Social data modelling

I’ve been meaning to get round to extending a little social bookmarking example I started ages ago, and after a demo yesterday now seems like the perfect time. The rumours/news about Delicious are purely a coincidence; I’m definitely not planning to compete!!!

So I started out with a very basic model that only included bookmarks, which I’d now like to add tagging to, along with people. Here’s how I think that fits together:

The first question is, does that make sense as a basic tagging example? The next step is to create a physical data model, which I’m less sure about. My first attempt looks like this:

I hope I got the crows feat right, but is that a reasonable data model to achieve the kind of thing the first diagram shows? Are there any data modelling 101 guidelines that would help improve it? Any comments, tips and suggestions very welcome!


Delicious Opera

I’ve recently been reinstalling everything on a new hard disk which, as Sarah predicted, has meant restoring a whole bunch of home comforts. One of which were a few tweaks to my preferred web browser, Opera. I’ve added a few buttons to make it easy to tag pages on delicious and IBM’s internal dogear service. Here’s a quick guide to adding a delicious button… and a reminder for me the next time I reinstall everything!

I like to keep the amount of toolbars down to the minimum, so I’m going to add the button next to the recycling (closed tabs) buttons shown here:

First you’ll need to create the button. A bit of searching should give you some examples. Unfortunately WordPress isn’t going to cooperate and let me include a link for the delicious button, but it looks something like this:

I think something is getting messed up if you try and copy and paste that, but in theory it should add a button:

Which you can find under Menu > Settings > Toolbars > Customize… to drag where ever you like:

I dropped it just to the right of the recycle button, but that just gets you a basic, and quite difficult to read in my case, text button:

To display something a little nicer, I’ve created a custom skin. The first time I did this, I customised an existing skin as described in example 2 of the “Getting started with Opera skinning” article. It works, but it gradually got more and more out of date with each new version on Opera. Plan B was to create a very thin skin that only includes images for my custom buttons. The skin.ini file falls back to the full Opera skin for everything else, so I haven’t needed to update it again. Fallbacks are described in the “Opera Skinning part 1: Introduction” article.

The end result is a very handy tagging button withing easy stabbing distance (just to the right of the millions of tabs which I really shouldn’t leave open all the time!):

Now I just need to add back the other buttons I used to have.

The IET gets sociable

I recently read Yes, we can twitter while catching up on some E&T reading. Probably the most interesting bit for me was seeing @TheIET is also on twitter, so I tore off the bottom of the page with the link on to check out. Web 0.1 bookmarking then; I still like reading on paper.

The IET twitter account doesn’t look like it’s progressed beyond getting their brand on there; they don’t follow anyone, have a surprisingly small 168 followers and don’t seem to be talking to anyone. Still, hopefully it’s just a small beginning and, amongst the links to their web site, I did spot a press release about the launch of the new IET social networking site! That news somehow passed me by until now, so I’ve been investigating to see what it offers. To start with, I have yet another profile, which is not a big surprise. Earlier today I was scratching my head over a spiced up developerWorks profile. It has a bookmarking service which, for anyone in the IET new to such things is great. While I already use delicious for my own bookmarks, IET Discover combines bookmarks with groups, in what looks quite a similar way to Lotus Connections. There’s already a good selection of groups, although I’ve not found any that appear that active yet. Groups have always been a bit of a mystery to me in things like Facebook, never quite fulfilling their apparent potential, mostly ending up little more than a way to tag yourself as being interested in something.

Talking of tagging, from what I can tell on first look, I can tag my own profile, but other people can’t tag me, which seems like a missed opportunity. I think there’s much more value in tagging other people. In networks where you can tag yourself, I tend to have a poor attempt to start with, and then never return to keep the tags up-to-date.

And finally, I can watch people… except so far I’ve not found anyone to watch. I’m guessing it’s much like adding people to your delicious network.

Overall, it’s an interesting foray into the world of social networking. Like LinkedIn, it has a more professional focus, but it feels more limited by association with a single professional body. With recent homecamp, arduino and related projects in mind, I joined the electronic circuits group, but there are already more established social networks around those topics, whether IET members or not. Having said that, I think there is a place for more focused social networks. For example, I’m a big fan of developerWorks, where I’ve been trying to get some momentum for a community around the MDM Workbench, which is after all a pretty niche topic. So IET Discover looks interesting, and it has the potential to get me more involved in the IET. Time will tell how it turns out… maybe @TheIET will share their view…