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The Gilbane Advisor is curated by Frank Gilbane for content technology, computing, and digital experience professionals. The focus is on strategic technologies. We publish articles via email and on our blog more or less twice a month except for August and December, and we publish relevant news items weekly. Subscribe here

We do not sell or share personal data. See our privacy policy, and our editorial policy.

Gilbane Advisor 3-29-21 — low-code, data catalogs, platforms, search, AI

In this issue we have recommended reading on creating a modern data workspace, enterprise search & AI, enterprise AI trends, no-code / low-code companies, Medium’s latest pivot, Facebook’s new publishing platform plan, and Wikipedia getting the big guys to pay.

Our content technology news weekly will be out Wednesday as usual.


Decoding the no-code / low-code startup universe and its players

No-code and low-code companies are sprouting up everywhere and whatever your initial impression has been, it’s time to consider their increasing utility and role in even complex application development environments. No-code / low-code can democratize and speed development by bringing business analysts and software developers closer together. Pietro Invernizzi and Ben Tossell have put together a very helpful resource looking at 145 companies with lots of detail and access to an Airtable spreadsheet. (Click the image for a version you can read)

No-code & low-code startups

We failed to set up a data catalog 3x. Here’s why

Prukalpa Sankar generously and delightfully describes what she and her team learned from multiple attempts at creating a “modern data workspace”. Some of you will be familiar with the problems and lessons, but the approaches, tools used, and specific examples, will still be instructive.


When explainable AI meets enterprise search

Lack of transparency in AI is in general an unsolved problem even though there is obviously huge value in its application across domains. Martin White has some thoughts and advice on what this means for enterprise search.

Enterprise search presents a special challenge when it comes to AI transparency. Most other enterprise processes are close to linear in execution, so the impact of AI on performance can be relatively easily assessed and monitored. In the case of search, every query is a new workflow as it is dependent on the knowledge of the individual and the intent behind their search.


The mess at Medium

Lots of activity in the independent writing/publishing platform space recently: the Substack Pro controversy, Twitter‘s acquisition of Revue, Facebook’s announcement of a new platform for independent writers, and Medium’s latest pivot. None of these companies has figured out a sustainable business model, and none provide writers a safe long-term way to control their brand and content. They can in some cases be supplemental marketing and delivery channels if you own and control your content and publishing capability however. 🙂

Casey Newton reports on the changes at Medium…

Medium’s original journalism was meant to give shape and prestige to an essentially random collection of writing, gated behind a soft paywall that costs readers $5 a month or $50 a year. Eleven owned publications covered food, design, business, politics, and other subjects… But in the end, frustrated that Medium staff journalists’ stories weren’t converting more free readers to paid ones, Williams moved to wind down the experiment…


Also worthy


The Gilbane Advisor is curated by Frank Gilbane for content technology, computing, and digital experience professionals. The focus is on strategic technologies. We publish more or less twice a month except for August and December. We also publish curated content technology news weekly We do not sell or share personal data.

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Gilbane Advisor 2-18-21 — graphs, stacks, apps, meshes, privacy

In this issue we look at enterprise knowledge graph semantics, how to move to a distributed data mesh, a helpful case study on UX improvements, “best-of-breed” stacks, and personal data privacy, first party ads, and consumer contradictions.


A definition of “Enterprise” in EKGs

Enterprise knowledge graphs are on the rise, but terminology and even conceptual understanding is inconsistent. Dan McCreary’s article is a good place to start to organize your own thoughts before diving in…

Many people co-mingle the terms from open linked data world and the semantic web stack’s role with the concepts related to sustainability and scalability of enterprise knowledge graphs.


How to move beyond a monolithic data lake to a distributed data mesh

If you haven’t yet had a reason to develop a complete understanding of what a distributed data mesh is, or how it relates to looking at data as a product for multiple enterprise functions, there is a good chance you will before long. Some familiarity will be important for many roles beyond pure data management. This in-depth article by Zhamak Dehghani covers the why and how, and likely answers most questions you have.


Quantifying UX improvements

Nielsen Norman Group‘s Kate Moran presents a case study, with before and after screen shots and metrics, illustrating how an informed information architecture can increase customer self-service and improve both customer experience and sales efficiency.


Best-of-breed stacks

Debates on the relative merits of vendor suites versus best-of-breed application solutions have been going on for decades. The data was scarce and questionable, the arguments “qualitative”, and the conclusions invariably “it depends…”.

Scott Brinker has a lot to say about today’s version of this debate with the more complicated and flexible software architecture options available. For his latest post on the topic he came up with a great way to apply some neutral data to his view that stacks are growing and increasingly best-of-breed.


Also, on personal data, privacy, ads…


The Gilbane Advisor is curated by Frank Gilbane for content technology, computing, and digital experience professionals. The focus is on strategic technologies. We publish more or less twice a month except for August and December. We also publish curated content technology news weekly We do not sell or share personal data.

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Content technology news | Contact

Gilbane Advisor 1-19-21 — TSDBs, platishers, AI ethics, facets

The rise of the time-series database

This certainly caught me off guard. Graph databases have been leading the popularity contests for the last five or six years, but in the last twenty four months Time Series databases have leapt ahead, as this DB-Engines chart dramatically demonstrates. Peter Wayner looks at why.

Medium is adding ebooks to its business

Business models based on being both a publisher and a platform have always been fraught. In some ways Medium has managed this better than most. They just acquired “social ebook platform” Glose, but it’s not clear how this fits into their platform/publisher model. One clue may be Ev Williams’ earlier statement that Medium’s…

top-line metric is “TTR,” which stands for total time reading. It’s an imperfect measure of time people spend on story pages. We think this is a better estimate of whether people are actually getting value out of Medium.

But in a short post about the acquisition Williams says they “are not planning to bundle books into Medium Membership, though there could be book-related benefits. TBD.”

Ethical issues in privacy, advertising and machine learning

Informed and interesting interview with Oxford philosopher Dr. Carissa Véliz. Don’t worry, this is not a long dry treatise, but an engaging and accessible discussion that does not require a technical or philosophical background.

Facets of faceted search

Both search engine developers and users treat facets as useful for refining broad search queries. But there’s a tendency to conflate broad queries with ambiguous queries. There’s an important distinction between the two.

Fortunately, we have the ever-reliable Daniel Tunkelang to explain.

Also…

The Gilbane Advisor is curated by Frank Gilbane for content technology, computing, and digital experience professionals. The focus is on strategic technologies. We publish more or less twice a month except for August and December. We also publish curated content technology news weekly We do not sell or share personal data.

Subscribe | Feed | View online | Editorial policy | Privacy policy

Content technology news | Contact

Gilbane Advisor 11-11-20 — web fix, ad bubble, dev exp, cloud myths

Thank you veterans! Have a great Veteran’s Day.

A new era of innovation and trust in data​

Says Tim Berners-Lee in his announcement of “the first enterprise-ready version of a Solid Server, Inrupt’s ESS”. Solid (Socialized Linked Data). Solid is a standards based open source project Berners-Lee and others from MIT started around 2015, and Inrupt is a company created to build a commercial ecosystem for decentralized Solid applications that allow for personal control of online data access and use. The question since then has been whether his vision of the future of the web, which was certainly appealing,  would work commercially.  What’s important about this announcement are working implementations of Solid at media, financial, and government organizations, and its availability for any organization.

Solid Project and Inrupt logos

To learn more about the Solid Server…

Ad Tech could be the next internet bubble

That ad tech and microtargeting are a mess is probably not news to you, and you (advertiser, publisher, and consumer) may be looking forward to a reckoning, especially for the smiling ad salespeople, faceless middlemen, fraudsters taking cuts, and ad-filled tracking websites. But it is worth paying attention to the various repercussions, including worst case scenarios. Gilad Edelman mentions one such outcome in the title of his post and points to the same cause in his subtitle, “The scariest thing about microtargeted ads is that they just don’t work.”

The developer experience gap​

Stephen O’Grady’s (1,827 word) piece is an excellent read for anybody interested in developer productivity, as well as for developers.

Fragmentation makes it impossible for vendors to natively supply the requisite components for a fully integrated toolchain. That does not change the reality, however, that developers are forced to borrow time from writing code and redirect it towards managing the issues associated with highly complex, multi-factor developer toolchains held together in places by duct tape and baling wire. This, then, is the developer experience gap. The same market that offers developers any infrastructure primitive they could possibly want is simultaneously telling them that piecing them together is a developer’s problem. The technology landscape today is a Scrooge McDuck-level embarrassment of riches.

Debunking seven common myths about cloud​

McKinsey…

Many of today’s beliefs about cloud are based on misconceptions fed by stories of adoptions gone wrong or fears of significant change. These beliefs get in the way of deeply understanding the positive business, operational, and economic impacts of cloud and must be addressed to enable organizations to capture cloud’s full value.

Also…

The Gilbane Advisor is curated by Frank Gilbane for content technology, computing, and digital experience professionals. The focus is on strategic technologies. We publish more or less twice a month except for August and December. We do not sell or share personal data.

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Content technology news | Contact

Gilbane Advisor 10-7-20 — GPT-3, Qubits, AGI, Wayback

AI democratization in the era of GPT-3

The recent announcement of Microsoft’s exclusive license to OpenAI’s GPT-3 says that in addition to using it for their own products, they will continue to work with OpenAI to help “democratize AI”. The GPT-3 code is not open source, but OpenAI provides free access to GPT-3 via an API, and says it will continue to do so. We’re left to speculate what this means beyond that. Will future models provide free access? Will they be exclusively licensed to Microsoft (an investor) or others? What does democratization in this context mean? Without making a value judgement about this, it’s clear that those building applications using GPT-3 API will have a lot of additional questions.

This article by Professor Mark Riedl from Georgia Institute of Technology is a great place to start.

Are you ready for quantum computing?​​

Quantum computing isn’t ready for prime time for practical business application yet, but it has lots of promise for industry use beyond encryption. Quantum computing is difficult for most of us to get our head around, nonetheless, senior executives and strategists need to track its progress and consider potential use cases. Fortunately, Professor of Physics and Computer Science, Shohini Ghose has provided a short and accessible general introduction, hype-free status update, and some good advice for business leaders.

Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), a type of artificial intelligence that is at least as capable as human intelligence, is not a near-term reality. Ben Medlock agrees, and argues that humans have an unfair advantage in the scope and richness of our model, and that though we don’t know how, our bodies play a critical role in creating and maintaining our model.

This means that when a human approaches a new problem, most of the hard work has already been done. In ways that we’re only just beginning to understand, our body and brain, from the cellular level upwards, have already built a model of the world that we can apply almost instantly to a wide array of challenges. But for an AI algorithm, the process begins from scratch each time.

The weaponization of web archives: Data craft and COVID-19 publics

An enlightening academic look at provenance-hijacking tactics focused on current pandemic health misinformation.

Using provenance information such as original context, technical specificities, and unique characteristics of online resources from web crawls, and social analytics data from the Crowdtangle API we find that web archives like the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine are being weaponized to propagate and preserve health misinformation circulating on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Also…

The Gilbane Advisor is curated by Frank Gilbane for content technology, computing, and digital experience professionals. The focus is on strategic technologies. We publish more or less twice a month except for August and December. We do not sell or share personal data.

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Gilbane Advisor 9-9-20 — schema.org, AI ops, IT arch, NLP

Who benefits from schema. org?

Schema.org, linked data, and knowledge graphs are powerful tools for organizing and navigating vast amounts of information. Much of the current energy around these tools is related to SEO and search engines, especially Google, who depend on them to provide a better search experience. These same tools help commercial and corporate publishers deliver better, and more unique, web experiences to researchers and other content consumers.

We all have a stake in how well these tools work, so we need to understand the process of creating and managing them, and how stakeholders share the cost, risk, and benefit of the raw material, technical development, and maintenance.

schema.org logo

Content strategist Michael Andrews‘ deep dive into the history and process behind schema.org’s management is an enlightening read for stakeholders.

Taming the tail: adventures in improving AI economics

Martin Casado and Matt Bornstein focus on the business models and challenges of machine learning companies and products, which are more unique than you might realize and something we need to learn a lot more about. We recommended an earlier article of theirs on the differences between the business models of AI companies and software companies. This article is a follow-up and provides some guidance on how to deal with some of the challenges previously identified. Especially interesting is their example of long-tailed distributions to illustrate the importance problem understanding. 

Headless meets serverless – a tierless architecture for frictionless enterprise

The components of modern enterprise IT architectures have changed considerably in the last few years.  The use of APIs, microservices, XaaS (everything as a service), headless, and serverless approaches have, individually and especially in conjunction, become strategically critical. As Phil Wainewright puts it…

As these connected digital technologies mesh together, they begin to reshape the nature of the enterprise, opening up new ways to collaborate, connect and do business. We are still at the very beginning of adjusting to what this means for how we live and work.

Wainewright explains what these technologies are, describes related activity and trends, and makes a case for a tierless model. His article is relevant and will be helpful to both IT and business managers.

The field of natural language processing is chasing the wrong goal

Researchers are too focused on whether AI systems can ace tests of dubious value. They should be testing whether systems grasp how the world works.

Also…

The Gilbane Advisor is curated by Frank Gilbane for content technology, computing, and digital experience professionals. The focus is on strategic technologies. We publish more or less twice a month except for August and December. We do not sell or share personal data.

Subscribe | Feed | View online | Editorial policy | Privacy policy

Content technology news | Contact

Gilbane Advisor 7-14-20 — perceiving, DSM, web 3.0, microservices

Dear Reader:

I hope all is well.

We have been busy updating our website and I thought you deserved a quick update. In mid-May we woke up “NewsShark” and re-activated our curated news service which hasn’t been active for a while. It is available on our site here, as a feed, and on Twitter. We publish news multiple times a week, and will check with you at some point to see if you are interested in an email version. We have consolidated all of our content on our main site, improved site navigation, added back search, and have a new simplified category structure – all available from any page. Finally, we are using schema.org markup and experimenting with some additional features that it allows — you’ll notice some of them as you poke around. We’ll update you as we formally roll them out.

Now to this issue’s recommended reading…

Comparing human and machine perception

This article is a wonderfully clear and concrete example of how easy it is to incorrectly interpret data from comparisons between deep neural networks and human perceptions, and how to think about further experiments to expose potential misinterpretations. There is also a broader lesson here for evaluating machine learning algorithms. 

There is a link to the full paper, but this summary by the authors is a valuable resource for non-specialists. Read More

Decentralized web developer report 2020

The decentralized web is an amorphous collection of technologies and projects that are not a near-term threat to today’s imperfect and increasingly centralized web. But it is encouraging to see so much activity dedicated to a more open web, and this report by Fluence Labs’ Evgeny Ponomarev is an excellent way to get a feel for the landscape of the players, the challenges, and what software engineers, researchers, and others think. This is not one of those promotional market research reports, and doesn’t gloss over the challenges. The raw survey data is included. Read More

The seven deceptions of microservices

Software architectures are not the sort of thing you create or change lightly. Even if you’re convinced a different approach would be better, there are inevitably unforeseen developmental and operational consequences / costs which can quickly multiply scarily as a function of the number of moving parts. Software architects and experienced software engineers know this, but the whole team should understand the pros and cons of such a change. Software engineer Scott Rogowski suggests some things to watch out for when considering moving to a microservices development model. Read More

Online content sharing – pay to play?

Article 17 of Directive (EU) 2019/790 on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (the “DSM Directive”), introduces a new content management and liability regime for online content-sharing service providers (“OCSSPs”) … Article 17 is one of the most controversial provisions of the DSM Directive. Its supporters view Article 17 as facilitating more licensing of copyright protected works online to generate remuneration for rightholders whose works are shared by users on profit generating online platforms, while its detractors argue that it goes too far and will have an adverse effect on freedom of expression and the proper functioning of copyright exceptions online. Read More

Also…


The Gilbane Advisor curates content for content technology, computing, and digital experience professionals. We focus on strategic technologies. We publish more or less twice a month except for August and December. We do not sell or share personal data.

Subscribe | Feed | View online | Privacy policy | Editorial policy

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Gilbane Advisor 6-3-20 — AMP life, what VR, platforms, skills

New page experience focus for a better web

The open web has always been critical to Google’s business, which is why AMP was both puzzling and controversial. AMP’s faster page display was a clear benefit, but the forced and limited format made user experiences worse and was a burden with a questionable upside and loss of control for publishers. This post from Google’s Webmaster Central blog on upcoming search ranking changes has some welcome news. In addition to focusing more on web page experience [emphasis added]…

As part of this update, we’ll also incorporate the page experience metrics into our ranking criteria for the Top Stories feature in Search on mobile, and remove the AMP requirement from Top Stories eligibility. Google continues to support AMP, and will continue to link to AMP pages when available.  

Google page experience

This is good for the open web, web user experience, and publishers. Google will obviously still compete with publishers as it continues to add richer results to its search pages. But their advantage will not necessarily be unfair, and a Google walled garden should be less of a concern. It is of course also good for Google as it heads into more serious calls for regulation. Read More

SaaS companies, app platforms, and product integrations

Scott Brinker has been making a case for “app platforms” as part of a model for understanding existing landscapes comprised of large platforms and extremely large numbers of “specialist apps”. In this post he looks at some research that ‘examined integrations, public APIs, and “app centers” offered by the 1,000 fastest growing SaaS companies from 2019’ by product category. Scott’s discussion and the detailed research he links to are worth a look by market and business strategists. Read More

The skills content professionals in government need

Our .gov readers will find this report by Ksenia Cheinman especially valuable, but the information and approach will also be helpful to commercial organizations. Ksenia provides a link to short version of the full research report in case you need to whet your appetite. Read More

The VR winter

Benedict Evans…

The problem is, we haven’t worked out what you would do with a great VR device that isn’t a game (or some very niche industrial application), and it’s not clear that we will. We’ve had five years of experimental projects and all sorts of content has been tried, and nothing other than games has really worked. … Pulling all of these threads together, the issue I circle around is not just that we don’t have a ‘killer app’ for VR beyond games, but that we don’t know what the path to getting one might be. Read More

Also…


The Gilbane Advisor curates content for content technology, computing, and digital experience professionals. We focus on strategic technologies. We publish more or less twice a month except for August and December.
We do not sell or share personal data.

Subscribe | Feed | View online | Privacy policy | Editorial policy

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