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Trends and Transients 2014


Each year there are more new technologies to keep track of, more ways to organise
your life and your company’s information, more ways to communicate. This session
will introduce you to new and potentially over-hyped technologies, discuss
older, overlooked technologies, and entertain you at the same time. Our expert
speakers will debate the current issues, giving you the benefit of their wide
experience and differing points of view, so you can decide for yourself which
technologies will meet your needs and which are a waste of your time.

This course is chaired by Lauren Wood and taught by Eve Maler, Jacqui Maher, Jo Rabin, and Norman Gray.

Classes for 2014

The Trends and Transients course runs on

Bring-Your-Own-Everything: security and access control meet privacy
and the Internet of Things

Taught by Eve Maler.

The first couple of chapters of authorization and access control are still being
written even when it comes to old-fashioned web services, newfangled APIs, and
mobile devices, never mind the “Internet of Things”. IoT needs security that
goes far beyond the current scope of cloud and mobile challenges: for two, it
has to be super-loosely coupled and super-strong. Everyone can imagine
security-gone-wrong scenarios that have disastrous consequences for industrial
IoT use cases like “smart shipping containers”; for consumer-facing IoT in
healthcare and household appliances, the consequences are different but no less
severe, and it adds a killer requirement: privacy. How can we solve the problems
of access control and privacy in a unified way, without any compromises? And how
can we solve the problem NOW? The OAuth-based User-Managed Access (UMA) protocol
provides answers.

XML and the tension between syntax and semantics

Taught by Norman Gray.

It’s a truism that XML is all about syntax. But it is _always_ about just

We can decide that XML is all about the communication of meaning: if so, does
the usual focus on syntax help that, or frustrate it?

Or we can decide that the key thing about XML is the semantics, and that the
pointy bracket stuff is just there to serialise that in transit. What does that
point of view make easier, and what harder?

In discussing each case I’ll draw on practical examples to illustrate behaviours
that may seem initially exotic, but which seem natural when viewed through the
right spectacles. These will be informed by work in XML signatures, the Semantic
Web, and the standardisation arguments of the Virtual Observatory and its data interchange discussions.

Data and Reporting at the New York Times

Taught by Jacqui Maher.

The news industry is finding ways to adapt to changes in technology and an ever
more demanding readership who want the news in formats beyond print on a variety
of devices. Aside from digital publishing platforms, how can media organizations
enhance their reporting through quantifiable data? We will go over how the
newsroom at The New York Times mixes traditional reporting with data analysis
and interactive presentations to tell stories in more compelling ways right now.
We’ll also discuss how groups like the Research & Development Labs at The
Times are looking beyond the current deadlines to how we’ll interact with
information in the next three to five years. The R&D labs anticipates that
this near future will find data streams far more common than we do now. We’ll
discuss the tools they are developing to simplify the task of working with live,
endlessly updating data for both reporters and our readers.

What’s wrong with the Web, If anything?

Taught by Jo Rabin.

What is the current state of health of the Web? Is it up to the future
challenges it faces? What are those challenges, anyway?

Sometimes it’s the simple questions, the newbie questions, that get us thinking.
Questions such as: What is a Web site? What is the difference between a Web site
and a Web application? What is the difference between a mobile app, a mobile Web
site, and a mobile Web application? What does mobile mean? What is the Web,

Chasing these rabbits down the holes ends up at some surprising challenges to
the current orthodoxy and even more questions about the future of the Web, and
how it should change (or should it?). A lot has changed since the inception of
the Web, and while it has continuously evolved, has it changed enough? There are
still people who question the scalability of HTTP, and people (rightly)
concerned about privacy and identity implications.

In this session we’ll muse on these and other themes, and wonder where will it
all end, and what role should we play?