I still have lots to share after recently attending Bio-IT World in Boston … The latest comes as a Bright Computing contributed article to the April 2013 issue of the IEEE Life Sciences Newsletter.
The upshot of this article is:
Progress in the Life Sciences demands extension of IT infrastructure from the ground into the cloud.
Feel free to respond here with your comments.
Confession: In the past, I’ve been extremely quick to dismiss the value of Second Life in the context of teaching and learning.
Even worse, my dismissal was not fact-based … and, if truth be told, I’ve gone out of my way to avoid opportunities to ‘gather the facts’ by attending presentations at conferences, conducting my own research online, speaking with my colleagues, etc.
So I, dear reader, am as surprised as any of you to have had an egg-on-my-face epiphany this morning …
Please allow me to elaborate:
- Yesterday, I witnessed a demonstration of Nortel web.alive (dubbed by some as ‘Second Life for business’)
- This morning I was brainstorming content with a colleague for an upcoming presentation on computing resources available for researchers at York
It was at some point during this morning’s brainstorming session that the egg hit me squarely in the face:
Why not use Nortel web.alive to prepare graduate students for presenting their research?
Often feared more than death and taxes, public speaking is an essential aspect of academic research – regardless of the discipline.
As a former graduate student, I could easily ‘see’ myself in this environment with increasingly realistic audiences comprised of friends, family and/or pets, fellow graduate students, my research supervisor, my supervisory committee, etc. Because Nortel web.alive only requires a Web browser, my audience isn’t geographically constrained. This geographical freedom is important as it allows for participation – e.g., between graduate students at York in Toronto and their supervisor who just happens to be on sabbatical in the UK. (Trust me, this happens!)
As the manager of Network Operations at York, I’m always keen to encourage novel use of our campus network. The public-speaking use case I’ve described here has the potential to make innovative use of our campus network, regional network (GTAnet), provincial network (ORION), and even national network (CANARIE) that would ultimately allow for global connectivity.
While I busy myself scraping the egg off my face, please chime in with your feedback. Does this sound useful? Are you aware of other efforts to use virtual environments to confront the fear of public speaking? Are there related applications that come to mind for you? (As someone who’s taught classes of about 300 students in large lecture halls, a little bit of a priori experimentation in a virtual environment would’ve been greatly appreciated!)
Update (November 13, 2009): I just Google’d the title of this article and came up with a few, relevant hits; further research is required.
I bumped into a professional acquaintance last week. After describing briefly a presentation I was about to give, he offered to broker introductions to others who might have an interest in the work I’ve been doing. To initiate the introductions, I crafted a brief description of what I’ve been up to for the past 5 years in this area. I’ve also decided to share it here as follows:
As always, [name deleted], I enjoyed our conversation at the recent AGU meeting in Toronto. Below, I’ve tried to provide some context for the work I’ve been doing in the area of knowledge representations over the past few years. I’m deeply interested in any introductions you might be able to broker with others at York who might have an interest in applications of the same.
Since 2004, I’ve been interested in expressive representations of data. My investigations started with a representation of geophysical data in the eXtensible Markup Language (XML). Although this was successful, use of the approach underlined the importance of metadata (data about data) as an oversight. To address this oversight, a subsequent effort introduced a relationship-centric representation via the Resource Description Format (RDF). RDF, by the way, forms the underpinnings of the next-generation Web – variously known as the Semantic Web, Web 3.0, etc. In addition to taking care of issues around metadata, use of RDF paved the way for increasingly expressive representations of the same geophysical data. For example, to represent features in and of the geophysical data, an RDF-based scheme for annotation was introduced using XML Pointer Language (XPointer). Somewhere around this point in my research, I placed all of this into a framework.
In addition to applying my Semantic Framework to use cases in Internet Protocol (IP) networking, I’ve continued to tease out increasingly expressive representations of data. Most recently, these representations have been articulated in RDFS – i.e., RDF Schema. And although I have not reached the final objective of an ontological representation in the Web Ontology Language (OWL), I am indeed progressing in this direction. (Whereas schemas capture the vocabulary of an application domain in geophysics or IT, for example, ontologies allow for knowledge-centric conceptualizations of the same.)
From niche areas of geophysics to IP networking, the Semantic Framework is broadly applicable. As a workflow for systematically enhancing the expressivity of data, the Framework is based on open standards emerging largely from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Because there is significant interest in this next-generation Web from numerous parties and angles, implementation platforms allow for increasingly expressive representations of data today. In making data actionable, the ultimate value of the Semantic Framework is in providing a means for integrating data from seemingly incongruous disciplines. For example, such representations are actually responsible for providing new results – derived by querying the representation through a ‘semantified’ version of the Structured Query Language (SQL) known as SPARQL.
I’ve spoken formally and informally about this research to audiences in the sciences, IT, and elsewhere. With York co-authors spanning academic and non-academic staff, I’ve also published four refereed journal papers on aspects of the Framework, and have an invited book chapter currently under review – interestingly, this chapter has been contributed to a book focusing on data management in the Semantic Web. Of course, I’d be pleased to share any of my publications and discuss aspects of this work with those finding it of interest.
With thanks in advance for any connections you’re able to facilitate, Ian.
If anything comes of this, I’m sure I’ll write about it here – eventually!
In the meantime, feedback is welcome.
I just learned about Jott for BlackBerry:
We have a lot of happy Blackberry customers at Jott, and Jott for BlackBerry is the ultimate BlackBerry download. It is a simple, but very powerful tool that will let you reply to emails on your BlackBerry just using your voice – either speaking directly into your BlackBerry, or while wearing a Bluetooth headset. It is seamlessly integrated into the email application you already use, and is a huge leap forward for BlackBerry lovers in three ways: first, it is 3-5 times faster than ‘thumbing’ text; two, you won’t be known for sending just terse replies because you don’t want to thumb type out a normal email message; and three, you will be safer because you won’t have to take your eyes off the road.*
(*Jott does NOT encourage messaging while driving).
Jott for Blackberry makes an already awesome device even better.
The following is the body of a reply I just created:
Thanks for sharing this interesting service with me. It's definitely something that I'm interested in investigating and it's my intention to follow up very very soon. Thanks very much. Bye for now. Sent with my voice via Jott for Blackberry ~ http://jott.com/bb To listen: http://www.jott.com/show.aspx?id=e4eb3151-9007-448c-bd73-7de70ecc4766
In this example, the transcription quality was excellent. Note that the recipient is advised that the response was Jott’ed, and has the option of listening to the original audio recording. Nice!
Although I’m only at the testing stage, I expect to make extensive use of Jott for BlackBerry!
Note to Jott and Google: Please enable Jott for BlackBerry in the GMail for BlackBerry application.
Update (February 10, 2009): See Sync Google Calendar and Gmail Contacts with Your BlackBerry for a recent How To guide to the Google Sync for the BlackBerry solution.
In just over fourteen months, one of my posts has received almost 19% of the views for my entire blog.
- Read-only access – You can’t enter contact information from the GMail client on the BlackBerry. In time, we’ll want this. Like tomorrow!
- Online-access only – You need your contacts when you’re off line? Like when you’re on an airplane? Until this client includes Google Gears functionality or equivalent, you’re out of luck here. I think I can live with that. For now. Because ultimately I would appreciate the ability to compose email when I’m off line. I do that frequently with the BlackBerry’s built-in mail client.
- Contacts in too many places – Fragmenting contacts between your Google ‘verse and enterprise messaging platform (e.g., Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Notes, etc.) has some disadvantages. However, as I’ve learned directly on the heels of personal experience, there are times when it’s wise to have some separation between our personal and corporate selves …
This gives me a lot of what I was looking for.
This was not my first exposure to the impressive E-RCP. While I was working for Scali, a major release of Scali Manage made use of the E-RCP. (Scali Manage was subsequently acquired by Platform Computing – another former employer of mine. Small world!)
- Responsiveness – I find the 8.5 beta much more responsive than previous Notes clients I’ve worked with. And since my interaction over the past 48 hours has been via wireless laptop to my broadband connection at home, I’m expecting even better results when I am hard-wired to the University’s network from my office. This is a huge win that I’m very pleased with. This comment applies to all interactions – from message composition to searches to address completion.
- Interactive spell-check – As you type, misspellings are underlined with a wavy red line. You don’t need to instantiate the spell checker separately. I expect this improvement rides completely on the heels of the E-RCP. I expect there are additional features/functionalities of this sort that I’ll discover over time.
- Look – Other than updated icons, the interface looks the same. Although there’s value in preserving the legacy experience from a look perspective, I wouldn’t have been disappointed by the UI receiving a major facelift. And all of this leads me to conclude that this is primarily a feature/functionality-neutral port of the Notes client to the E-RCP. In other words, there are minimal feature/functionality improvements – except those I’ve already identified above. While that’s OK for now, it won’t satisfy me moving forward. Presumably, however, that’s one of the reasons IBM adopted E-RCP, as it frees them from their legacy implementation, and provides a much broader/deeper and modern spectrum of possibilities moving forward.
- If we introduce protocol-based QoS, won’t this provide any application using the protocol access to a differentiated QoS? I sense that QoS can be applied in a very granular fashion, but do I really want to turn my entire team of network specialists into QoS specialists? (From an operational perspective, I know I can’t afford to!)
- When is the right time to introduce QoS? Users are clamoring for QoS ASAP, as it’s often perceived as a panacea – a panacea that often masks the root cause of what really ails them … From a routing and switching perspective, do we wait for tangible signs of congestion, before implementing QoS? I certainly have the impression that others managing Campus as well as regional networks plan to do this.
- And what about standards? QoS isn’t baked into IPv4, but there are some implementations that promote interoperability between vendors. Should MPLS, used frequently in service providers’ networks, be employed as a vehicle for QoS in the Campus network context?
- QoS presupposes that use is to be made of an existing network. Completely segmenting networks, i.e., dedicating a network to a VoIP deployment, is also an option. An option that has the potential to bypass the need for QoS.