Cyberborean Chronicles

PCN Beta is out

Laboranova People-Concepts Networking Server is opened for beta-testing since today, Jul 1, 2009.

What’s this

It’s a prototype of a social network service where people are connected automatically via shared topics of interests extracted from their texts. You can find more on the PCN theory in this post.

If you’re interested to play with it, we are glad to invite you to join the testing.

How to join

1. Request a personal invitation code by filling this form. The code will be sent to the provided email address.

2. Register on PCN with your invitation code. Your username must be the same you used in the request above.

3. Download, install and configure the PCN client (Conex) as proposed by the system.

To run the client, an installed Java Runtime Environment is required. You also may need the Java plugin installed into your browser for visualisation of the network in your server profile.

The PCN Client

The PCN client software (Conex, from “CONcept EXtraction”) is a desktop content aggregator collecting pieces of content from different locations (local folders, webs, email, RSS feeds, Del.icio.us, SharePoint servers …). The content is analyzed to extract valuable terms from the texts and assign them as the document tags (manual tagging is possible also). A user can browse her content collections with the tag cloud or  metadata facets, edit document metadata, annotate documents, search in the content collections and do a lot of other things. Those who are interested into details of client functionality and in a underlying technology, can check this site.

To configure PCN connection, select  “PCN Client → Configure PCN Client” menu. At the first time, it will ask your username/password on the server and offer to create one or more contexts for your data. The contexts serves as navigation facets to browse the content collection and are useful to organize the content resources depending on your activities. After the contexts are defined, you can assign existing Conex content locations to them.

pcnconfig

Autotagging is applied to individual documents by selecting them and choosing “Autotagging…” in the context menu. This operation can also be automated for all documents in a specific location, if “Apply autotagging for new documents” option is set in the location properties (“Settings” tab of the location dialog box). You can edit the results of autotagging or add new tags for selected documents using “Edit tags” option of the context menu.

As the content is tagged, Conex sends the tagging data and resource descriptions to the server, where a profile of user’s interests is created. All updates in the monitored locations are also sent to the server (in the specified time interval) to keep the user profile up-to-date.

By default, Conex works with the files in your local folders. To enable other types of content locations, you need to install the plugins. A plugin is installed with a single click in the Plugin Management console (“Tools → Manage plugins…” menu) and will be activated after restart.

PDF, MS Office, OpenOffice, HTML, XML and plain text documents are supported out of the box.

For SCAN users

To clarify the things, Conex is neither a proprietary fork, nor a new version of SCAN. It’s basically a rebranded distribution bundled with the common document plugins and integrated into the PCN solution. There is a plugin providing connectivity with the PCN Server and it’s possible to install this plugin into “native” SCAN to use it as a full-featured PCN client. This likely won’t work with the released version, but should be ok with a SVN snapshot. Anyway, new SCAN version enabling the PCN plugin will be released soon, so stay tuned.

The PCN Server

The server receives data from the clients and builds the socio-semantic network of users connected via the tags they have in common. After you’ve submitted some data from Conex, you can check your profile on the server to see your tags and  people appeared in your personal network:

pcnprofile

The people listed in your network are the users who have the similar interests. On their profile pages, you can see a detailed information on compatibility between you and a profile owner:

pcncompat

The Network view displays a visualization of your complete network as a map of the overlapping clusters of tags you share with the members of your network:

pcnnetwork

The map is interactive — double-clicking an element will navigate to a user profile or to a tag page.

The people search is also implemented. You can find users by their names, other profile data or by the tags:

pcnsearch1

pcnsearch2

And finally, you can explore the content collections of the network members using faceted navigation with tags and contexts (supplemental metadata facets, such as document authors and  creation dates are also available).

pcncollection

Your privacy

⚠ The full text of the documents is not submitted to the server, however, Conex can use excerpts from the documents to fill the title and description metadata (if it is not defined explicitly). So, if your documents contain some sensitive information, parts of it may appear on the public. Please check and make sure that there are no private documents in the Conex locations you are about to assign to the PCN contexts. Well, you’ve been warned.

Report issues

It’s a beta, so  the bugs are likely to be there. Feel free to report the bugs, either in the Server or the Client,  to the bug tracker (registration is needed). Any other feedback, of course, is also more than welcome.

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