World domination is near

Everyone has a rather strong opinion on the monopoly Microsoft has/ had on the desktop. Microsoft is seen by some users as a bad company because of its monopoly, leaving the desktop user no other chance than using functionalities than windows Mediaplayer and Internet Explorer (due to the deep integration in the Operating System). Same goes for Microsoft’s Office suite, which doesn’t support ODF natively (it does since July 2007 via an add-in) and saves documents default in the proprietary .doc format.

Who is the good guy?

Well that said, Microsoft may not be on the good guys side, however is there a good guys side at all? Fan boys now would jump on their chairs and would chant “Google, Google, Google!” however Google also has certain drawbacks, as it stores a lot of information on its users. However if you take a look at the developments of Google in the last view months in a certain perspective you could start to think Google will be monitoring you rather closely.

Fact is that Google already hosts your email, calendar, RSS reader, web history, documents, photos, blogs and much more free functionality. It is quite clear Google knows what you are doing since you do it with their applications. It is always questionable if you should want to outsource that many of your applications to one provider. However Google stated that it is not evil and therefore you should not mind it.

Knowing everything

Some months ago Google launched the “AJAX Libraries API“, which is, on first sight a very nice thing of Google to do. However on second sight Google gets also to know what you do on other websites, which websites you visit, and which websites are rather new and needs to be indexed. This is possible by the simple fact that one or more javascript files are included in a webpage. Therefore Google get to know more about the web and more about you (and other visitors off course). Just a few hours ago there is the buzz around Chrome, which is a browser. Google’s open source browser to be more specific.

All of us at Google spend much of our time working inside a browser. We search, chat, email and collaborate in a browser. And in our spare time, we shop, bank, read news and keep in touch with friends — all using a browser. Because we spend so much time online, we began seriously thinking about what kind of browser could exist if we started from scratch and built on the best elements out there. We realized that the web had evolved from mainly simple text pages to rich, interactive applications and that we needed to completely rethink the browser. What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern platform for web pages and applications, and that’s what we set out to build.

Source

So if you take a look at this development: not only are you outsourcing all your useful applications to Google. You are also storing your data at Google, your personal history (pictures and video’s), and your video history and indirectly via de AJAX libraries API you history of pages you visit outside the Google domain. And now you are also browsing with Google. Since Android is on its way it is not unthinkable Google will offer a complete set from operating system to (web) application to your desktop/ laptop and mobile phone.

Best intentions

Off course that does not have to be evil, Microsoft had good intentions too when they started integrating Internet Explorer in Windows.

The hyper corrective browser

I just had a discussion via Twitter about the desired behavior of browsers during an endless javascript loop (e.g. while(true){alert(“test”);}). One of my friends suggested that browsers should correct this kind of code. Browsers should do this in order to prevent endless loops that crash you browser or your operating system.

Horror scenario

This really sounds horrible to me. Whenever I write code I would like to see it executed the way I wrote it, not the way I could have probably thought about it that it should work. If I write lousy code, let the browser crash, let my operating system crash and probably I will learn something of it. In the worst case even valid code could be corrected by the browser since it could match a pattern that is used to filter invalided code blocks. That would be a real developers nightmare: hyper correcting browsers that are adjusting valid code blocks combined with all current known specific browser quirks.

However this hyper correcting behavior could make the web even more insecure. Microsoft will probably implement some protection in Internet Explorer 8, at first sight this is pretty nice, however there are quite some (amateur) developers that ‘test’ their websites in only one browser. After testing it in e.g. Internet Explorer 8 it assumed save and published on the Internet. However when using a different browser XSS is still possible and the visitor can still be harmed by these kind of attacks.

The responsibility of a developer

With all these hyper corrections you will be in the end only safe on the Internet depending on what browser you use. This is incorrect you should always be safe on the Internet no matter what browser you use. The developer is responsible for the security /usability of his web page/ application, not the browser! The browser should only be supportive to visit and use this page / application.

The HTML5 WG is dead, long live the vendor!

This was mentioned in the HTML5 working group (WG):

I can only spec that if browsers are willing to do it. So far, my understanding is that they are not. (There’s no point writing a spec that isn’t followed, the whole point of the spec is to define what should happen to get interoperability.)

Whether the vendors are right or not (perhaps it is really a nonsense idea), if you make this quote less specific it equals:

Making specs for HTML5 is useless in this WG, vendors will do what they want, not what we specify they should do.

Pretty ugly isn’t is. Why is there a WG (with vendors like Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera etc) as the vendors decides what is best for us (from their perspective) instead of what is best for us from an independent (WG) perspective. This mindset is not what you need for a proper specification. A proper specification should be made without any restrictions or wishes a developer has and should be fully focused on what the customer (you! the user of your browser) wants. The customer is represented by the WG, the developer by the vendor.

Conversations vs demands

Off course you will get a better result when specifier and developer will have dialogue about the specs. Both have specific insights and specific knowledge. Combining these two will increase the quality of the specifications and more important: will increase the quality of the product that should be build. The current situation with HTML5 is that some developers won’t develop certain functionalities. Since this is known by specifiers this is accepted and specs are adjusted to what the developer wants to make.

Why is there a working group? Vendors decide what they will implement and what they will not, the WG has not any influence on that decision and is currently even writing specs that taken this stubbornness in account. The HTML5 WG is therefore useless and is only useful to write down what the developer wants, not what is good for the web or its future. Why should the WG even bother to discuss certain items, ask what the vendor wants to implement and make this the specification. It is a good thing that vendors participate in discussion, however when it comes to implementing they should follow the specification and recommendations. They can give advice why things should or should not be implemented from a technical perspective, however they should not ignore specifications beforehand.

Thin ice

Both WG as vendors are walking on thin ice as we speak, the WG is specifying what the vendors want and not necessarily what is best for the future. The vendor does not want to implement functionalities that seems to be preferred by the WG and is not showing any vision on what is best for the of the web (assuming the original ideas of the WG are best).

Both parties are responsible for creating a product (HTML5) that could had been rather revolutionary and could have been a major improvement for the web, instead they will create just an upgrade of HTML4 with minor impact. Just because vendors are to stubborn to listen and the WG is too passive to make the specs that matter and instead it is making specs a vendor prefers to have.

Vendors should take sponsorship as soon as a WG starts. With this sponsorship they commit themselves to the outcome of the WG discussions (of which they could be part of). That is a whole other ballgame, however I think it can increase the innovation for the web.

Should Knowledge Managers look for a new job?

According to wikipedia (the body of all knowledge ;))

Knowledge Management (KM) comprises a range of practices used in an organisation to identify, create, represent, distribute and enable adoption of insights and experiences. Such insights and experiences comprise knowledge, either embodied in individuals or embedded in organisational processes or practice.

I assume that a Knowledge Managers are the once that execute knowledge management. And if so, I think most knowledge managers should keep on an eye on the jobs section in the paper. As a knowledge manager living in a Web2.0 world (or Web squared if you’d prefer) it is clear that the identification, creation, representation, distribution and the adoption of insight and experiences is something that is done by the group. You as knowledge manager cannot decide what information is important and what data can be knowledge. With the tools that are currently available (wikis, social software), the people can create, represent and distribute all information easily. And what is information for one person, is knowledge for the other and data for yet again another person.

The knowledge manager is becoming obsolete, since the group is regulating itself via the use of new tools. There isn’t one person or a small group of persons that can decide whether something is information, data or knowledge. That decision is personal and a group can decide better by using the tools available nowadays. If a certain document is downloaden 2000 times and has an average rating of 4 out of 5, than you may assume that document represents a certain quality, no need for knowledge manager to confirm or reject that. If there is an article and it is tagged 40 times with the tag ‘community’ and 2 times with the tag ‘vegetable”  it is likely that the main subject of that article is community, no need for a knowledge manager to claim that it is about vegetables, since the group already decided that it is mainly about community.

So what can a knowledge manager do? He can help people in how they should work with the new tools, what the common guidelines for tagging should be, how people should rate information, how people can share information. Not by providing them a strict set of rules, but by providing them guidelines on how they could work. The group decides what best for them, if chaos is best for them, than it is chaos. However after a knowledge has handed over the knowledge on how to use the system, he is really obsolete, the knowledge how to use the tools is recorded somewhere (probably in the tool itself) and can be shared freely throughout the enterprise and with new employees. If it requires an update: the group decides and will update it themselves. No need for a knowledge manager.

What can a knowledge manager do? How can a knowledge manager still adds value while his core competences are something that isn’t unique anymore and which is moved from a individual competence to something that groups of people can do better (as clay Shirky once said: the only group that can categorize everything is everybody). Where will knowledge manager adds value in the future, or won’t they, and will they end up in new jobs?