What happened to attribution friendly Xpointer?

xpointer use for attribution

I was thinking while writing the last blog post. What happened to the Xpointer standard?

XPointer (the XML Pointer language) allows hyperlinks to point to specific parts (fragments) of XML documents.

I guess in the rush to move away from XHTML in favour of HTML5, the whole idea of compound documents got shuffled into a back alley and stabbed to death by the XHTML haters. So even if browsers supported Xpointer, it simply wouldn’t parse and therefore work.

Interestingly HTML 5.0 has embed but its not the same solution as Xpointer was solving. For example here’s wordpress creating a iframe which twitter (the 3rd party) can choose to put what they link in. I think originally it was oembed but got changed

I’m already slightly over the concern that one day my blog will be full of ads, spam, malware, tracking cookies and worst. The day that happens, I’ll be removing all iframes using XSL or a wordpress plugin.

Its a crying shame because attribution is the lifeblood of the creative industry and without it, were pretty much screwed. Its seems crazy that I can’t easily traceback my steps to how I found quotes, blog posts, etc. Right now this whole thing is broken, bookmarking isn’t the solution. It needs to be at the word level. Personal annotation style?

I have to favourite things on twitter, look through my play history and search my emails to find who actually recommended something to me. Maybe this can only be solved by the quantified self and lifestreams but I think there’s unexplored ways which xpointer was leaning towards.

Grassroots Innovation & Creativity

Composition: King x Knight

People have been wondering what am I up to since Backstage closed down.

Well its kind of hard to describe but generally I’ve become the resident troublemaker, breaking all types of rules and really etching a new kind of path for myself. If I was going to explain it in a buzz word compliant way, it would be something like… Senior Emerging and Disruptive Grassroots Specialist for BBC R&D.

Yeah feel free to be sick all over your screens.

But one aspect I certainly want to focus on is new types disruption and innovation from the edges or grassroots.

So part of my new job will be seeking the seeds of disruption and innovation before they get to the point of broad adoption.

I come with examples…

Most of the people reading this have been on Twitter at least 4 years, and we could see something interesting was going on with Microblogging but no one really knew what? About 4.5 years ago I met the guys from Twitter (Ev and Biz) and I did talk about what we (BBC) could do with Twitter. Unfortunately I working on Backstage, meant my focus was on data. Although we did talk about what the opportunities Twitter might give the BBC. Of course most of that went up in smoke and Twitter marched on to establish a business model (ok not a very good one but its still something) and a certain amount of dominance in the microblogging and social fields.

Just imagine what would have happened if things turned out different. The point is there was something there and with a good trial someone else could have identified it as something interesting that the BBC should look deeper into.

How I find interesting stuff?

I mostly rely on the people around me for pointers. Thats why I tend to only follow a small number of people on twitter. But I also look at what certain people are up to. In actual fact, its this aspect which bough me to the BBC. Seeing what Tom Coates, Paul Hammond, Matt Patterson, Ben Metcalfe etc were up to really got me going. I had no idea who they were originally but most of them were pretty accessible in person, which really helped.

But as I’ve noticed and you would expect the list of innovators changes all the time. Not that I’m not saying these guys are not doing anything interesting. Actually they may be but new people come along all the time.

I’ve ping’ed a few people about the idea of what I’ll be doing into the future and had various comments back. Some positive, some quite negative but all a great help with lots of ideas and thoughts. One of the most provoking has to be the idea of it being an inbreed network. It really got me thinking… How do you have a network of trusted people but not make it your friends and keep the signal strong?

The obvious example seems to be keep it open… But with openness comes the trouble of keeping the noise out. Its a challenge but I’m hoping to tackle it in a social sciency kind of way.

I really like what Mozilla has done with there Drumbeat projects. But there is a theme which means people are rally around an idea or concept at least. But its wide open, which means you can get right to the edge, no messing. The best way to get stuff from very left-field. Actually I’ve been thinking instead of copying Mozilla, maybe there’s a way to leverage or even work with Mozilla for the benefit of both organisations?

Documenting stuff no matter what

Theres lot of things BBC R&D does which it classes as a throw away experiment and then years later I see something which resembles the original concept or idea. Its critically important to document and I would say share the successes as well as the failures. In R&D right now, we tend to bury this in obscure papers which don’t get to see the light of day. I always wanted to get away from writing papers but have fallen into the trap of writing papers too.

There are better ways, be it prototypes, a series of detailed blog entries, whatever works to document experiments and projects. I don’t doubt a properly authored paper with many citations are a better that a blog post. But if the paper becomes the reason why documentation isn’t done, then maybe its a problem? Right?

I’ve noticed a whole bunch of new ways to document stuff, most of them are simply prototypes filmed and put on youtube. It won’t stand up to much scrutiny but at the point it needs to, then thats when the paper can be written. Its like that all too familiar innovation funnel. Things are cheaper at the start than the end. Maybe you don’t want to commit to writing a lengthy paper when a series of blog post will aid writing the paper at a later date. The blog post can also function as prior art too.

What I have to recognize is that I work in the Emergence stage of innovation.

Emergence – (also known as embryonic stage) shows little improvement in key performance characteristic. Technology operates far below its potential. Neither the characteristics of technology nor its applicability to market needs may be well understood. A long gestation period exists before attempts are made to produce a technology. This new invention period is characterized by a period of slow initial growth. This is the time when experimentation and initial bugs are worked out of the system.

Its ok to be wrong

its ok to be haphazard

Its ok to not have all the answers

its ok to bounce from one thing to another.

Just as long as the experiments are cheap, documented and understanding is formed and shared internally and sometimes externally.

So with all that, spilled out across the this blog entry… I’m coming around to something which is I think very impressive and fundamentally what the BBC really needs now and for the future.

I guess its exactly what the guys behind Backstage were thinking before backstage was formed in 2004.

Wish me luck…

Digital Assassins and the BBC changes

So once again under one of those should I be talking about BBC (work) on my personal blog type questions. I can't help but talk about the things which happened yesterday (Tuesday 25th April) at the BBC. The Guardian calls it a radical revamp of the site, but internally it was known as the Creative future or how the BBC is going to address the challenges of the on demand world? It seemed to be pushed as a launch but actually it was more like just a event to publise audience research and the thinking which has gone into how we should be moving forward. I have no problem with this, but I can see how people got confused or even frustrated with the lack of a solid plan. Not that I'm saying there is no plan.

In my mind, it seemed to be saying, we know were going in this direction but we honestly do not know what the future holds, so we need to be very flexable to changes. I'm sure the Cluetrain something like this too.To me itts the BBC way of saying change is the only constant. There also seems to be a true commitment to onlline as our future and the push to open up the BBC is being taken very seriously now. Metadata was also mention highly and I'm really happy this has been communicated from high. Now this makes metadata authoring a even more valuable piece of time in our journalistic practice. I picked up on this quote from Mark Thompson and wrote it down.

The BBC should no longer think of itself as a public broadcaster of TV and radio and some newmedia on the side. We should aim to deliver public service content to our audiences in what ever media and on whatever device makes sense for them

On a different but actually realted topic, the we media conference rolls into London for the first time in May. The conference attracts people from all the leading online publishing houses including the new york times, washington post, bbc, retuers, etc. Its a high cost ticket affair which someone like myself couldn't even imagine affording on my current BBC salary. But I do have the chance to spend the afternoon with some of these publishing heads in a session called meet the digital assassins.

As part of this session I have been asked to document a week worth of media consumption. So far this is what I've drafted

The first thing I do when getting up in the mornings, is play the daily 15min podcast Slashdot review. This usually lasts the time i'm in the shower and gives me a great overview of what's going on. I'm using a simple FM transmitter on my workstation which means I simply have a cheap shower radio tuned in on the right frequency.
In the hour it takes to get ready and eat breakfast, etc. I tend to leave iTunes playing in most recently added order. Like the cheap shower radio, the radio downstairs in the kitchen also plays whatever iTunes is playing. I've never known a time when I've switched over to a Traditional radio station in the morning or evening.

My home workstation automaticly downloads, podcasts, video, everything. It then syncs the latest content with my laptop and I manually copy stuff to my mobile phone's flash card.

Every work day on the train for my 30min journey from Woolwich to Charing Cross, I have my laptop out reading through my general news and blogs category in my RSS reader (GreatNews). I mark anything which needs more of my attention “to be read later” or “to be read sometime in the future.” Recently I've been blogging on the train more than reading.
At the same time, during the in total hour journey, I have my mobile phone playing podcasts or once in a while video content if I have to take the tube to White City.

During lunch times I turn to my laptop and either blog, read more news from all the other categories or watch one of the main videocasts which are freely available. These include Rocketboom, MobuzzTV, DLTV, Diggnation, etc.

I find my offline social network usually fills me in on anything I've missed, and I can usually catch up by downloading it the day after. The only newspaper type thing I pick up and flick through is the Ariel (internal BBC paper) while making Tea.

The train ride home gives me equal time to read through feeds and I usually try and go a little later so I can get a seat and sit with my laptop on my lap and read. If not I have a RSS reader on my pocketpc and mobile phone. But I miss being able to tag content/entries with these devices.
When at home, me and my wife usually settle down and watch something via our modified xbox while eating dinner. The content viewed is a real mixture of publicly available video, downloads of states programmes and globally available content from the web. It all comes to me over my broadband connection, and is the reason why I don't own a PVR or DVR.
UK nova is well known about and I guess highly watched by UK broadcasters but the service they provide is simply fantastic and fits with the way I and my wife consume and engage with video content.

The video content is a real mix of mainstream content like Lost, Daily Show, Simpsons, etc, and content from the net (such as Hak.5, CommandN, etc) mixed in. We tend to just pick and choose depending on our moods.

On the weekends, if were in and doing things around the house. We tend to stick on a playlist of podcasts. My Subscriptions includes the simply amazing IT Conversations, Engadget, Security now, This week in Tech, Digital Planet, etc.

And I guess, thats my usual week.

Pretty weird to some I guess, but thats pretty much my week.

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