At some point I will post something other than links to this blog. But for now, this is it. Five more for you to enjoy this week:
Standard Ebooks – There are lots of free and public domain ebooks about – try looking at Project Gutenberg for example. The problem is that they aren’t always of great quality – because they are often scanned in and OCRd, there are mistakes and janky formatting, amongst other issues. Standard Ebooks is taking these base metals and turning them into gold by checking them, cleaning them up and packaging them nicely – and they’re still free. What’s not to like?
Strategic Reading – just in case five links a week aren’t enough for you, Stefan Czerniawski has started a new thing in the form of a link blog – lots of links to articles with a bit of commentary. Consumable on the website, via RSS or email and highly recommended.
Amazon’s New Customer – I linked last week to rumours that Amazon might be interested in buying Slack. Not sure whether that was just a red herring or not, because it turned out that the big acquisition that Amazon made was Whole Foods, a chain of grocery stores in the US. This analysis by Ben Thompson of what is – on the face of it – an incomprehensible deal for an e-commerce company (clue: Amazon is not an e-commerce company) is excellent and very insightful when it comes to Amazon’s operating model and long term strategy.
A great interview by John Markoff with various folk involved in the creation of the iPhone. Incidentally, Markoff’s book What the Doormouse Said would definitely be on any reading list I produce – it’s a fantastic and entertaining history of the birth of the personal computer.
These have mostly all been tweeted during the week, and you can find everything I’ve found interesting and bookmarked here.
Anonymity, trust and openness on the social intranet – "In some organisations, the cloak of anonymity could help to establish the first part of that trust relationship, and reassure colleagues that leaders are, in fact, really listening; once it exists, it’s easier to step out of the shadows with a greater degree of trust and openness."
The end of history – "History will, of course, look after itself. It always has. But the future history of our time will be different from our histories of past times, and that will not be because we have an eye to the future, but because we are always relentless focused on the present."
Google Wave open source next steps: "Wave in a Box" – "We will expand upon the 200K lines of code we've already open sourced (detailed at waveprotocol.org) to flesh out the existing example Wave server and web client into a more complete application or "Wave in a Box.""
Should Governments Legislate a Preference for Open Source? – "It's easy to legislate a preference for Open Source, and difficult to implement a level playing field upon which Open Source and proprietary software could compete fairly. Thus, a number of governments have enacted the preference as an easy-to-legislate way of solving the problem, but I submit not optimally. Having a preference gives proprietary software an opening to portray themselves as the "injured party", when the reality is that historically there has been a preference for proprietary software in both legislation and internal process of government purchasers, and this still exists today."
Wiki life – "The point, in the end, is that Wikimedia by its DNA operates in public and benefits accrue — not just as product and engagement and promotion and distribution but also as strategy. That’s the next step in creating the truly public company or organization."
O’Reilly, Open Government and the Ingenuity of Enthusiasm – "It is quite clear that performance management and procurement, as well as many other government processes, need to be revised, reformed or radically changed. But this won’t happen unless we recognize that government and its employees need to remain in charge, need to stay as the custodians of neutrality and transparency, and we, the people, developers or users, can just help them do a better job but not replace them in any way."
Open Government Data – "This event will bring together movers and shakers from the world of open government data — including government representatives, policymakers, lawyers, technologists, academics, advocates, citizens, journalists and reusers."
There are a lot of people who still see the internet as being something that is purely the domain of right-wing lunatics and porn fiends, which is of course a shame. The internet has created, or at least helped to create some wonderful things.
One of those wonderful things is Project Gutenberg, a website which makes available out-of-copyright books for reading on electronic devices. Started in 1971, where texts had to be typed into a mainframe computer by hand, the project boasted 30,000 books by the end of 2009.
Books are made available in a number of formats, one of which is always plain text to ensure it can display on more or less any device. Other formats include HTML and also some of the popular e-reader formats like .mobi and .epub.
Reading off a proper computer monitor is a bit of a nightmare, which is why using Gutenberg’s texts with an e-reader works so well. For me, getting the books onto the Kindle is just a case of plugging the Kindle in and copying the files across to it from my Mac – it takes seconds. Formatting is always pretty good, and it’s a great way of carrying round loads of great books to read, for nothing.
So if you’re ever struggling for great examples of people coming together to do Good Things using the web, don’t forget Project Gutenberg!
Beauty is the new must-have feature – “I’m predicting that we’ll start to have a non-functional requirement around making beautiful experiences when we build systems, and that we’ll be rubbish at it when it happens.”
Follow Finder by Google – “Follow Finder analyzes public social graph information (following and follower lists) on Twitter to find people you might want to follow.”
Enterprise 2.0 and improved business performance – “Despite growing evidence, which I’ve presented here and elsewhere, there still remains for many people a real question about the overall ability of social software to improve how organizations get things done.”
Why does government struggle with innovation? – “If innovation is becoming a core attribute required by government organisations, merely to keep up with the rate of change in society and the development of new ways to deliver services and fulfil public needs, perhaps we need to rewrite some of the rulebook, sacrificing part of our desire for stability in return for greater change.”
The Biggest Obstacle to Innovation – “There are many candidates for the biggest obstacle to innovation. You could try lack of management support, no employee initiative, not enough good ideas, too many good ideas but no follow-through just for starters. My nominee for The Biggest Obstacle to Innovation is: Inertia”