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Last week, the chúng tôi Community Council requested the resignation of members who supported The Document Foundation, the recent fork of the chúng tôi project. This week, the results are revealed: resignations of key people, and a growing tendency to choose sides in the community. And the tragedy is that none of this angst seems necessary.

The request follows the recent creation of The Document Foundation (TDF), to provide an independent governing body for the development of the chúng tôi (OOo) code, and the announcement of LibreOffice, The Document Foundation’s fork of the chúng tôi code.

Although The Document Foundation invited Oracle Corporation, the current owners of the chúng tôi code after acquiring it earlier this year along with the rest of the assets of Sun Microsystems, to join, Oracle declined. However, Oracle did issue a news release affirming its continued dedication to OpenOffice.org.

Matters came to a head last week during an IRC meeting of the Community Council. Stating that ” it is of utmost importance that we do not confuse users and contributors as to what is what, as to the identity of OpenOffice.org,” Chair Louis Suarez-Potts described the creation of The Document Foundation as “a plain conflict of interest,” he went on to say that, “the point is quite clear. If the TDF members do not disassociate themselves from [The Document Foundation, then they must resign by Tuesday [October 26].”

Considering that five of the eleven Community Council members are members of The Document Foundation, the insistence on their resignation can hardly be anything but disruptive. The four members are Deputy Chair Sophie Gautier; Native Language Representatives Olivier Hallot and Charles-H. Schultz; Community Representative Cor Nouws, and Product Development Representative Christoph Noack.

However, when you add other members of The Document Foundation’s steering committee, the potential for self-inflicted injury to chúng tôi becomes even more serious. Among the members of the steering committee are Caolan McNamara, a prominent member of the chúng tôi Engineer Steering Committee; Florian Effenberger, the Marketing Project Lead, and the project lead for several localizations, including Brazilian, Danish, and German.

As I write, at least one of the steering committee — Florian Effenberger — has resigned, even though not called upon to do so. He joins Community Council member Christoh Noack and Charles L. Schulz.

So far, no one has announced that they will resign from The Document Foundation to stay in chúng tôi However, Oracle remains the employee of the majority of chúng tôi developers, so, at the coding level, the situation might have little effect. Yet, with an increasing number of people choosing sides, some problems seem likely.

The result just may be a fracturing of the tentative community that chúng tôi has managed to create.

To anyone who follows chúng tôi the split seems hardly surprising. The uncertainty over Oracle’s plans for chúng tôi has left at least some community members mistrustful. When The Document Foundation was first announced on the chúng tôi Discuss list, one of the first responses was to call upon Oracle to “do the decent thing” and support the foundation.

Even Oracle employee Thomas Lange, writing to contradict the suggestion that no one at Oracle monitored the list, felt obliged to add, “However, most of those who do are in no position to make such decisions.”

In this atmosphere, the announcement of The Document Foundation was welcomed, but not uncritically. Recognizing several of the foundation’s steering committee as members of Go-OO, a previous splinter group from chúng tôi Cor Nouws cannot help remarking that it “is a tragic quirk of history that people whom I criticized in private and public for the way they acted [towards] chúng tôi are among the first ones that support the long-awaited foundation.”

Similarly, Ariel Constenla-Haile, noting that Novell and Red Hat employees are included among The Document Foundation, questions the motives from the group, as well as the fact that how it will be governed is still being determined. From such remarks, it appears that support for The Document Foundation is based more on uncertainty about Oracle than unqualified enthusiasm for the new project.

By contrast, those who continue to support chúng tôi most strongly tend to be Oracle employees. For example, developer Malte Timmermann asks, “How can [OpenOffice.org] gain from this? It’s not clear to me how contributions to [LibreOffice] will make their way to OpenOffice.org.”

Mathias Bauer, a long-time manager of chúng tôi development, is even more outspoken. Describing the ultimatum as “a valid request,” he suggests that anyone with a leading position in chúng tôi who cannot give chúng tôi priority should resign. On the whole, the chúng tôi supporters seem more hardline and less willing to compromise.

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Arguments Over The Future Of Openoffice.org

Don’t expect Oracle’s donation of the code of chúng tôi to The Apache Software Foundation to settle anything about the troubled office suite. If the situation does improve, it will be small thanks to Oracle.

According to Oracle, the donation is proof that “Oracle continues to demonstrate its commitment to the developer and open source communities. Donating chúng tôi to Apache gives this popular consumer software a mature, open, and well established infrastructure to continue well into the future.”

However, from the way that the donation was done, and the situation it leaves the project in, it looks very much like a last spiteful gesture toward the rival Document Foundation, the project that develops LibreOffice, the chúng tôi fork. The result is a future that leaves the future as troubled as the present. At the very least, to some observers it appears to show a disdain for the community that borders on arrogance.

If that sounds like an over-statement, consider the history. Some of the chúng tôi project members were dissatisfied for years with Sun Microsystem’s stewardship. When Oracle acquired Sun and its assets in early 2010, the dissatisfaction intensified. Many people pointed to Oracle’s lackluster treatment of other free software projects as an indication of what lay in OpenOffice.org’s future.

On 28 September, 2010, this dissatisfaction culminated in the creation of The Document Foundation. Organized by employees of Novell, Red Hat, and other corporations involved in chúng tôi The Document Foundation announced a fork called LibreOffice, and immediately attracted a large number of people who had previously worked on OpenOffice.org.

Although The Document Foundation invited Oracle to join its ranks, relations between chúng tôi and LibreOffice appeared to deteriorate when Oracle declared involvement in both projects a conflict of interest and insisted that LibreOffice supporters resign from their positions on the chúng tôi Community Council.

Almost immediately, The Document Foundation proved it had more momentum than chúng tôi with more discussion and proposals on its mailing lists. Within weeks, major distributions such as Ubuntu were deciding to ship with LibreOffice rather than OpenOffice.org.

Yet, despite such setbacks, Oracle’s previous assertion that it was committed to chúng tôi made most people believe that the rivalry would continue indefinitely.

At the time, the announcement was greeted with cautious optimism. But, since then, Oracle employees working on chúng tôi have been laid off, including long-time community manager Louis Suarez-Potts. Most of the project’s mailing lists shut down, and the last development patch was submitted on April 18. For all practical purposes, chúng tôi was dead, leaving dozens to wonder what was going on.

According to Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, the donation to The Apache Foundation was made with the encouragement of IBM, which develops Lotus Symphony, another chúng tôi fork.

From a corporate viewpoint, you can imagine several reasons why the donation makes sense. As an umbrella organization of nearly one hundred projects, The Apache Foundation resembles a corporation more than most free and open source software (FOSS) organizations, no doubt making it easier for Oracle to deal with. It is also well-established and unlikely to disappear, so chúng tôi has a permanent home.

Furthermore, Vaughan-Nichols writes that Oracle is contractually obliged to IBM to ensure the continued development of chúng tôi If that is so, then you do not need to be a tactician to understand why Oracle might donate where IBM wanted it to. You might also view the donation as a peace offering after clashes with The Apache Foundation over various issues about Java.

As for the free office suite community, donating to Apache at least superficially satisfies requests that the code be turned over to a neutral, FOSS-friendly organization. Until yesterday, the community was planning to petition Oracle to donate the code (I know, because I drafted the petition), but the donation suddenly makes the effort moot.

Even The Document Foundation officially announced that “we welcome Oracle’s donation of code that has previously been proprietary to the Apache Software Foundation.” Superficially, at least, everyone sounds pleased about the donation.

So why is the donation less than ideal? One answer is that The Apache Foundation has more experience with projects that involve servers and infrastructure than desktop appliances. If chúng tôi is going to thrive, then the Foundation needs to learn, and quickly.

Another reason is that the donation means that most of the chúng tôi code is now licensed under the Apache License, rather than the previous GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). That means that some parts of the existing code are now incompatible with the main license, and may need to be discarded or rewritten.

The difference in licenses also reflects a difference in FOSS cultures, since the Apache License does not prevent the code being used under a proprietary license. For at least some of the OpenOffice.org-LibreOffice community, this license is likely to be objectionable.

However, by far the largest problem is that what the Apache Foundation has been passed is a project with few, if any members. This leaves the situation much as it was with Oracle, with official title to the code controlled by one organization, and most of the development and innovation being done by another — The Document Foundation.

What makes this development especially unfortunate is that, in the last couple weeks, the members of this joint community have been edging towards reunification.

The mutual distrust between Oracle and The Document Foundation, it appears, was largely on the organizational level. In the community, working relationships seem to have been at least partly preserved.

For example, Louis Suarez-Potts went out of his way to point out that he and Florian Effenberger, a member of The Document Foundation’s Steering Committee, work for the same company and have “sought to maintain cordial and even friendly relations since last year.” Similarly, Charles-H. Schulz, another member of The Document Foundation’s steering committee, emphasizes that “We have here one community and two projects.”

True, the Document Foundation has indicated a willingness to work with the Apache Foundation, and states that it has received an email from Jim Jagielski, “who is anticipating frequent contacts between the Apache Software Foundation and The Document Foundation over the next few months.” So there is at least the possibility of a diplomatic reunification occurring in the near future.

But, for now, the community’s efforts, if not its individuals, remain divided in a way that is harmful to all parties. Schultz tells me that a project on the scale of chúng tôi under Sun requires ten million Euros a year. Alternatively, it needs to mobilize volunteer contributors on a massive scale. Yet, even if Apache can find the cash or volunteers, that still means a duplication of efforts that is wasteful and inefficient.

Furthermore, Schultz argues, reunification can only serve the greater good. It would restore confidence among corporate and private users, and remove any uncertainty about Open Document Format, the ISO standard for office files that both LibreOffice and chúng tôi offer as an alternative to Microsoft Office’s file formats.

Still another problem is branding. Although chúng tôi was not as well known as proprietary rivals such as Microsoft Office, over the course of ten years it had developed a certain name recognition. By contrast, in the seven months of its existence, LibreOffice has yet to achieve comparable recognition. In fact, as a new brand, LibreOffice is sometimes regarded with suspicion by users outside the free software community.

Specifically, Schulz argues for reunification under LibreOffice. His argument is that LibreOffice has already proven itself better able to attract community developers than chúng tôi ever was. “In seven months, we have attracted twenty times more developers than the chúng tôi project, [and] we have extended the number of contributors to a bigger size than the chúng tôi project ever had.” The strength of this argument only increases when you consider that the Apache version of chúng tôi will probably need a month or two to organize, assuming that it become a going concern in the first place.

After the animosity, expecting Oracle to donate anything to The Document Foundation is probably asking too much of human nature. All the same, reunification seems a sensible goal, even if not necessarily under The Document Foundation.

But instead of listening to the community, Oracle has chosen a solution that not only threatens to preserve the existing divisions, but also ignores the wishes of the community by making reunification more difficult. The unsettledness of the solution seems a direct contradiction of Oracle’s high-minded statements about supporting FOSS.

This story is unfolding rapidly. Rumors are that another twist or two are expected later this week. In addition, another petition is being contemplated by some members of the community — this time, to The Apache Foundation, requesting that it turn its new assets over to The Document Foundation.

Such a move may not be strictly necessary. It may be enough for Apache to show a willingness to cooperate by joining The Document Foundation. If that happens, efforts would still be duplicated when resources are scarce, but at least some degree of cooperation might happen in a way that was impossible under Oracle.

Maybe then chúng tôi could finally be free to become a true community project of the sort that many have dreamed about for years. After Sun’s and now Oracle’s mismanagement, such an outcome seems long overdue. Let’s hope that Apache shows a greater concern for contributors and users than its predecessors.

The Linux Foundation And The Uneasy Alliance

Is the Linux community under-represented in the Linux Foundation?

Last week, this question raised controversies when Free Software Foundation director Matthew Garrett observed that the Linux Foundation had eliminated voting rights for individual members and changed its bylaws to make at-large board members optional.

Observing that these changes were made shortly after Karen Sandler of the Software Freedom Conservancy announced her intention to run for the Linux Foundation board, Garrett speculates that they were made to keep her off the board, because her interest in license enforcement was at odds with the Linux Foundation’s policy.

Clearly, to many, the Linux Foundation represents the community poorly. However, the accuracy of that perception seems more mixed that either side seems willing to acknowledge.

The Linux Foundation and the Uneasy Alliance

Both these practices, however common they may be in non-profit professional organizations, could hardly be more different from the egalitarian governance that prevails in open source projects. Nor does it help that the Linux Foundation’s budget is almost twenty times greater than that of the Free Software Foundation, the organization that perhaps comes closest to representing the community as a whole. Given these differences, conflict seems inescapable.

Yet despite these natural differences, the Linux Foundation has benefited the community as much as its members corporation. Among other things, it funds leading developers like Linus Torvalds, allowing them to work without being unduly influenced by corporate donors. It supports resources like OpenPrinting, the database of printer compatibility with Linux. When key projects like SSH were found to be underfunded, the Linux Foundation stepped in to provide vendor-neutral relief. From the first, the Foundation has also supported LinuxCons in North America, Europe, and Japan, providing some of the major Linux conferences today.

Cynics might say that these services are for corporate members, but that hardly matters — such services cannot be provided for corporations without also benefiting the community, any more than the rich can have street lights for themselves but not the general public. To condemn these services because they are judged to be delivered non-democratically would be hypocritical, considering that the community tolerates many projects controlled by a BDFL (Benevolent Dictator for Life).

However, from the first, Linux Foundation’s version of chúng tôi has emphasized technical material rather than news articles, no doubt to avoid the possibility of upsetting members with negative reviews. It continues to attract first rate writers like Carla Schroeder and Swapnil Bhartiya, but its rates are low compared to sites like LWN or Linux Pro Magazine.

Even more noticeably, forum activity has dropped dramatically — out of thirty forums, only six have last posts that are less than a week old, and, on twenty, the last posts were several months ago.

Whether the Linux Foundation is to be blamed for these circumstances is uncertain. However, add them to the changes in governance observed by Garrett, and the Linux Foundation does seem to be paying less attention to the community than it once did — and, as the responses to Garrett’s blog shows, the community is reciprocating with the anger and suspicion that is never far away from Linux’s uneasy alliance.

Reviving the alliance

You do not have to take sides to be concerned about this situation. Although the alliance responsible for Linux is often uneasy, it is responsible for Linux’s runaway success, with both the community and the corporations offering what the other has not.

Garrett’s blog was rashly worded, but it still raised legitimate questions that many would like answered — questions like, “Why were the bylaws about representation changed?” and “”What can the Foundation do to give the community greater involvement in its activities?”

Of course, some might say that as a 501(c) (6) American non-profit, the Linux Foundation cannot be blamed for any of its actions, and is only doing what it was designed to do, and representing its corporate members. However, given that the members of the uneasy alliance are dependent on each other, the Foundation would be acting in the best interest of its corporate members if it addressed the apparent problems with the community directly and in detail. The sooner such actions are taken, the better for everyone.

Learn The Examples And Advantages

Introduction to PostgreSQL STRING_AGG()

PostgreSQL supports various kinds of aggregate functions, The STRING_AGG() function is one of the aggregate functions which is used to concatenate the list of strings, and it will add a place to a delimiter symbol or a separator between all of the strings. The separator or a delimiter symbol will not be included at the end of the output string. The PostgreSQL STRING_AGG() function is supported by PostgreSQL 9.0 version, which performs the aggregate option related to the string. We can use various separators or delimiter symbols to concatenate the strings.

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Syntax

Explanation:

The STRING_AGG() function takes input ORDER BY clause is an optional and other two arguments as follows:

expression: This is a character string that is any valid expression.

separator/delimiter: This defines the separator/delimiter used for string concatenation.

The ORDER BY clause is optional and defines the order of concatenated string results.

The ORDER BY has the syntax as follows:

How does PostgreSQL STRING_AGG() function works?

The input expression needed should be a character string data type. We can also use other data types but only need to ensure that we have explicitly cast other data types to the character string data type.

The PostgreSQL STRING_AGG() returns us the result in string type.

The STRING_AGG() is generally used with the GROUP BY clause like we use other PostgreSQL aggregate functions such as MIN(), MAX(), AVG(), SUM(), COUNT(), etc.

Examples to Implement PostgreSQL STRING_AGG() function

We will create a table named ‘student’ and ‘course’ by using the CREATE TABLE statement as follows:

STUDENT TABLE:

create table student ( stud_id serial PRIMARY KEY, stud_name VARCHAR(80) NOT NULL, stud_grade CHAR(1) NOT NULL, stud_country VARCHAR(80) NOT NULL, course_id int NOT NULL );

COURSE TABLE:

create table course ( course_id serial PRIMARY KEY, course_name VARCHAR(80) NOT NULL );

Now, we will insert some data into the ‘course’ table by using the INSERT INTO statement as follows:

INSERT INTO course(course_name) VALUES ('Computer'), ('Mechanical'), ('Civil'), ('Electrical');

Illustrate the above INSERT statement’s result using the following SQL statement and snapshot.

select * from course;

INSERT INTO student(stud_name,stud_grade,stud_country,course_id) VALUES ('Smith','A','USA',1), ('Johnson','B','USA',2), ('Williams','C','USA',3), ('Jones','C','Canada',1), ('Brown','B','Canada',2), ('Davis','A','Canada',3), ('Aarnav','A','India',1), ('Aarush','B','India',2), ('Aayush','C','India',3), ('Abdul','C','UAE',1), ('Ahmed','A','UAE',3), ('Ying', 'A','China',1), ('Yue','B','China',2), ('Feng', 'C','China',3), ('Mian','C','South Korea',1), ('Fei','B','South Korea',2), ('Hong','A','South Korea',3);

Illustrate the above INSERT statement’s result using the following SQL statement and snapshot.

select * from student;

SELECT c.course_name AS "course name", s.stud_name AS "student name" FROM course c RIGHT JOIN student s ON c.course_id = s.course_id ORDER BY 1;

Illustrate the result of the above statement by using the following snapshot.

We can concatenate the student names by using the STRING_AGG() function by modifying the above SQL statement as follows:

SELECT crs.course_name AS "course name", string_agg(stud.stud_name, ', ') AS "student list" FROM course crs JOIN student stud ON crs.course_id = stud.course_id GROUP BY 1 ORDER BY 1;

Illustrate the result of the above statement by using the following snapshot.

SELECT  stud_grade, STRING_AGG(stud_name,', ') AS StudentsPerGrade FROM student GROUP BY stud_grade ORDER BY 1 ;

Illustrate the result of the above statement by using the following snapshot.

In the above example, the resulting snapshot shows us the students concatenated by a comma separator with a similar grade obtained.

SELECT STRING_AGG(stud_name, ', ') AS "student_names", stud_country FROM student GROUP BY stud_country;

Illustrate the result of the above statement by using the following snapshot.

In the above example, we observe that the code groups and concatenates all students from the same country, utilizing a comma separator.

Advantages

We can control the order of the result by using the ORDER BY clause.

The PostgreSQL STRING_AGG() function returns the result in string format.

We can use the STRING_AGG() function to concatenate all strings and add a delimiter symbol or separator between them.

The PostgreSQL STRING_AGG() supports various types of delimiter symbols or separators and does not include delimiter symbols or separators at the end of the string.

Conclusion

From the above article, we hope you understand how to use the PostgreSQL STRING_AGG() function and how the PostgreSQL STRING_AGG() function works. Also, we have added several examples of the PostgreSQL STRING_AGG() function to understand it in detail.

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Internet Of Things (Iot): The Good, The Bad, And The Unknown

The internet of things, sometimes known as IoT, is a network of actual objects. Without the assistance of a human, these gadgets can exchange data. Computers and equipment are not the only types of IoT devices. Anything having a sensor and a special identification number can be part of the internet of things (UID). The main objective of the internet of things is to develop self-reporting technology that can interact with users and other devices in real-time. Many pros and cons can be associated with it, as with any other thing. Looking at them can help a person understand IoT more finely.

Pros of the Internet of Things

There are several pros associated with the Internet of Things. These can be stated as follows −

Automation and Control are Ensured

Making your life easier, the IoT is serving more than the purposes that you might know. With the help of Google’s and Amazon’s voice assistants, internet-connected appliances like humidifiers, coffee makers, and air conditioners can all be turned on or off with just a few voice commands. You can also automate their routines.

Controlling your devices is easier as you don’t have to do things manually. One can use IoT devices for commercial and industrial applications to manage a variety of machinery in an office or factory, including robotic assembly lines, production lines, printers, and many more.

Access to Information

Uninterrupted information flow is one of the main benefits of the internet of things. Internet-connected devices can exchange data at the speed of light, resulting in fewer delays and a decreased risk of misunderstandings.

Real-time information updates, such as product movement, would enable new stock to be ordered automatically at the ideal moment and in the perfect quantity.

Other environments, including nuclear power plants or grain silos, require real-time monitoring. An IoT system can receive data from sensors measuring humidity or temperature and utilise that information to manage these settings automatically.

Data Collection in an Advanced Manner Cost Reduction

This might provide several benefits, including improved inventory control, lower research costs, and even lower prices for raw materials manufacturing and delivery. Pricing should decrease as businesses get more intelligent. It is one of the reasons companies want to invest in it.

Cons of the Internet of Things

There are a few cons of the Internet of Things. These are −

Privacy and Security

Another issue to be aware of is data privacy, particularly because IoT devices are being employed in more delicate sectors like finance and healthcare. Globally enacting information privacy rules also means that firms must protect data by the law, which is in addition to being a smart business decision. Due to their expansion and evolution, IoT devices can be quite challenging regarding the safety of the data. Moreover, not always are the IoT devices included in the cyber security policy.

Technical Intricacies

Deploying IoT devices may need much learning. Before investing in them, it becomes sensible to have a plan of how and why to use them. You can be certain that they are operating as planned in this manner.

Although they help businesses monitor, track and analyse their data better, IoT devices can be quite technical. The errors occurred are not always easy to fix and might need a professional working on the problem.

IoT’s Dependence on Connectivity and Power

The internet and constant power are required to operate many gadgets properly. Both the gadget and anything attached to it fail when either one does. Given how ingrained IoT devices are in today’s businesses when they go down, everything can come to a screeching halt. The incident management and troubleshooting processes can help the employees when the systems are down. Otherwise, the working processes get hampered, affecting the efficiency of IoT. You can have multiple things affected just because there is an interruption in the network or power.

Greater Consumption of Money and Time

Organizations can avoid many possible challenges they might otherwise face by preparing the deployment budget and strategy before procurement. However, deploying IoT devices frequently requires significant time and financial effort. Numerous devices must be bought and set up, personnel to install them, others to integrate them into the network, and support calls to the manufacturer for assistance. Businesses can swiftly recover their investment if they all go to a single site. The cost should climb rapidly if the company is dispersing them.

Conclusion

Social Networking And The Mobile Context

Social networking and the mobile context

There’s a growing call to deliver desktop experiences on mobile devices, and in general that’s a good thing. I don’t want to be limited to cut-down, plain-text “mobile” versions of websites when I have a large smartphone display and speedy 3G connection that could readily handle the full version, and the push for full-HTML browsers (and things like Flash support) has already trickled down from a must-have on smartphones to a common feature-phone element. What’s lagging behind, it seems, is an understanding of how mobile device use differs from desktop use, and nowhere is that more evident than in social networking integration. Several devices promise to bring your online social life to the screen that’s always with you, but the experience is patchy at best.

I’ve been playing with the Motorola DEXT for the past couple of weeks, the European version of the CLIQ (you can read our review here) and the first device to feature MOTOBLUR, the company’s attempt to corral social networks into one easily-consumed stream. Unlike HTC Sense, MOTOBLUR keeps network updates – which it calls “happenings” – front and centre, with a main feed of news together with individual widgets and inboxes for consuming them separately.

MOTOBLUR’s strength is its integration and breadth, or at least the promise of it. Like Sense, contacts using various different networks are combined into single address book entries – either automatically or manually – but there are far more platforms supported and Motorola are promising to add further networks (such as LinkedIn) as the system matures. Conversations started via one medium can, in theory, be continued from any other, and the record of “recent contact” for each person is carrier agnostic.

There’s also no thought to the relative load of each network. Sticking with Twitter and Facebook as our examples, there’s no way to tell MOTOBLUR that you’re more interested, say, in Facebook updates than you are tweets. I follow a few hundred people on Twitter but have kept my Facebook friends more sparse; it’s pretty easy for a status change from the latter to be lost among the flood from the former, when arguably it’s the close contacts on Facebook that I’d be more interested in hearing about. Other people might have the ratios reversed, or use other networks, but the overarching problem is the same: MOTOBLUR only uses time to organise content.

To be fair, it’s a problem shared by pretty much all of the “integrated” social networking aggregators on smartphones right now. Palm’s webOS and HTC Sense each deliver some degree of the same functionality (only Motorola attempt to throw everything together in one stream) but haven’t addressed the relative value issue. I raised it – separately – with Motorola at the launch of the DEXT and with HTC CEO Peter Chou at the launch of the HD2 (the first Windows Mobile device to feature HTC Sense), and their responses were pretty similar. Motorola pointed out that MOTOBLUR is a first-generation attempt at the mobile social networking issue, the undertone being that, like further platforms, they’d look to add in better handling of news later. Chou, meanwhile, admitted that the issue was something HTC engineers were aware of, and that iterations of Sense down the line would look to more intelligently manage social networks.

Neither could tell me exactly how it might be achieved, however, and in fact the most promising attempt I’ve seen so far has been from Nokia. Tucked into a corner of the Nokia Research showcase at the company’s The Way We Live Next 3.0 conference a few weeks ago was their Linked Internet UI Concept, a prototype software platform which attempts not only to funnel in social networking content but to recommend the information most relevant to the individual user. Running on a modified N900, the system both forms contextual links between content – so photos taken by, or featuring, the same person will be linked to the appropriate individuals, as well as geographically with other images taken in nearby locations – as well as learning the user’s habits and, over time, percolating the information it believes will be of the most interest to the top of the homepage.

Guido Grassel, leader of Nokia Research’s Web User Interface and User Experience team, explained that there are two main types of usage paradigm: either users take the time to flag up or “favourite” their key contacts, or they simply leave the system to handle them themselves. The Linked Internet UI Concept can cope with both: starred contacts are automatically given higher priority, or you can leave the device to learn what sort of information is of most use. Status updates from my Facebook friends, therefore, would gradually be given more priority than tweets; however the phone might also learn that certain people I follow on Twitter, or certain hashtags or geographical locations mentioned, are also of greater importance to me, and so make those more visible too.

Unfortunately there’s no real timescale to get the Linked Internet UI Concept off the prototype and into a shipping device. In the meantime, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that manufacturers and software developers realise that just because users demand the desktop experience on their mobile devices, it doesn’t mean a straight port across is sufficient. At the very least we should be able to flag up keywords – whether that be our own username, the name of our employer or the blog we write for, or the school or college we attend – as something we want highlighted. I want to be able to weight certain people or companies – either manually or, preferably, automatically – the news from and about which I’m most interested, and I don’t want to have to consciously shift between applications to consume, save or share that information.

MOTOBLUR – and HTC Sense, and webOS, and the rest – will get better, and platform developers themselves are learning that social networking integration is of growing importance to device users; Android 2.0, for instance, links address book entries with Facebook profiles, functionality that Google seems to have learnt from HTC and the rest but which now is baked into the core OS. What’s important is that while we use the same networks while mobile as we do while on our desktops and laptops, we do so in a different way. A straight port across isn’t good enough, and if we want use of these tools to spread beyond the power-users and the social-obsessed, they need to better cater to the bite-size demographic who aren’t willing to invest hours of eye-time into their phones.

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