Saturday, August 26, 2006

Here we go...

As Manager of Information Systems for a mid-sized manufacturing concern* I am charged with maintaining technology as well as keeping up with technology. As I have previously posted (see below - "The IT staff Leaves at 5 PM") my expectation is 24x365^2 where ^2 is the time and effort put into keeping up with technology.

I am always on the lookout for the "better mousetrap" and I think I have found one. How I found it is in-and-of-itself a great Internet viral 6-degrees-of-separation story. Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away I encountered a social-networker entrepreneur, Joi Ito. Joi engendered a community forum to explore social networking (#joiito) and the many assembled. Great and small (like me) we gathered and shared, laughter and tears, joys and fears. I listened. One day somebody mentioned Hugh at GapingVoid and how great his business-card-back cartoons were. So I go to check out the no-nonsense-cut-the-crap-speak-your-mind observations and I am hooked. I needed daily fixes. (Thanks Joi.)

Then his "How To Be Creative" weasels its way into my psyche, into my subconscious. I am taken with the thought of hard work, integrity and "Ignore everybody." The first two I can identify with thanks to my father who instilled in me the great dictums of the Protestant Work Ethic. The last, but not least, is the true liberator. Be free to go, look, be, taste, feel the world not as others would but as you would, as I would. True freedom. (Thanks Hugh.)

Amid all of Hugh's acerbic observations and glasses of wine is a mention of a guy and a "Thingamy" ... What ever the hell that is... Says Hugh, "What's interesting is that he's building software that actually allows companies to replace hierarchies with "something better"." So off I go in search of this Thingamy... And I read, and I follow links and I read and I follow links and I finally determine that Thingamy is most aptly named. It defies pigeon-holing, categorizing, labeling or defining.

So all of that happened, figuratively, the day-before-yesterday. Yesterday through the wonders of Skype I got to spend some time with Sigurd Rinde, the principal architect of Thingmay. I can say that I still don't know what Thingamy is...HOWEVER, I can say that I know it has great potential. I know because the man I spoke with is not hampered by the traditional encumberences that force a project into a given mold.

In truth I do know what Thingamy is. Thingamy is a knowledge container system. Not just any old static written-down knowledge but living dynamic open-for-business real-world working knowledge. What is very important about Thingamy is that the container is designed by the knowledge. In most, if not all, existing systems the container defines the contents (knowledge). If what you know doesn't fit into one of their containers/boxes/compartments then it is not valid. If it is not valid then it is not important to your process. If it is not valid then you do not know it.

This is the paradigm shift that I have been searching for. This is the "better-moustrap" that I have been seeking for some time. "What's interesting is not that Sig thinks thinks traditional corporate hierarchies (including the marketing department) are inefficient and should be replaced with something better." says Huge. This is the very essence of "^2" that I demand of IT.

On Tuesday next I will get to spend some more time with Sigurd via Skype and RealVNC. He has offered to show me a demo of Thingamy that he developed for a Bicycle Factory. This is of particular interest as I am, as previously mentioned, the MIS for a mid-sized manufacturing concern. To date one of the major software problems we have encountered it the inability of existing software packages to properly contain the knowledge of our business. It is my great wish that Thingamy will change all of that.

Tuesday will tell...

* Mid-sized manufacturing concern - is a privately held, family business that I do not speak for.

Friday, August 25, 2006

When Kobi Alexander made a 1 minute Skype "call" he made a very big mistake. Not unlike Will Smith's character, Robert Clayton Dean, in "Enemy of the State" the call cost him his freedom. I am not here to speak to the relative legitimacy of Kobi's freedom but rather the nature of the incident.

In all the world the law enforcement/ information analysts (LE/IA) somebody knew either to monitor Kobi's Skype account _or_ they had the ability to monitor the account(s) of possible call recipients.

Because there are no clear international standards for personal privacy on the Internet then LE/IA is not prevented from eavesdropping on any Internet communication. So I am sure it was a simple matter to single out his Skype account and then just sit back and listen. IF on the other hand Kobi established a unique, anonymous account then the matter becomes a bit sticky-er.

Not knowing where a possible call would be coming from or who might be placing such a call then suggests a completely different scenario. Possibly LE/IA was ingaged in listening to Internet traffic directed to individuals known to Mr. Alexander. Instead of targeting a known or suspected/alledged criminal LE/IA quite possibly is listening to the incoming traffic of innocent folks in the remote hopes of catching a possiblel bad guy.

Here in the USA we have well crafted laws that are designed to protect individuals from unlawful searches. These types of laws have been extended to protect individuals from illegal monitoring of telephone communication, wiretapping. It is unclear to me the subtle distinction between voice communication carried by TPC (The Phone Company) and other electronic forms of communication carried by... in my case, my telephone service provider.

Bottom line: DON"T SKYPE! Somebody or everybody is listening to calls made and received. Or, don't be an internationally wanted fugitive and make the Robert Clayton Dean mistake.

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