Getting Technical: Resources for MDM Developers


One reason for the lack of new posts here is that I’ve been attempting to write my first article for the Mastering Data Management blog. After several false starts, and falling back to old school pencil and paper to finally get going, it’s finally done! So, for anyone interested in master data management, here is the very latest Mastering Data Management front page hot off the press:

Getting Technical: Resources for MDM Developers

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Get off my hashtag


I’m still not completely convinced by hashtags on twitter. On the plus side, they can make following what people are saying about a show (#bbcrevolution) or an event (#iod2010) easier. On the other hand, these are a few random thoughts about the downside to hashtags…

Hashtags are common property, which is not a problem when people are cooperating to join threads of conversation, but it’s easy to see how that could #fail:

  • I might think #iod is a great tag for Information on Demand, but there are plenty of others who think it means something else.
  • An ‘official’ hashtag can avoid some of the confusion but, even if you manage to stake your claim to something unique enough, you can’t control it. While #bbcrevolution was talking about denial of service attacks, I was thinking about how easy it would be for anyone to launch a denial of hashtag attack. Not to mention when marketing tags get hijacked.
  • If there isn’t an official or obvious hashtag for something, it’s easy to end up with multiple hashtags. A bit of discussion can usually get things on track, but it always seems a little odd talking about the tag, rather than the subject of the tag.

And finally, the situation that got me thinking about hashtags in the first place. When different people use the same tag for almost the same thing, especially if one of those uses is much noisier than the other(s). In this case, tweets related to the Current Cost meter, and automated Current Cost meter readings have both used the #currentcost tag. Not a huge problem, except it would be easy to miss interesting information if the tag was swamped by even a few tweetjects posing meter readings:

“seems a shame that @mmnHouse is inserting the #currentcost hashtag to their house temp and elec reading. creates major noise” @yellowpark

“thinking we need a new hashtag for #CurrentCost stuff: one for bots and noisy automated stuff, another for discussion. what do people think?” @dalelane

“@dalelane How about #CurrentCostData ? I agree my searches are becoming muddled with people’s bots, and not information on #currentcost” @cumbers

“@dalelane Agreed – It frustrates me no end having countless #currentcost tweets popping up all day!” @markphelan

“thinking we should use a specific hashtag for tweeting #currentcost data to avoid creating noise. any suggestions? #ccdata ?” @yellowpark

“Moving from #currentcost hashtag to #mymeter with a data format for auto graphing.Join in discussion at http://is.gd/7b0si (via @ScaredyCat)” @stuartpoulton

So one solution is to agree on uses for #currentcost, #currentcostbot, #ccdata, #mymeter, etc. which is likely to work reasonably well for the Current Cost audience, but it may not be as practical for every situation.

Alternatively, as well as being able to mute retweets, it would be handy to be able to mute selected people using a hashtag in a way you’re not interested in. Even better if lists could be muted: if I could mute any tweets containing the #currentcost hashtag from anyone in my @jtonline/tweetject list, this problem goes away.

So, a fairly random collection of #thoughts on #hashtags. What are yours?

Master Data Management links: August


Another random selection of MDM related links, this time all turning up in my inbox at about the same time. The first one is from a five part series on SearchSOA.com which reminded me of earlier musings on the relationship between MDM and SOA:

The definition of MDM still seems to me to be quite subjective, with subtle differences depending on who you talk to. (Someone I know rather unkindly suggests it’s just a glorified database!) The next two links both have something to say about what problems MDM is trying to address:

What’s the best definition/example of MDM you’ve seen?

And finally, now seems like a good time to mention the Information on Demand conference. As well as meeting people with real world experience of this kind of thing, there are technical sessions for the MDM Workbench which is what I actually work on.

Poken in the wild


Just back home* from the second Tuesday tweetup (excellent event once again) with a grand total of zero high-fours (the Poken term for exchanging contact information).

Everyone at the Information on Demand conference (@IOD2009) was given a Poken, so if I’d been in Berlin recently, there would have been a massive captive audience of Poken users to high-four with. A conference seems like the natural environment for a Poken: lots of people with a common purpose all wanting to network, and multiple brands looking for a new piece of plastic to give away with their logo on.

iod-poken

Photo from “IBM Information On Demand 2009 Berlin with customized Poken” set by Ayman van Bregt (some rights reserved).

Unfortunately, as Andy has already mentioned in his Poken review, there just aren’t that many around. One glaringly obvious question is why it’s not possible to use mobile phones to do the same job, which is something almost everyone has already. Poken themselves saw that question coming and have a plausible answer about compatibility and usability but I think the shear number of Poken required before they are even half useful means a phone based solution must still be a strong contender. Using bluetooth couldeasily get round the problem of working out who even has a Poken, and there are ways to use it just as easily as a Poken. For example, the cityware digital co-presence project was pretty similar in lots of ways, using bluetooth device IDs combined with a Facebook application to manage contacts later, rather than beaming bluetooth contact information directly, and all without any awkward high-fouring. Obviously it also had its downsides, one of which was needing cityware nodes to log when devices were in the same place.

To earn a permanent place in my pocket, the Poken would have to deliver more, even if I never see another Poken. For a start, I’m just astounded that the Poken I have doesn’t even provide some simple USB drive storage. Or, to focus a bit more on the core purpose of a Poken, why not build it in to a business card holder? (Or a Moo card holder if you’re Andy!) Or even go the cityware route and log bluetooth device ids as well as other Poken contacts.

I still have my Poken with me but I don’t see them taking off in the wild for a long time, if at all. On the other hand, they are ideal for specific events and defined groups of people, such as employees for example, where I think there’s a lot of potential. A high-four is certainly far more natural than messing around trying to find some well hidden feature of your phone, especially if you know you aren’t going to be met with a blank look for suggesting high-fouring in the first place!

There’s more talk about Poken on Dogear Nation

* I didn’t actually get home this late, but half way through writing this post TalkTalk decided not to bother providing an internet connection for the second night in a row. It’s not going to take too much more of that before I disconnect from TalkTalk permanently.

Updated: …with a photo from IOD. (17 June 2009)

Update: More thoughts on Poken on Barry Leiba’s blog. (26 June 2009)

Update: Looks like a Poken might be trying to creep back in my pocket; the new Poken Pulse finally includes a 2GB USB drive! (2 October 2009)

Update: Interesting list of different ways to establish online connections from real world encounters, including the Poken. (8 July 2010)

Information on Demand 2008


A slightly overdue look back at the Information on Demand conference; check Stephen’s post for another.

I spent most of the week in the InfoSphere demo room so I missed most of the rest of the conference. Luckily the demo room was the best part of IOD! If you missed it, you missed out on demos including DataStage, QualityStage, the MDM Workbench (with the user interface generator), and integration of Information Server tools and MDM Server at a rapid pace. (Okay, there were lots of other good bits but I’ve seen some excellent feedback comments from people who visited the demo room.)

InfoSphere demo room

InfoSphere demo room

One thing I was disappointed to miss was the Blogging Birds of a Feather (BOF) session on Wednesday although, since they weren’t offering free drinks like one of the other BOFs, it seems there weren’t many people there. I might have made it if Twitter hadn’t regressed as much as it has since the MDM Summit but that’s a subject for another day.

I did manage to escape our demo stand a few times during the week to find out more about IBM mashups, with some excellent sessions and even better chats. Just signed up for Lotus Greenhouse to play with some of the tools that were on show. The demo room was all packed up on Thursday night, so I made the most of the Friday morning for another mashup session, an excellent mashup usability workshop and (slight tangent here) the “Virtual Worlds and Databases: In-world Tools Using External Databases” session which I’m glad I got to. There’s a hint of what Lance covered on the Database Magazine Profiles in Innovation.

I’ve been on the look out for more of what I didn’t get to see, and this is the random selection of IOD articles I’ve stumbled across so far:

Plus Alex has a handy guide for a stay in Las Vegas, including a much better shot of the Excalibur hotel I was staying in than I managed to get- a very very silly hotel!

Update: just been sent a link to some brilliant photos of the demo room! There’s also one in there showing the globes that bounced out of the way of shadows when people walked in front of the projectors, which I enjoyed on the way to breakfast each morning- I’m easily entertained! (12 Nov 2008)

Last day of InfoSphere demos at IOD


The InfoSphere demo room at Information on Demand is closed tomorrow, so make sure you visit us in the Mandalay Bay Ballroom (J&K) to find out everything you could possibly want to know about InfoSphere today: InfoSphere for System z, IBM Mashup Center, the MDM Workbench, Business Glossary, Information Analyser, FastTrack, DataStage, QualityStage, and much much more. There are over 30 demo stations up here!

No demo room tomorrow means I get a small chance to look around the rest of IOD. Just in time for an enterprise mashup technical deep dive, and virtual world tools using external databases.

If you’re at IOD or want to find out what’s been going on, don’t read this blog, try Adam’s or Richard’s instead!

Viva Las Vegas


It’s unusually quiet in the Information on Demand (IOD) demo room (I think we’re officially closed but that hasn’t stopped a few keen people sneaking in!) so I have time for a very quick post.

There’s a small crowd of us from Hursley and Milton Keynes up in the Mandalay Bay Ballroom (J&K) doing InfoSphere demos. If you’re at IOD, come up and see demos of DataStage/QualityStage, MDM Workbench (including the user interface generator which I work on) and how you can rapidly integrate Information Server and MDM Server (which is what I’m demoing).

Looks like people are starting to arrive, so that’s all for now!