If you can’t open it, you don’t own it

I’m a big fan of Make Magazine, the subtitle of which I have shamelessly stolen for this article. The philosophy behind Make is that consumers have a right to know how the products they buy work and where they come from. In furthering this goal, the magazine features a cornucopia of teardowns, rebuilds, unboxing and tinkering. So how does this apply to Knowledge Management and the business world?

Business and government regularly fall into traps with proprietary software. A software product is purchased, deployed and used within a division without much thought to interoperability, future access or alternatives. Within the Canadian Government we have a rats nest of software that is unable to work across departments, even within divisions. After enough divisions and agencies have competing software products it becomes a bugetary and political issue to move to a standard software platform, even for something as simple as desktop publishing. This should be familiar to anyone who has tried to open a WordPerfect document with Microsoft Word, or even a Word 2007 document with Word 2003.

In KM, we make extensive use of intelligent agents, automatic search programs that monitor the internal network or selected data sources and send new information to our clients. If we are limited to a proprietary application or email output for the data we are requesting it seriously limits the creative uses we can put that intelligent agent to. However, with XML output, RSS output or even a simple text file logging we can significantly increase the utility of our intelligent agents

Let me show you a recent example I put together for my desktop. I’m a news junkie and I enjoy reading CNN’s top stories. I have a rule that I don’t put news in my RSS reader, however, because I get overrun with the constant news cycle, especially during the US presidential campaign. As a soloution to this, I embedded a news feed in the background of my desktop using SeriousSamurize, a free system monitoring program.

It’s a very simple display, LCD style screen font, with only two lines of text so headlines are displayed. This way, I can glance at the news when I feel like it and I don’t feel obligated to read every story in my RSS reader.

If there’s any interest, I’d be happy to put together a how-to.

Without the free access to CNN’s Top Stories RSS feed, I would never have been able to do this. It’s a quick solution that does not distract me from other work and I have instant access to the top 5 news stories of the day.

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2 Responses

  1. WANT a how-to!
    please?
    pretty please?

  2. I’ll put one together in the next few days, thanks for the interest!

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