Archive for April, 2006

Check Me Out On RedMonk Radio

First Chris Dalby got to say it, not I get to say it, too: check me out on RedMonkRadio! Episode 8 is entitled “Scott Mark’s Industry Analyst Interviews, part 1: James Governor and Coté” and is the culmination of some idea-kicking-around I have been doing with James and Coté for some time.

I have been a podcast listener for awhile, and this is my debut as a participant in any podcast. It’s kind of an odd thing – just recording a conversation among friends and broadcasting it to the world. I found it fun to do and to listen to, but I’m genuinely curious if others do. I do think the topic itself is interesting and would expect others to be interested in it as well. But the odd part is thinking that one of my conversations is interesting enough for others to take time to listen to. It got at least 3 plays on Odeo, but I suppose that was just the admin who posted it. 😉

Drop a comment somewhere if you listened – we have been kicking around some other names for this as a mini-series if people are actually interested. Though Coté titled it part1, so I supposed I’m committed whether you guys like it or not!

My First Comment in Spanish

I left my first blog comment in Spanish over at Alvaro Gregori’s blog – a great post on things 2.0.

One of my declared goals for 2006 was to work on an opportunity to lecture or train at the University of Costa Rica, where I studied abroad in college. So far, I have drafted a proposal, and now need to refine and determine who the lucky recipient at UCR will be. If there happens to be a UCR reader out there, I would love a referral.

A couple of things I would like community help from are:

  • Recommendations for Spanish language blogs – I would love if anyone could refer me to some good tech blogs that are in Spanish – most interested in enterprise architecture and Java-related blogs, but am not picky and at the moment would prefer any suggestions. I have found a couple, but have not looked to hard yet.
  • Spanish translations of tech books – I need these for 2 reasons. One is for my own reading to bone up on tech vocabulary, but the other is to donate to the UCR library or individual students. One of my strongest school-related memories was going to the library to do research and looking something up in the card catalog (yes card catalog – even though this was the early 90s). I got to the stack location, found the title in the classic mono-color library hardbound binding, but opened it up to find a complete photocopied version of the title. This was a surprisingly common thing – I suppose authors and publishers here will freak out, but to me it was a glaring statement of the fact that I was in the developing world, however modern it looked compared to other nations. I saw it as a socio-economic coping strategy and was sympathetic. Anyhow, I will soon be appealing to some certain authors directly, but again would appreciate any thoughts or donations.

I am very conversational socially in Spanish, but my technical vocabulary needs a lot of work if I’m going to talk cool on la vida declarativa, la web 2.0, and other tech topics. It’s my intention to lecture in Spanish unless they would prefer English for their own practice.

So please let me know if you could help out in any way!

co.mments To the Rescue

I complained awhile back that since beginning to read blogs one of the things I have found extremely frustrating was finding a way to watch ongoing conversations rather than just initial posts. My man Coté came to the rescue and clued me into co.mments . Note: as a measure of my appreciation, I actually took time to type the HTML entity, rather than the trailing-apostrophe, ASCII version! 😉

This is exactly what I was looking for, and I very heavily recommend that you start using this. I had previously tried using cocomment, which worked okay, but I didn’t always want to participate in conversations to watch them. co.mments lets me easily add tracking to a conversation with a bookmarklet, and I can easily just lurk rather than participate.

co.mments is completely Web 2-ish. Not only does it have a name that it easy to type but hard to say to your friends, it has a wicked cool fade-in at the top of the page to calmly reassure you that you will be notified of updates, and you don’t even leave the page.

They have a great tracking page on their site (again, very Web 2-ish), but I am even more stoked about the RSS feed. I added the feed to my BlogLines, and now I get notifications of updated conversations, right next to my other subscriptions. This is serious converstation tracking, folks!

So far it has worked well with most blog platforms underlying the blogs that I read – sorry but I haven’t done a complete rundown. The main drawback I have found so far is that it doesn’t work with people who use HaloScan for comments – which seems to occur when people seek good medicine for the bad Blogger disease of no trackbacks, and figure why not use it for comments too. (can’ wait for you to switch Anne! 😉

Well done co.mments and thanks Cote, you are saving me time everyday!

Cynicism Is Not A Recreational Drug

Many enterprise architects seem to feel persecuted or at least undervalued in their organizations. Some talk about the impacts of reorgs, some talk about being keepers of the flame. There are debates about the ivory tower syndrome. I can relate to many of these feelings, and believe that the worst possible outcome of these thoughts is cynicism. (Disclosure: I am frequently a cynic, so the title of this post could just be a case of public self-help). Why is it that EAs feel undervalued?

Some EAs rant about the prominence given to PMO-type organizations and project management over architecture. Maybe that is because PMs generally have better communication skills than the average EA? I think James has been talking up elevator pitches as a response to this feeling. It’s also possible this is because PMs have traditionally been tied to financials as a measure of their performance, and have a more tangible handle on how to tell their story in financial terms. No doubt this sells well with upper management, who are (1) used to talking in those terms all day long and (2) are themselves measured in the same vernacular.

Unfortunately for EAs, the story of value is often less tangible. Good architecture is often felt more than it is seen. It is often about risk management more than immediate revenue generation, EA deals in the intangibles. There are some QoS measures that EAs can fall back on to attempt a demonstration of objective value, but you are frequently back to the communication problem. Many of the people you need to convince of value won’t understand or appreciate QoS measures without significant explanation.

Portfolio management and governance are very management-friendly activities for demonstrating the value of EA through participation. Great architecture includes these activities, and provides a subjective measure of value that is essential. But their value in pure communication terms is difficult to package as a story. It again relies on conversation and explanation, rather than objective data. The true success of these activities is also often personality-driven by the leaders.

This is not to say that the value of communicating and promoting EA is lost, just that it is often difficult. The worst outcome is for EAs to become cynical in the face of these challenges. Cynicism only hurts the message, and makes it easier for people who are hard to convince to not even listen in the first place. The bricks of cynicism pave the path to the ivory tower.

UPDATE: Have to laugh at the timing of this report from Gartner

Go Gophers! Minnesota Joins the Pull for Open Data Formats

I suppose I should be embarassed when someone based halfway around the world brings me news in my own backyard, but thanks anyhow Simon!

Glad to see that my own state has joined the fray on open formats. I’m no lawyer, but I like the sound of the proposed amendments. Need to follow up with the state CIO to see if there is a citizens council or something… 😉

Yet More Architecture Podcasts

I posted recently on some architecture-related podcasts… here are a few more thoughts…

  • Tried listening to this podcast on enterprise portals – because I think Gotta is a bright guy in the area of portals and social software. First, how hard do you actually want people to work to listen to your content? I swear I had to go through registration like 5 times, and my lucky reward was getting to listen through embedded Windows Media Player. I’m thinking about the basics here – podcast, RSS feed, MP3s, etc. – you would be surprised how many more listeners you get if you free up the content a little. (Note: these comments are directed at CIO Talk Radio, not Mike.) If someone out there had the patience to get through this, please comment and let me know if I missed enough to go back to it.
  • Maybe this stretches the bounds of both “architecture” and “podcast” but one of my favorite books is available as a stream or download for free. How cool is that!! I’m going to listen again. What a great thing to be involved in – I would love to read a chapter of Code: Version 2.0 when that comes out. Note that you can contribute to that book.
  • Another Burton Group Inflection Point – this time on Skype. Actually a good technical breakdown of the Skype network architecture, things like SuperNodes. A good listen for enterprise folks. Curious why they only let 1 outside person review and publicly report on their encryption practices? You are fully Web 2.0, Skype, and transparency is the name of the game.
  • More RedMonk Radio – episodes 4 and 5 – always good. I am working a podcast idea with these folks that will hopefully come to fruition in the next few weeks… stay tuned.

On the to-do list are some architecture-related shows at IT Conversations. Thinking about Lessig and Joel for starters.


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