Build Your Own Search Experience: Yahoo BOSS is pretty amazing
Most of the gang at Bolt | Peters went to BayCHI tonight, and I was really impressed by a presentation from Yahoo about BOSS (Build your Own Search Service).
Turns out that, once you get beat badly by Google, you start to get really open. Nice.
Basically BOSS (bad name, great tool) means that, with a minimal contingency of programmers, you can get a completely custom search running, and apparently you can even manipulate the rankings algorithm. Currently Yahoo is running it without requiring ads or anything. Exciting.
What a great way for a big conservative company to innovate — just let hackers go to town on your fancy database and algorithms. I can't wait to see what comes out of it.
Mozilla, The AP Aurora Concepts, and Open Source UX Design
Today Adaptive Path, the godfather company of the interface and experience research industry, released the first of some amazingly high quality concept videos about the web browser of the future.
I'm really impressed, even though I spent most of the day grousing about some of the details of the interface they showed — my nitpicking is really just evidence of how much detail there is in the video.
Anyway, the real importance of the videos is not specific to any of the UI details — it's about what's happening at Mozilla, and the new inclusive approach they are taking to visual and experience design.
I couldn't put it better than Dan Harrelson did this week:
Joining an open source software project usually requires one thing: the ability to cut code. If you live in the world of functions, methods, Git, SVN, and SQL, you'll find many a friend in open source. If you instead work with Photoshop, wireframes, sketches, and stickies, you'll find it is a bit of a challenge to join an open source project. The community of developers has a history of shunning anyone who is a not programmer. Plus, open source software projects are not heavily promoted in the design community.
UPDATE: My buddy Andy pointed me to the Mozilla call for participation, which does a great job of summarizing the initiative.
Today we're calling on industry, higher education and people from around the world to get involved and share their ideas and expertise as we collectively explore and design future directions for the Web. You don't have to be a software engineer to get involved, and you don't have to program. Everyone is welcome to participate.
The Future is All Android, All Open Source. And Underpants. And Ice Cream.
On the occasion of amazing new videos of the latest prototype, it's worth remembering that Android (not the just-barely-open iPhone) is the future of mobile development for the masses. Especially when combined with the hardware support of the Open Handset Alliance and the general propensity for open source projects to kick ass.
PS: where the hell is Nokia on this list?
And then there's ice cream and underpants:
ICT in Education
The Scottish government has an excellent collection of resources regarding the use of Information Communication Technology in classrooms. They have multi-part articles grouped by subject (Biology, Drama, Physics), and examples of how, for example, you can show students living cells using microscope and digital camera, or how to use the internet to teach French. Most of it is not Scotland-specific, though they do feature Scottish schools.
My major criticism of the site is that it doesn't explore low-cost options (such as using open source software). Correspondingly, this site won't be as useful in less-developed countries. That said, it is a great example of free, user-friendly tutorials for "best practices" education. Here's the site: www.ltscotland.org.uk - Secondary
Is Open Source Software Ready?
Yes, it is.
Open source software is free. It is supported by communities of developers, not corporations. And it is ready.
Sure, sometimes, it doesn't work. Development can stop abruptly on a project, and support can be limited — because it's free.
But often, open source software is better than the overloaded, buggy programs put out by the big guys (Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, etc.).
With a little bit of online research, there is often an open-source alternative to expensive programs that are needed for programs in rural/poor/developing areas.
What open source gives you (besides a free or cheap program) is a connection with software develpers that are, typically, committed to a cause that appears to be very much in line with the general philosophies underlying ICT and development work.
Power to the people.
Here's a bit from recent BBC article describing the use of open source software in Manchester schools, and the government research that supports its use. (Hard not to like thousands of Pounds in savings, right?)
I say, if it's good enough for Manchester, it's good enough for the world. Now if only there were open source programs comparable to Intel's Teach to the Future Program, which claims to have trained 2 million teachers. Too bad they're all trained in super-expensive proprietary software.
Software licenses cost Parrs Wood [elementary school] about 30,000 pounds each year, less than half the cost if no OSS [open source software] were deployed, according to figures in the recent Becta [UK education research group] report.
Only recently has the school become satisfied that OSS is now sufficiently well developed to meet classroom and office needs and provides a viable alternative to licensed software.
With governors' support and encouragement, the school is adopting OSS more completely over the next three years, including the eventual replacement of Windows by an OSS desktop, which will be a significant change.
Read the entire article: BBC NEWS | Education | How schools can get free software