The Structure of Your Social Network

LinkedIn is the only “social networking” site I use. What it doesn’t have that I really want is a visual map of the structure of my social network. The structure of social networks in general is a hot research topic*. But I want to see what my social network actually looks like. Preferably out to 3 degrees of separation, with first and second degree nodes labelled with names (and links, natch.) It’s not enough to know who has lots of connections; I want to know with whom I have a high number of shared connections, i.e. who is a hub in my personal network. I also want to see the clusters that form in my own network. Some of these may be surprising, especially if 3rd degree links are included.

The real questions are: 1) is this something anyone else really cares about, and 2) is this something that LinkedIn would be loathe to provide—just as Google gives up zero information about link topology with its search results, presumably quite on purpose?

I could no doubt construct such a visualization myself, but given the way LinkedIn is set up it would have to involve a lot of yucky screen-scraping. Do any other “social networking” sites do a better job of coughing up real data on the structure of your personal network? If not, are they doing anything useful with this information themselves? I suspect not, which is just such a waste.

All The Things I’m NOT Doing Now

Last night a friend mocked me for not being “on” Facebook. (Old people like me prefer LinkedIn, apparently, which makes us sooo uncool.) Today I visited Mathew’s site again and wondered if there was something wrong with me coz I don’t Twitter. I’ve been blogging for 6 years or so, doing the social bookmarking thing, the feed thing, and even the whatever-you-call-MyBlogLog thing… and yet I find myself beset by angst over all the stuff I’m not doing. If I don’t do Twitter or Facebook or MySpace am I just hopelessly out of touch? Does anyone really care what I’m doing right this moment? Seriously, I’m not even sure I care!

This feeling of needing to keep up with every Web 2.0, social networking, widget-of-the-day trend is uncomfortable, but it points out a couple of important things: a) there’s a whackload of stuff out there to suit every taste and need, and b) people not only do, but must pick and choose the tools and toys that serve them best. No one will ever corner the market on these things—Facebook’s most recent (and quite interesting) play notwithstanding. It’s a big tent with plenty of room under it for (almost) everyone.

Now… what do you think? Should I Twitter, or not? 😉

Face Time with JXTA and Shoal Engineers

The second day at the show was a little more of a grind than the first. Aching feet and all that. But the reaction was still overwhelmingly positive. I had more of a chance to have some chats with the JXTA team and also with one of the people responsible for the Shoal project.

It seems the JXTA team is pining for a new book on JXTA and at least one person suggested I write it! (Uh… yeah… in my plentiful spare time!) I must admit it’s tempting. Another temptation to consume time I don’t really have came from a Shoal engineer interested in a) integrating Shoal with Spring for declarative clustering of Spring apps, and b) using this method to cluster JXTA super-peers (that was actually my idea, since our super-peers are Spring apps.)

Finally someone from Sun’s ISV Engineeering team was very enthusiastic about the idea of us porting our app–or some variation on it–to SavaJe, and since we’ve been considering a mobile version, it’s definitely worth a look-see.

We’ve met a lot of our goals for this conference, so the last day should be pretty easy-going. As Leigh says, the last thing we’re hoping for is a visit from a Java Rock Star.

“Wow. Cool…”

We heard a fair bit of that yesterday here at the oponia “pod” in the Java Playground @ JavaOne 07. We’ve all become pretty slick at giving the demo and Leigh is mastering the art of snagging total strangers and forcing them to watch it. Most of them end up being glad they did. Another thing we’ve been hearing quite a bit is: “hey, this actually looks really useful.” Umm… yeah. We kinda planned it that way, but we’re glad you agree. 😉

We had some pretty stiff competition for attention from the singing, dancing Robosapiens, the world’s fastest robot, and a Java-powered submarine. (It is a playground, after all.) Many thanks to Mike Duigou and Henry Jen for their fabulous demos of oponia’s ucaster in the JXTA pod.

I didn’t get to look around too much myself, but the coolest thing I’ve seen so far (besides the Robosapiens) was the Sunspot programmable sensor technology. Maybe today Mark and I will go find out what Nokia and Motorola are doing here. Well, we’re due back on the floor in a few minutes so… more later.

oponia at JavaOne

I’m thrilled to announce that we (oponia networks) will be premiering our “hyper-simple” sharing and collaboration platform at JavaOne this year. You’ll find us in the Java Playground in the Pavilion from May 8 to 10.

More info on the product will be available before the show (our team is working frantically on the material now), and I’ll post again when it’s ready to share.

I’d like to say a very special “Thank you!” to Bernard Traversat and Stephanie Kaul of Sun for providing us with this opportunity to showcase our JXTA-based product in such a great venue. Hope to see you there!

First Woman Turing Award Winner: Frances Allen

It only took 40 years, but a woman has finally been selected as the A.M. Turing Award Winner for “pioneering contributions to the theory and practice of optimizing compiler techniques that laid the foundation for modern optimizing compilers and automatic parallel execution.” Allen was also the first woman to be appointed an IBM fellow (1989). More info on Frances E. Allen…

Also discovered serendipitously: “The Invisible Women of Science and Technology”.

Grokking Duck Typing

To make a long story very short: I spent many years programming large systems in C. If I had declared every function like this:

void *foo(void *arg,...);

everyone would have thought I was nuts (not to mention a really terrible programmer.) This is the nutshell version of why I don’t think I will personally ever understand the appeal of duck typing.

Having said that, I will probably make one more attempt to learn Ruby. I liked some of Ruby’s structures, it was just the duck-typing thing I couldn’t grok. I’ll give it one more try and maybe I’ll see what all the fuss is about this time. If not, at least I can honestly say I tried…

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