Government Agencies Told to Interoperate Are Like Children in a Sandbox

An interesting article on networkworld found via slashdot about government agencies refusing to cooperate and interoperate.

Like a bunch of children in a sandbox unable and perhaps unwilling to share their toys, multiple key government agencies cannot or will not cooperate to build a collaborative wireless network.

The Government Accountability Office report issued today took aim at the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and the Treasury which had intended what’s known as The Integrated Wireless Network (IWN) to be a joint radio communications system to improve communication among law enforcement agencies.

However IWN, which as already cost millions of dollars, is no longer being pursued as a joint development project, the GAO said. By abandoning collaboration on a joint implementation, the departments risk duplication of effort and inefficient use of resources as they continue to invest significant resources in independent solutions. Further, these efforts will not ensure the interoperability needed to serve day-to-day law enforcement operations or a coordinated response to terrorist or other events, the GAO said.

Sounds like a real problem… someone go work for these guys!  Apparently the DOJ has already spent $195 Million dollars on it… as Bob says, this is hard stuff!

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How does “Keiretsu” effect on standardization in auto-industry?

In the last lecture, there is an opinion pointing out that Japanese “sacrifice mind” causes the success of interoperability in Japanese auto industries. …Perhaps, that has effected to some extent, but I believe it is not, at least, a main reason. (If Japanese “sacrifice” culture had mainly caused success of achieving interoperability among inter-companies , all the Japanese businesses would have succeeded in constructing efficient standardized and interoperable systems among them. Of course, it is not true. ) In my opinion, there is another big reason, Japanese Keiretsu System in auto industries, which has contributed to incentive to adopt standardized systems among the companies.


Traditionally, Japanese auto-industry had constructed Keiretsu system. Japanese auto-manufactures, like Toyota, Nissan and Honda, mainly had dealt with specific auto components suppliers for a long term and these components suppliers had dealt with specific subtier suppliers for a long term. This pseudo-vertical integration gave each manufacturer a big power to force components companies to adopt the manufacturer’s standardized system.  Also, this meant that each supplier had incentive to adopt the manufactures standardized systems. The investment to adopt the specific standard could be rewarded because they could believe that they could continue to contract a specific auto-manufacturer for a long term. In this way, standardization was prevailed in each Keiretsu, vertical integration. It is often said that this vertical system contributes Japan auto-industry’s success.


In contrast, U.S. auto-manufactures usually seem to adopt bidding when they contract suppliers. Manufactures don’t necessarily continue to contract the specific suppliers for a long term, vice versa. This system, of course, contributes to keeping price of parts to be cheaper, but parts suppliers don’t have incentive to adopt the specific standard adopted by the specific manufacturer because the investment for standardization is not guaranteed to be recouped. I think this is a big difference between Japanese and U.S. automakers’ business model that might affect standardization.



I’m not so familiar with automaker’s business. So, this is only my hypothesis. However, I think it is possible that the exsistence of a powerful entity and long-term contracts may drive Japanese automakers to adopt standardization. Yes, this reason is also mentioned in the lecture. If players are assured to recoup their investment for standardization, they will adopt a certain standard. If not, they will not adopt and cooperate.


However, recently, Keiretsu system in Japan is changing. This system tends to keep prices of parts higher than bidding system, and there is a movement for automakers to increase ratio of trading with non-Keiretsu companies. For example, after its business crisis at the end of 90’s, Nissan declared to quit its Keiretsu System in order to cut its cost of parts.

This movement seems to drive automakers in Japan to build inter-Keiretsu standardizations. (I’m not sure whether this is succeeded or not.)




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Gnip: Grand Central Station for the Social Web


GNIP is an intermediary service for interchanging data among different Web2.0 APIs without actually pulling content from the source on every transaction. By acting as both an interchange and a intermediary storage location, the service improves latency, decreases polling, and appears to be working to standardize metadata between the services. According to RWW, “It’s about scalability” and “it sounds like a great idea.”

While I’ll confess to not being fully versed in the backend magic, I can definitely see value in a system that acts as a blackbox and does transforms between non-standard implementations. This seems especially beneficial considering the speed with which new producers/consumers companies are emerging on the scene.

GNIP’s technology allows “data consumers can get complete public data streams for Twitter, Digg, Delicious, Six Apart and others without ever visiting those sites or accessing their individual APIs, subject only to the terms of service of those services. And this data can be gathered via a REST-based API or the newly launched XMPP support.”

A nice bonus is that the service is free for all non-commercial users and commercial users who are “tracking more than 10,000 people and/or rules for a certain data provider”.

Articles @ RWW and Techcrunch

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The Chameleon

The Chameleon, David Grann, The New Yorker, August 2008

I found this piece in the New Yorker to be so interesting that I felt inspired to relate it to our 202 discussions somehow.  It was in this attempt that I gained a whole new appreciation of and perspective on the story and it’s characters.

The Chameleon is a true story about a Frenchman named Frederic Bourdin who, at the age of 16, runs away from home and wanders across Europe, taking on many different personas and fictional characters in search of the “perfect shelter.”  By the time he turns 18 and becomes a true adult Interpol has a growing record of his deceits, and he has attracted the attention of the European media.  These potential threats hardly affect his lifestyle as he continues to “insinuate himself into youth shelters, orphanages, foster homes, junior high schools, and children’s hospitals,” across 15 countries, generally posing as a desperate child in order to “win sympathy.”

His deceits escalate until he eventually hatches up a plan to impersonate a missing child named Nicholas Barclay who is said to have run away from his home outside of San Antonio, Texas three years earlier.  Not only is he able to convince Spanish and American Authorities, but also the missing child’s family.  The missing child’s older sister eventually meets Frederic at the American Embassy in Spain where he receives an American passport and is taken home to live with the family.  Without giving the whole story away, suffice it to say that there are quite a few additional twists.

So how does this relate to 202?  Well it made me think about misinformation, peoples’ varying perceptions of information, and how they determine the validity of information.  Do people believe what they see, what their instincts tell them, what their emotions or feelings make them want to believe, or what other people tell them to believe?  It also made me think about the sharing of information across institutions, how we manage and interpret personal identification information, and whether or not somebody could pull this off in today’s post 9/11 world.

Related Lectures

7 – Controlled Names and Vocabularies (9/22)

11 – Information Integration and Interoperability (10/6)

15 – Personal Information Management (10/20)

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Changing accounting standards in the U.S.

U.S. Moves Toward International Accounting Rules

The New York Times reported today that the S.E.C. is moving toward requiring U.S. companies to follow international accounting standards. It has proposed a roadmap that allows some large businesses to begin using the international standards in 2009 and will require all companies to use them by 2016. Embracing the international standards will make it easier to compare the financial performances of U.S. companies with those of foreign companies, and it will make it easier for businesses to make money across international borders. There are concerns, however, that the standards of the International Accounting Standards Board are less rigorous than the current U.S. rules and that some countries may adopt them more fully than others.

Relevant lectures: 11, Information Integration & Interoperability (10/6) and 12, Enterprise / Institutional Categorization & Standards (10/8).

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