling the web as a platform and the read/writable web: see this introduction to web 2.0 by Joshua Porter and also these 50+ Web 2.0 resources. Web 2.0 many facets and enablers, such as RSS (resources), Wikis (resources), Blogs (resources), Social Tagging / Enterprise Bookmarking (resources) and Ajax (resources) - among others - collectively constitute a formidable basket of technologies that governments could efficiently leverage both for internal information management and external dialogue with the public they serve. G2TT has chosen to target these technologies and to explain how they could efficiently solve many common problems, such as Email Overload and the difficulty in finding information on intranets.
I wished I had been able to attend Craig Fitzpatrick's presentation, on devshop; but he was presenting at the same time as me. Craig's devshop makes project management specifically for software teams. I recommend, without hesitation, that you get in touch with him if you need project management software in a software development context.

I was pleasantly surprised, at the end of my presentation this afternoon, to see that many participants (including Jason Furlong, Clayton Scott and Ajay Krishnan - thanks to everyone!) pointed out the potential of G2TT in offering a community space in which the Canadian Public could be meaningfully engaged.

On this point, I anticipate G2TT members to debate the acceptable scope of G2TT projects during the first G2TT meeting (signup first if you are interested in attending). I did point out, however, that G2TT had a vested interest in building its credibility with early successes: the association will benefit from selecting and working, initially, on non-contentious projects. For example, the first association project (Leveraging Web 2.0 Technologies in Government) is not about Government Policy "with a big P" but about the exploitation of better information technology to enable better governmental decision-making and improved policy development.

The distinction is important. G2TT does not seek to substitute itself to policy makers and elected officials, it rather attempts to offer insights on how to improve the way government does business, internally and externally, by focusing on specific problems and challenges, one project at a time.

You can follow the progress of G2TT by subscribing to the G2TT RSS feed or to the email subscription service.


BarCamp Ottawa | The Evening Before

BarCamp Ottawa

After the gosling pit stop at 16:30, sometime after 19:00 I made my way to Fox & Feather to meet some of the BarCamp Ottawa participants and organizers. Kudos for the Toronto crowd - lots of them came in for the occasion!

I wanted to meet before the conference and have a feel whether I would be an "out-of-context" speaker. It turns out that attendees have a variety of backgrounds. Sure, a lot of programmers and geeks in the crowd - I have never seen so many laptops actively used in during a conference - but a good variety of participants nonetheless.

On BarCamps:
BarCamp is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from attendees. Learn more or organize your own Barcamp!
Next time I'll bring my camera... ;-)


gosling community

I met yesterday some folks from the gosling community ("Getting Open Source Logic INto Government"), at their weekly get-together, Black Bear pub, Friday 16:30. I really enjoyed my conversation with Don Kelly and Russell McOrmand.

Don, aside from a shared interest in old games from the Commodore 64 time, made me discover ubuntu - a Linux distribution well suited for "normal people" (read: non-geeks - I like geeks by the way!). He runs it on his laptop and I had a glimpse at it - ubuntu has a very clean and friendly desktop-based user interface.

Russell, aside from his strong opinions on killing Bill C-60 (see also the associated blog), has a wealth of knowledge on open source issues and does not shy away from exploring these issues with a critical mind: I look forward to meeting him again - I learned a lot in an hour with him!!

If you are interested in finding out more about gosling, feel free to drop by in person at the Black Bear pub, any Friday 16:30. I plan to attend again.


18 April 2006

Judicial Blogging

I have been following 3L Epiphany posts for a while and I was pleasantly surprised to see that some judges are blogging.

The author has even sent the following survey - two judges have answered and granted permission to publish their answers to the following questions:
  1. When you cited a legal blog, did you consider it unusual or unprecedented at the time?
  2. How often do you read legal blogs?
  3. Which are your favorite legal blogs?
  4. Do you consider blogs to be substantial and legitimate forms of scholarship?
  5. Do you think legal blogs will begin to be cited more often by the courts?
  6. What predictions do you have about the effect of legal blogs on the profession?
  7. What other changes to the legal profession do you foresee because of the Internet and the online world in general?
  8. Do you regularly read law reviews? If so, which are your favorites?
  9. What advantages and disadvantages do legal blogs have when compared to law reviews and other traditional forms of scholarship?
  10. Do you have an opinion about whether law students, lawyers, and/or law professors should blog?
  11. Do you think it is appropriate for judges to blog? If you were to start one, what subject(s) would you write about?
  12. (Off the subject of blogging:) If you could change one thing about the legal educational system, what would it be?
See the answers by Justice Judith Lanzinger (Ohio Sp. Ct.) and by Justice Richard G. Kopf (U.S. District Judge, Nebraska). Fascinating.

[cross posted on slaw]


17 April 2006

Number of Blogs Doubling Every Six Months

Amazingly enough, about one blog per second is now created (75,000 per day), the number of blogs is doubling every six months, about 50,000 legitimate posts occur every hour in the blogosphere and almost 20 million (55%) bloggers are still blogging after 3 months. Read all about it in David Sifry's Alerts:


14 April 2006

G2TT and BarCamp Ottawa (22 April 2006)

The pregnancy is almost over, by early June 2006, Government 2.0 Think Tank ("G2TT") will officially launch with a Drupal powered web site, ready to tackle its first project - Leveraging Web 2.0 Technologies in the Government of Canada.

Until then, G2TT offers:
If you are interested in G2TT, please use the signup form. If you're in Ottawa, you're also welcome to join us at BarCamp Ottawa, Saturday, April 22nd, all day.

13 April 2006

Favorite Articles on Tagging

I am responding to Bill's invitation (Portals and KM) by offering the following resources.

Here are my favorite resources on social tagging in a corporate context and more on tagging. I have also written on topic a while ago. This article from InfoTangle on Community 2.0 is also well written and I like the many clarifications it offers. The latest I have read about dogear is here (see my comment waayyyy below - it's a long and funny article).

Because social tagging is intricately related to folksonomies, folksonomies resources are also useful to take a look at.

PS: Bill - I had to answer here because your comments do not accept the "a" tag. ;-)

11 April 2006

Object Oriented Editing and Personal Wikis: Wildly Addictive!

I have been extensively using, for over a month, a personal mini-wiki tool called "TiddlyWiki". Do not let the deceptively funny name distract you from its powerful features! Over 3,600 del.icio.us users have bookmarked the original TiddlyWiki site by Jeremy Ruston. Why is it so successful?

A TiddlyWiki is a Free and Open Source, self-contained HTML file. That's it. No software, nothing needed, you can carry it around on a USB stick. It is similar to a wiki because you can create distinct topics that can reference each other. There are many flavours of TiddlyWikis, such as a student edition or the MonkeyPirate edition, or the advanced ELS Studio version.

A TiddlyWiki is incredibly simple to edit and to add new content: see this tutorial by JeremyH. There are a lot of good resources available and a very dynamic Google User Group.

I have used it to create and regularly update this discussion paper. Just as any other technology and solution out there, such as blogs and wikis, TiddlyWikis are not good solutions for all requirements. For example, Wikipedia would never fit in one TiddlyWiki.

TiddlyWikis are great:
  • For small web sites with micro-content;
  • For people (like me) interested in making non-linear papers available online;
  • For students, researchers, anyone wanting to organize personal notes and topics...
...And many more possibilities that you can imagine.

To be used in a Canadian federal government context, a brave soul would need to develop (a) a bilingual plugin (TiddlyWiki features can be significantly augmented with freely available plugins) to facilitate the creation and updates of bilingual tiddlers; and (b) a Common Look & Feel TiddlyWiki.

05 April 2006

Shifting Gears: From Applications to Services

In "Software Out There", John Markoff, from the New York Times, describes how the web has been evolving into a vast array of online services as opposed to desktop applications. When mainstream media finally notices established trends, governments and corporations are more likely to follow suit, especially when considering such priceless quotes (from John's article):
Mr. Ozzie, who used the Firefox browser (an open-source rival to Internet Explorer) during his demonstration, said, "I'm pretty pumped up with the potential for R.S.S. to be the DNA for wiring the Web."

He was referring to Really Simple Syndication, an increasingly popular, free standard used for Internet publishing. Mr. Ozzie's statement was remarkable for a chief technical officer whose company has just spent years and hundreds of millions of dollars investing in a proprietary alternative referred to as .Net.

As posted earlier in The Death of Enteprise Software, John correctly predicts the migration of monolithic desktop and corporate client-server based applications to web based services:
As a result, computer industry innovation is rapidly becoming decentralized. In the place of large, intricate and self-contained programs like Microsoft Word, written and maintained by armies of programmers, smaller companies, with just a handful of developers, are now producing pioneering software and Web-based services. These new services can be delivered directly to PC's or even to cellphones.
John's article also covers (briefly) a few other Web 2.0 technologies such as Ajax.

Reading his article, I discovered the following services:
  • WINKSite. From their site: "In minutes, you can set-up a free mobile site that's available worldwide on any web-enabled phone, PDA or desktop PC. Each mobile site is outfitted with easy-to-use mobile channels including chat, blog, mobile feed reader, surveys, journal, forum, calendar, guestbook, bookmarks, email and more."
  • CastingWords. Human transcription services for audio files, 42 cents a minute. Interesting service for podcasters. Je me demande si ce type de service existe en français!
  • Amazon S3. Storage service for developers priced at 15 cents per GB used per month plus 20 cents per GB of data transferred.

03 April 2006

Supreme Court of Canada: Public Factums?

The Supreme Court of Canada syndicating factums filed in court via RSS feeds available on its web site, subject to a Canadian Creative Commons Attribution - No Derivative - No commercial uses license: fiction or reality?

Thanks to the Canadian Bar Association Supreme Court of Canada Liaison Committee, this issue, framed as "whether it would be worthwile to post Supreme Court factums on a website after the conclusion of cases", is now considered. In order to help moving it along, I would ask lawyers reading this blog to take the survey - it only takes 2 mins: take the survey.


01 April 2006

When April 1st Strikes


How some news get picked up, even the funny ones. Google Romance is a riot (follow the full explanation!). Scobleizer, Microsoft employee, defecting to Google, instantly attracted lots of buzz in the blogosphere and was picked up by Slashdot.

My all time favorite however is the news that Microsoft, or rather Bill Gates, purchased OpenOffice.org! Attracted lots of attention... because they put it on their home page and will likely disappear tomorrow, here it is:
For an undisclosed sum reputed to be in the billions, Microsoft's Bill Gates has personally bought the leading open-source desktop project. Saying he "was sick and tired of open-source eating away at his profits," the world's richest man decided to put an end to the nuisance and simply buy OpenOffice.org. It will form part of a growing list of Microsoft acquisitions, including several erstwhile competitors, a considerable number of prominent politicians, and a few small governments.

The initially stunned OpenOffice.org community--a happy-go-lucky international band numbering in the hundreds of thousands--later turned to champagne to celebrate their newfound wealth. "Bless Bill!" one happy Torontonian exclaimed, bubbly in hand. "With all this money, I can beat Mark's time in orbit!"

Gates has assured all current OpenOffice.org users that their future migration path to Microsoft Office is guaranteed thanks to OpenOffice.org's faultless support of MS Office files formats. Users can further rest assured that the full functionality currently provided by OpenOffice.org 2.0 will be available in MS-Office 2020 - or possibly 2030.