New Zealand at CeBIT 2008

Given that New Zealand traditionally makes a big splash at CeBIT (out-blinging the Aussies no less), I was not surprised to receive an email from people involved with the PR for next years CeBIT already. They have set up a blog that covers the build up to next years CeBIT event, and I presume the results afterwards also. It will no doubt be interesting to watch what is going on, and I’m obviously very interested for the simple reason that the company I am involved with, Centruflow Ltd, is one of the companies exhibiting.

Just as a note – Cebit 2008 runs from March 4 – 9th I believe.

Enterprise Data

I like to say to people that Centruflow helps to solve the problem of “too much data, not enough information”. It does this by basically being pointed at your sources of data, and (without manipulating your data at all) creating a live visualisation atop of it. This visualisation is based on the concept of nodes and edges (as opposed to the more common use of the term ‘graph’ to mean bar charts, etc). It allows for you to explore your data as information.

I like to differentiate data and information, with the key differentiator being that information is actionable. Of course, anyone can make data transform into information, it’s just a matter of time really. The other problem is that data changes, and so therefore so too does your information. Centruflow does nothing that you couldn’t do in Visio or whichever diagramming tool you like, if you were happy to manually maintain these images – Centruflow uses the live data from your database.

If you are having trouble with too much data and not enough information, you should get in touch with Centruflow to see how the software can help you and/or your business.

Me and CeBIT

Well, for the past few months I have been busily working towards finishing my masters thesis, but a little further away in March of next year, I will be going to the CeBIT tradeshow in Hannover, Germany. Whilst there I will be part of the Centruflow booth (as part of the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise stand). This is both exciting and daunting, as we will be unveiling Centruflow 3.0* to the world, which is the culmination of over four years of full-on development.

Centruflow is all about visualising your information, turning data into information that you can trust and understand. It sits on top of your datasources and helps to make everyone inside your business more understanding.

And it’s New Zealand made. That’s pretty cool.

* Being released in March 2008 doesn’t mean you can’t be part of the fun now though! Get in touch with me if you think Centruflow can help your business, and I’m sure we can sort you out with a beta copy (which I guarantee will be 100% safe on all your data).

What is the Semantic Web (or, Turning Data Into Information)

I’m working on my thesis at the moment, and am writing a bit of an introductory section about the semantic web. As soon as I started writing it, I thought it would be good to include on this blog. Because of this it is not overly formal, but I think it gives a good impression of what the semantic web is, in my opinion. Attached below is the entire section, copied as-is.

In our opinion and understanding of the semantic web, the goal is simple to describe, but complex to successfully implement. We believe the semantic web enables the intelligent and automated reuse of the masses of data that is available on our computers and networks for our benefit. Data is not valuable in and of itself, and it is through the conversion to information that we as humans can actually proceed to be better informed as to the availability of options and the consequences of our actions.

Before this is possible, the groundwork must be put into place, and that is the current state of the semantic web. RDF and OWL are slowly becoming more stable as standards definitions for the means of semantically marking up data, SPARQL is becoming the de facto means to query such data, and more frequently are we encountering situations where, visibly or not, applications (and this includes web applications) are using a solid semantic web foundation to not only give themselves a ‘foot up’, but to also be more interoperable in the long term.

Once this groundwork is in place, the varied ideas that have been floated by the visionaries behind the semantic web (notably Tim Berners-Lee) become a lot more realistic. We are of the belief that this is no longer a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’, and perhaps most importantly, depends now only on the uptake of the W3C standards by the large software vendors such as Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and SAP. This has already begun.

To be clear, the semantic web will not make websites any prettier than they are now (thanks to the Web 2.0 emphasis on design), but it’ll allow them to be smarter, and more connected. People have reserved the term ‘Web 3.0’ for many things (including the semantic web faction), so we will avoid confusing this any further, but suffice to say, the semantic web will be the next (or the next next) big thing for the internet.

This section of my thesis very closely ties to a piece of software I’m involved with called Centruflow. It’s goal is to turn data into information by transforming any data source it is pointed at into a visual graph that may be clicked around and explored in real time. If you’re drowning in data, you should definitely check it out!

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask. I have over 30,000 additional words I could copy in here if anyone cares 😛

NZ-made Information Visualisation Software

In response to Daniel Lawson’s blog post regarding TouchGraph, I’d like to draw attention to Centruflow, which is a New Zealand based software framework that does precisely what TouchGraph does, but in my opinion better…

I’ll leave my justification for this for another day. I just wanted to get this blog out there to say to everyone: support New Zealand made! 🙂