Recommended Reading: The cloud, Kundra and mashups

Sizing up the cloud
Source: InfoWorld

Is cloud computing a game changer or not? The answer, according to InfoWorld’s Eric Knorr, is essentially, “Not yet, but just keep watching.”

Most organizations are using cloud computing on the fringe for one-off projects or basic administrative operations. In part, that's because the technology only has limited functionality. A case in point is cloud-based office software, which pales in comparison to standard offerings from Microsoft and others, according to InfoWorld’s reviewers.

But that should change as the technology evolves. For example, a new version of HTML will add juice to Web applications, Knorr wrote. Google’s new Chrome browser, among other software, supports HTML 5.

However, technology leaders should not limit their imagination to replacing office applications. The "most exciting potential of the cloud is as a platform for Internet-based services that deliver entirely new capabilities fast without the upfront costs,” Knorr wrote.

Mashups for the masses
Source: Minnesota Historical Society

In the future, many people will view government data not only on agency Web sites but also on privately created mashups that combine data from two or more sources.

That’s the conclusion of a white paper from the Minnesota Historical Society, funded by a grant from the Library of Congress’ National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program.

“Because of the flexible way in which digital information can be analyzed and presented, information creators such as government entities do not, indeed should not, need to imagine the most useful ways for users to look at that information,” the authors wrote.

The paper goes on to explain why government agencies should make public data available for mashups and how that data could be improved as a result. It also discusses the pros and cons of sharing public data and includes examples of mashups that use government data and a list of tools for creating them.

The curse of the speaker tic
Source: CIO magazine

One of the best ways to become a better public speaker is to take note of the foibles of others.

Many speakers have tics that can distract an audience — perhaps a repetitive phrase, such as “you know,” or a repetitive motion with the hands or feet — while the speakers remain blissfully unaware.

One of the simplest antidotes to developing such behavior is to keep a tic list, wrote CIO’s Maryfran Johnson. Each time you see a presenter exhibit an annoying habit, write it down on your list as something to avoid. The longer the list gets, the better the odds you will avoid such tics.

Johnson also recommends being prepared to offer constructive criticism if speakers seek it. “This kind of fine-tuning is what good-to-great speakers are always willing — actually eager — to do,” she wrote. “Keep that in mind the next time you have a chance to offer some helpful, honest feedback.”

Kundra’s big agenda
Source: InformationWeek

First President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, now this: InformationWeek has honored federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra as “Chief of the Year” for 2009.

Writer J. Nicholas Hoover admits that, given Kundra’s “long, unfinished to-do list,” it might seem premature to start in with the laurels. But the CIO “has demonstrated a compelling vision for overhauling the government's lumbering IT operations (with 71,000 federal IT workers and more than 10,000 IT systems), and his progress is so far impressive,” Hoover wrote.

Beyond the kudos, the article outlines Kundra’s agenda, which includes updating the IT Dashboard to make it easier for agencies to identify potential problems with their technology investments and expanding Data.gov to include a higher volume and more types of data.

Kundra also hopes to rope retail giant Amazon.com into Apps.gov, the administration’s nascent online technology storefront, and expand the site with an intergovernmental repository for open-source software.

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