After hours: NAFA Visual Communication course

I’ve been doing all sort of design and drawing for quite a while now. For fun, privately but also for my projects at work. Web design, DTP etc…

Everything I did, I learned with trial and error and own experimentation, without doing any proper courses or studying design at a university. Recently, however, I thought it would be a good idea to get some theoretical background to boost whatever practical design skills I got throughout working on my projects.

So … I signed up for a part-time course on Visual Communication at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore. It’s a rather old and renowned public education institution in Singapore. The course has an interesting curriculum and allows to have a day job + attend classes in the evenings. There are 4 parts to it:

  • Visual Communication 1 – Principle of Design (10 sessions x 3 hours)
  • Visual Communication 2 – Digital Design I (10 sessions x 3 hours)
  • Visual Communication 3 – Typography & Colour Study (10 sessions x 3 hours)
  • Visual Communication 4 – Digital Design II (10 sessions x 3 hours)

Parts 1 and 2 go concurrently for about 2 months and afterwards parts 3 and 4 for another 2 months.

The academy gives rather little information on what the courses contain, so in the reminder of this post I’ll explain it from the participant point of view and in another post I’ll update with my review on the entire course once I’m done with it.

“Visual Communication 1” main theme is logo/business card design and teacher passing some of his professional experience with addition of little theory (backed by some minimalist slides).

“Visual Communication 2” is basically an Illustrator tutorial going through some most typical functions (and exploring them from different angles) and concluding with work on a packaging design project.

Each week those two run concurrently but are not directly related (ie what you hear in class on principles of design is not practiced later in Illustrator class), however in totality of things logo design is done in Illustrator, so the lab class somehow supplements the logo assignment.

After hours: Portfolio publishing – CMSes review

I made a little review of dedicated content management systems for publishing online portfolios (e.g. for designers etc.). Be advised – all this info is fully subjective.

I did this for a (web designer) friend and my judgements are done based on “how easy it is to setup the portfolio” vs. “how much you can customise it” to look individual and make the portfolio itself a showcase of ones design skills 🙂 Also I looked on “how easy it would be to add new projects”.

Publishing this in case somebody like me is looking for a list of such systems.

Name (+my rank ) Real (Cool) Examples Short Review
— CMS with Hosting —

Cargobad

http://butdoesitfloat.com/

http://www.funkhausdesign.com

http://cargocollective.com/seiz

Fairly rich but only their hosting. The free version is quite
limited (number of projects, images etc.). In my opinion unless you really like this, own hosting is better.

4ormat.combad

http://martynagalla.com/

http://hollysuangray.4ormat.com/754-holly-suan-gray

http://mason.4ormat.com/278-photography-home

 

Similar like Cargo but more simple.
— Need own Hosting —

Indexhibit

http://www.useyourfriends.com/

http://www.ty.sg/hello/

– simple
– different type of gallery layout, different themes
– in the basic out of the box version add projects/portfilio entires
under predefined sections (on-going, projects, Info)

Secretary

http://www.chilifactory.dk/

http://caseybritt.com/work/ajc-unplug

 

More the same direction/type as Indexhibit but probably better
developed and maintained.

Stacey

http://andmelbourne.com/projects/nicolinis/#1

http://helloalan.com/

http://kimberlymeenan.com/

– does not have interface to manage content, everything is just
by copying files- extremely lightweight, it doesn’t seem to have many options
for configuration-
everything is organised by text files with content & HTML
templates that are filled with this

Subfolio

http://400asa.net/

http://mobile.believein.co.uk/

Very much like a online file browser that can be themed rather
than a full CMS.

Indxr

http://christopherhewitt.com/

http://marcus-eriksson.com/

Similar like Subfolio its more a script rather than a full CMS.

Core

http://www.grahamdunn.be/

http://diftype.com/

Looks ok and has good reviews but is not available for public and I
couldn’t get it.

Symphony

http://nilshoerrmann.de/

http://lundark.com/

http://www.haggsgate.co.uk/

Normal CMS, its not designer or portfolio oriented but very
customizable.

Conference spotlight: ICT 2010

I just got back from an EU event called ICT 2010 (held 27-29 September in Brussels). It’s run every two years and in fact it is more of a business event rather then a scientific conference.

The goal is to gather people connected to ICT innovation and research in Europe though participation in Europan Commission funding programs.

Throughout the first two days of the conference in which I participated there were a number general talks connected to fostering innovation in Europe (eg. quite interesting keynote & panel on “Driving societal change, opportunities for all“) but also focused panels and so-called Networking Sessions that were run in smaller groups of interest and on particular topics (eg. for one I attended Open Innovation session which unfortunately didn’t really prove that interesting for me). Apart of that large part of the venue was taken by exposition stands that were presenting the projects and research done with EU funding. The interesting part of this was the diversity, the projects showed that ICT research (with some cool outcomes) is being funded in really many areas.

Nevertheless, its worth to note that the key value of this event is not the talks but the opportunity to meet new contacts for future proposals and business. It was very evident that all the participants came there to take out as much value as possible for future funding opportunities. All the time pretty much everybody (over 1k participants) was hunting for new contacts that could later develop into consortiums for EU proposals (2.8 Billion eur for ICT R&D in 2011-2012). This was very clearly visible.

In conclusion the ICT 2010 was quite interesting and indeed a big event. Definitely not to miss for people interested in European research or collaboration with European researchers. From my personal perspective as a PhD student and a university researcher this was a nice opportunity to see what others do and I got some new contacts and collaborations for both academic research and writing/participating in proposals. Oh and an additional bonus: for students the registration is for free making this a truly great opportunity!

Idea Management Systems research – interesting links and articles compilation

Relating to my Idea Management research, I have put together a compilation of interesting articles and websites. Bear in mind that this is primarily done from the point of view of a researcher interested in data structures and mechanics of Idea Management Systems. The content below is byfar not complete and the choice is fully subjective. However, it should make an interesting read in terms of introduction to selected topics. To make browsing easier I aggregated all in categories and also sorted the links by my personal preference.

Do you know any other interesting resources ? Let me know in the comments !

note: please be advised that in a number of sections the criteria by which I list or order publications is subjective to my research interest which is: data, data and once again data in Idea management. (and also my personal likes or dislikes of certain publications)

note2: bibtex infos to come soon ™ 🙂

1. Idea Management Systems – vendor lists

2. Idea Management Systems & Innovation Management- research related to Semantic Web and Ontologies
2.1. Active projects:

  • GI2MO – shamelessly I link my project first ;). The goal of the project is to use Semantic Web technologies to solve a number of problems of Idea Management. The core and entry point is a proposal of an ontology for Idea Management Systems.
  • Idea Ontology – another interesting project with a similar goal to GI2MO. Different approach nonetheless equally interesting.

2.2. Selected Publications:

  • “A Model for Integration and Interlinking of Idea Management Systems”, Westerski et al. [bibtex]
  • “An Idea Ontology for Innovation Management.”, Riedl et al. [bibtex]
  • “Semantic innovation management across the extended enterprise.”, Ning et al. [bibtex]
  • “Innovation and Ontologies.”, Bullinger [bibtex]

3. Idea Management & Innovation Management – research or publications unrelated to Semantic Web
3.1. Idea Management Systems

  • “The A to Z of Idea Management.”, Schwartz [bibtex] – a book that attempts to describe in a systematic way how Idea Management Systems work
  • “Improving idea generation and idea management in order to better manage the fuzzy front end of innovation”, Glassman [bibtex] – a phd thesis focused on the first steps of idea life cycle
  • “Idea Management for organisational innovation”, Flynn et al. [bibtex]

3.2. Innovation Management (additional reading)

  • “Developing a software infrastructure to support systemic innovation through effective management.”, Dooley et al. [bibtex]
  • “Innovation Metrics and Measurment in 2009”, xxx et al. – an interesting publication about what innovation metrics are used companies
  • “Information technology support for the knowledge and social processes of innovation management”, Adamides et al.
  • ….

note: the literature and resources on the particular topic of Innovation Management is very rich, yet often it goes very far away from the specific area of Idea Management. Therefore, I listed only a few positions that can be loosely connected through their study being related to Computer Science or having some influence to Idea Management problems (e.g. innovation metrics paper).

4. Idea Management Systems – interesting news websites, blogs etc.

  • InnovationManagement.se“, online magazine, regularly updated with lots of interesting news posts. However, much broader scope then just Idea Management.
  • Idea Management Systems“, a blog run by Lauchlan Mackinnon. Focused on Idea Management by also posting some short articles on topics loosely connected to innovation.
  • Innovation Tools“, a portal with some info about Idea Management, including news and blog posts. Be advised tho, in my personal opinion the objectivity of some posts here is very doubtful and sometimes looks like sponsored by certain vendors (e.g. to support my claim, take a look at one of their recommended resources: “A Short History of Idea Management“)

5. Idea Management Systems – company blogs, newsletters etc.

note: be advised that the goal of Idea Management vendors is to make profit, so look at the objectivity of all the information with care and keep it mind that it not always might be the full picture what you read.

  • Spigit company blog, Fairly often updated with information not directly related to business but also innovation management theory in general.
  • Imaginatik company blog, contains both reports on company activity (e.g. case studies) as well as some articles on innovation with regard to its connection to Idea Management
  • Mark Turrell blog, a blog of CEO of Imaginatik. Not really that active anymore but contains a number of interesting posts on the topic of Idea Management.
  • Newsletters, contrary to what you might think, its not always only marketing and advertisement. Companies like BrightIdea or Accept sometimes run online presentations where they share their experience or invite some people to talk about innovation topics.

My PhD project unveiled!

With the publications awaiting review, more and more collaborations incoming and partners requesting detailed info I figured it’s time to bring to light my current project.

GI2MO is an acronym for Generic Idea and Innovation Management Ontology. In practice, the project aims to introduce Semantic Web technologies into Idea Management Systems. The ontology is the foundation for that but not the only building block. We already have quite some achievements and with the new collaborations I hope for even more! For details see GI2MO website – most of the progress about the project is going to be posted there.

GI2MO project being the framework for my research done on UPM will also serve as the primary topic around which I plan to build my PhD.

DEA marks two years spent in Spain (almost)!

This week I did my exam for ‘Diploma de Estudios Avanzados’ – short DEA. This marks roughly 2 years time spent in Spain doing my PhD. The “exam” is fairly simple, basically just a presentation about the research I did during the time and the courses I took. My presentation was mainly about the Semantic Web research I’ve done and the areas I apply it. You can check you the slides here.

I was talking about:

  • research I did on mashups during my first year here and the courses I took concurrently on the university (all this was rather a brief talk)
  • my current research on applying Semantic Web to Idea Management and my project (GI2MO) that will hopefully be the main pillar of my PhD (this was the main part of the presentation)

After being awarded with DEA the road to getting the PhD diploma is opened and in theory, if I had done enough research/publications, I might as well get it the day after (which obviously won’t happen ;p).

After hours: RDF Detective Plugin for Chrome

For quite some time now, I stopped using Firefox and switched almost completely to Chrome. Unfortunately, the letter has much less plugins, including no solid plugin to detect RDFs linked inside html documents.

In Firefox Semantic Radar used to do the job but I got tired of running both Firefox and Chrome when i was working with RDF so….I’ve written my own plugin for Chrome – RDF Detective 🙂

It works almost identical to Semantic Radar, in documentes loaded by the browser it detects:

<link type="...rdf+xml....">

and displays a little clickable icon to open RDF in an external viewer (you can edit the viewer in the plugin options by default I’ve set it to SIOC Browser).

Hopefully, when i get more time I’ll hack the plugin to have more preferences and add few other things. For now, it does its job good enough to use (for me), this is how it looks:

At the moment, I’ve published it only on Google Extensions website, if you feel like testing, head over there and install it. So far I only tested how it works on Mac Os X, running Chrome 5.0.342.9 beta, so feedback welcome!

Update: tested for Windows7 + Chrome 4.1.249.1064. Works as well!
Update2: New version out! RDF Detective 1.3 now supports RDFa detection (renders a different icon and allows to open RDFa in a different viewer then RDF). I also added experimental support for detecting what RDFa namespaces are used and in relation to that render the icon in different ways. Currently 3 options: if there is only Facebook or Opengraph namespace their specific icons get rendered, if there is more annotations of other namespaces then a generic RDFa icon is shown.
Update3: The source code for the extension was published at: http://github.com/cyan-ide/rdf_detective

After hours: Making a FOAF profile for your homepage (part A: the tools)

FOAF is a data schema for describing personal data on the Web and is one of the most known in the Semantic Web world. Basically, its a way to publish information about yourself on the web in form of pure data, just like im doing on this webpage of mine but readable for machines! How to do it and why ? Read on!

Part A: The Tools

So far I’ve only had a FOAF file hosted at my old workplace but now I thought that like every normal(tm) person I should put it up on my homepage. This time tho, apart of the regular personal details I wanted to include all the other data from my page so: publications, projects, link to cv and so on. Simple ? Not as much as you might wish. Here are some tools I’ve tried to make it faster then writing the RDF code by hand:

1st try: Protege. Import the foaf ontology, make the instances and fill out the forms, and thats it! …..but wait not really. Its not too user friendly even for somebody who knows more or less all the Semantic Web technologies…

2nd try: TopQuadrant Composer. Same story, import the ontology, make the instances and…damn its exactly the same story…just a little bit less confusing.

3rd try: Dedicated user friendly apps. So I abandoned the ontology design tools for more simple stuff. Ye some work(tm) and some are even quite nice looking but they kind of don’t let fill out all that I wanted (read projects, publications..). So maybe some other time.

4rd try: “reuse, reuse, reuse”. So finally I’ve decided not to trouble myself with any tools and go back to the stone age and write everything by hand…well almost.

Recipe for writing your own FOAF profile fast(tm): google out a known (Semantic Web) person/geek , download his FOAF file and modify it in an xml editor. It took 30min vs. 3 hours or so trying to find a nice app 🙂

Here’s my profile.

ps. I used Wikier’s (aka Sergio Fernández) profile to make my own. Cheers mate!
ps2. If you are waiting for a earlier promised “why to make your foaf profile”. I have to disapoint you. If you are a regular person that does not have much to do with Semantic Web, then to my knowledge there is absolutly no reasonable practical cause why one should make his FOAF profile…not yet at least.

Innovation (management) jungle

Soo finally proposal time ended and I’ve started doing some initial research towards my PhD that I plan to do on idea management techniques (and few other things that I wont disclose now :p).

The first goal for me is to find all out there and analyze the state of the art in both research and industry. So far the academia part seems fairly easy since there is quite little public research on the specific topic of idea management (like software rather then methodologies). The industry study is the real pain!

It’s been over a week of reading information on the web and to be honest at the moment I think it might be actually easier to forget about a deep SoA investigation and construct a innovation environment from scratch with my ideas rather then investigate all solutions out there available on the market. When at the end of the day I’m happy to comprehend all, I get to find the next day another 10 apps that claim to do the same and be ‘the market leaders’ 🙁 Also the amount of marketing flavored info stead of facts makes my head hurt.

Oh also dont bother sending requests for trials or demos to companies in the area…responsivness is 0.

Either way I’m starting to write my report on everything and publishing it hopefully fairly soon!