Thursday, December 15, 2011

Architecting and Social Media

The arguments for and against the rise of user generated content on the web continue to rage. Depending on which side of the debate you take we are either on an amoral downward spiral of increasingly meaningless content being generated by amateurs (for free) that is putting the professional writers, musicians, software developers, photographers etc out of work as well as ruining our brains or are entering a new age where the combination of an unbounded publishing engine and the cognitive surplus many people now have means we are able to build a better and more cooperative world.

Like most things in life the truth will not be at one of these polar opposites but somewhere in between. Seth Godin makes an interesting point in a recent blog entry that "lifestyle media isn't a fad it's what human beings have been doing forever, with a brief, recent interruption for a hundred years of professional media along the way". He goes on to say "we shouldn't be surprised when someone chooses to publish their photos, their words, their art or their opinions. We should be surprised when they don't."

After all, given the precarious nature of the press in the UK at the moment with stories being obtained through all sorts of dubious means the professionals can hardly be seen as holding the ethical or moral high ground.

The possibilities for creativity, and building interesting and innovative solutions out of this mixed bag of social media self-publishing is going to be the place where architects are going to have a fertile ground over the coming years. A nice example of this is Flipboard which if you have an iPhone or iPad you should definitely download. This free app is a “social magazine” that extends links your friends and contacts are sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, 500px and others into beautifully packaged "articles". It can also pull in content from a raft of other online content. It's a great example of what architects should be doing, namely taking existing components and assembling them in interesting and innovative ways.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Computing: The Human Experience


Grady Booch, IBM Fellow and Chief Scientist for Software Engineering in IBM Research has kicked off an initiative to produce a documentary on the history of computing called Computing: The Human Experience.  This is a crowd sourcing initiative for which Grady is trying to raise $25,000 by January 2nd to get the project underway. It's an all or nothing model, the project must be fully funded before time expires or no money changes hands.

I guess you may ask why you should contribute funds to an initiative like this in these austere times when there are far better causes that could take care of your $$$$. Here are three reasons:
  1. If you are reading this blog you are almost certainly involved at some level in computing. You have helped, or still are helping, change the world in fundamental and unprecedented ways, ways that affect pretty much everyone who walks the face of the planet right now. Isn’t it time that story was told?
  2. Computing more than any other industry has its roots at a very personal level. How many great computing ideas have started in kid’s bedrooms, dormitories or their parent’s garages? You can now help by making your own personal contribution. 
  3. You can donate as little as one dollar, a lot less than your first latte of the day or final glass of alcoholic beverage in the evening. Forego that and spend it on this instead, you could even get a hand written letter of thanks from Grady.
If you do donate, or even if you don’t, make sure you tweet it, blog it, Tumblr it or Facebook it so all your friends know about this.