by Bryan Kirschner on November 07, 2006 06:51pm
I know I’m running a risk of losing focus on the thread I started on analogy and metaphor, but there’ve been too many things popping up in the last couple weeks. In the interest of focus (and maybe good taste) I decided not to follow up There’s a Vendor in My OSS with “And Now There’s an Oracle in My Pudding” for now. (Yes, that is the title that popped into my head as soon as a I read the news. No, I won’t promise I won’t go there in a future blog.) But I have got to introduce Tammara Combs Turner and the cool stuff she works on, because (a) she just won a national award and (b) she once worked for me. (I claim no contribution whatsoever to the award: I’m simply relieved it is prima facie evidence I didn’t slow her down: in addition to her work and her award, she’s a PhD candidate, an active mentor, and raising two young kids…while I can’t even keep my office clean.)
Tammara is a Program Manager (which doesn’t tell you anything—read Vlad’s entertaining perspective on this, which I share) in the Microsoft Research Community Technologies Group. These folks study “computer mediated collective action”—which, as you might imagine, means we talk a lot about things like peer-to-peer technical support and distributed software development….
One of the technologies they offer—free, online, for anybody to use-is NetScan. NetScan is a an analysis and visualization technology for UseNet newsgroups. Below is the UseNet. All of it. Groups are shown as blocks of various sizes while colors indicate growth. It’s a great tool for social network analysis, not to mention idle geek-out amusement (hm, what’s the posting trendline on alt.politics.bush these days?). She wrote a paper all about it here (Picturing Usenet: Mapping Computer-Mediated Collective Action).
Tammara was willing to take some time out of her busy schedule and come to my mess of an office to do an interview with us…