Inbox from Google, augmented search, social out

Google have just released a new mail client for its Gmail service, which is usable free or with a paid subscription for smb and education.

Whith this new client, Google is suggesting that a mail client should support the user not only in mail “browsing”, but also for acting on the mail messages, taking and organizing the proper actions required by each message.
This is not new, the classical user interface of Microsoft Outlook was already providing an integrated environment for mail, tasks, calendar and contact management.

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Google is adding value to this idea in two directions:
1 adding information from the search engine that is relevant for the mail content (flight info, stock quotes, etc.)
2 providing a grouping mechanism, that was already in place in the traditional web interface for Gmail, that assign each mail to a group (social, updates, forums, etc.) according to its content/sender

The final expected result is a cleaner inbox, that helps finding out the important messages, plan when we are going to act upon them, and gently guide us in browsing other categories of messages when we are confortable.

Now, the main components of a mail messages are:
1 content
2 people involved

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People are sets, nested and mixed together in various ways, that can be seen as “containers” for several messages, with the exception that the containment is not strict, as water in a bottle, but shows a sort of ripple effect, that goes beyond the natural border of organizational or social set.

Google is putting emphasis on content: mail are classified according to their content type, even if the sender is used as an element helping content classification.
The missing element is people relations, and threads, intended as an extended version of the traditional mail threads (answers, forwards).
I think that this is a promising further line of development.

Content is something that is somehow limited to the single message (or message thread).
People is something more “stable” in the network of our relations, and more significant when we shift to groups/clustwr of people.

In this field, Google has already its social layer, Google+, that is already exploited in the traditional web interface of Gmail.
A shift from the single interaction model that is typical of mail messages, toward a more social aware model is, in my opinion, the future evolution of mail, and the convergence field with Social networks, and, furthermore, Enterprise Social Networks,

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“Velocity” reporting from the semantic web

I am playing with an excellent platform for knowledge acquisition and architecting: Protégé from stanford.edu.

My main interest is the creation of OWL knowledgebases, and the application of Description Logic. The KISS project is maybe my greatest effort in this area.

Protégé is an excellent system for the knowledge engineer, but it is not easy to extract fragment of your ontology in a “user friendly” presentation format. I guessed that a tool like Velocity, from the Apache Foundation, would be a great help, as it allows to create e “template” of your required output, and then fill it at runtime with the java objects from the OWL API.

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So I written a simple plugin for Protégé, integrating the OWL API and Velocity. The plugin is open source, you can access it from its website.

Yes.. more samples can help people without specific programming skills. In the past monts I was really busy, having now the responsibility for two functions; I will do my best to providemore documentation. However, remember that Velocity, the tool at the core of the plugin, was intended primarily as a programming tool; it is based on the Java(TM) object model, so, a non-programmer, will find it a little bit tricky.

KISS – a Knowledgebase for Information Security System

The project uses a Description Logic-based approach for the conceptual modeling of the information system.

During the project I have used several new (form me) technologies, like the OWL language, DL reasoners, and I found this approach really fascinating.

I had confirms that

  • the adoption of XML-based standards allows a great level of interoperability among different stuffs,
  • open source technologies allow innovation with smooth investment curves.

The project deliverables are a fundamental tool, in my Company, for Compliance Risk management (according to the Basel Committee definition), and the conceptual models were used as a design input for a commercial application for Compliance management.

There is a web page dedicated to the project. You can find also another working paper, on conceptualization of norms, in my website.