A while back, I saw some reports that Microsoft was using Kumo as the name for an experimental search system. Recently there have been more reports that this is the case, or that perhaps the name will be used for some other product. It has been my experience that the deployment of Kumos, whether they be clouds or spiders, needs to be carefully planned.
FXPAL has a number of conference rooms, all named after Japanese weather phenomena – Niji, Kiri, Kaze, Yuki, and Kumo. Our original large conference room, Yuki/Kumo, was two smaller rooms with a movable partition between them. When we reworked this room in the late 90’s with a 120″ rear-projection screen, an overkill Hughes-JVC 200 projector, PTZ cameras, microphones, an AMX control system, and a web of wires above the hanging ceiling, it seemed appropriate to keep the Kumo moniker. The plan was that this space would be our main conference room, and would be used both as a formal presentation space and a research space.
Over the years the room evolved quite a bit, with a lot of our experimental meeting capture, room control, and other technologies deployed and used on a regular basis. It is surprising how strongly the users built up a shared model of what the room should be. When the technology met the user expectations for the space, all was well. Systems that strayed too far from that group model were at best ignored and at worst forcibly removed, wires trailing behind. As the closest thing to a caretaker the Kumo Conference Room has had, I’m still often surprised by users and usage.
If the reports about Microsoft prove true, I will have a good laugh, and either way, I’ll be watching closely and wishing them good luck. I hope that any system named Kumo would be designed with the goals and desires of the users in mind, carefully launched, and slowly grown, so that it isn’t shunned. My experiences and those of Large Software Companies seem to show that it is still pretty easy to get it wrong.