October 20, 2004 05:58 | WebBlogging / WebTech

Ping me

So I was thinking about how I could be notified of the continuation of weblog comments threads I'd participated in. I don't want that stuff in my email. I want an RSS feed I can check once in a while.

I thought "hey, I have a URL... ping me!"
I figure... I leave my name, my email address and my URL.
I figure... I could tell your weblog to notify me for each of the next 3 comments made to that entry right there.

So I am thinking... "how could we implement this in Movable Type?"
We need two things. Something that sends pings and something that can receive/store/publish them. Hey! MT has both of those things! The TrackBack mechanism! In fact all weblog tools have that now!

A quick, rough and dirty way to set up the receiving end (my end) would be to create another "weblog", create an entry and note it's TrackBack URL. Futz out some custom templates (don't need much... an RSS feed to notify me, an index of most recent pings and monthly archives... if that), and we're ready to receive.

The "other end" - the sender - is trickier. MT would need to be hacked or patched or plug-in'ed... Basically, and depending on how we'd architect the User Experience, the comment mechanism would hand off a URL to the Trackback mechanism which would send a ping to it.

If we want we could do all this with some sort of authentication, centralized à la TypeKey (add a field to my profile called "Ping Address"), decentralized with public and private keys (no one is doing this yet. why?)... or we just keep trusting each other. Cough.

Now, here I go off a bit further. Atom. Atom is more than a syndication format, it is a publishing framework. It can be used to retrieve stuff and push stuff out. So instead of sending me a Trackback (a non-standards-body-regulated, loosely and poorly implemented... standard...), send me a ping in Atom, to my Atom "interface". Hey! Guess what! MT has that too!! (I think...?)

I mentioned the ping thing to Ross and Joey at Blogware/Tucows the other day. Ross didn't even need me to finish my sentence he was already all over it... "I was looking for something neat to do with our new ping interface!" Of course Blogware can implement this easily, in one shot, seeing as they are totally centralized.

Can someone explain to me why I had the good sense to drink an espresso at 11pm. No sleep tonight!

(p.s.: this framework could be used for many more communication applications: email style asynchronous exchanges, alerts from services such as Technorati, etc... )


I'd put some thought into ...holy crap that preview dhtml is snazzy ...where was I? Oh yeah, I'd put some thought into how to track multiple weblog conversations earlier this year, rather than basing it on the latest technology, I based it on USENET. Check it out. I only based it on USENET because I haven't figured out how to implement it using GOPHER yet.