Thursday, March 31, 2005

The # vs. / Argument Continues

The W3C Semantic Web Best Practices & Deployment Working Group formally weighed into the Technical Architecture Group's httpRange-14 issue last week. I sent this message, noting the unanimous decision by the SWBP to stand against Tim Berners-Lee's position on the issue. As expected, TBL fired back. My response, hopefully clarifying the SWBP position, is here. The full thread is in the SWBP mailing list archives for March, 2005.

It looks like httpRange-14 will be with us for a while yet :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Playing the Odds; Venture Capital as Roulette

A recent survey of start-up companies in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States by Core Capital produced some interesting results. It seems that only 1 in 27 companies which successfully raise an initial ("Series A") VC investment will survive to get a subsequent ("Series B") round. I heard that the number being used in New York City this year is 1 in 30.

Those odds contrast quite severely with the traditional rule of thumb of 1 in 20 (or more markedly with the rule being used in the Dot Com days of 1 in 10).

Let this be a lesson to budding entrepreneurs: This is a tough market. The odds are that venture capital should be avoided. It is expensive money. Only those who don't need the funds can possibly afford to take them. A better avenue for most entrepreneurs is clearly to shift business models, find new customers and wait for better times to bring a new type of product to the market.

That is not to say that my advice is better for VCs. It is not! VCs make money when the 1 in 30 hits. They need to invest in order to have a chance at the occasional return. No, I am making a suggestion solely for the benefit of entrepreneurs. After all, it is your company which will go out of business at the end of the year, not the investment fund.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Kowari Overview Paper Accepted to XTech 2005

I am pleased to say that the Kowari overview paper that I wrote with Paul Gearon and Tom Adams has been accepted to XTech 2005. The conference was formerly called XML Europe and will be held in Amsterdam in May. The paper was entitled "Kowari: A Platform for Semantic Web Storage and Analysis".

Ph.D. Confirmation - Finally!

My Ph.D. advisors, Associate Professor Dave Carrington at UQ and Professor Simon Kaplan, Dean of IT at QUT have accepted my confirmation report and the confirmaton committee has agreed. UQ is grinding its way through the rest of the paperwork, but it looks like I am finally confirmed as a Ph.D. candidate.

My confirmation report was entitled "Anticipating Emergent Properties in Object Oriented Software" and is here for those interested.

Monday, March 14, 2005

TKS/Kowari Development Effort

originally uploaded by prototypo.
This graph shows the development effort spent on the Tucana Knowledge Server (TKS) and its Open Source subset, Kowari. The dip in 2003 was caused by the Great Software Recession, when external services contracts reduced development effort. A total of 32599.41 hours were logged on the project between the end of prototyping in May 2001 and the cessation of Tucana operations in the last week of December 2004.

This image was made with the excellent JpGraph graphing library for PHP.

Hormones, Alcohol and Adrenalin

I attended a fascinating auction over the weekend, which raised funds for my daughter's Montessori school. There was a paid dinner for parents (no kids) and both silient and directed auctions. The material auction took two forms: items/services donated by local businesses and items hand-made by the children with help from moms. The latter caused some of the most interesting social behavior I have seen in a while.

A wet bar sucked in drink tickets before the bidding. Smart move. Everyone had the opportunity to view the items beforehand. Many of the mothers present had helped create the hand-made items. Estrogen flowed across the floor too deep to wade across.

A husband and wife were seated to my left. The wife wanted a quilt with her daughter's classmates' names on it so badly she could taste it. The husband became more nervous as his wife pushed the bids higher. She was on the edge of her seat and, as the bidding went North of $300 it was obvious she didn't plan to stop. She bought the item for $325. Five minutes later, during bidding for a replica quilt from a different classroom, the woman was relaxed and chatting comfortably. Why? Because she knew that quilt was worthless. It didn't have her daughter's name on it. The same scenario played out with flower pots, garden benches and bookcases painted in handprints.

Last year's auction raised $17,000. I didn't ask about this year. The $80 bird house and $300 cookbook told the whole story.

Monday, March 07, 2005

# vs. /

# vs. /
# vs. /,
originally uploaded by prototypo.
Dapper Jeremy Carroll takes on Tim Berners-Lee during the Fourth Annual "Hash versus Slash" Abuse-a-thon at the W3C's Semantic Web Best Practices & Deployment Working Group's March 2005 face-to-face meeting in Boston. Note Patrick Stickler in the background with duct tape over his mouth!

The # vs. / issue is under discussion was the W3C's Technical Architecture Group's HTTP Range 14 issue.

Not My Style

I would like to assure everyone out there that, in spite of recent confusion to the contrary, this image does not depict me :)

Thursday, March 03, 2005

SWBP&D Working Group Face-to-Face Meeting

The Semantic Web Best Practices and Deployment Working Group held its third face-to-face meeting 3-4 March 2005 in Boston. A lot was accomplished, as is common with face-to-face meetings. Teleconferencing, email, IRC and IM aside, people still work fastest with people in the same room.

The Ontology Engineering and Patterns Task Force continues to be the most actively publishing task force. Two documents are moving to W3C Note status shortly, pending final editorial review: Representing Classes As Property Values on the Semantic Web and Representing Specified Values in OWL: "value partitions" and "value sets". Please note that newer editor's drafts exist to both documents. Those links should be updated shortly.

The RDF/Topic Maps Interoperability Task Force is moving their RDF/TM Survey to Working Draft status shortly. It will end up as a W3C Note. A guidelines document for RDF/TM mapping should follow.

More good stuff seems like it will be coming soon.

W3C Tech Plenary 2005

I attended the 2005 W3C Technical Plenary in Boston. The plenary consisted of working group meetings Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday and a common day on Wednesday. The common day was an overview of new work by all projects within the W3C. Some of the interesting (to me) ones were:

XML 1.1 has engendered some controversy. The talk "Where XML is Going, and Where it Should (or Shouldn't) Go" addressed this topic. The most memorable comment was in relation to changes which allow full internationalization in XML 1.1. To paraphrase: "Sure XML 1.1 is backward compatible, but it allows everyone around the world to play. We have an obligation to support the entire world since we are the World Wide Web Consortium." Good thoughts. I fear for the migration issues, though.

Shawn Lawton Henry (W3C; WAI Education and Outreach Working Group) presented a cool usability study undertaken on the Accessibility Guidelines content on the Web entitled "Lost in W3C Web Space". They did a lot of work to make the usually dense W3C specification content much more accessible, even to those users not somehow handicaped. Check out the new site.

The end of day brought some "Lightning Talks" - quick summaries of new work. These were some of the most interesting:

"Topic Maps and the Semantic Web", Steve Pepper (Ontopia; Convenor SC34/WG3, Semantic Web Best Practices Working Group). Steve brought us up to date on the progress mapping RDF and XML Topic Maps. (slides)

"Project SIMILE: Helping build the Semantic Web", Ryan Lee and Stefano Mazzocchi (MIT). The Piggy-Bank plug-in for the Firefox browser is very nice and worth checking out if you are still wondering why the Semantic Web is cool. You can find the plug-in on the project page.