Monthly Archives: July 2008

Camilleri, Enrico Rava e Sergio Rubini

Ieri ero a Locorotondo a vedere Requiem per Chris, uno spettacolo di Enrico Rava e Sergio Rubini sul testo di Camilleri. Si narra di Enrico Rava che tenta di ricostruire la storia di un trombettista dimenticato, alla ricerca della musica perfetta, e in un viaggio che lo portera’ da Agrigento a New Orleans e all’uragano Katrina. Sergio Rubini ne parla in questo video.

Uno spettacolo stupendo, un intreccio affascinante di parole e suoni. Sono iniziate le vacanze, finalmente. Ci sentiamo fra 3 settimane, probabilmente.

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Google, Knol e Wikipedia

Mi imbatto per caso in Knol, un nuovo servizio di Google. Dal blog ufficiale di Google:

With Knol, we are introducing a new method for authors to work together that we call “moderated collaboration.” With this feature, any reader can make suggested edits to a knol which the author may then choose to accept, reject, or modify before these contributions become visible to the public. This allows authors to accept suggestions from everyone in the world while remaining in control of their content. After all, their name is associated with it!

Insomma, una Wikipedia targata Google, cioe’ un po’ piu’ fighetta. Cronaca di una morte annunciata?

Nuova falla nel DNS

Questa e’ abbastanza grave, qui si parla di Alleanza che ci salvera’… e’ forse arrivata Star Trek?

In pratica, Dan Kaminski (di cui si parla anche qui) ha scoperto una falla molto grave nel DNS, i cui dettagli rimarranno riservati per ancora 30 giorni per dare il tempo a tutti i (aka, il maggior numero possibile di) ISP di aggiornare il loro software.

Diciamo pure che ne riparliamo tra un mese, ma secondo me diventera’ presto un segreto di Pulcinella e fra non molto vedremo i primi attacchi ai DNS.

A risentirci.

ICANN and new TLDs

(cross-post Experiment, Three)

I finally decided I will not write about ICANN’s latest decision of liberalising the “market” of generic TLDs. I will point you instead to Nominet’s company blog: Nominet is the .uk registry and this post is a very interesting insight in ICANN’s process and decision.

Web 2.0 and Databases, can the two worlds meet?

(cross-post Experiment, Three)

A few weeks ago, I had an interesting conversation with Paolo on why web 2.0 tools are still struggling to find their way in the academic world. Back in September last year I attended the panel What Web 2.0 Has To Do With Databases?, which investigated the reasons why the database community has left behind in the research in the field of web 2.0.

Following Paolo’ suggestion, I post the notes I took at the time. Having clear in mind that the two topics are different, I think they are somehow correlated, because those people that consider blogs, wiki, etc., a “waste of time” are also the ones that are missing the opportunity in doing research in such an interesting field.
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Panellists:

  • Sihem Amer-Yahia (Yahoo!)
  • Alon Halevy (Google)
  • AnHai Doan (University of Wisconsin)
  • Gerhard Weikum (Max-Planck Institute for Informatics, Germany)
  • Gustavo Alonso (ETH, Zurich)

Abstract can be found here.
Here is Alon Halevy’s post on the panel: read, in particular these two comments (1, 2) which, in my opinion, summarise quite well the situation.
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PROBLEM
Is the database community ready to accept the new challenges that are coming from the Web 2.0 world? The risk of “missing the train” is very high, considering that the commercial interest on these technologies is leaving academic research behind.

INTRODUCTION

  • Web 2.0 is about people, unstructured data, imprecise queries, information retrieval.
  • Web 2.0 is not about structure and quality.

Unstructured data and applications are pervasive, they are everywhere and companies greatly exploit them, but:

  • A “holistic approach” is lacking (all current solutions are ad-hoc solutions)
  • The “structured methodology”, typical of the database community, should be brought into the Web 2.0.

WEB 2.0 IS FASHION, DBMS’ RULE
Database people were not fully convinced by Web 2.0 and the two worlds seemed quite distant. In general, they do not believe that databases as we know them (their structure, methodologies, best practices, etc.) will ever lose their cenrtrality in any information management application. Even web 2.0 is only a “cool application” that will eventually be substituted by something else, whereas databases will still be in place.

This is quite a conservative point of view and even those who say that “traditional DBMS’ are dead” (Michel Stonebraker among others, but he’s not the only one) seem, in practice, to be a bit sceptical about the loss of centrality of the databases.

SCHEMA INTEGRATION FAILED, WEB 2.0 MIGHT BE THE ALTERNATIVE
Everybody seemed to agree that tight schema integration is a buzz word that does not work in the real world, and this despite the fact that it has been studied for several years both in the industry and in the academia.

Web 2.0 seems the good compromise to have “real” integration, though this happens at the data level (and should probably be called “data reconciliation” instead). From the schema point of view, someone argued a real integration is not possible because there are no strong stakeholders demanding for it (these will not be neither the people on the street nor Google or Yahoo).

Google pushes forward the concept of a dataspace (btw, Halevy’s dataspace) that includes all users’ data. The physical system is left in the background, almost a legacy from the past: data matters, databases are needed for storage, reliability, etc. (are we talking about cloud computing?).

OTHER COMMENTS
Someone’s comment: companies are keen of groups that do research on Web 2.0 and even encourage them to do it. However, Web 2.0 is about people and data: if the big companies do not release the data they have, how can the DB community research on it (and what should they analyse?)?

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SUMMARY
The two worlds seemed very distant and the main reason probably relies in the different backgrounds: database are structure, metodology and algorithms. Web 2.0 is based on randomness (well, some form of), no predefined schema and, among all, unpredictable social interactions that are kept away from databases. It is no surprise that the communication between the two is particularly difficult.