Diary Archive 2012

Cutting Kim Jong Un Down To Size

Fat Bloke who keeps the population of North Korea starving

A silly season post… I hear that the very select few in North Korea able to publish Web sites must follow certain rules about how the dictator's name is presented. This got me thinking.

PEGI Congress

As my occasional contributions to the debate on online safety continue, particularly around machine readable content classification information, I am delighted to have been asked to take part in the PEGI Congress this month in Berlin. PEGI — the Pan European Game Information system — is the primary game classification system for most of Europe and this is their bi-annual get-together.

I'm going to be beginning a session called 'Parental Control Beyond the Console' and the suggested title for my talk is 'A machine readable interoperable world' — which definitely sounds like my kind of thing.

Amendment .

Until today, this little diary entry included the images used by the event organisers which includes the Ampelmann, a characteristic image used on pedestrian crossing signals in Berlin. I have now had to remove that image (although I have left the remainder of the text and the links to this interesting piece of East German history in place). Why? Becuse of an e-mail received today that I quote verbatim:

Dear Mr. Archer,

my colleague already informed you, that AMPELMANN is a registered trademark of the AMPELMANN GmbH.

Any type of use requires prior request and appropriate authorization.

The use of our trademark AMPELMANN on your website (http://philarcher.org/diary/2012/) without a authorization is a brand injury. We hereby urge you to delete the figures immediately of your homepage. If you don’t comply our request, we are forced to impose a license penalty.

With kind regards,

Sabrina Weber

Lizenzen und Markenrechte


Tel 030 609876038

Fax 030 44048800

E-Mail sabrina.weber@ampelmann.de

Sophienstraße 21
10178 Berlin

The e-mail ends with more boiler plate signture stuff including a version of the image I'm not allowed to show you, so of course I won't. But even an over zealous lawyer can't stop you clicking a link to https://www.ampelmann.de and seeing this forbidden fruit for yourself, can they?

And, on a very minor point, this the first I've heard of it so whatever message Miss Weber's colleague sent me didn't reach me.

Ah well, onwards and upwards.

In Priase of SNH Electrical

A short thank you note to Ipswich Electrician, Simon Hance, a.k.a. SNH Electrical

What the heck is Black Friday?

If you're an Amazon customer anywhere in the world, you'll probably know that all this week there are Black Friday deals to be had. If you're not an American, you may be mystified…

My Tequila Christmas Cake

Santa almost drowning in snow and icing

I get asked for this recipe every year. It's about time I stopped forwarding e-mails and committed it to the Web properly

A Classification Vocabulary

Although very much not part of the day job, I do occasionally contribute to the issue of online safety, particularly when the topic moves on to machine readable content classification. In the last year or so this has again been debated within the European Commission's Safer Internet Programme, this time under something called the CEO Coalition. This is at attempt by Neelie Kroes and the Director general of DG CONNECT Robert Madelin to persuade the CEOs of the major online companies to agree on various actions concerning online safety.

As part of this, I'm arguing for the creation of a very light weight common framework that can make any existing or future content classification system machine readable and interoperable.

Anti Gay Marriage is Simply Anti Gay

Today the formal announcement was made that the Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby, is to be the new archbishop of Canterbury. It's not an appointment that will affect me but it meant that the issue of gay marriage was in the news again today and, well, I felt I needed to comment.

Policy Git

A tweet from Paul Downey alerted me to a blog post this afternoon that made me feel very positive. It touched on a couple of points: good use of the Web for publishing and excellent use of available tools for collaborative policy making. Time to write a little blog post of my own…

Brittany Boat Trips

As usual, we took our annual family holiday on Brittany. Here's the first of at least 2 posts about it, in this case recording two different but equally enjoyable boat trips from Camaret-sur-Mer.

Linked Open Classification

One way or another, for many years now, I've been trying to persuade film and game classification boards to embrace linked data. As the open data movement continues to gather momentum, and based on a number of recent conversations, I've written this up now as a proposal.

A Day at the Olympics

Sport has never played a part on my life and usually go out of my way to avoid it (what do so many men see in football??) But yesterday was a little different…

Crossover Taxonomy

One of the project's I'm involved with on behalf of W3C, Crossover, has developed a taxonomy for describing resources relevant to ICT for Governance & Policy Making. We're using it as the basis of tags in social bookmarking service Diigo and within the Crossover Platform.

As much for my own ease of use as anything else I created a Web page for it — with rather a lot of imbricated lists. If I had time I'd have wrwitten some code to generate it in various formats but time, as ever, is against me - for now at least it's a hand-written static file but it serves my immediate need.

RDF Really Isn't Anything to be Afraid Of

A response to a Tweet that read: @philarcher1 when I hear "Open Data" I always fear it's RDF. Is that the case or are these new open data initiatives more Web friendly?"

That deserves rather more than 140 characters as an answer…

In Praise of Simon Shield Cars

Simon Shield Cars Logo

Just a short online thank you note to Simon Shield Cars.

Open Data — A Summer Summary

Me giving my talk at the Samos Summit

I was delighted and honoured to be asked to give a keynote speech at the Samos Summit this year. It ended up being a reflection on the many open data events I've been to recently and the exercise of preparing the talk gave me a chance to put a number of strands together that had been drifting aimlessly round my head. By the time I gave the talk (day 2), a lot of what I wanted to say had in fact already been said - well, I said it again anyway and took it as a sign that my précis of the recurring themes isn't too far out.

The Multilingual Web – Linked Open Data, Dublin

Multilingual Web (logo)

A quick hop across to Dublin for the day to talk about the importance of localised labels for vocabularies, especially for pan European interoperability. Closely linked to this are all the issues around domain names as brands. Government A won't use a vocabulary in government B's namespace even if they want to do exactly the same thing. The barrier to interoperability here isn't the technology, it's the mindset.

European Data Forum

European Data Forum, -th June

I'm wrapping a family holday around this event in Copenhagen which I'm looking forward to. Oh and the conference too. It's focussed on the businesses that can be created from Open Data with the emphasis on hard headed economics. If the Linked Data/Open Data effort is to succeed long term then this is clearly critical. I'll be there flying the flag for the ISA Programme work on ADMS and the Core Vocabularies.

Now a rant. The campsite we're staying at — yes, I'm attending an Open Data event while staying on a campsite with the family — have been extremely helpful already. I tried to pay a deposit to DCU-Absalon Copenhagen Camp but my bank, LloydsTSB, couldn't help me. In order to make an international payment my bank needed the postal address of the receiving bank (why?). Worse, my bank's online payment form wouldn't accept any of those 'funny foreign characters' so I could not pay a company in Rødovre.

Gah! Thank you Absalon Camping for trusting that we really will be there!

Open Overheid Congres, Utrecht

Open Overhied Congres (logo)

This is the big Dutch public sector open data event. I was invited to speak at this following the ePSIplatform conference earlier this year by Marijke Salters of the Dutch Ministry of the Economy, Agriculture and Innovation. She asked me a question after my talk there that I couldn't answer as it concerned a standard used by Dutch public sector that I'd not heard of. In my defence m'lud, it is only used in the Netherlands. Anyway, the end result is that the ISA programme work on ADMS and the Core Vocabularies is very relevant and so that's what I'm going to go and talk about, very much with European level interoperability in mind.

As an aside, I was delighted to see that the event is actually being organised by ECP.NL, an organisation that was a partner in the two Quatro projects that lead to POWDER way back. Because of that link, this will in fact be the second time I've been the only English-only speaker at an otherwise entirely Dutch and Dutch language event organised by ECP.NL. I can but humbly apologise for my linguistic limitations.

In conversation with Rob van Dort about modular ontologies. Paul Suijkerbuijk is behind me in the black T shirt. (source)

Content Within Dotted Circles in CSS

I think this is a really smart use of CSS (this is just a paragraph of text). Here's how it's done.

CARARE International Technical Workshop, Mykonos

Mykonos Sunset at Paraportiani (source)

One of the areas where I hope W3C is going to be more deeply involved in future than it has been is in the area of digital cultural heritage. Wearing my i-sieve sentiment analysis hat [broken link removed], I've been involved on and off with the PATHS project and it is that that I'm talking about in Mykonos. The event is being put on by another project, CARARE, which, like PATHS, is run by MDR Partners [broken links removed] — with whom W3C and others has just put in a proposal for a future EU project. It's a small world.

Am I going to spend a happy, relaxing time on the beautiful Greek island of Mykonos? Hardly, I'm going there and back in a day from Athens where I'll be able to spend time with colleagues at i-sieve and NCSR Demokritos. Ah well …

Open Source solutions for government and the public sector

As part of the Zeigeist around the UK government Open Standards consultation and the ongoing efforts to make greater and greater use of the Web, I was pleased to be asked to speak at this event which is primarily about open source software. OSS often depends on the kind of royalty free open standards on which the Web is built so the two go together. The event is being put on by (digital agency) Reading Room and the new Government Digital Service which makes it very relevant to W3C and the open source community. Once again I find myself sharing a platform with Gerry Gavigan, chair of the Open Source Consortium!

UK Government Consultation on Open Standards

Launched in February this year, the UK Government's consultation on open standards has recently dominated a lot of my time and thinking as I have taken on the role of representing the W3C position (with lots of internal discussions and brifings). After a few weeks of fairly intense activity on the subject I thought I should record a few thoughts.

June Open Data/eGov Events

June is set to be a very busy month for the open data/eGov fields. There's an important event centred on innovation based on open data at the beginning of the month and then a week of events in Brussels.

Danbri has moved on — should we follow?

At a recent London Semantic Web Meetup, one of the architects of the Semantic Web, Dan Brickley, gave a talk that set me thinking about the Linked Data community's mantra on the re-use of vocabularies.

Open MIC 13

OpenMIC plus a logo which is a drawing of a tent

When I first began running the W3C's Introduction to Mobile Web Best Practices course in 2009, one of the first to take it was Laura Kalbag. Like a lot of people, she's a freelance Web designer/developer working hard for a growing client list. Unlike a lot of freelancers, she's always deeply involved in developer events and is making herself known to just about everyone in the business. She's good and everyone who knows her knows it.

Through that link I was delighted when Chris Book of BlueVia and Bardowl [broken links removed] — better known as Bookmeister — invited me to speak at OpenMIC 13. It's part of a the Bath Digital Festival in that kind of "anything Britsol can do we can do better way" that makes that corner of England a really exciting place for developers.

I'm doing a session with Laura and Peter-Paul Koch of Quirksmode — no one does more to test what really works and what doesn't. And in the great circle of never being more than a few degrees of separation from anyone else, PPK as he is generally known, is a friend of Frances de Waal [broken link removed] who now runs the W3C course with me.

So, I'm really looking forward to it. I'll get to see some other folk from that part of the world I don't see often enough and I get to meet Laura for the first time.

Oh yes, and I need to think of something pertinent to say about the mobile Web…

Interoperable Content Classification

Just over a week ago I was in Brussels for a bunch of meetings which put me in the right city at the right time to catch up with some old friends from the online safety world who were meeting to discuss content classification. There were lots of people at the meeting I didn't know (it's well over 3 years since I left that field) so I was looking forward to seeing how the debate has moved on. Not much, it seems. Still, it was good to catch up with old friends, one of whom I blame entirely for the 2 day hangover I had afterwards.

Those of us who were there have been invited to reflect on the event and to submit comments. Since I like to do these things in public, I'll publish them here and take this as an opportunity to repeat my desire to see classifications like those from the BBFC, PEGI or Kijkwijzer available as data through standard APIs. I'd prefer a linked open data approach but at this stage I'm not fussy.

Scalable Squares

If your Web page includes a square box, how do you make sure it stays square even if the screen size changes (such as moving from desktop to mobile). Can CSS maintain an aspect ratio? Not really … but that's because it's not designed to do that. SVG on the other hand is perfect for the job.

ePSIplatform Conference 2012

Silhouette of the Rotterdam skyline, used as the logo for the conference

I'm really pleased to be speaking on a panel at this conference in Rotterdam: Taking data re-use to the next level! I'll be talking about the work I've been doing under the ISA Programme (see this W3C blog post) on improving data interoperability.

The event's publicity describes it as "… the re-use event of the year, organized by the ePSI Platform, Europe’s one-stop shop for PSI/Open Data re-use. The program combines inspiring plenary sessions featuring great speakers with highly interactive parallel sessions." I'm looking forward to meeting Margot Dor of ETSI, Rolf Nordkvist of the PSI Alliance and Francois Bancilhon of Data Publica, not to mention ePSI Platform's Ton Zijlstra — and that's just in our session!

A bunch of others will be there who I'm looking forward to meeting for the first time, or catching up with, including Richard Swetenham who I've not seen since he and I were doing online safety work.

On a personal level the timing is an absolute pain but that can't be helped. On the plus side I get to do another couple of overnight trips on the Harwich-Hoek van Holland Stena Line ferry which is enjoyable.

Names and Appellations

It was TS Elliot who said that cats have 3 names. Their official name that no one uses, the everyday name that all humans use when referring to the cat, and the name that only the cat itself knows. I suggest that much the same is true of people — and that can cause problems when you need to address someone you don't actually know.

CESAR Workshop

The word Joinup stylised as a logo

My work on behalf of W3C for the European Commission is entering something of a new phase. The primary focus for me currently is the development of a small set of core vocabularies designed to help public sector data publishers choose the same terms when describing the same thing (if you're publishing someone's date of birth, use schema:birthDate etc.). Other members of the team, which is lead by PricewaterhouseCoopers and includes former Dublin Core CEO Makx Dekkers [broken link removed] are working on something called ADMS — the Asset Description Metatdata Schema, which is a vocabulary for describing things like code lists, controlled vocabularies, tech specs and reference data sets — collectively called Semantic Assets.

As these efforts reach a level of maturity in theory it's time to put them in to practice and that's what the event on 7th March is about. I'll be talking about how W3C plans to enhance the existing description of all the documents in 'TR space' (i.e. everything with a URI beginning with http://www.w3.org/TR/) using ADMS and meeting other people doing the same. The plan is that by June portals like Joinup and others will be harvesting that data and providing a service through which data publishers can find the kind of infrastructure data that helps make their efforts more interoperable with everyone else.

How I Got My First Job — by Volunteering

So Burger king has joined Matalan, Tesco and Waterstone's in withdrawing from the scheme to give unemployed peopke work experience. At the very real risk of sounding like a Tory, I will now indulge in some ranting about how I got my first proper job … by volunteering for a commercial company.

Why I'm Advising My Son Not To Take ICT GCSE

Yesterday evening I did what a lot of parents of Year 9 children are doing about now and visited my son's school to look at options for GCSE. This is the headline result…

Using cssText

I have just been answering a question in the W3C Mobile Web and Applications Best Practices course that lead me to investigate a feature of JavaScript I'd not come across before — one that is easier and more efficient to control CSS through scripting thasn I've done before.

Remembering Radio Orwell 257

Radio Orwell Logo

Long long ago, before the Web, before I did anything else, but just after I left school, I worked in local radio. The first station I spent time at was Stoke-on-Trent's Signal Radio. When I was there getting my foot in the industry door by volunteering in 1983-84, the Managing Director was one Donald Brooks who had been MD at a station on the other side of the country in Ipswich. One thing lead to another and I ended up moving to join the Radio Orwell team in November '85.

The advent of social networking means that a lot of radio stations like Orwell (now part of the amorphous mass of mediocrity that is Heart FM) live on as "I remember when…" Facebook pages. The one for Radio Orwell is very active just now but I'm keen to capture some of the messages and the links to the audio that people are posting before they become hard to find in facebook's rolling system.

So here's a permanent place for Rememebring Radio Orwell 257.


UKGovcamp promo image (presumably a photo taken last year)

The first big event of my working year is the UKGovcamp 2012. I was able to attend last year and, like everyone else who did so, came away inspired by the energy, enthusiasm and expertise of the event.

UKGovcamp folows the now familiar unconference format. There's a framework and a bunch of rooms but the actual topics discussed are based entirely on what people suggest and sign up for on the day. It sounds like a recipe for disaster but it works incredibly well.

I have lots of reasons for wanting to go this year - mostly around making more contact with people who may benefit from the work I'm doing with the ISA programme on Core Vocabularies - but also because I want to see just how these events come together and what can be done to replicate them in other countries. They do happen elsewhere, there's a whole Govcamp movement [broken link removed], but the London one does seem to stand out as an example of how to do it.

Digital Gifts - What's Missing?

Get anything nice for Christmas? I certainly did and am very grateful.

Anything missing from your stocking?

Well, maybe. And the problem seems to be that in the very welcome and generally positive move to digital delivery of books, music and films, we've lost something important - the sense of occasion, the sense of giving or receiving a thing of value and beauty. So I have some ideas on the subject.