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Summer of ’08 – Part I

It’s almost June. Wow.

The last month and a half have really been a blur. Let’s see if we can work out why…

I met Ed Chi at ASIST last October when he hijacked a panel with his very interesting work on WikiDashboard. I had seen the work already and knew enough about it to approach Ed and pick his brain about how I could collaborate with the project. In December, while in Mountain View for IIW again, I made an appointment to visit PARC and see how things worked inside a research center famous for many years for doing cool things. I left with the plan to apply for a summer internship working under Ed in the Augmented Social Cognition group on WikiDashboard itself. In the Spring, I heard that they really wanted me and I made the decision to be in Palo Alto for four months. I’m thrilled with the work I’ve been doing for the past four weeks and the people I’m working with. There is quite a bit of interest in wikis and other collaborative tools in ASC and I am very pleased to be in the middle of it. I hope to be able to share a bit more about what I’m working on when the time is right.

Drive to California
Of course, after making the decision to be in California for the summer, I needed to work out how that was going to happen logistically. The decision was made to drive and so, for six days, many miles were covered, a sister was visited, and lots of money was spent on gasoline. All in all, a grand success – and one I look forward to duplicating on the way home in early September, except for the gasoline part.

IIW 2008a
Already being in Palo Alto, it was very easy to join in the semi-annual gathering that is the Internet Identity Workshop. This was my fifth(?!) and again, it was great to sit and talk with the people building this next generation of technologies. The climate has shifted even more now to business models and reputation – a far cry from the spec discussions and interop demos from only a year or two ago. I spent an afternoon talking with Eugene Eric Kim, yet again, and still find him one of the most compelling people working in this space. He’s got projects around the world and he’s excited about how these technologies are helping groups get their stuff done.

Park Alumni Society
Speaking of groups getting their stuff done – I’ve been in a heavy development cycle in the last couple of months. I’ve written more code and pushed more new features into production in the last 7-8 weeks than any time since writing claimID. I am the president of an alumni group at NC State and run our intranet and web presence as well. We recently added a unified login to our forums and wiki and the new application that runs the Park Office’s interactions with the scholars themselves. The effort required to network across classes and facilitate communication should go way down. I’m very happy with the result and hopefully I can start to sleep a little more soon.

Park Scholarships
The Park Scholarships itself is undergoing some change. The director of the scholarship has announced her decision to take a new position, and after eleven years, we need to find a new leader. I have been asked to be on the search committee by the Chancellor and I hope we can help deliver a candidate who can fill the rather large shoes being left behind in August.

ClaimID is getting some development love itself this early summer (in between rigorous interviews). Fred and I are integrating a new authentication mechanism into the mix. It works by selecting images instead of typing passwords. Watch this space as we work out all the kinks and make a new shiny thing.

And with all of that, I’ve finally found the need to enter the modern world of telephony. I bought an iPhone before the trip out west, and have been thrilled at how much it’s changed my daily interaction with the information around me. Numbers, addresses, internet, camera, music, podcasts, calendar, maps – it’s in my pocket and it syncs with the stuff I already had. Very cool. Highly recommended.

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