Coining a phrase, the Contextual Web

I was getting started writing up a "master paper" to serve as a guideline for submissions to several conferences this year, including Lug Radio Live USA. In this paper, I planned to coin a phrase, "The Contextual Web". I figured, if I plan to coin a phrase, I should at least ask Google if anyone has tried to do that before me.

It turns out that someone has, they did it recently, and the synopsis looks eerily like the one I had written in some drafts. I'm not trying to claim that anyone stole my idea, or that I even had it significantly earlier than anyone else. To the contrary, I'm trying to claim that this idea is just that obvious. Here's a clip from the page I found when I did a Google search for "the contextual web":

The next generation of the web isn't going to be on your desktop, it may not even be on your mobile device. Context is going to be increasingly important and Nick will take you through the process of designing and architecting for context as well as regardless of the context.
Well, Nick Finck, you've got my attention. A few more searches with Nick's name in the search box return some additional gems:
There are four Elements of Context – the User, the Task, the Environment, and the Technology. Who is your user and what obstacles are they facing; what task are they trying to complete; what is the environment in which they are working; and what kind of computer or device are they using? Designing interactive experiences is not limited to the web on your computer or phone – consider gas pumps, fridges, or devices like Microsoft Surface.
This definitely puts my ego into perspective. Nick, I'm supporting the Beagle board just for you. :)


Adding a URL to 'gitweb'

It is as simple as creating a 'cloneurl' file in the git repository directory, just like you can add a 'description' file.

This took about 7 minutes of exploring the CGI code of gitweb to find, which took another 2 minutes to find. I spend about 20 exploring the web based on some links I was given that were 'supposed' to explain this, because this was the big feature that was missing from my gitweb installation. Ugh!

Come on Linux folks, are you just trying to make easy things difficult?

Example: http://www.beagleboard.org/gitweb/?p=beagleboard.org.git as sourced by http://www.beagleboard.org/beagleboard.org.git.


Making the connection between Gears, GreaseMonkey, JXTA, and OpenID

A while back, I wrote-up a "Collaborative GreaseMonkey" patent disclosure. It was a defensive measure to make sure no one else patented the idea and prevented the rest of us from using it. The disclosure never made it past our patent committee, and I think that is fine, since it is at least documented as prior art in some way. The code never got to the point where it was worth sharing, but I do plan to revive it at some point.

I'm seeing that more and more people are starting to get ideas that are more and more similar to what I had in mind. Today, I read about someone dreaming up thoughts on using Google Gears to perform OpenID and OAuth. I like the thought pattern.

Gears, GreaseMonkey, OpenID, and P2PSockets (JXTA) have the potential to re-invent the web and to establish a real web operating system. Gears enables the JavaScript written into web pages to become part of a real, persistent application with persistent data storage and threads. GreaseMonkey provides a solution to edit existing web applications with user-controled, local customizations and to create applications fully local, without needing to learn how to write a web server application. OpenID gives a single solution for authenticating yourself across those web applications. P2PSockets allows the applications and data you host locally to be discovered on the web without needing to own a web server.

The result is an application building environment that is an incremental step from simple HTML+JavaScript editing and allows everyone to invent their own web, rather than just rely on the web that the social networking sites control today.

The success of this web is, of course, controlled by the economy it creates. An a-la-carte business model, like the one provided by Amazon's web services, is a great way to ensure that the bandwidth and data storage necessary for the locally-hosted services to scale.



Open source on TI devices

I happen to like this article, TI targets Linux and open source with new OMAP chips, but I certainly have gotten the message "more patches, less powerpoints". We'll see over the next few months...



I've mostly given up on trying to be relatively anonymous on this blog. I figure that people who know me already know how to find this site, but I'm starting to try to take on some relatively public responsibilities related to open source software and the newly "announced" BeagleBoard.

Actually, the BeagleBoard isn't officially "announced". The reason is that there really isn't a community or set of applications around it yet to make it something worth announcing. Instead, it is just an open project looking for some of the right folks to help make it happen.

I have a lot of confidence that the BeagleBoard will be a very real and active community project. Just let me know if and how you'd like to get involved.

For those who have read my blog posts in the past, rest assured that the BeagleBoard is quite intertwined with my vision for collaboration. My hope is that it will yield a nice starting point for building collaboration software that could be integrated into just about any form-factor and innovative human interface.