06 April 2005

XML in the mainstream

Public libraries are issuing contracts. Yes, that means money. Is your firm ready with the software?

XML may be something that is old hat, but it's new for the library. Today's libraries continue to incorporate new technology.

Current library systems are what you're used to: You have to do a single search across a single database. One at a time.

Then came XML. Those familiar with XML know that content gets delivered.

The same idea also works with databases. Yet the content isn't the only thing that gets delivered. It's the open access to the database.

Think of this as a two-way dialog. The consumer makes a request, then the databases talk to eachother to find out what would be most useful.

But the current commercial software products do more than the current aggregators. Users of the commercial products will be able to define which systems and databases they want to search first.

Aggregators, on the other hand, do not provide this weighting.

Also, the current software will be open-access. This means anyone in the public can use the search platform.

What has yet to be determined: How the software will save searches, and whether users will be able to save their search-parameters.

One issue is privacy. These have to get worked out.

The other question is whether the product will arrive in time. Each organization has a budget cycle. Toward the end of that budget cycle, money has to get expended.

If the money needed for training, software installation, and reconfiguration is not completed by the end of the budget cycle, then management has a problem. They have too much work, without enough budget.

Going forward it will be interesting to see how the systems are deployed around the globe. At the same time it will be interesting to see how well software companies not only support the XML-search-software, but how well the companies use tools to effectively integrate with the customer.

Deploying an XML system to a public institution involves more than simply money and training. It requires some timing, close coordination, and the ability to respond.

The good companies are going to keep the customer's budget-timelines in mind. The better ones will create marketing campaigns and public outreach programs that can quickly deploy a software package, get the public up to speed on both XML and the new searching, and at the same time provide excellent service despite customer's budget and schedule limitatations.

It will be interesting to see how much support the initial contract awards include. The proof will be in the pudding. The good contract terms will be those that incorporate the needed requirements to include the necessasry training at a reasonable price for the businesses; and at the same time, deliver the necessary online support, and future assistance that the customers will need.

These systems are not necessarily isolated to public institutions. Small firms are likely to see the advantages of having their own inhouse access. This approach could be used to integrate mutliple databases, so a small law firm accessing Lexis-Nexis or Westlaw, could very well have a system that has a more integrated approach to datasearching.

It remains to be seen how effectively these searching tools translate into better settlements and more effective judicial administration.

Ideally, the technology investments should have the payoffs of: Better client support and response; and better responsiveness to reasonable requests. It remains to be seen whether the proposed search tools achieve these goals.

At worst, technology can get an excuse to bury problems, make things more confusing, and throw the problem back onto both the client and the public.

It is interesting that despite EDI firms continue to manually upload data, hand check figures and contract terms, and still create creative stories to avoid accountability.

Human nature hasn't changed. Let's hope that the public, the ultimate source of sovereignty and oversight, is given the training, education, and support to ensure these tools translate into effective public oversight of corporations, government, and non-private institutions.

It would be shame that the public is sold a grand tale of how well things can be "if they just hand over the money for their benefit," yet the end result is that technology is used to justify doing less, and then turn it around to further harass, annoy, and otherwise do exactly the opposite of what the contracts intended to achieve.

There is a long history of abuse of power. Those who are in the know will abuse that power and information to their own ends. Human nature will only change when there are effective tools to ensure the public is given timely information about what corporations, officers, and public institutions are capable of doing: Creating outlandish lies, shifting attention and accountability, and otherwise doing the exact opposite of what would otherwise be considered to be something worth a public trust.

These days public institutions and corporations are quick to cite the "public benefit" and "public service" they provide, yet they continue to pinch pennies for their own profits, and all the while hope to avoid accountability.

It is very interesting how corporate officers, when in a pinch, tell a fanciful tale of why there is a problem or who is to blame. Yet, the evidence remains clear: That the original stories were fabricated, and the actual ones with the credibility problem remains the officers.

The public needs to be reminded of the facts and history to remain a credible force for both oversight and informed decisions. A world that prides itself on creating an Alice in Wonderland Environment of "saying one thing" but "doing the opposite" do little to inspire confidence or trust.

Rather, it is likely that XML tools could very well be the very system that ensures those most adverse to the public and free exchange of ideas go out of their way to create more fanciful tales. It is interesting to see how high they raise their voices to defend what they would have us believe is "not a problem."

So, why the big defense of that which wasn't apparently a problem?

If there was truly "nothing wrong" with what was occurring, why so quick to step forward with bellowing tones that there was nothing wrong?

The answer is that you continue to project onto your clients, the public, and those who actually see what is going on what you suffer from.

Yet, let us look at the contracts you have with those you do business with. On each count, the terms and conditions of that agreement stipulate a certain level of professionalism, staffing, response time, and a policy that no abuse occur.

Even your public use of these software systems is not without some cause for alarm. On one hand, we hear you dance and sing how wonderful the product or service is, yet just below the surface we find there are problems.

What is management's approach? Well, those who cannot justify their actions will go on the offensive, but call it a defense.

Why so arrogant, why so boisterous, and why so much going out of your way to discredit those who dare come forward? Answer: You have no defense.

Let's review the recent history. There were many conferences and discussions about the need to bring discipline. The public was lectured about what needed to happen to ensure that technology was actually put to good use.

Yet, what do we have? Corporations, officers, and those who are in the public trust now use the technology to monitor those who dare come forward. Is this an effective use of time and resources; or would it be not a better use of time to simply solve the problem?

The problem is leadership. Accountability. And setting the right tone. But what I find most interesting lately is how quickly IT companies will lecture the public about the "standard that the public is supposed to meet" and "what things the public should be expected to do," yet, we look under the hood...and who's engaging in the misconduct?

Interesting that those who profess to create tools to support the public, then use those tools to harass, annoy, and blog publicly about the public that they say they are supposed to serve.

There was a spam summit. There were recent proclamations against spamming and online abuse. Yet, at the same time we now find that members of the IT community were doing what they were supposedly fighting.

I find it interesting that people in the IT community will publicly talk about fighting a problem, all the while their peers engage in the problem they are fighting. I find it more absurd that officers in a corporations will publicly state that they are opposed to spam, online abuse, and hope to create tools to help the public fight these abusive practices...

...yet...what do we find? A leadership problem. Management, despite its statements that it supports tools to combat this abuse, are clearly sending a mixed signals to their employees: "Go ahead and do this, we won't stop you."

These actions occur on company equipment. On company time, yet why is there no similar corporate accountability and leadership?

The answer is that management likes to send a mixed signal, then blame the public for trying to make sense of the management's problems.

Management's solution is to twist words, but they claim they do not do that. So I call on management to stand up and be counted.

Publicly state that the XML tools, blogs, and online technology will be something that your firm uses for good. That your employees will not use to annoy harass. And that your firm will take swift action when it has evidence of problems, abuse, and misconduct.

To those officers who scream and shout about integrity, or claim that some accuse them of incompetence, I ask: Why are you so defensive about something [you self-evident goodness] that would warrant you to speak out, become so insecure with your leadership, and get nervous?

Or are you suggesting that despite the questions and your stores, that you have now lost contracts? That the simple "coding error" was simply the tip of the iceberg?

Indeed, your answer may be to blame the public and shift attention, but it is clear what has happened.

The public was led to believe that management would use these tools for good; that tools were in the works to solve problems; but at the same time management failed to leader their employees, and the employees continued to use the tools to silence, intimidate, monitor, and otherwise annoy those who dared challenge your nonsese.

So I ask again: Where are the public statements from the XML leadership, from the RSS community, and from the leadership within the IT community that IT members and IT employees will meet the standards that they impose on others.

Where are the credible disciplinary track records? I see none. I see officers who say they want to create tools to enhance technology, communication, and public expression...but what do we actually have? The opposite.

Again, it is absurd that the community preaches about the benefits of XML, convinces large corporations to spend alot of money to buy these products, but when these tools are used to point out failings of those in the IT community, then what do we have?

Suddenly, the "valid information" [the sales point of XML] is suddenly called into question.

SO I ask again: When will the public, who is ultimately paying for these systems through public offerings and venture capital, be afforded the respect of getting public assertions from officers that their employees will act in ah appropriate manner?

I look forward to XML tools being implemented. But I also look forward to a day when the current double standards end.

What I would like to see

If you are a corporate officer who is developing IT products, get your company on the public's side. Make sure your own conduct and that of your employees meets those standards you impose on others.

If you are an employee that hears about the abuse and misconduct, stand up and call it what it is: Wrong and not appropriate.

If you are a planner for a conference related to a spam summit, but you find out the participants are engaging in spam, say something.

If you are an IT-developer and are asked to develop a product, make sure that the problem you're trying to solve isn't something that your peers are contributing to.

If you are in charge on a public board, make sure that the "problems" your software products are trying to solve, aren't really related to problems your own employees are contributing to.

If you are a member of the public and you know of abuse or inappropriate use of technology, then speak out.

I find it outrageous that specific individuals have publicly stated that they oppose spam, yet their employees engage in this misconduct. From a citizen's perspective it is complete nonsense that someone would think that they could use this technology to annoy and harass another, then feign ignorance about the standards that their firms asserted they were achieving.

It doesn't add up. And each time, at the core of the problem is a management problem. And management at the end of their rope, unable to defend what is indefensible, and unable to justify what cannot be justified.

It is not appropriate for management to twist the words of others simply to achieve political agendas. "Oh, we've been through this all before..." is the refrain to silence the critics.

Yet, why the close scrutiny, why the nervousness, and the raised voices and whispered tales?

The answer is that your leadership is failing you. Hoping to play each of you off against the client; and if that fails ultimately against each other.

If that is the kind of place you enjoy working, then do nothing. Stay silent. Hope that nobody notices.

Yet, it is clear what is going on. Clear what your officers are doing. And clear that despite the public statements about the benefits of XML, technology, and your services that your peers will engage in misconduct, abuse, and non-sense.

It needs to stop. It needs to end. It needs to be checked. And if you do not check it on your own, then you need to be exposed for what you are actually doing, despite your public statements.

So speak out. State your standard. And let the world know that you will not tolerate this misconduct. In the end, you will either change from within, or will change from without. But it will stop. And you will be exposed.

Change from within. Or change from without. It will end.

Going forward, I would like people to have the freedom to develop technology. I look forward to the day when XML is in the mainstream.

And I also look forward to the day when XML is used to make lives better.

Thank you for considering my views.
Public libraries are issuing contracts. Yes, that means money. Is your firm ready with the software?

XML may be something that is old hat, but it's new for the library. Today's libraries continue to incorporate new technology.

Current library systems are what you're used to: You have to do a single search across a single database. One at a time.

Then came XML. Those familiar with XML know that content gets delivered.

The same idea also works with databases. Yet the content isn't the only thing that gets delivered. It's the open access to the database.

Think of this as a two-way dialog. The consumer makes a request, then the databases talk to eachother to find out what would be most useful.

But the current commercial software products do more than the current aggregators. Users of the commercial products will be able to define which systems and databases they want to search first.

Aggregators, on the other hand, do not provide this weighting.

Also, the current software will be open-access. This means anyone in the public can use the search platform.

What has yet to be determined: How the software will save searches, and whether users will be able to save their search-parameters.

One issue is privacy. These have to get worked out.

The other question is whether the product will arrive in time. Each organization has a budget cycle. Toward the end of that budget cycle, money has to get expended.

If the money needed for training, software installation, and reconfiguration is not completed by the end of the budget cycle, then management has a problem. They have too much work, without enough budget.

Going forward it will be interesting to see how the systems are deployed around the globe. At the same time it will be interesting to see how well software companies not only support the XML-search-software, but how well the companies use tools to effectively integrate with the customer.

Deploying an XML system to a public institution involves more than simply money and training. It requires some timing, close coordination, and the ability to respond.

The good companies are going to keep the customer's budget-timelines in mind. The better ones will create marketing campaigns and public outreach programs that can quickly deploy a software package, get the public up to speed on both XML and the new searching, and at the same time provide excellent service despite customer's budget and schedule limitatations.

It will be interesting to see how much support the initial contract awards include. The proof will be in the pudding. The good contract terms will be those that incorporate the needed requirements to include the necessasry training at a reasonable price for the businesses; and at the same time, deliver the necessary online support, and future assistance that the customers will need.

These systems are not necessarily isolated to public institutions. Small firms are likely to see the advantages of having their own inhouse access. This approach could be used to integrate mutliple databases, so a small law firm accessing Lexis-Nexis or Westlaw, could very well have a system that has a more integrated approach to datasearching.

It remains to be seen how effectively these searching tools translate into better settlements and more effective judicial administration.

Ideally, the technology investments should have the payoffs of: Better client support and response; and better responsiveness to reasonable requests. It remains to be seen whether the proposed search tools achieve these goals.

At worst, technology can get an excuse to bury problems, make things more confusing, and throw the problem back onto both the client and the public.

It is interesting that despite EDI firms continue to manually upload data, hand check figures and contract terms, and still create creative stories to avoid accountability.

Human nature hasn't changed. Let's hope that the public, the ultimate source of sovereignty and oversight, is given the training, education, and support to ensure these tools translate into effective public oversight of corporations, government, and non-private institutions.

It would be shame that the public is sold a grand tale of how well things can be "if they just hand over the money for their benefit," yet the end result is that technology is used to justify doing less, and then turn it around to further harass, annoy, and otherwise do exactly the opposite of what the contracts intended to achieve.

There is a long history of abuse of power. Those who are in the know will abuse that power and information to their own ends. Human nature will only change when there are effective tools to ensure the public is given timely information about what corporations, officers, and public institutions are capable of doing: Creating outlandish lies, shifting attention and accountability, and otherwise doing the exact opposite of what would otherwise be considered to be something worth a public trust.

These days public institutions and corporations are quick to cite the "public benefit" and "public service" they provide, yet they continue to pinch pennies for their own profits, and all the while hope to avoid accountability.

It is very interesting how corporate officers, when in a pinch, tell a fanciful tale of why there is a problem or who is to blame. Yet, the evidence remains clear: That the original stories were fabricated, and the actual ones with the credibility problem remains the officers.

The public needs to be reminded of the facts and history to remain a credible force for both oversight and informed decisions. A world that prides itself on creating an Alice in Wonderland Environment of "saying one thing" but "doing the opposite" do little to inspire confidence or trust.

Rather, it is likely that XML tools could very well be the very system that ensures those most adverse to the public and free exchange of ideas go out of their way to create more fanciful tales. It is interesting to see how high they raise their voices to defend what they would have us believe is "not a problem."

So, why the big defense of that which wasn't apparently a problem?

If there was truly "nothing wrong" with what was occurring, why so quick to step forward with bellowing tones that there was nothing wrong?

The answer is that you continue to project onto your clients, the public, and those who actually see what is going on what you suffer from.

Yet, let us look at the contracts you have with those you do business with. On each count, the terms and conditions of that agreement stipulate a certain level of professionalism, staffing, response time, and a policy that no abuse occur.

Even your public use of these software systems is not without some cause for alarm. On one hand, we hear you dance and sing how wonderful the product or service is, yet just below the surface we find there are problems.

What is management's approach? Well, those who cannot justify their actions will go on the offensive, but call it a defense.

Why so arrogant, why so boisterous, and why so much going out of your way to discredit those who dare come forward? Answer: You have no defense.

Let's review the recent history. There were many conferences and discussions about the need to bring discipline. The public was lectured about what needed to happen to ensure that technology was actually put to good use.

Yet, what do we have? Corporations, officers, and those who are in the public trust now use the technology to monitor those who dare come forward. Is this an effective use of time and resources; or would it be not a better use of time to simply solve the problem?

The problem is leadership. Accountability. And setting the right tone. But what I find most interesting lately is how quickly IT companies will lecture the public about the "standard that the public is supposed to meet" and "what things the public should be expected to do," yet, we look under the hood...and who's engaging in the misconduct?

Interesting that those who profess to create tools to support the public, then use those tools to harass, annoy, and blog publicly about the public that they say they are supposed to serve.

There was a spam summit. There were recent proclamations against spamming and online abuse. Yet, at the same time we now find that members of the IT community were doing what they were supposedly fighting.

I find it interesting that people in the IT community will publicly talk about fighting a problem, all the while their peers engage in the problem they are fighting. I find it more absurd that officers in a corporations will publicly state that they are opposed to spam, online abuse, and hope to create tools to help the public fight these abusive practices...

...yet...what do we find? A leadership problem. Management, despite its statements that it supports tools to combat this abuse, are clearly sending a mixed signals to their employees: "Go ahead and do this, we won't stop you."

These actions occur on company equipment. On company time, yet why is there no similar corporate accountability and leadership?

The answer is that management likes to send a mixed signal, then blame the public for trying to make sense of the management's problems.

Management's solution is to twist words, but they claim they do not do that. So I call on management to stand up and be counted.

Publicly state that the XML tools, blogs, and online technology will be something that your firm uses for good. That your employees will not use to annoy harass. And that your firm will take swift action when it has evidence of problems, abuse, and misconduct.

To those officers who scream and shout about integrity, or claim that some accuse them of incompetence, I ask: Why are you so defensive about something [you self-evident goodness] that would warrant you to speak out, become so insecure with your leadership, and get nervous?

Or are you suggesting that despite the questions and your stores, that you have now lost contracts? That the simple "coding error" was simply the tip of the iceberg?

Indeed, your answer may be to blame the public and shift attention, but it is clear what has happened.

The public was led to believe that management would use these tools for good; that tools were in the works to solve problems; but at the same time management failed to leader their employees, and the employees continued to use the tools to silence, intimidate, monitor, and otherwise annoy those who dared challenge your nonsese.

So I ask again: Where are the public statements from the XML leadership, from the RSS community, and from the leadership within the IT community that IT members and IT employees will meet the standards that they impose on others.

Where are the credible disciplinary track records? I see none. I see officers who say they want to create tools to enhance technology, communication, and public expression...but what do we actually have? The opposite.

Again, it is absurd that the community preaches about the benefits of XML, convinces large corporations to spend alot of money to buy these products, but when these tools are used to point out failings of those in the IT community, then what do we have?

Suddenly, the "valid information" [the sales point of XML] is suddenly called into question.

SO I ask again: When will the public, who is ultimately paying for these systems through public offerings and venture capital, be afforded the respect of getting public assertions from officers that their employees will act in ah appropriate manner?

I look forward to XML tools being implemented. But I also look forward to a day when the current double standards end.

What I would like to see

If you are a corporate officer who is developing IT products, get your company on the public's side. Make sure your own conduct and that of your employees meets those standards you impose on others.

If you are an employee that hears about the abuse and misconduct, stand up and call it what it is: Wrong and not appropriate.

If you are a planner for a conference related to a spam summit, but you find out the participants are engaging in spam, say something.

If you are an IT-developer and are asked to develop a product, make sure that the problem you're trying to solve isn't something that your peers are contributing to.

If you are in charge on a public board, make sure that the "problems" your software products are trying to solve, aren't really related to problems your own employees are contributing to.

If you are a member of the public and you know of abuse or inappropriate use of technology, then speak out.

I find it outrageous that specific individuals have publicly stated that they oppose spam, yet their employees engage in this misconduct. From a citizen's perspective it is complete nonsense that someone would think that they could use this technology to annoy and harass another, then feign ignorance about the standards that their firms asserted they were achieving.

It doesn't add up. And each time, at the core of the problem is a management problem. And management at the end of their rope, unable to defend what is indefensible, and unable to justify what cannot be justified.

It is not appropriate for management to twist the words of others simply to achieve political agendas. "Oh, we've been through this all before..." is the refrain to silence the critics.

Yet, why the close scrutiny, why the nervousness, and the raised voices and whispered tales?

The answer is that your leadership is failing you. Hoping to play each of you off against the client; and if that fails ultimately against each other.

If that is the kind of place you enjoy working, then do nothing. Stay silent. Hope that nobody notices.

Yet, it is clear what is going on. Clear what your officers are doing. And clear that despite the public statements about the benefits of XML, technology, and your services that your peers will engage in misconduct, abuse, and non-sense.

It needs to stop. It needs to end. It needs to be checked. And if you do not check it on your own, then you need to be exposed for what you are actually doing, despite your public statements.

So speak out. State your standard. And let the world know that you will not tolerate this misconduct. In the end, you will either change from within, or will change from without. But it will stop. And you will be exposed.

Change from within. Or change from without. It will end.

Going forward, I would like people to have the freedom to develop technology. I look forward to the day when XML is in the mainstream.

And I also look forward to the day when XML is used to make lives better.

Thank you for considering my views.
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