Archive for July, 2014|Monthly archive page

What are the advantages of Outbrain over Taboola?

15 Outbrain: What are the advantages of Outbrain over Taboola? – Quora.

I’ve been tracking native advertising for some time and also looking at its historical antecedents prior to the 20th century. At some point, it became desirable to clarify what was advertising, what supposedly impartial reportage, what editorial. Few actually observed these distinctions, at least judging from a lot of scandalous evidence.

But the clumsiness of contemporary native advertising makes me wonder about better tactics in engaging readers in ways that go beyond titillating or otherwise exciting their interest. I don’t mean to suggest gamification, though that is an option and one that has considerable potential. Rather, I mean to suggest techniques that relate the product to a user’s (or consumer’s) plausible ability to add a kind of value to it. Amazon’s book reviews is probably not a bad instance of this: the books are there for the reading but the reviews make the books something more than commodities that are then passively consumed. There is an element of action and engagement, a structure of commitment.

This sort of commitment can be measured and the data used to identify consumer fatigue or distraction and then prompt tactics to counter that. (It’s understood that all of us will get bored at some point.) Something similar can also be used in open source communities, where the issue is not to produce consumers but producers, and to enable collaboration.

I doubt that either Taboola or Outbrain would work well for open source communities, though I don’t dismiss either (or any of their ilk) out of hand. Previously, what I’ve done is write content myself for the projects; or used Google to find relevant material. But I think that content discovery tools can be adapted interestingly here for specialized markets, as can forms of native advertising that promote relevant content and are clearly labeled as promotions. (E.g., new & improved tools for fast developer communications.)


How popular is that programming language?

TIOBE Software: Tiobe Index.

I was curious to see what the relative popularity of languages used by the dominant IaaS and PaaS clouds, e.g., CloudStack and Cloud Foundry. Useful to know.

Open document formats selected to meet user needs

Open document formats selected to meet user needs – Press releases – GOV.UK.

This is the official PR sent out by the UK Gov’t. The OpenDocument Format is maintained by OASIS, an independent consortium “advancing open standards for the information society” ( An open standard can be implemented by any application and is thus not vendor specific. Open standards are preferred by many public sector organisations, as well as those in the private sector, as they can maintain purchasing patterns and not have to deal with what they see as the bewildering uncertainties of open source. (I don’t see open source that way; they do.)

I used to be on this and other ODF TCs at Oasis. I may rejoin. Certainly, with this (belated) announcement by the UK, I hope to see more activity in the TC and among other entities desiring escape from vendor lock.



The Register on the UK Gov’t. ODF Assertion’s Open Source switch WON’T get rid of Microsoft, y’know • The Register.

Confessions of an ex-developer – Matt Gemmell

Confessions of an ex-developer – Matt Gemmell.


A very interesting read, especially since I’ve just returned from Oscon 2014, where there were many enthusiastic developers and a strong emphasis on things cloud. Also some interesting lacunae. But to the point Matt raises. It’s by no means peculiar to programming. Try keeping up with any field where differentiated identity and process can lead not more surely to profit and that competitive edge than better things and methods. Biotech, pharma, genomic and bioinformatics come to mind. Making something open source introduces is an increasingly ambiguous business gesture, and not simply a collaborative mobilization, if it ever was.

While reading the essay, I wondered if it would make sense to have a track at a major conference on this theme, on the logic and logistics of this coding babble. The upcoming Open World Forum, in Paris, has a related theme, on infrastructure identity in open source development, and plausibly this could be attached to it. But the CfP closed 15 July, I believe, and besides, I think this issue merits the sort of attention a series of talks by experts can offer–and then also some form of follow up, so that something can be said to result that’s actually constructive (if not a solution) from the identification of a problem.

U.K. Cabinet Office Adopts ODF as Exclusive Standard for Sharable Documents –

U.K. Cabinet Office Adopts ODF as Exclusive Standard for Sharable Documents –

What community metrics are useful to developers?

code coverage – Software development metrics and reporting – Stack Overflow.


I’m giving a lightning talk later this month at the flossmetrics event in Portland, Oregon. I wanted to interrogate metrics–a too-encompassing term–from the developer’s perspective and so ask, What metrics do developers find useful? I found this one Q/A on Stackoverflow relevant.

It also accords with my impression. In open source communities sponsored by corporations, in particular, the measure of community work, health, production and everything else, including the effectiveness of the managers, is subject to anxious measure. The anxiety may be more obvious with open source communities, as they still represent unorthodox ways of doing things–an unorthodoxy that has at its heart the seemingly transgressive notion of giving away (you know, “sharing”) intellectual property. You can see why measuring the value then of the investment can be so fraught. Determining if the community is actually doing anything, let alone anything of value and even more important, better than an orthodox team, is something that from management’s perspective needs to be answered quarterly, in order to justify the risk.

But what metrics actually mean anything? If we were talking about marketing communities, where brand loyalty is enhanced by consumers collaborating together on better ways to consume the product and tips on how to navigate the environment–eBay comes to mind–then I would measure social media activity within the domain, as well as in standard social media vehicles. I’d look too to see if the most regular posters in the chats were also regular buyers and sellers; whether they were “influence” leaders and had large followings (or if not large, whether their followers were heavy spenders, say: quality over quantity). I’d look too to see what I could do to encourage this social consuming (such as make searches that relate to individual posters easier), and routinely try things. And, I could draw graphs and maps of activity and connectedness, relate effectively microeconomic points to macroeconomic conditions. I might learn that the reason there was a spike associated with, say, Fred’s posts on motorbikes had to do with fuel rising in cost.

What I would learn from tracking these activities–these metrics–would help me organize and manage the consumer communities better. (And there are many other kinds of data one can obtain that would make the consumer a better buyer and user of the product and also help other consumers.)

But these sorts of measures don’t really work in the same way when we are looking at productive networks. The demands differ, as does the nature. Yes, there are overlaps, obvious ones. But if I am working in a team, on a difficult project, knowing that Fred is posting a lot and is influential (duh) probably won’t really help me work better–either write better code with others or be happier about the code written.


Schedule: Community sessions: OSCON 2014

Schedule: Community sessions: OSCON 2014 – O’Reilly Conferences, July 20 – 24, 2014, Portland, OR.


OSCON is usually interesting. This year it’s more interesting, especially for those of us involved in community issues. I’m delighted, too, to see that “community management (for open source)” is even being regarded–finally–as a legitimate profession. For when I started this, back in 2000, it wasn’t. And even now, “community management” is likelier to mean managing consumers via social networking tools (aka social media), not engaging commons-linked producers working collaboratively.

Of course, the other talks are also rather interesting, almost as much as the intersections in-between talks.

City of Trieste moves to Apache OpenOffice

City of Trieste moves to Apache OpenOffice | Joinup.


The Italian city of Trieste is moving to the Apache OpenOffice suite, replacing a proprietary office suite, the city’s newspaper Il Piccolo reported on 7 May. The switch will save some 900,000 euro in proprietary software licences over the next three years.

“It is a cultural choice”, the newspaper quotes the city’s mayor, Roberto Cosolini, as saying. He points out that open systems are popular on the web. The switch is also economical, he adds. “At this moment, anything that allows local authorities to reduce spending is important. Saving 900,000 euro in three years is significant.”

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