WebBlogging Category Archive

Distributed and federated "microblogging"

What you need:

- a CMS

that allows posting entries
-- via quick-post form
-- instant message
-- text message (how relevant is this in iPhone + unlimited 3G data world?)
that outputs
-- an ATOM feed of your posts
that handles quick authorization and authentication requests
(so that if your feed isn't publicly available, your friends can put in a request to follow, with their OAuth or OpenID or other credentials, be given a unique RSS feed URL, and as soon as you "accept" them they start getting your posts. Until you authorize them, the system throws an HTTP 403. If you deny, 404.)

- an aggregator
that allows quick subscription of other's feeds.
-- auto submission of OAuth or OpenID or other credentials
-- respects HTTP error codes etc which indicate state of relationship ("404 - I've denied your master, remove their submission to follow me from your queue. They can always try again...")

etc etc

There are issues with this of course. And I am full aware that it is essentially what we had before Twitter, except we used blogs and aggregators and wrote more than 140 characters... Conditions where not right for this to develop this way, but perhaps they are now?

There is at least one other person who is sensing this desire (Evan Prodromou):

Aaaaand someone's already started work on a spec:

Whoop whoop and more:
Prototype for distributed / decentralised microblogging using semantics

The whole world is watching

Sometime in the last 24 hours, Bangladeshi blogger and journalist Tasneem Khalil was arrested by "the Joint Forces". He's the CNN and Human Rights Watch representative in Bangladesh and had recently been covering extra-judicial killings these Joint Forces have been involved in.


Bangladeshi press and media apparently stood still. The Bangladeshi blogosphere however, erupted. From an email I just received:

While the Bangladeshi press kept mum (probably because of self censorship and the timing of publications) the Bangladeshi blogs broke the news within a couple of hours of the incident. Because of widespread amplifications we could get this heard to media, some US congressmen (through Diaspora bloggers) and pressuring the Bangladesh Government. Emails, blog posts demanding release of Tasneem were flying everywhere. Many Bloggers at a Bangla blogging platform suspended regular postings and declared that they will only write about Tasneem Khalil. A South Asian group Blog Pickled Politics was mobilizing a demonstration outside the Bangladesh embassy in London and an e-petition to UK Government. Some bloggers were knocking media sources like BBC through personal contact, why they were not picking up the story, which they did eventually.

Google Blog search gives 191 results at the moment.

The above email however came to announce that Tasneem had been released. It trumpeted the victory of engaged bloggers against forces of oppression.

A comment left by Jason Paz on the GlobalVoices post on the story put it in a way that nailed part of what we hope to do, right on the head:

It is of the utmost importance that we ordinary bloggers speak out against the injustice done Tasneem Khalil.
Each of us may only have a small readership, but the effect can be worldwide having an impact on Bangladeshi officials.
Oppressors thrive picking off individuals in the darkness of night.
We want them to know the whole world is watching.
We want their kids to confront them over breakfast. "Daddy, did you do this?"

I called it

Of totally no interest to anyone, and just of passing to myself, but I so called it.

WordPress is inching towards Drupal, and Drupal towards WordPress.

They will never meet or overlap of course (or maybe they will one day who knows), I'm just saying there is certainly an homogenizing trend.

Drupal gets more user friendly, cleaned up code, separation of admin and public site.
WordPress just decided to introduce taxonomy tables in their database to handle categories and tags. The plugin architecture is mature enough that you can do just about anything with a plugin/module. Making a plugin that creates and manages a whole new taxonomy--like say geo--will be a snap.

That is all. Sorry to bore you. ;)


Global Voices Online

After months of work, we finally launched the Global Voices Online redesign. This is just the beginning of many many more awesome things to come.

Many thanks to all who helped! and congrats to the whole GV community.

Indymedia is a spam host

I've been receiving tons of spam blog comments across the networks I maintain all pointing to spam comments hosted on various Indymedia websites.

I have tried to contact them directly but I recently heard that their technical resources are ... technically non existant...

Seems they are incompetent as well. What to expect, it's Indymedia.


Wake up kids.

Lookit meeee!

Overall, I prefer Jaiku to Twitter.
Where else can YOU track all MY web output?
(well what I choose to include anyways)

What's the sound of one context collapsing? ;)

Typical weekend dilemma for me...

I had planned to spend some time this weekend hacking out the "featured article" functionality for the GlobalVoices redesign. It's the last big piece that needs doing and we have a Thursday EST deadline to show off a final version of the site. I'm not hugely worried about it, I just wanted t get it done.


I was up until 4am last night (instead of going to an event in Shibuya), and I just missed an afternoon at the 10th Japan Media Arts Festival with Paul, because I badly needed to finish some XML API endpoints for the maps Mike is making for us, and just before running off I discovered a huge snafu in the private pinging infrastructure I developed for our new distributed translation network. (just wait till you see this... insanity.)

gvo chinese
(i screwed up the chinese characters a bit due to DB encoding issues. This will bite me in the ass one day...)

But that's all done now. It's quarter to 4. And in about an hour Paul will ping me to head to Yokohama for some Information Design thing and hopefully some dumplings. w00t.

"I should blog that"

I think it was sometime in 2002... I hadn't even started this weblog yet, in fact that stuff to me was still just personal websites. (that's all it still is to me, really)

On a lark one Sunday afternoon I remembered to search Google for the lyrics to a song I had heard too many times in my life without ever really getting what was said: "La grange" by ZZ-Top.

I found the lyrics (snore, it was a particularly lazy sunday), but also, I found the homepage of someone who later became my best friend. :)

(I can pinpoint the exact moment I realized, maybe two years later, that I cared about him too. Funny. And totally unique. I remember thinking "holyshit i hope he didn't go and do something stupid" as I ran out the door to try to find him.)

About a month ago, sitting at our favorite sakana-ya (fish place) in Shimokitazawa, he told me between bites of freshly steamed crab: "I'm stopping."

"Ah? Ok." Said I. The moment passed.

Wasn't till tonight that I stopped by his site only to see his farewell message. (Karl stopped blogging.)

Funny, I did the opposite. I stopped reading weblogs over a year ago. No joke. Once every few weeks I'll go poke around... but honestly i can't think of even 5 weblogs I really read with any kind of frequency. That includes Karl. And you, too. ;)

And that's why I don't miss Karl. Oh and the fact that he's my best friend and we talk everyday. :)

by attribution

Larry-By-2.5Cleaning up my desktop, dunno where else to put this so it's going up here.

About three weeks ago, Joi was preparing for a presentation and had a bunch of slides of Lessig's he was... erm... mashing into his KeyNote.

He wanted to add a very clear CreativeCommons BY attribution license badge and also make it clear that it was Lessig's stuff he was using.

So I made this badge for him quick.

(Sadly, I don't remember where we got the illustration from nor do I know who made it so I can't attribute it properly. Joi?)

Speaking of CreativeCommons, it still weirds me out to see Hugh's face on their homepage... ;)

all together now

How to tell this story without getting into the technical details and revealing by what method I prioritized tasks, and still manage to convey some of the insanity that visited itself upon me today?

Let's just say that the last two days were a storm of almost each and every one of my currently active "clients" contacting me:

- TWO total catastrophes that needed immediate attention (two sites, Smartmobs.com and BlogAfrica.com totally out of commission),

- moderately urgent glitches that were rather annoying (a wayward new plugin causing comments to bounce off of Joi's blog)

- a project for Technorati JP that's in final stages before going live and I forgot to import the most recent posts from the temporary site (oops heh)

- come to think of it GVO's been pretty quiet... except for the fact I have two deadlines looming for February.

Also, an old friend back in Montreal needed to borrow my skis, so I had to hook him up with my house-sitter, who informed me the WiFi was down at the apartment, so I hooked her up with Michael...

Electronic notifications of bills due for payment came in, making me realize I'm pretty damn low on cash myself and need to invoice a few folks too... immediately!

All of this while I am sitting in a windowless office in the basement of the Journalism and Media Studies Center at Hong Kong University, desperately trying to figure out why the blogfarm we are setting up refuses to post embedded videos AND chinese characters (admittedly important things for them, right?) before Rebecca and I give the faculty a crash-course in how to use this stuff.

At one point I just sat back and thought: nowhere to run man; just gotta do 'em one by one.

As of 1:30am, only one of these remains unsolved. Ethan, asap, I swear...


Hello, what's this?

"We automatically detect new buzz by crawling 50,000 of the very best web sites, blogs, and news sources. Then our technology crunches the raw data from these sites to identify new buzz that’s just starting to spread. We developed the technology to find new things just when they start accelerating in popularity and provoking interesting conversations. Our technology is also supplemented by a network of human taste-makers and tips submitted by BuzzFeed readers. These savvy humans can spot subtle trends our robots might miss."

Aggregator + some statistical analysis + human editors.

Very interesting.

When the money comes knocking, egotism answers.

Flickr patents "Interestingness".

Media objects, such as images or soundtracks, may be ranked according to a new class of metrics known as "interestingness." These rankings may be based at least in part on the quantity of user-entered metadata concerning the media object, the number of users who have assigned metadata to the media object, access patterns related to the media object, and/or a lapse of time related to the media object.

Sorry guys. I am officially revolted. Peh.
An awesome bit of code, for sure. A great idea, no doubt. An idea that needs to be "protected" and hoarded and kept from anyone else benefitting from? Hmmmm... hooray for progress!
Peh. Lame, lame, lame.

IRC logging, revisited

This afternoon I set up a "logger bot" which monitors and logs the GlobalVoices IRC channel.
About an hour ago, Karl showed me the log he tweaked for the Semantic Web Interest Group IRC channel and mentioned how he structured some of the data.

Now, let's think of IRC for a moment not as a place to chat with people, but rather as text entry point.. for whatever.

Ok not whatever, let's think of it as a task logger for small groups.

The IRC bot logs in chronological order everything entered intot he channel, timestamps it and records who "said it".

Say you have a team of people working on a project who wish to keep a log of the tasks they accomplish. Just type it!

"Fixed bug #234"
"changed the color of the links"

This is already doable, out of the box. I just need to set it up and let the team in.

But I want more.

Say our project has several departments: "design", "technology", "editorial", "management". Say also our project is really a bunch of smaller projects: "main site", "wiki", "intranet", "conference in Delhi". Or just you want to be able to tag things: "PITA", "fixed", "researched"... or, like in del.icio.us, you want "send" something to someone's attention: "for:mike", "for:karl", "for:francis".

The syntax should be stupid; in the IRC text input, for example:
# tech, aggregator | caching system is 98% done. I just added OPML flatfiles to the output

or send a task to someone:
# design, mainsite, pita, for:jer, todo | please install that gizmo plugin

I imagine it can't be hard to add the code to handle this functionality to this Perl logger bot... or any good solid Python one.

Did I say more?
I want it to pipe everything in realtime and timestamped, via whatever XML-RPC/Atom/FooAPI, preserving authors and tags, to WordPress. Why? Because WP is easy to theme and will output RSS feeds of any context you want: overall, per tag/category, per author...

I will put up the dev environment, help test and throw in... $50. Who wants to code this with me?

This setup could also be used for quick "tumblelogs" or "mumblelogs".

Ideally I'd want a Jabber bot instead but eh... if anyone's game... all the code is available, we just need to pack it up... another $50 for the Jabber version =)


That's how much each YouTube user was worth to Google yesterday.

$1,650,000,000 / 19,000,000 users = $86.84

Of course it is far far more complex than that. Youd on't plunk down that kind of coin just on a whim.. or do you? Let's go shopping!


Very interesting:

The Citizendium, a "citizens' compendium of everything," will be an experimental new wiki project that combines public participation with gentle expert guidance. It will begin life as a "progressive fork" of Wikipedia. But we expect it to take on a life of its own and, perhaps, to become the flagship of a new set of responsibly-managed free knowledge projects. We will avoid calling it an "encyclopedia," because there will probably always be articles in the resource that have not been vouched for in any sense.

We believe a fork is necessary, and justified, both to allow regular people a place to work under the direction of experts, and in which personal accountability--including the use of real names--is expected. In short, we want to create a responsible community and a good global citizen.

# Registered users will be able to edit as "authors" but there will also be "editors" who have more authority because of their background as specialists in a certain field. While this is being intrinsically ruled out in Wikipedia's approach, Sanger strongly believes that the valuing of expert knowledge would attract more people from the scientific community and thus improve the overall quality.

I especially like this comment by Nathan Rasmussen on the Smartmobs article.

Reuters, Ted Turner, the U.N. and GlobalVoices


At 4:00pm EST today, Reuters is hosting Ted Turner in a discussion about the future of the United Nations. Turner is, amongst other things, the largest private funder of the U.N.

The discussion is being webcast and GlobalVoices has been invited to extend the conversation. One of the ways we are doing that is by having four of our team, Rebecca MacKinnon, Georgia Popplewell, Alice Backer and Kamla Bhatt, in the room representing whoever shows up in our IRC channel. We've set up a web-irc so anyone can join in.

Please do.


Ok Go do their crazy treadmill routine live on the MTV Video Music Awards.

The first comment puts it... the way you could only expect i tto be put on the Internet...

I believe that the narrowminded and obnoxious message people need to sit back, and realize that this only made it to the MVA 2006 because of the OK Go on youtube. Realize that this is not 'performance' or 'gay' or 'is it art?' You are seeing a paradigm shift. Internet Hype made this happen. Bow before the net. It is the new God.

(Merci Patrick)

Article about Joi in strategy+business

The Ambassador from the Next Economy

“Joi interprets in deep ways; he’s a profoundly lateral thinker, and therefore he connects the dots better than most,” says John Seely Brown, author of several eminent books on business innovation and the former director of Xerox PARC, the renowned Silicon Valley research center. “He is a hacker at heart, in the best sense of the word. Not only does he go deep, but he also tends to build, or he collects builders around him.” Joi in strategy+business
Photograph by Vern Evans

Here they go again

"Ok Go" just raised the bar...

Image editing for Flickr

"Preloadr" is really quite something. It uses the Flickr API to allow you to modify any of your images, via a web interface totally in sync with Flickr's style, as if you were in a "Photoshop-like" application. Awesome job.

I have no mouth and I must scream.

The irony.

I have not been able, yet, to "moblog" from my new Nokia N80.

I am able to browse websites and use a chat program, via both my mobile provider's GPRS and my WiFi networks at home and at the office.

I am able to send and receive SMS text-messages via the Messenger application.

I have been, as of yet, unable to successfully send or receive email via any of two GMail accounts and one account on my own server, be it via GPRS or WiFi. The failure process looks like this:

- Create email
- Address email, add subject and message.
- Send
- Select Access Point
-- Send fails silently
-- Email is moved to "OutBox" with "queued" status.
- Options -> Send ... repeat from Select Access Point

When trying to send via GPRS, the "GPRS connection is up" icon is presented. Checking on that connection in the connection manager indicates it is sending and receiving 15-30 bytes every few seconds. That looks more like just TCP/IP communication. It eventually stops and tears itself down, as it is supposed to.

When trying to send via WiFi, the WiFi connection indicator icon becomes "solid" (meaning it is connected)... for a few seconds. Then disconnects silently.

I tried LifeBlog. I gave it one shot. I gave it access to this blog, via the Atom API, with my API password. Told me there were no weblogs there. Indeed.

I have tried everything, double and triple checked settings and parameters. I am not a newbie of course. I do this for a living. I once worked for a WiFi AP maker. I am IBM Certified in Networking and Firewalls. I manage hosting for a half dozen clients. I *know* this shit.

So at this point I have a few choices:
- beg someone who knows Series60 v3.0 inside out to walk through it with me (or reveal a closely kept secret. even hearing "oh that model was nowhere near ready to go to market" would make me feel better.)
- Hard reset it back to factory and try all over again.
- Wind up, stretch up and with all my force whip it into the pavement at my feet in the parking lot, just for the cheer joy of the moment.

If it comes to the last one, I'll make sure to have someone video blog it. From a mobile of course.

Rage. I feel techno rage. I do not need this in my life. Forgive the whiney ranting tone. I am at wits end

Yeah I'm a bit proud...

I stumbled onto Wikipedia's entry for Moblog and damn near fell over.

Moblog - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (20060719)

My name's not mentioned of course, but that is my design for Joi's moblog. I did that back in 2003. Custom solution, with a fancy Python-based email-to-xml-rpc script by Francis just for this, giving us square, scaled and cropped thumbnails, and category assignment based on wildcard email addresses. (All of Joi's and my moblogging still passes through Francis' server, directly posting to our weblogs and forwarding to external services like Flickr, Radar [not working!!] and Vox)

Here comes the gloating: in 2003, and very often still today, moblogs consisted of regular blog entries with a photo in them. I wanted Joi's moblog index and archives to have proper scaled cropped thumbnails. Also I wanted Joi's user experience to be as easy as possible, hence the category assignment based on different email addresses that could be stored in his address book. He and I still use that same system (though admittedly it needs some updating.)

That made my day. Forgive my little ego trip. :)

Update: not to be outdone, Karl gently reminded me of this. (Yes, yes I had forgotten that he had offered Joi long before to maintain the moblog mail scripts... ;)

Couldn't help but noticing


Jan Chipchase draws a parallel between checking out of a Tokyo hospital and checking out of the U.S.

Amazing coincidence, the two photos share many many similarities as well:
- shades of green near center of image
- large area of "snow"
- angle of chopsticks and seat base on right
- rectangular surface at left
- grid backdrop
oh and of course the hand.

Nice job.


The big electronics chain in Canada is British Columbia based "FutureShop", now a division of (american electronics chain) "Best Buy".

The FutureShop website has a promo section up, announcing the arrival of the new Nintendo "Wii" system. Clicking on "order today" we are presented with this choice piece of english:

Check back this page after for updates on upcoming games, purchase date and stock availability.

Release date subject to change by manufacture without notice. Final product might look different than what is illustrated. Final specification is subject to change by manufacture without notice. Please check back for updated information and stay tune for a release date.

What is that? Aside from jarring? ;)

A Million Ways to surf the viral wave


million ways

Just a bit over a year ago I pointed to this homemade musicvideo by this band, "Ok go!", wherein they perform a quite complex choreographed dance routine in one take in a backyard. It went sort of viral at the time, probbaly picked up some steam through the summer and probably exploded on YouTube when that went supernova...

So what's a band to do in such a case? Easy: dance contest.

So far, 22 entries within 2 weeks. And they just get better.

(My favorite are the three asian kids featured above 'cause they had to adapt for being one short and they still pull it off amazingly well.)


This came in via email and SMS just now:

From: dav@
Subject: Baby Announcement!
Date: July 5, 2006 2:16:07 PM EDT (CA)

Dav and Mie are happy to announce the arrival of Tesla Rhea Yaginuma!
She was born at 0920a and weighs in at 7 pounds and 0 ounces.
Check kokochi.com for photos (coming soon).

Congratulations you two! And welcome to T.R.Y.!

(some contexts: first met Dav and Mie at 1IMC (shame on you all for letting the URL die!!!) in Tokyo -- 1IMC was organized by Adam Greenfield, who's new book I just picked up today, with help from Gen Kanai and a few others. Joi, Justin, Mimi, Scott, Pete, Jim, Adriaan were in attendance, as well as Karsten and Paul. Around that time, Mie was one of the best known mobloggers--thanks in part to code Dav whipped up for her-- and was even interviewed for CNN by Rebecca MacKinnon, whom I now work with on GVO. I've since seen Dav and Mie all over the place, including conferences in Austin and San Diego, hidden microbars in Tokyo and last summer Dav stayed with me during a visit to Montreal.
There is of course far more to it, but suffice it to say these two are tightly woven into the crazy web my web-life is.)

Launched another redesign

Just launched Howard Rheingold's SmartMobs redesign.

Smartmobs new

Work on this started months ago and Howard was patient enough to wait through my completing other jobs. I'm quite happy with this redesign. I'd say it's a "Boris-flavored mash-up of Khoi Vinh and 'Web 2.0-ish' styles."


Here's an idea of what the homepage used to look like:

old smartmobs

I think we can all agree... "it's muuuuch better!"

Creative Commons Japan

So we just turned on the newly designed Creative Commons Japan website. There's prolly a few details to tweak and things will need to be adjusted in the coming months but hey that's what maintenance agreements are for! hint. hint. ;)

I had a lot of fun doing this site, not to mention quite the challenge doing an information architecture and information design (well, ok, layouts ;) for information I couldn't actually read! Thankfully Dominique was a hands on guy and dove in to help out with content and advice and support. Merci mon ami!

Thanks also to Gen Kanai for thinking of me and giving me this opportunity. Dude, one of these days I'm gonna have to sit down and finally do your site too...

Creative-Commons-JapanI also really enjoyed making the CC Japan logo. Simplicity is hard to do well, and if I may say so I think I pulled it off nicely, inserting the japanese just so and changing the color of the (CC) mark. Respect to whoever created the CC logo; simple, straight forward and totally powerful. Just my style.

Also, this project went so very smoothly, and that for a few reasons, all of which relate to the client being:
- involved, but not intrusive or meddling
- clear and precise on what is wanted, but "carte blanche" on how it should be done and look
- single point of contact (Even though I was in touch with a number of people during the project, one and only one person ever discussed details of it with me. Awesome.)

I really felt like a superstar on this one. Alright, let the bashing commence! ;)

(Oh thanks to Patrick and Stevey for critiques as well!)

Yahoo! porn spam

Warning: links to pages not with photos but hardcore porn terminology...

Just got a concerned email from Howard regarding the fact that one of the articles on SmartMobs seems to be a spam magnet according to Yahoo!. The fact was discovered by one our authors doing an ego search and discovering that about 15 pages into the search results, the links turn into hardcore porn spam.

Many of the links seem to be dead (everything going to .ru domains) but many point to sub-domains of odessa.ua. Clicking though and viewing source reveals an ingenious mechanism, one that gives further pause about the whole "Web 2.0", "You work for them", "it's not about you", "esclavage 2.0" debacle:

Hidden in the source of these porn spam sites is loads of republished content, ostensibly culled from highly search-ranking weblogs etc, in outright contravention of, if not just Copyright and Creative Commons Non-Commercial/By-Attribution, but, well let's face it, decency, respect, integrity, what-have-you.

This is the dirty water that drives the water-mill that makes the paper pulp that gets nudie mags printed on it! Hah!

Short of firing off an email to the person registered to the domain, there is pretty much nothing I can do at this point, other than disallow search spiders and the like. This is not an acceptable solution in this case since SmartMobs does generate revenue for Howard and his authors and being findable via Yahoo! et all is important.

In the global digital village, everybody is your neighbor, even the smut seller. ;)

Medieval ballisticism

In a follow-up to my "It's not about you" post a few weeks back, Mike Migurski, lead dev on ReBlog, points me to this complaint on "The Taming of The Band-Aid", a small, local weblog about one person's agricultural efforts in rural Florida:

This is new technology. We're out on the cutting edge, folks. Given that fact, technology gets put into play before abuses of said technology can be forseen. And I do see what "Garden Voices" is doing as abuse, plain and simple. They are generating revenue by posting original material without permission - material which, by the way, is copyrighted under Blogger's terms and conditions.

It seems "Garden Voices" (hehe) is reblogging tf23's content, without permission, with attribution (which ReBlog goes out of it's way to make possible) and yes of course... is trying to generate revenue with banner ads.

Classic water-mill setup. Just add water...

Again, I only point this out to say that the key issue here is awareness. The more awareness one has, the more one can help oneself. tf23 has several avenues of recourse, the least effective being to call Jonah, and turn of RSS. Also, tf23 should ask him/herself why he/she is blogging and for whom. Is it for fame? Fortune? Ego? or sharing? Sharing with whom? Why? (Do you see the spiral forming?)

It is a very hairy issue, inelegantly handled in this case but I suspect we will hear this kind of thing more and more.

Mike's comment on the entry bears pointing out as well:

Being quoted is a touchy subject, and I do think that's an appropriate word to describe what Reblog does. There's also a very fine line between being angry at having your work reblogged, and being angry because no one's paying attention. The big lesson of Reblog (and digital media in general) for me has been that the creators of a work have even less control over its dissemination than in the past, that this is *an intentionally-designed feature* of the internet (in fact, it's THE feature of the internet), and that it's a lot more interesting to embrace the weirdness than to fight it.

We essentially agree, inasmuch as we say "It's here, deal with it. Inform yourself and [re]act accordingly".

What is a "podcast"?

UPDATED (to be more precise in the answers I seek)

In your mind, is it:

"A podcast is like radio" ("radio" the medium, not the hardware/technoogy)
"A podcast is like a radio show" (the usage of the medium)

The difference is VERY significant. Please think about it and let me know.
Answers to this question very clearly indicate biases based on usage and understanding of what is, fundamentally, a profoundly simple thing: a media file URI culled out of a "blog entry" and highlighted in some fashion ("enclosures") in a syndication feed...

Rachel interview

I am really really pleased to be working with such a great bunch of people as makes up GlobalVoices. Our new Managing Editor, Rachel Rawlins gets interviewed/podcasted on Kamla Bhatt's site and does a great job not only explaining various aspects of what we try to do with the project and how, but also articulates many of the motivations and thoughts we, the team, seem to share.

Blocking Technorati

If you're one of the people who prefers to disallow Technorati's bot, which does not respect the robots.txt convention and it's directives (talk about a good net citizen...), you may have resorted to blocking the bot's IP,

As of today, Technorati has changed the originating IP of its crawler to

Update your block-lists accordingly. ;)

(I don't currently block TR myself. I enjoy the blog-ego hand-job it provides... when it works. ;)

Summing it up

My post on "it's not about you" the other day sparked a good thread of debate which culminated in Hugh staking some key points, and Karl responding very clearly and directly, and in my opinion, right on the money, so to speak.

If that's not your thing, here's a picture of me scratching my neck in front of some sakura.



Blogs and Finance

(somebody's gonna kick me for this one)

Rebecca just pointed out something very interesting. Google Finance is aggregating weblog posts with companies' stock market ticker symbols... and displaying the results inline with company profile screens.

For example, Secure Computing (SCUR).

Imagine you're an investor, you're poking around looking for information on a company you might want to invest in and POW you see, right there, in context, that people are really not too happy about the company's behavior/product/whatever.

This raises many issues, for sure. First questions that pop into my mind: is this automatic aggregation? Who decides what aggregated content makes it to the screen? Is there an editorial process? A voice? A spin?

Oh neato.. it also matches the release of more MainStreamMedia news articles (hah, and of course press releases--the workhorses of the manufactured reality machine) about the company to the point on the stock performance graph corresponding to when the article was released. Interesting. OOHHH! It's a flash app, and it is tied to the stories on the right! Wow. Michal, check it out!

Insight in hindsight

Ed Bilodeau mentioned he just missed his 8th anniversary of "personal publishing on the web".

An excerpt from his first post, dated March 12th, 1998 (notice the dated space URI):

Spend any time at all surfing the Net, and you quickly discover that there are alot of people who spend alot of time and effort publishing information on subjects that interest them. Whether it's a father putting up pictures of his family, a student building a shrine to her cat, a teenager listing the titles in his video game and music collection, or a young lawyer designing a site dedicated to her favorite Californian wines, they a ll have some things in common. They all feel passionately about something, and they all want to share their passions with others.

Here's to at least 8 more years sir. And it'd be great to see you sometime. :)

It's not about you

At least not the way you may be led to believe it is.

With apologies to Stewart and Caterina, the whole Flickr team and all the folks involved in this "Web 2.0" stuff, who, for the most part, are truly wonderful people and bring us wonderful things.

It's not about you, it's about your data--or "bits of your life digitized and uploaded"--and the way you structure it and contextualize it and share it. That's what the big money hubbub is about.

You see, what happened is this: enough dot-com bubble casualties, many of them web designers and programmers and information architects and the like--people who knew how to publish to the web, be it text or photos or audio files or video pieces--got tired of doing it by hand, coding up html and maintaining whole websites. They decided to build tools to automate all that. They called them Content Management Systems before, when they still had their jobs building large e-commerce sites in 1997. But now they started using them to self publish, and they added a few really nice features like comments and "RSS feeds". Weblogs were born and slowly but surely over the last 3-4 years... well you see what happened.

"The promise of the web has been realized!" "The read and write web!" More or less. It is truly great stuff, don't get me wrong. I ain't knockin' it, even if I am nibbling on the hands that feed me.

But that's not what the bankrollers are on about. They don't care about your newfound ability to publish your thoughts or your pictures. They are just glad that you are doing so. Why? Because in an information based economy, data is your primary natural source. And flow of data creates movement which can be harnessed.

Like a water-mill.

The difference is that these millers don't need to go find a river: they can make one. And that's what sites like Flickr, del.icio.us, Upcoming, YouTube, Newsvine and the lot of them, have done.

Centralize, centralize, centralize. Concentrate and control.

What that means:
1- your data is not under your direct control.
2- what is done with your data, is not under your direct control.

So what? What are these people doing with your data? It's pretty simple: they use it to drive advertising revenues.

Here's how. I mentioned structure and context. When you publish something, share it, you try tell a story; you labor to package it up, give it meaning (semantics through communication technologies, like language) and you place it on the web within a context, be it via categories, tags, links to related information. You are organizing data.

To folks like Google and Yahoo!, that is worth gold. Literally.

Before I continue, lest I be labeled disingenuous, I should make clear that I am NOT railing against all this. I use Flickr every day--more like 300 times a day; it's my #1 destination, almost as often as my email inbox--and I manage weblogs that sport Google Ads and Technorati tags and del.ico.us links and all that stuff. I just want to try to make sure people actually realize what is going on.

We are all working for them. For free. That's how it's "about we". It's not a "media revolution", it's a reversion to feudal medievalism. "Voluntary servitude" it's been called (back in 1548!) (This is worth a read too though it has quite a Marxist taste to it. ;p

The counter argument is "but they are providing a service which in order to survive must sustain itself economically somehow, and you free information people are the first to yell "information wants to be free" and so it is and we can't rely on subscription or pay-per-content schemes." Totally fair. And services like all the above mentioned all do fairly decent jobs of providing ways to export and retrieve your data. One way or another, you gotta pay to play, right?

The malaise remains however: they are profiting from our ignorance (or forgetfulness). Whether it is ignorance of their actions or ignorance of your abilities (to do any of this yourself in a de-centralized way) or rights.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go check what pictures my friends uploaded, what links they bookmarked and who's talking about me.

This has been another poorly formed and expressed rant brought to you by a bottle of sake, three deadlines and 12 hours in front of too many screens.

Orwell's "Notes on nationalism"

Don't have the time to expound on this seminal text more profoundly at the moment but wanted to point it out.

First a salient quote:

Indifference to objective truth is encouraged by the sealing-off of one part of the world from another, which makes it harder and harder to discover what is actually happening. There can often be a genuine doubt about the most enormous events. For example, it is impossible to calculate within millions, perhaps even tens of millions, the number of deaths caused by the present war. The calamities that are constantly being reported--battles, massacres, famines, revolutions--tend to inspire in the average person a feeling of unreality. One has no way of verifying the facts, one is not even fully certain that they have happened, and one is always presented with totally different interpretations from different sources. What were the rights and wrongs of the Warsaw rising of August 1944? Is it true about the German gas ovens in Poland? Who was really to blame for the Bengal famine? Probably the truth is discoverable, but the facts will be so dishonestly set forth in almost any newspaper that the ordinary reader can be forgiven either for swallowing lies or failing to form an opinion. The general uncertainty as to what is really happening makes it easier to cling to lunatic beliefs. Since nothing is ever quite proved or disproved, the most unmistakable fact can be impudently denied. Moreover, although endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge, the nationalist is often somewhat uninterested in what happens in the real world. What he wants is to FEEL that his own unit is getting the better of some other unit, and he can more easily do this by scoring off an adversary than by examining the facts to see whether they support him. All nationalist controversy is at the debating-society level. It is always entirely inconclusive, since each contestant invariably believes himself to have won the victory. Some nationalists are not far from schizophrenia, living quite happily amid dreams of power and conquest which have no connection with the physical world.

Now this was written somewhere near the end of World War II, and as such is very dated, not only in it's use of examples but in it's language and structure of classification of things. Orwell seemingly used, though with disclaimers right from the start, the word "nationalism" to encompass the sea of all -isms, despite diving into a few of the more fashionable ones from his time. All of which is perfectly acceptable and reasonable but reading it today it begs updating, not just historically but semantically as well.

That said, please take the 20 minutes to read it, suspending for the duration any hang ups on historical frameworks, localized criticisms (he's on about British intelligensia of the time which really is just a micro-representation of society of any time and place, always affected by environment and circumstance of course)... and yeah... read it with, for lack of a better term, "the timeless eye".

And then ask yourself: "What is acceptable to me? And why?"


Adriaan quietly announced his new desktop aggregator application for Mac, called "endo".

It's a quite novel approach to aggregation, UI wise. Lots of powerful "Smart Filtering" possibilities, and customization. Wicked fast, Universal build (for PPC and Intel Macs) and keyboard-friendly for us notebook users.

Try it out and let us know what you think!

Bravo Adriaan!

Slow commenting in MovableType resolved

Brandon Fuller discovered a bug in MT and provided the fix for it.

If you are a client of mine or someone I am in the habit of helping out with their MT weblog, the patch has been applied.

You know who you are. ;)

Context, inertia, collisions, and Getting Things Done

"Context" is very much my favorite word these days. People around me must be getting really sick of hearing me yammer on about it.

Anyways, Karl shares this great entry from Tao of Mac:

Doing less things at a time is, as usual, the best way to get more work done, but that seems to be lost on the modern organizational paradigm of "ad-hoc cross-competency teams" that assumes (wrongly) that:
  1. you can slice your time across many different projects provided you are given clear bounds on your assignment.
  2. you're flexible enough to accommodate everyone's whim.
  3. you and the rest of your so-called "team" will have compatible schedules.

I need to "go offline" more often, allow myself to stay "in context" on a project or task for longer periods of time. Being pulled in 20 directions at all times, while I seem to have adapted quite well to it, is still a sub-optimal way of being and causes me a near constant, albeit mild and subtle, anxious tummy ache. ;p

Yahoo! designates Kevin Sites a world region

kevin sites yahoo

(I promised myself not to make cynical comments about such things as weblogs and web 2.0 and all that silliness anymore but...)

A wonderful glowing example of how "media" perverts "reality".

"I don't care what is going on in the Middle East, Europe, latin America, Africa, Asia, Canada (!?!) or Australia/Antarctica (!?!?!?!?)... Just gimme Kevin Sites to read me my bedtime story!!"

Also notice the label on the pulldown directly beneath, which allows the reader to choose to search "All News & Blogs", "Yahoo! News Only", "News Photos" or "Video, Audio".

I can't aptly verbalize why this is absurd, even obscene, to me. Sorry. For now I point and laugh. Please join me if you happen to find it so too.

WordPress Loop hack/replacement with logical operands for multicategory listings

I just posted this on the WordPress support forums, see if it gets me anything. If you here have any thoughts please please please get in touch. :)

Hi gang,
While poking around for this post, I discovered that WP does handle multi-category listings when you feed it ?cat=23,54,76 but does so with (I think) an OR logical operand.
In other words, it returns posts categorized as any one of the requested categories.

My needs are bit more elaborate... First of all, I'd like the above example to return *only* posts categorized as *all* the requested categories (post is categorized as 23, 54 and 76. If not, I don't want it.)

Further, and this is where it gets really tricky, at least too tricky for me right now, I'd like to mix and match both logical operands.

for example I'd liek all posts that are categorized as 23, and either 54 or 76 (23 and 54, 23 and 76, and --if existent-- 23, 54 and 76)

This means introducing logical operators in the query string and parsing them out right?

?cat=23-AND-(54-OR-76) or some such.

For now I'd settle for the first one though... any ideas? Any existing plugins? I'm willing also to forgo pretty URLs for this feature (i.e. no .htaccess rules required.. dealing with /categories/china-OR-india-AND-free_speech could get nasty.)

Happy 2nd Birthday Flickr!

Mosaic: Happy Birthday Flickr!
Originally uploaded by jbum.
Wow, I totally missed it this year.
Happy birthday gang!! Thanks SO much for this wondrous world of marvels.
I moblogged Stewart, Ben and Eric introducing Flickr at ETech 2004, and I was lucky enough to be in Vancouver for the 1st birthday too. Sigh. :)

Mimi's site

Mimi Ito's Weblog

Whew! I just launched Mimi Ito's new website. I actually launched it earlier this evening while running back and forth to the laundromat, and after having dinner with Steven and attending a vernissage quickly, I spent the rest of the night tweaking little details and fixing some HTTP redirects and such stuff.

There are a few little navigation issues yet to work out, and a whole phase two addition to get ready for (hello Bento Blog!)

This site was so much fun to design and fiddle with. It's the first time in a while I really got to explore my design style. Despite all the really great work I'm going to be doing with Berkman and GlobalVoices, those projects don't allow me to go all design-cra-zee...

Ahem. Thanks Mimi for the opportunity! :D

I have a feeling you-know-who's gonna come knocking soon... ;)

On the success of weblogs et al

The success of all these things such as weblogs, websyndication, etc, is directly attributable, I think, to one basic fact: weblogs are basic, rudimentary Content Management Systems. At risk of over-simplifying, I say that human intellect, human intelligence itself, in vasty varying levels of sophistication, is also a Content Management System.

And while over the course of human development we have evolved methods to bridge all our individual Content Management Systems, by using such technologies as speech, writing, printing and their myriad extensions, in keeping with the acceleration afforded to it by "electric communication", it is in the past 10 years that we have built the infrastructure for what we have over the last 3, seen emerge.

It is still early. We have not yet transposed semantics into what we have built recently yet. That will come. Soon.

I gleefully repeat to anyone who will listen, that we are "building out telepathy", echoing McLuhan's "we are extending our central nervous systems"... though we have overshot that already! The nerves are laid out in fiber optic, cable, wireless and POTS world-wide, the basic methods of sending data standardized in protocols layered in the TCP/IP stack (HTTP is a layer in that; the Application layer).

We began relaying messages at first. Now we have begun structuring the messages. This will continue.

All our technology is externalization of ourselves. As such it is fundamentally organic and follows easily predictable paths; if you have the patience and know how to tend a bonsai tree...

Help Push? Anyone?

I'm thinking I'm going to set up a resources matchmaking service on a subdomain of helppush.org. I keep getting emails like this one from friend Jon Lebkowsky:

My WorldChanging colleague Emily Gertz has just set up a blog for her OneAtlantic nonprofit - and she's looking for a designer to help out. Is this something you might be interested in?

These types of requests usually come with a disclaimer of the sort: "there's probably not that much money involved", which was never really an issue for me; I'd just pick up and try to do what I could. But right now, I am overcommitted. So much so that I can't even, at the moment anyways, set up and manage a sub-contracting situation.

So this post has two goals:
1- Somebody please get in touch with us if you are interested in helping out OneAtlantic. It looks to be a fairly simple MT templating job. (The more familiar you are with MT, the quicker you can do the work, the more you maximize your return...)

2- I want to start building a network of quality subcontractors to do these kinds of jobs. We do not do commercial, corporate work of any sort. Non-profit, NGO, civil society, education.. that sort of stuff. The money's better than you think* AND you are not propagating evil, consumerism, greed.

Get in touch.

* Ok not always, but the karma usually makes up for it. ;)

Tim Berners-Lee's weblog

TBL created the web. Now Tim Berners-Lee has a weblog. Good first post too!

(I'd quote here but you really need to read the whole thing... to give you a little history lesson. ;)


Now Thats What I Call Blogging

terrible.... terribly funny... ;)

via Stevey


Friend Hugh started up a neat "sorta Project Gutenberg for audio books" called LibriVox. The project has gotten some good traction and attention - Hugh was invited to the recent Open Library launch shindig by Brewster Kahle - and he's confident that the catalogue's growth is progressing exponentially.

LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain in digital format, and we release the audio files back into the public domain (catalog and podcast). We are a totally volunteer, open source, free content, public domain project. Our objective is to make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet.

LibriVox is always looking for volunteers, to read and record chapters of books in the public domain, but also to help with other aspects of this growing project: technical (cataloging, social networking, web design, communication); graphics; publicity; coordination of volunteers etc etc... We have about 80 volunteers right now, more than 10 books finished, and we expect to have 30 done by the end of 2005. Right now all our titles are in English, but we hope to have other languages soon. Come help us out.

Up for some reading out loud? :)

I was worried but now I am relieved

This will sound like ass-kissing but I assure you it's not. Joi finally posted a really great entry after a long quiet period. (I know I know, research. Daijobu.)

More than that, it runs parallel to my suspicions regarding "what's next" and it is very exciting to me because what's next is what I have been dreaming of for as long as I can remember. And now, very soon, it will be possible.


Yup, I definitely need to hang out in California this winter.

"Congress Abandons WikiConstitution"

Don't normally do this but it's too funny.
From the Onion:

WASHINGTON, DC—Congress scrapped the open-source, open-edit, online version of the Constitution Monday, only two months after it went live. "The idea seemed to dovetail perfectly with our tradition of democratic participation," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said. "But when so-called 'contributors' began loading it down with profanity, pornography, ASCII art, and mandatory-assault-rifle-ownership amendments, we thought it might be best to cancel the project." Congress intends to restore the Constitution to its pre-Wiki format as soon as an unadulterated copy of the document can be found.


My new blog

Well, here it is. My new blog, complete with Atom & RSS feeds, language [fr] switches [de] and "references"...

I think I will call it... "Xanadu"... yes... that sounds right. A centralized master document of all the web, tailored to my needs at any given moment.

(It's a little rough and not up-to-date, but it's a start... )

Everyone's got their price...

So MovableType 3.2 has finally been let loose. Bravo to all involved, it is an awesome awesome release.

SO, if anyone needs a hand upgrading, or you know someone who may need a hand, talk to me. :D

Break it down, build it up

(just a quick note.)

Existant data-object storage and retrieval systems:
- Hard hierarchialization ("taxonomies", "categories with parent/child relationships")
- Analytico-synthetic ("Faceted categorization", "Semantic Web")
- Unstructured labelization ("Tags", "Labels")
- Statistical extrapolation ("Keywords")
- Unstructured data ("Full text search") [Disclaimer: not taking into account grammar and vocabulary within, i.e. a paragraph of intelligible english text. See the nightmare that is natural language processing.]

Find a UI metaphor that incorporates all in an intuitive, easy to use way.

(Title refers to a natural cycle that all things go though. Birth and death. Development and decay. Information is no exception.)


I spent the most part of the last... dunno, lost track... 6 weeks? working on the University of Southern California's Interactive Media Division's website, which we launched last thursday morning at 5am EST. (I went on a 4 day celebration tear thereafter. hah!)

It's really more of a publicly-visible yet closed-community weblog aggregator.

Like Soylent Green, it's made of people, mostly. Aside from the "boring static content" ("about us", "contact us", etc), much of the site is pulled together from weblog entries posted by the students, faculty and staff of the division. At entry posting time, the author has the chance to "cross-post" his/her entry to a handfull of sections of the site: the Main IMD weblog (actually, it's an aggregator), the Events Weblog (also just an aggregator really), the Research area weblogs: Games, Immersive & Mobile (oops, these are aggregators too) and also Course specific weblogs (yup, you guessed it, all aggregators).

The entire site is backed by MovableType (3.2 beta 5 baby! living on the edge) and rendered into a site building framework I feverishly developed over a number of years as a rapid prototyping tool, but which has ended up being very useful in actually running productions sites (and thus making me, and at least one other person, some decent money). The above-mentioned aggregators are generated by a handful of hand coded PHP functions and 3 Smarty templates.

The coolest bits are the way the courses are managed by a "hacked" weblog instance (each course is an entry, semesters are categories, etc...) and the cross-posting "slugs" system (heavily modified since) which uses the keywords field and some UI code lifted from del.icio.us.

The site is replete with all kinds of MT hacks and tweaks, some of which I was pointed to from the excellent Hacking Movable Type book. Brad Choate's KeyValues plugin is a life-saver and having Jay Allen on my buddy list and be the awesome dude that he is helped tremendously as well. ;)

The site is also riddled with unfinished bits, not-as-good-as-it-could-be UI elements and even a few serious flaws that are potentially real problems... but only to me and I'm committed to fixing them.

I had alot of fun working with the IMD team on this. The uncornerable Justin Hall whose hurricane gales of enthusiasm, energy and humor made my summer fly by without my noticing it. Scott Fisher's intensely focused insights posited quietly and gently, almost innocently, causing me to smack myself and yell "of course! why didn't I think of that!". Marientina Gotsis, my embattled comrade-in-arms who would roll up her sleeves and clean out the httpd.conf or dump the database when such was the need. And of course last but not least Tracy Fullerton who made every effort to reign us all in (Justin and I mostly, really), provided the guiding line and much of the decision making (other than Justin's "FUCK YEAH! FLICK THE SWITCH MAN!" hahahaaa.. good times!)

Ok. :)

Tabula rasa

Having had 30 seconds to think about it, I've decided on a course of action for this here "weblog". Tabula rasa it is.

This site no longer suits my needs. I've built up a mini Tower of Babel and it's confusing my tongue, so to speak. The audience is confused, I am confused; full stop. What are we doing here?

So. It is being shelved. Archived. Nothing more added to "it", but nothing taken away either. No URIs will be broken, and what comes next will live right next to it. The archives will sit there, comments and trackbacks, layout, structure et al intact. I'll even keep the database and the instance of MT in place. Just for the heck of it.

A spanking new copy of MT, a fresh database, super minimal design and features, all new directories and archive URI scheme moving forward.

When I have a moment, of course. I have to go rescue Mike first. Amongst many other things.

(Oh and just cause I like the phrase: De te fabula narratur: t'is your story being told.)

News, maps, tags, viz

Michal switched his News Project source from Google "In the News" to the Del.icio.us "Popular" feed and called it "Vox Delicii".

Michal is also one of the guys behind Mappr, which mapped Flickr pics based on place-name tags.

Aaron's done all kinds of stuff with New York Times meta keywords, Google results and export of such (SVG, RDF, XHTML).

Ethan Zuckerman, with whom I am working on Global Voices Online, has hooked up Daypop to a global map to meter how much attention various countries are getting in online media.

And there's Greg Sadetsky (hehe) and his buddies at Poly9 up in Quebec City goin' all Google Map/locative APIs crazee.

How can I get you all sitting at one table for an afternoon? There's a lot of stuff to be done... ;)

Letting go, moving on

Slowly but surely this "weblog" will be completely taken apart and rebuilt.
I just unhooked the combined feed functionality. No more photolog and links in the main feed. I'm undecided as to whether those will be turned on at all, reason being for the photolog I get more mileage on Flickr. I'll still cross post, but that's just for my own archiving. Links is dead. I may finally hook up some del.icio.us affair. Blogroll... give me a break. ;)

So yeah, this was step one. I'm too busy to do much more right now so I will wait for MT3.2 to go final and then I will start fresh. Like, totally fresh, yo. Yeah.

A nice surprise

Bopuc Google Pagerank


"I'd liek to thank teh Academy..." [sic]

How da??

Somehow, I find myself in the unenviable position where I, a non-programmer, must figure out how to do tag intersections in PHP + SQL.
How's that for meta? :D

And it's such a beautiful day outside...

CC license jurisdictions

After my "set your Flickr license to Creative Commons!" post the other day, Mikel pointed out jurisdiction issues.

I pinged Joi about it and he gave me a quick cryptic response (WiFi in airplanes rots your brains!), but one which did extended my thinking on the subject.

If I deliberately select a CC license, I indicate my intent to share more easily this data object I am publishing. I don't care who, what, when or where. I may care about "how" though. By Attribution. Non-Commerical. Share Alike. No Derivatives.

So, say I license a picture with Canadian CC BY-NC-SA license. One day I am walking down Times Square in NYC and see this huge lit up billboard advertisement and HOT DAMN there's a piece of my picture!

Legally, what is my recourse?

This is of course purely theoretical. Myself, I would laugh and take a picture of it... ;) (Hrm, then I would publish IT, again with a CC license. Then the advertiser would see it, and sue me for copyright infringement on their ad... Then I would go ask Professor Lessig to kindly take up my case in court please.)

Now, this all started when Rebecca mentioned to me that she was contacting Flickr users around the world asking for permission to republish their photos on Global Voices. She said they were all more than happy and willing, and that when she told them about CC, they had no idea. That's where the "educate Flickr users on CC licenses" campaign started.

Related, Anil points out that MT 3.2 includes CC license jurisdiction selection support.

Flickr & Creative Commons


Help push the more widespread awareness of the use of Creative Commons licenses on Flickr.

You can copy and paste the code below into your Flickr Profile's "Describe Yoruself" field:

And of course pick a license and use it yourself...

Microsoft says

Teach your kids the basics of safer blogging before they start

Dated July 7th, MS published this article in their "Security At Home > Child Safety" webzine. Interestingly, much of it applies to everyone, not just kids:

- Ask yourself if you are you comfortable showing any of the content to a stranger.
- Check out other blogs to find positive examples for your kids to emulate.
- Never offer any personal information.
- Never post provocative pictures of yourself or anyone else.
- Assume what you publish on the Web is permanent.

I suppose that as with all child-rearing guidelines, it makes sense but ...

[link via IM from Stevey. For someone who "isn't a blogger", you sure find some deep and obscure and not yet blogged about stuff dude...]

Remote backup script...

I've got an idea for a shell script/program that would be very useful to me, and probably countless others. In fact I bet countless others have already coded something like it up...

I don't care what programming language it's written in as long as I can run it more or less easily from the terminal or cron. Keep in mind it's gonna be doing a lot of network and system level stuff. Shell(?), Perl or Python are probably the top contenders.


  1. Take as input a list of server addresses, username and passwords and paths to directories to be processed, as well as local destination paths. May be multiple paths for individual servers. List can be within the first part of the script or in a separate config file.
  2. SSH to each server, cd to the directory above the one we want to backup, tar-gz it using a dated naming convention (something like SERVERNAME-DIRNAME-YYYY-MM-DD-HH-MI.tgz).
  3. Download the archive to the specified local path.
  4. Delete the archive from the server.
  5. rinse, repeat, exit.

Ideally, I'd also like to do remote SQL database backups this way... SSH in, take a (MySQL) dump, targz the file, pull it down, clean up, exit.

Who is game to hack this up for me, and for how much? Perhaps we could set up a pool on fundable for it.

Maybe I should Learn Perl the Hard Way myself... ;)

Some Soundsystem

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah, yeah-yeah, yeah... yeah, yeah-yeah, yeah-yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah, yeah-yeah, yeah... yeah, hey, hey, hey, hey

Everybody keeps on talking about it... nobody's getting it done
I'm gettin' tired, tired, tired of listening, listening... knowing that the shit's gotta run

Everybody keeps on pushing and shoving... nobody's got the goods
Everybody keeps on pushing and shoving... nobody's got the guts
You owe me ti-ti-time, now they're writing me in... I never act like I should

Everybody keeps on listening in... Nobody's listening up
We've been try-try-trying now to let you in... And, you just got let in by luck

Everybody keeps on talking about it... nobody's getting it done
I'm getting tired, tired, tired of listening, listening... knowing that the shit's gotta run, shit's gotta run

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah, yeah-yeah, yeah... yeah, hey, hey, hey, hey

... And nobody's falling in love
Everybody here needs a shove
And Nobody's getting any touch
Everybody thinks that it means too much
And nobody's coming undone
Everybody here's afraid of fun
And nobody's getting any play
It's the saddest night out in the U.S.A.

Beat... a connection
Beat... communication (x6)
... ... ...
Confuse... confusion
Refuse... confusion
Refuse... illusion
Confuse... illusion

Global Voices

So, we launched our redesign of Global Voices this evening. We absolutely had to "let 'er rip" today for various reasons, and as such we've allowed a few loose ends which I need to nail down over the coming days.

I've had tremendous fun building this site. A lot of coding, and a lot of learning, and a lot of good interaction with Rebecca and Ethan. Good stuff all around and I look forward to continuing on the site.

Which I'm having to get back to right now in fact...

(Doh, Gen, in the rush to get it out, I forgot to take screenshots of the old version!)

From my referer logs...

Haven't done this in aaaaaaages...

Someone from "Distrito Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina" searched for:

And roughly 11 hours later someone from "Region Metropolitana, Santiago, Chile" searched for:

Obviously, their curiosity was not satisfied.

Wordpress weekend

OMG! I can write plugins!!!

OMG! I HAVE TO write plugins...


Yes, I will be releasing two things:

  1. a WP plugin that extracts media file URLs from posts, allowing you to link them with a nifty icon or text somewhere outside the entry.
  2. an extension (piggyback) framework to the Subscribe2 plugin which allows for Cron-scheduled post digest emailings.

This of course does wonders for my trying to get people to understand that I am NOT a developer... Aw well.

A brief history of Podcasting

Blank Reg
The first Podcaster

Max Headroom
The first Podcast Celebrity.

Coca Cola anybody?

Most ironic thing heard on a Podcast Today:
"Indie nine one one, the best in unsigned, independant and undependant music... Sponsored by Audi!"
- Indie911 Podcast Channel

This must be the fastest full medium pickup ever in the history of media. About a year? Six months? Ted Koppel and "Queer Eye" have Podcasts. Don't get me wrong; I think it's neat. I'm just awestruck by how fast the levy broke on this one.

One more stupid word to deal with though. ;)

Holy map!

Mobile GMaps is a free piece of software that displays Google Maps and Keyhole satellite imagery on Java J2ME-enabled mobile phones or other devices.

Apparently it is super slow, and I imagine it sucks up alot of limited expensive bandwidth... but... drooooooool...

Been busy much?

I rarely talk about work here - and I will soon have a place to do only that - but I figure I should mention some of what's been keeping me busy lately.

Summer started with a bang really. On short notice I was flown down to Los Angeles to consult for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. That initial meeting was good and I have a funny story I may share at some later point. In any case, things with them are progressing slowly. While in Los Angeles, I also met with friends Scott Fisher and Justin Hall regarding the rebuilding of the University of Southern California's Interactive Media Department's website/weblog. That project officially started last week and I should be working on that instead of procrastination by blogging right now.

Shortly upon my return I got a call for help from Joi. Angelina Jolie and Gillian Caldwell from Witness were in Sierra Leone with some human rights recommendations they were to present to the president there. They had set up a TypePad weblog and needed it to look a bit better than just a plain default template. Voila.

Seeing they were infested with comment and trackback spam, I contacted and got authorization to install, setup and maintain spam fighting tools for both Lawrence Lessig and David Sifry's weblogs. Redesigns are pending and possibly forthcoming... ;)

Ejovi Nuwere, who's personal weblog's templates I cleaned up a little while ago as well, asked me to completely rebuild and redesign his InfoSecDaily website. In the process, it sorta became "our InfoSecDaily site"... more to come on that. (For the curious, take a glance at the original, before I got my paws on it.)

Later this week, hopefully, I am also launching my total rework of the Global Voices Online website. I am *really* happy to be working with the fantastic Rebecca MacKinnon, for who's North Korea Blog I also did some work, and awesome Ethan Zuckerman. They are doing some really important stuff at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School and I am happy, honored and humbled to be allowed the opportunity to help. I have a lot of ideas of things we can do together going forward...

(I've been meaning to reduce my use of such words as fantastic, awesome and "totally mindbending man", but in the above case they are warranted.)

Michael will tell you that I may pursue something with Witness as well, but I say we'll see how I do this...

Ok! Back to work! Slackers!

I'm watching you

Gen Kanai
Johnny Shoepainter
miyuki jane
Pete Barr-Watson
Jean Snow
Yuka Oishi
Ryou in the box

Del.icio.us hash

A month ago, joshua mentioned an easy breezy little addition one can do to one's site to allow users to easily del.icio.us bookmark entries on one's weblog.

In some cases though, you might like an easy way to see how many people, and who, has bookmarked an entry on your weblog.

But how!?

Del.icio.us hash, my friends, del.icio.us hash.

You know that little "and X other people" link under each del.icio.us entry? Click on it. See that string of weird string characters in the query string? That's an MD5 hash of the bookmarked URL.

What follows is the list of ideas -in sequence of how they came to me and I dismissed them - of how this could be implemented, and why each can't or shouldn't be. The last one is the best bet. I couldn't do any of these myself, except for one, since I can't code to save my life.

1- MT Plugin run from CRON
Hashes every permalink and checks it against del.icio.us, grabs the RSS feed for each and caches them "locally", parses them out for stats and outputs the numbers ("25 people think this is delicious!") into the templates via template tags.
The idea is based on Ado's excellent MT-Technorati plugin which does basically the same with Technorati. The problem is that del.icio.us is really really sensitive to "abusive behavior". Send it too many requests too quickly and joshua will hate you. Also, calculating that many MD5 hashes, retrieving that many RSS feeds and parsing them all and rebuilding them, every 10-15 minutes, puts a hella load on your server. Ferget it.

2- A simple MD5 hashed permalink link.
"Click here to see who del.icio.us'ed this entry!" style. No numbers, no fancy getting and parsing. Number of ways to do this, server side.
a) If you are running PHP you can just add a little call to it's built in MD5 function, feed it your permalink et voila.
<a href="http://del.icio.us/url/<?php md5('<$MTEntryPermalink$>');" title="is it delicious?">is it delicious?</a>
<a href="http://del.icio.us/url/<?php md5('the_permalink();');" title="is it delicious?">is it delicious?</a>

b) Abstract it away with some sort of plugin. In MT, this means that the MD5 hashing occurs at build time and is done by Perl. In WP's case, it's at page request time.

Problem: you have large amount of entries and lots of traffic. Every page request launches an MD5 hash request. System resources-wise, your server needs this like a hole in the head.

3- Client-side, Javascript baby!
Ohhh this could work. A simple JS function included in the header, called from the link:
<a href="#" title="is it delicious?" onclick="do_md5_link('<$MTEntryPermalink$>');">is it delicious?</a>
(any number of ways)

4- Client-side, AJAX/ScrumJAX baby!!!
Basically, do number one above but inline, in real time. On click, MD5 the URL, query del.ico.us for the RSS for the bookmarks of that URL, parse it out, pop a layer showing the number of hits and, whatever, say, the list of users who bookmarked it.

Any takers?

[thanks to Aaron for the hash and calling me a lazy pig-fucker.]

Bang on

MJ on the "Lifecycle of Bloggers".

While I don't for one second believe there is any such thing as "one type of blog/blogger", this sums up very nicely what many many go through.

I'm at step 12 myself. Again. Not the purging part, mind you.

Shady fellows in the environs

what is aloft, George currency?
Oh, thou art aware how we proceed in this district.
How goes?
oh, merely striking the vixens and pleasing the strumpets...
Very well; carry on good fellow!
may I "notetaker-connected-by-electric-means" this conversation?
Indeed, daring would not I be to forbid thee from archiving this, our humble dialogue, within thy records.
(lightly edited)

Music chain

Ado passed on a blog meme my way and ... I "plead the 5th".
Carry on.


It's not April Fool's is it?
Damn, I didn't think so.

Talkr provides a service that allows you to listen to your favorite text-only news sources rather than read them. If you can point us to an RSS feed (a machine-readable version of your favorite blog or news source) we will convert that feed from text to speech. Talkr can also provide you with a podcast of your favorite news sources.

I want the OPPOSITE service dammit. I want a service I can dictate to and it returns me impeccable text... for blogging of course... :p

At least the logo isn't pink and powder blue. Let the deluge of product/service names ending in "-ckr" begin!

Flickr is the new iMac! The new eCommerce even!

Someone take this coffee away from me.

CMS themes = money

I found this funny. Looking at my "montreal" tag flickr stream I notice a picture of Guy Kawasaki. Hunh? Oh I see, it's one of these blog/flickr marketing tie-ins. I've done one or two of those myself. Feels slightly dirty but anyways... ;)

SO I Google for "ideasblog", and find myself here. A blog for an Autodesk promotional marketing tour.

Why is this interesting to me? It is interesting because that site reveals a lot about itself, and in so doing reveals a lot about the web industry today.

First of all, from the favicon, I see that the site is built in Drupal. Second, by replacing the "ideasblog" in the URL with "www", I find out the site is built by "Clear ink". (A quick whois also revelas that the cryptic domain "adskhost" - Autodesk Host - is registered to Clear ink as well. I wonder if Autodesk knows this.)

So we have a major software maker organizing a promotional tour and deciding they want some of this "Web 2.0 stuff".

"Hey! We should get a blog for this and put our pictures on Flickr!" they say.
If I had a nickel for every time I hea... oh wait... I do... In fact, I get a nickel every time I say it... cough...

So they go to a Berkley-based web-services bureau, who in turn says "Hey! Yeah! we can do that in Drupal!"

How much money do you think Clear ink got from Autodesk to quickly (and with sloppy all around execution, I must say... default favicon? C'mon!) hack up a Drupal theme? Hrmmm?

Can you say "high margin business"?
Stop asking me what I am doing these days. ;)

The troll pile

I'm writing up a proposal for a potential client (weblogs / community site) who realistically will probably get a fair amount of trolls posting, at least initially. This worries them somewhat, but they are willing to hear any thoughts & suggestions on how to deal with this.

So I'm thinking a few things:
1- Have a clearly stated, reasonably lenient/strict policy of acceptable conduct.
2- Have someone who is responsible for enforcing said policy and making the administrative/editorial decision to remove the offending post, perhaps even have someone from the community second the decision.

But wouldn't it be really funny to also have "the troll pile"? Instead of deleting the post/comment outright, the admin would move it to the pile with a link back to the original entry/topic. An aggregate of nutjobs! Hah!

Hrmmm... this could be done with a custom implementation of a del.icio.us clone/tagsurf type of thing.

Birthdays in Tokyo

Unless my info is wrong, I have to wish Happy Birthday today to good friend Jim and awesome dude Gen.

Considering the time-zone difference, and certain servers holding certain informations being in various places on the planet, I may be off by a day or two either way... ;)

It was also my sister's birthday yesterday but she never comes here so nyah, and apparently Adriaan's brother's birthday is today as well...

So... Happy birthday!

(otanjoubi omedetou)

*Cough* Shameless plug *Cough*

Speaking of Ado and birthdays... a great gift to any weblogger is a shiny new copy of ecto, packed with loads of new features, and a whole new interface, complete with icons!


Say it ain't so, Joe, please, say it ain't so...


U.S. Senator Evan Bayh is a heartland Democrat with a proven and broad appeal, and a history of advancing progressive values in a heavily Republican state. First elected Governor at the age of 32 – the youngest in the nation – Bayh was reelected to the senate in November 2004 with the highest percentage of support in recent history, and outperformed President Bush in Indiana in the 2004 election. Since his election to the Senate in 1998, Bayh has developed a reputation as a common sense pragmatist, focusing on innovative solutions to help America tackle our challenges at home and defeat our enemies abroad.

Taken from Mr. Bayh's FLICKR account.

I feel so dirty now. How about you?

Yahoo! Term extraction for MT

So Jonas has gotten this working for WordPress, but I have some ideas of how to use it, somewhat differently, with Movable Type. I couldn't code Perl (or anything else really) to save my life so here is just the idea.

In MT admin > entry screen.
a) above the keywords field, add a checkbox to enable "Yahoo! Terms keyword generation"
(We don't wanna start creating new columns/rows/tables in the MT database so let's use Keywords, cause, well, that's what they are.)
b) when an entry is posted, after MT has done everything else it already does, and before we get the "operation completed" message, submit the title, entry and extended entry, as well as the generated permalink (why not... this will notify Yahoo! of a new entry, give it the URL and the text so it doesn't have to come and crawl for it...), get the XML reply of generated "Terms" and save them in the keywords field.

From here, there's all kindsa stuff you can do. Use the keywords for (yawn) header meta-keywords tags, Technorati entry tags or, with a bit of template wizardry (and either some yet to exists plugin, or some CRON and PHP code), generate a weighted list, which you can display as an overall "zeitgeist" (I prefer "what my blog is thinking") affair, as I made for Joi's sidebar. (I generate Joi's global keywords list using the MTKeywords plugin to create and array which I then parse with some PHP.)

Ken McClosky released MTYahooSearch which talks to Yahoo!'s API, but it seems to only pull stuff into templates. Cool, but I want to capture and save the Terms results along with the entry. Why? Because it's relevant?

For fun, someone could also write something that takes the generated keywords and feeds them to Flickr's "tags.getRelated" API call, creating a view of "what the web thinks about what I think". (Nod)

Of course, as someone very smart recently said to me:

"With natural language processing, you end up twiddling a lot of knobs to get what you want."

... so whether you trust Yahoo! to generate relevant keywords is a matter of personal faith.

(Two days in a row staying up till dawn, and I still have an entry on folksonomies in Drupal keeping me awake.)

Rock paper scissor

(Left as a comment on a yet another thread about "what is a blog?")

A sheet of paper, a pencil. What is scribbled on that piece of paper (and arguably the role the person doing the scribbling takes on and gives his/her scribbles, and how the reader perceives it as well) is what makes it either a poem, a diary entry, a novel or a "news story"...

We don't call all those things "paper" do we? We don't argue over whether the gossip column is journalism do we?

So now our paper and pencils are freed from their earthly atoms, and we have all these linking and annotation features. "What it is" is what it is... quibbling over (most of the) details serves little or no purpose. Let's use our time and energy figuring out all the wonderful things we can DO with it.


Let's expand on folksonomies

First of all, purely for background and some interesting ideas, the Wikipedia definition of "taxonomy".

Taxonomy (from Greek ταξινομία (taxinomia) from the words taxis = order and nomos = law) may refer to either a hierarchical classification of things, or the principles underlying the classification. Almost anything, animate objects, inanimate objects, places, and events, may be classified according to some taxonomic scheme.

and "folk taxonomy":

A Folk Taxonomy is a vernacular naming system, as opposed to a scientific naming system which is simply known as a Taxonomy or as a Scientific Taxonomy.

Folk Taxonomies are generated from social knowledge and are used in everyday speech. They are distinguished from scientific taxonomies that claim to be disembedded from social relations and thus objective and universal.

Anthropologists have observed that taxonomies are generally embedded in local cultural and social systems, and serve various social functions.

So, as I've said, I really think all this tagging stuff is great but will be much more interesting once we really start to do more integrating and more social stuff with them. Here's what I mean by that.

The current flat, one dimensionality of the tags-based info management tools we see today (del.icio.us, flickr, et al) is essentially "selfish" or "based on the individual"; the loner walking through the world ascribing his own names to the things he comes across. Sure the fact that those names are there for all to see and aggregated into intersected view (show me everything everybody marked as "funny"!) is neat, but not terribly useful for they lack context, increasingly, especially as the databases grow (and oh my are they growing).

The first thing I'd like to see are some basic true "folksonomies": taxonomies generated and maintained by folks. This of course creates a host of technological presuppositions, like personal tag management software/services and tag aggregation and dissemination. Even more tricky are the social and cultural ramifications, which we still suck at but can muddle our way through as always. ;)

Also, there are already a handful of folksonomic "tags" which are inherent to the system and/or the data in question: date & time stamps, media type, resource URI, ID3 tags (on MP3s)... any standardized-by-usage metadata really.

Key here is the understanding that nothing is forced; you either use the folksonomy or you don't, you either contribute to it or you don't. Up to you. Either way, it is very much like our transition from loose tribes to tight knit communities, with all the value - and headaches - that engenders. It is also consistent with the nature of true democracy, and social life: You have the right to not participate, but you have a duty to do so if you choose to benefit from it.

On comments

I wasn't going to say anything but just to make it clear: I have switched the default setting on this weblog for "Allow comments" to "None".

When I post something that I'd like feedback on, I'll turn comments on for that entry.

Emails are of course welcome and encouraged, and every page of this site has a handy "Contact me" link at the bottom. I'll eventually put something more "user friendly" in place, when I have time.

Why? Just because. Not all weblogs are conversations, and not everyone is interested in debating every little thing. Especially me.

Cheers and thank you for visiting.

Folk taxonomies

Fun with Hierarchical Controlled Vocabularies
Very cool, and could be very useful when everyone cools down from "OMG tags!" syndrome. Tags are great, and "folksonomies" are neat but I think, and surely others do too, we will not truly see tags shine until we combine and integrate them with other data classification, storage and retrieval systems... including oh-no-so-rigid hierarchies... and oh-my-so-soft full content indexing...

Time to dig up that data management graphing project I was beating myself about the head with last fall...

Politically correct in Quebec

(or "baladi-balado")

Ok some background. I live in Quebec, a predominantly francophone ("french speaking") province ("state") of Canada. The francophones here are ridiculously anxious about protecting "their culture" (while they love nothing more than buying american products and seeing their sons and daughters listen to american hip hop and heavay métale). Anyways, in an effort to "protect our language", some of our hard earned tax dollars are poured into an organisation called "L'Office de la Langue Française" ("The Office of the french language"). Never mind that the French, from France, laugh spuriously at us for this, and the anglophones refer to them as "The Language Police".

A-Ny-Ways. I must say I am impressed with how on the ball these bureaucrats are. They aren't sitting around on my 50% income tax and 15% sales tax! No sir-ee-bob!

Friends, I give you the official, politically correct translation for french Quebec... of PODCASTING:

Vous avez entendu parler du podcasting? Sans doute, si vous possédez déjà un baladeur iPod. L'Office québécois de la langue française vient tout juste, en cette fin d’octobre 2004, de proposer les termes, encore tout chauds, baladodiffusion et baladiffusion pour nommer en français cette nouvelle réalité.

La baladodiffusion est un mode de diffusion d'émissions de radio Internet qui permet à l’abonné aux fils d'information RSS (la version Internet du fil de presse utilisé dans le monde des médias) de télécharger automatiquement sur son ordinateur, à l'aide de logiciels spécialisés, les émissions de radio qu’il a préalablement sélectionnées, et par la suite de les transférer sur un baladeur numérique à disque dur afin de les écouter en différé.

Le terme anglais podcasting est un mot-valise qui a été formé à partir des syllabes finales des mots iPod (nom commercial d'un modèle de baladeur numérique à disque dur de la société Apple) et broadcasting. Les termes baladodiffusion et baladiffusion sont aussi des mots-valises; ils sont issus de la contraction de baladeur (en référence au iPod) et de radiodiffusion. Dans le cas de baladodiffusion, on a ajouté la lettre de transition o entre les deux formants. Ces termes ont été créés sur le modèle de radiodiffusion, télédiffusion et webdiffusion.

Sadly you need to read french to get the hilarity of this. However, as I said, this is impressive, if not for their choice of translation, but for the fact that they cranked this out back in October 2004, they actually explain what it is, complete with an analogy of RSS as being the Internet version of news feeds, and also displaying their pride in "naming in french this new reality".

Aaron suggests, and I agree, we should petition to have the word changed to "Pataticasting". This would make it truly quebecois.
("Patate" is joual/slang for potato.)


Just came across Tagsurf. Haven't wrapped my head around it yet but having registered and logged in (the registration process is made difficult by a barely legible capcha), it looks to be very powerful.

I guess one way to describe what I *think* this is about is del.icio.us URL tagging + annotation + access control + Flickr style goodies + customization + filtering/custom views + RSS for everything... for "topics".

Seems brand spanking new so there isn't much in it yet. Gonna play for a few days see where it goes.

Update 1:
So I'm using it to annotate stuff I find, be it news articles, blog entries, neat stuff... URLs basically - and you all can comment ("reply") to my annotations, or trackback to them from your weblog. It's del.icio.us on steroids, and so much more. I can trackback to whatever it is I'm writing about (if the source accepts incoming pings), you can use it as a comment system for your own blog if you wish, or as a blog in and of itslef. You can track topics, discussions on specific topics or specific URLs, tag everything system wide or just for yourself, select a copyright license for your notes...

LOTS of features... and amazingly, with a totally spartan UI, it is still quite usable; you just have to play with it to "get it".

Ohhh... community trust meters! :)

Update 2:
Here is a Bookmarklet for easily adding stuff to Tagsurf.
Duh, they have their own Bookmarklets already done:

Why "blogging" sucks

The National Debate: Why "Blogging" Sucks

So-called "bloggers" are just "writers". I am a writer. You might think I am a bad writer, or even a terrible writer. My wife thinks I am a good writer but she may not be entirely objective. Sometimes when I write I use simplified content-management software often referred to as "blogware". I wrote a draft of this post on a legal pad. I am now typing my draft into Microsoft Word to edit my post and spell-check it. Later I will copy and paste the text into Movable Type and publish it on my web site, TheNationalDebate.com. During this process am I also a "paperer"? or a "Worder"? If I print my Word document and fax it to Timbuktu am I a "faxer". Why then, when my writing appears on my web site, am I a "blogger". Since when does the tool I use to express my thoughts define me? To quote the always articulate Oliver Willis, "that's stupid".

Bravo. Time to wake up and get on with it.

Using AJAX and a small private key to thwart comment spam

Does this make sense? It assumes your weblog system allows you to define a small, say 5 character, private encryption key, or even generates one for you. You don't need to know it really cause only the system ever uses it...

Then, you have an AJAX javascript watching your comment field. As soon as it detects keystrokes in it, say 3 or 4, it sends a behind the scenes request to the weblog server for a public key. This key would be generated on the fly using the private key aaaand... say a timestamp. The server would of course need to store the request and the key it generated at this point:

Entry ID # 00345 requested a key at 20050503202312
keygen: j3eJ7%G9U#5G7J*,
awaiting match...

Anyways, so at this point, using the AJAX and the DOM, the comment form now has a uniquely created "passkey", without which the server will not accept the comment...

Obviously this assumes the commenter has Javascript enabled but let's be honest here... it is 2005. If you've disabled JS in your web browser you're a freak 'n luddite. ;)

Hrmmm... hehehe I should've put a disclaimer saying "this was just a quick idea which made my head hurt to think about and I figured I'd just put it up there"... ;)
Thanks for the feedback all, whichever response channel you used! :)


Pssst.... over here...
(Sneaky buggers)

Tetsujin 28 weblog

So this is all in japanese but here's what seems to be going on: there's this movie, "Tetsujin28", coming out that looks like a modern remake of some japanese giant robot series or whatever.

And here is the movie's... blog. WTF.

This is getting absurd. Way worse than e-commerce and dot-com combined...

Did I say that out loud?

I write an inordinate amount of “weblog entries” in my head. Ninety-nine percent of them never make it to the keyboard, let alone get published. A funny side-effect of this is every so often someone will bring up an entry I did publish and I'll be like “oh... did I write that?”

Did I say that out loud?

Put another way, I think in weblog mode alot. I also think Instant Message conversations with people alot. The side effect of that is I often think I've already told someone something I wanted/needed to tell them. Not so good.

The interesting part of this is why this happens, why I have conversations with people, in my head... do you want to know why?

No I am not insane. :p

It's because with IM, at this point the people I communicate the most with are pretty much always right there. My mind expects to just communicate with them. The interface, at this point consisting of a screen, keyboard, mouse, a chat application, a network connection, is merely a conduit, a medium, an extension of me. It is an extension that my mind has accepted and uses alot and just expects to “be there”.

Sadly, this current conduit is a poor and inefficient one. The perceived reduction in my cognitive capabilities - short term memory mostly - is merely an artifact of the malaise created by this fact.


So my comments system got SNAFU'd by a clever spammer who snuck a whitespace bye me when I added 'im to my Blacklist. In other words, any submitted comment that contained a space was bounced for the last 24hrs or so.

Please, if you tried to comment and got bounced, please please try again. :)

MT templates for full entry text in syndication feeds

I was gonna write it up but then remembered that 6A "did the right thing" and updated all their syndication feed templates to publish full entries.

The templates can be found here.

Note that only the Atom one includes Extended Entry text... to add it to the others, simply find the <$MTEntryBody encode_xml="1"$> and add <$MTEntryMore encode_xml="1"$> after it.

Technorati ties the tags togther...

Technorati: Tag: bopuc

What's all this then? This page shows all kinds of goodies from the web about bopuc. The posts come from you! Just post a link to your blog about bopuc and include a link to this page with rel="tag" in the href (more info). The photos come from Flickr and the links come from Del.icio.us.

(Slightly disconcerting...)

I was just shown this Technorati functionality by (we were discussing 's already extensive del.icio.us support). I haven't wrapped my head around this technorati tags thing yet, but it seems rather neato. Especially UI wise... Must figure it out... I had been thinking about how Technorati may jump into this... hrm, and blog enablers... (Thinking: local tag management...)

Michael, Seb, you may find this interesting.


Overnight, I moved this site to a new, way faster server. This will allow me to start building on it again. In the move I decided to ditch my photo galleries because, well, I didn't like them and they took up over 500 megs of space. Sorry, The Web, for the URL rot. I will rebuild a newer one soon. Also it seems I bungled my SQL export and many many UTF-8 encoded characters got messed up. I'll fix the easy ones shortly, but I fear the two or three instances of japanese characters are lost... sigh. Well, we see.

I switched to Adium for all IM. I was using Proteus and iChat, but it seems iChat was the source of some strange behavior, not to mention a resource hog. It'll take some getting used to...

My flight to Tokyo was paid for this morning. Here I come. A month in Tokyo and 3 weeks in Vancouver. Excited is an understatement. Anxiety has moved into the pit of my stomach as well, as I don't have a clue how I am going to pay for all this. Hehehehe.

Chatting with Soli - yes, THAT Soli - with whom I will be staying for part of my Vancouver leg, he sent me this photo of the view from his window:
Solis View

Yes, well... aren't I the lucky one? ;)

On a side note, instead of working on client projects the last few days, I've started developing a PHP-based tool to make comment management in Movable Type easier. So far I have used it here, on Joi's and on Smartmobs and, though rough around the edges at this stage, it is a godsend. I will release a package once I've cleaned it up.

All the best to you all in the new year!

MT-Blacklist SNAFU

I just caught MT-Blacklist doing something really nasty. And I caught it doing it repeatedly:
When submitting a checkmarked list of comments from Movable Type's comments list to MT-Blacklist for processing, MT-Blacklist only properly grabs the first comment ID, and seems to go grab a totally random second comment from the database. In one test, I even submitted three comments, and only had 2 listed in Blacklist (the first being right the second being one from 4 months ago...)

This is VERY bad. I despam hundreds of comments a day on my various clients' weblogs. For me to accidentally delete valid comments is totally "not cool".

I've emailed Jay and hopefully we can figure out what the problem is. In the meantime, check your list twice... ugh, no pun intended.

(This was seen using MT 3.14 and MT-BL 2.03b)

UPDATE: Jay quietly released MT Blacklist 2.04b the other day. Looking though the files and sorting by modified date, I notice the changes made affect the link which appears in MT - the one you click on in Movable Type's Comments listing screen. I suspected the JavaScript it uses to be at fault for this nasty behavior, following my incorporating it the other night into a little project I am working on myself. Anyways, thanks Jay!

Note to self: read mt-blacklist forum announcements before saying silly things.
2.04b does not address the aforementioned issue. I just ran a diff to make sure. :p

Input output, part 1

I've been thinking a lot lately about this thing we call the personal weblog, especially the evolution I see, working exclusively on other people's, in how they are used and how their owners want to use them. It comes down basically to output and, increasingly, input as well.

For this scenario, there are two "actors": the individual and the group, or, the weblogger and the network. Me and you; the self and the other:

me and you

From my point of view, everything I put on the network is output, and everything I acquire from the network is input:

me and you talking

(This is why we say it is a conversation. Also notice how I consider The Weblog to be an extension of me - or more precisely, several aspects of me - and The Network as the aggregate of all of the extensions of you... as well as the product of any and all interactions thus produced. But that's another fight.)

This entry is output. Every picture in my photolog is output. Every picture I put on flickr is output, every song I listen to, as tracked by audioscrobbler, is output, every URL I tag in del.icio.us is output.

Every comment and trackback you all leave here (or anywhere I have left something) is, to me, input. Every technorati cosmos linkback is input. Every picture from my contacts in flickr is input. Every last.fm profile recommended song is input. Every weblog entry of yours that I read, be it in my RSS aggregator or my web browser, is input. Every grouped, inboxed or otherwise found URLs on del.icio.us is input. Every red dot on the map locating my visitors is input.

I could go further and say that every email and IM I send is also output, and that I receive, input... but that is out of the scope of the interaction paradigm I am concerning myself with here. It needn't be, but I'll leave that there for now. It is however just an interface thing.

That's a lot of microcontent to keep track of, and if we consider microcontent to be the atoms of "The Web 2.0", then there are also the electrons of those atoms, metadata, to think of. And just like electrons, it is the metadata that can help us bind it all together (amongst other things).

All of this is happening in our web browsers and RSS aggregators. Take this "weblog" for example. Weblog entries, photolog "moblog" entries, links, my 10 most recent flickr pics; all there, and I haven't even integrated my last.fm list, my del.icio.us URLs, my technorati cosmos, etc... On the RSS side I have crammed in all the output I generate locally, to the dismay of some of you.

My clients, and myself included, not only want to share more output, but we also want to keep track of more input, some of which we also want to share, and some that doesn't necessarily need to be. As something of a web interface designer, this all presents me with a very real problem, one that needs a solution. This is what I will try to address here in part 2. Stay tuned! Hah!

ecto on special


In the spirit of Christmas, we are offering a special 30% discount on purchases of ecto between December 20th and 26th, 2004! Get it while it lasts!

If you blog, ecto is THE app for composing and managing your entries locally. Adriaan keeps adding awesome features without, amazingly enough, cluttering up the interface. If you're a novice or a power-user, ecto is super user-friendly and feature rich. A rarity.

Disclosure: Adriaan is a good friend of mine and as such I help him out where I can with ecto and related stuff as well as try to promote this great piece of software.

Update: Ado just pointed me to the original announcement of the birth of ecto and I realized it's already been a year!!! Bravo!
("Heh... only a year? Feels like eons...")

Keep track of your comments with del.icio.us

Mike from Ile Sans Fil says:
mtl3p: Oh, and in case some of you haven't though of it yet

I'm putting all of comments that I make on delicious. You know, when you comment on someone's blog and then forget to check back. Using it for forums as well. It's a nice way not to loose track of all of that IP (I'm not saying that it belongs to you).

I wish I had a category here called "Genius". Goddamn brilliant, Mike.

Tags... no! Semantics! No! Ontologies!

Or something like that...

I've been ranting about tags, Ado spoke of APIs, Leonard digs in with facets and triplets, and surely there are looooads of other people talking about all of this, and have been for a long time.

Right now I want to point y'all to this Google Translation of Karl's recent answer to my tags rant. Charmingly enough, Google's french is about on par with Karl's english hehehehehe... (Sorry man couldn't resist. You know I'm kidding! ;)
Please please please, if you are interested in this topic at all, read it and make the effort to get through it. The translation is rough but passable.

So, Exhibit A:
Joi Ito's del.icio.us tags (on the right). What a mess. ;)
More to the point, he has 141 "tags" in his self-maintained taxonomy. Before I go on...

Exhibit B:
Flickr's top 150 tags. Looks cooler but that's not the real difference. Nor does it solve the same problem Joi has, and the rest of us soon will have...

Let's look closer, first at Joi's tags. You'd assume that a taxonomy maintained by one person would stay reasonably redundancy free:

5 cc , 2 creative_commons
2 conference, 1 conferences
1 gadget, 1 gadgets
1 health, 1 heath <- Typo!!!
4 japan, 2 Japanese, 6 japanese_culture
2 movie, 1 movies
1 photography, 5 photos
1 society, 3 sociology
1 stupid, 1 stupidity
1 tech, 1 technology
1 terror, 1 terrorism
9 politics, 3 us_policy, 16 us_politics

And my favorite alphabetical grouping:
5 sex, 5 sharing_economy

This is problematic on many levels. First of all, Joi has to type each tag every time he wants to attach one. That means increased chances of typos or slightly different "way of tagging" (e.g.: CC, creative commons). This in turn increases the number of tags in the soup, as well as reduces chance in finding a match when searching later (e.g.: "I would have sworn I tagged that CC... why isn't it here?" 5 minutes later... "Oh! I tagged it creative commons!" C'mon folks, the computer ain't helping us that much if we still have to think... ;). It also reduces the chance of "matching up" with other people's tags. And that's also part of the point of all this isn't it?

Now, back to Flickr's top 150. "Oh mighty Flickr! Show me all pictures in New York City, New York, U.S.A!" "Boooonk"... NYC? New York? NuYawk? What about York? Manhattan?
(Some intrepid souls are tackling this right now. Bless em.)

animal? or animals?
autumn? or fall?
cat, or cats? (funny, the dog doesn't have this problem...)
I could go on... the redundancy is three to four deep for some terms.

Ontologies, relationships between information, context. The exponents of flat hierarchies would have you believe that "a rose is a rose is a rose" and that "a rose by another name is still a rose". What they forget is that you don't *know* what a rose *IS* until you've seen it, touched it, smelled it; heard that when given to a lady, especially in bunches, it is a romantic gesture; felt the crunch of a dozen roses on your wallet; had a thorn rip into your lip... now THAT's a rose.

One does not learn in a vacuum. One requires context and one must have something one can establish relationships with. Children learn by establishing relationships between information: "mommy says these orange things are called carrots and if I eat them my eyes will be healthy".

"The New York Times is reporting on Fallujah, which looks like this according to the moblogged pictures from there on Flickr."
Cough and cough.

(One more cough... *someone* familiar with XMLHttpRequest-DOM stuff should look into how Livesearch is being implemented here and there and perhaps figure out a way for folks like, oh I don't know, say Flickr, could implement it for easing tag entering. All it takes is a little array of the top 3 to 400 tags...)

I was gonna say something like "Tags are the alphabet's last-ditch effort to bring the electric nature of cyberspace under it's linear perspective thumb! We must not allow this to happen!"... but then you'd most certainly take me for a nutcase. ;)

Tags, ontologies, community and feedback

"Com' follow me now!"

Thinking hard about tags - the new black as Ado says - and various conversations I've had recently, mostly with Karl, about ontologies, explicit relationships (hah!), etc.

Say I have a bunch of files that I have, one way or another, already tagged with pertinent, non-private, information.
Say I share that information and/or file with a community style site.

For many of my files - most in fact -, there already are ontologies, as I've mentioned before. On the FileSystem/OS level, such things as Date Created, Date Modified, File Type - could be useful; on the Applications level, well, for instance iTunes (or any MP3 player for that matter) has a very clearly defined ontology: it's called ID3... ID3 TAGS, people!

Let's stick with the MP3 example for now. I'll do pictures after.

Most of my music has pretty clean ID3 tags: artist name, track name, album name, star rating, genre... Ah genre. Tricky thing trying to categorize music. Wouldn't want to be responsible for what happened to Curt Cobain, you know... "Don't pigeonhole my music man!" Anyways. So, iScrobbler watches iTunes and tells AudioScrobbler/last.fm what I am listening to.

I am too tired to do a TCP dump so I don't know what iScrobbler is telling the mothership exactly but I would like to think it's sending MORE than just artist and track name. The ID3 spec makes room for lots of information, but let's stick with the aforementioned four, since things like "Track number", "Track length" and their ilk are too contextual (which album it's off of, how the track was encoded) to be really useful in a "sharing environment". So, I assume Scrobbler is only relaying track and artist names. This is already problematic due to typos, misspellings, differing entry methods - "Cat Stevens", "Stevens, Cat", "Caht Stebenz" - but can be moderated...

Similarly, if Scrobbler relayed the genres and ratings *I*, and everyone else, set for tracks, not only would they have a potential headache on their hands, but more importantly, they would have some VERY valuable information. Cynics in the room are already screaming "yeah, valuable to music companies!", but I rather think "yeah, valuable to music lovers!".

So here's what they do. First, capture and relationally store all ratings.
"1,275 out of 134,548 listeners of 'Wild World' give it 4 stars."
"264 out of 45,843 listeners of 'Cat Stevens' give him 2 stars."

For record companies, clear metrics - for music lovers, clear indicators of quality...

Then, genres. This is where it gets interesting. Store ALL incoming genres associated to tracks, but only actually 'ascribe' the, say, 5 or 10 most frequently attributed.

Next, open it up for community editing, Wikipedia style. Wikipedia proves that if you provide the community with a valuable resource of authoritative enough information, the community will roll up its sleeves and tend the garden.

But it's not valuable enough, not authoritative enough... until you open it up even more...

Ontological APIs. KABLOOIE.

"According to [ your friends | your 'musical neighborhood' | Scrobbler ], this track has been tagged to be of the following possible genres..." If you find one you agree with (betcha ya will!) you pick it, if not, you enter your own, which gets sent along back to the Ontology server... Feedback loop.

[Hrm... Imagine CDDB was open like that... holy cow.]

Ok, pictures now. You KNOW I'm gonna say Flickr. I'm also gonna say EXIF and Fotonotes. And tags tags tags tags...

There's alot of talk about the shift from top-down enforced hierarchies to the bottoms-up (hihi!) "folksonomies" and I'm thinking "How nice! We've gone from fascism to marxism! And it took all of... 3 months!"

Democracy, people. Create loose, general ontologies, and let community leaders manage them... In Flickr's case, how about simple stuff like "color", "person", "place", "food", "cat", "dog", "stupid cousin"...

Or how about less simple stuff, like full geographical ontologies - city names, capture device ontologies - camera make and model.

The argument that is sure to erupt is "why? if everyone just tags everything, it'll all be easily findable anyways!" Wrong. Relationships between data - subject verb object - grammar - some structure is always needed, and here we have an opportunity to get in in the middle and do it right...

Otherwise, as Karl says, we will go from an ocean of files to an ocean of tags, and no closer to home.
(Google translation of Karl's entry. Beware. It's almost as good as if he'd written it in english himself... ;)

7:30am. Shall I sleep or just stay up now?

Into the wild

Adriaan, the erstwhile developer of such sweet apps as ecto and 1001, today has released two of his little Perl scripts for Movable Type: the Technorati Plugin and the last.fm script.

Both of these have been running, beautifully, on Joi's site for a few months and a week or so, respectively. Ado is well placed to create these, especially the Technorati and Flickr stuff, having worked on the very APIs both offer himself.

I don't really use Technorati myself, but the last.fm one will be put into full effect here as soon as I move servers (soonish?) and have full control of CRON.

Bravo and thanks Ado!

Spam Karma

Dr Dave's Blog » Introducing Spam Karma

Damn. We need this for MT... pronto. :\

Awesome MP3 compilation

La Blogothèque:

We have a long compilation tradition here. And we wanted to celebrate the site's second month. So here is a mix CD called Point d'écoute (Part. 1 + Part. 2 ) (Listening Post) that we made to sum up our discoveries in this period of time. Some of these bands have been produced, some don't have an EP yet. But all of them propose some free mp3s on their site¬†: that's where we collected them.

Not only is this a truly great idea, but so far I am 5 tracks into it and can already heartily recommend it as a worthwhile music download. Hell, I'd BUY this.

Régine beat me to it

I hadn't visited we make money not art in a while and dropped in only to see that Régine has beaten me to it.

I am speaking of course of the "I'm using categories as tags" and displaying them in varying sizes (ostensibly according to entry count), à la Flickr.

I hear you gagging, Karl & Aaron. :p~

Anyways, I want to make it clear that I FULLY intend to do this as well. Why? Because it is awesome UI for this application. IMHO.

Next I need to find a way to relate tags to each other, or, far easier, concatenate tag groups. I.e.: Show me entries tagged as "a" and "b".

Montreal Metroblog

I want ten Montreal-area webloggers to join me in making up our local Metroblog.

English and french posts that somehow have something to do with Montreal, and share whatever bits of this great city. :)

Here are some of the other cities in the Metroblog network, to give you an idea:

Email me or comment here if you are interested! No contracts, no pressure! All fun. ;)

Bigger than... Jebus!

I wasn't going to say anything about all this, but I just saw something that made my jaw drop...

Picture 1-1

Not the numbers or stats or anything like that... look closely... juuuust beneath the face-off box... First line after it.

"Election Night Blog"

Mind blowing, I say.

[this is aaron]

Because, while I can respect it, Aaron's quiet, "I'll be over here" demeanor drives me batty sometimes, I am going to take license and point out his freshly published résumé.

While I'd love to expound on how he's actually publishing his résumé, via XML and all sortsa crazy parsing voodoo, I'm afraid I haven't the slightest clue. So I'll just point you to his CPAN profile.

I'd *really* like to go on with some real "Happy-Happy Joy-Joy boosterism" of Aaron, but I'm not sure how much he'd let me get away with. ;)

Someone give this supremely intelligent and gifted man some work, lest I start a company just for him!

Hrm. ;)

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... )

Tail wagging

As Joi links to me from his entry on Chris Johnson's Wired article "The Long Tail", I figure I should riff a bit on what I see in all this and why I reminded him of Momus' excellent "Pop Stars, nein danke!" article.

[This will mostly only make sense if you've read both articles and are mildly insane, like me.]

So if you look at this chart, way past the right most end of the "tail"... that's you and me. That's you and me and our friends who are in local bands, making our own electronic music/videos, writing poetry, taking pictures as hobby, etc. We don't actually figure on this chart, but we could if the numbers were stretched and the criteria slightly adjusted.

Right, so it is not only getting easier and easier to produce stuff (*cough* micro content), but it is getting easier and easier to share it as well. Also, it is getting easier and easier to aggregate it and more importantly "communitize" it, i.e.: "check out what I just found that you may like".

In Momus' article he speaks mostly of the indie music scene in early '90's Britain, which is an awesome example, even today, or rather more so today because everything he more or less predicted, or rather "saw happening", is happening or has happened. "Democratization of means of production and distribution."

"In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen people." Provided those 15 people aren't your mother and your closest friends and that your stuff is actually of some appreciable quality, those 15 people may, just may, tell their 15 people about it... and so on.

(Legally, this is another place where Creative Commons makes ridiculous loads of sense, by the way.)

Following me?

One of the effects of all this is a fragmentation of culture, or micro-cultures if you will. If we look at western music classifications and their associated groupings, gone are the days of "I'm mod, I'm a rocker, I'm punk, I'm a rapper, etc." At this moment, the kids are saying things more like "well, I am into band x and y, but every now and then I'll listen to d..." There are of course still general lines of exclusivity that some less insightful people stick to... "But you listen to x! How can you possibly like d!?!" A-ny-ways. Xenophobia is hard-wired into lack of education/experience/knowledge/exposure.

All of a sudden I am reminded of U2's Bono yelling onstage during the Achtung Baby tour of 1992: "Is this rock 'n roll?! Is THIS rock 'n roll?!" And "good taste is the enemy of art."

You'll notice I am drifting further and further away from business model aspects. That's just because I am way more interested in the philosophical/sociological/cultural and metaphysical aspects... but I'll spare ya.

Oh! Let's go back to that first graph and reinterpret it, for my purposes, as signal/noise x audience ratio. The X axis is signal -> noise, the Y is number of "listeners". The better the signal (less noise), the more people tune in. Takes alot of work/talent to produce a good signal, right? But hey some folks listen to the noise, hoping for some good signal here and there. God bless mom, she loves all my noise. So do a handful of friends. As I get better at producing signal with less and less noise, network dynamics pretty much guarantee more listeners. And so I move left on the graph.

DJ Dangermouse at Web2.0 says:

Mashing is so easy. It takes years to learn how to play the guitar and write your own songs. It takes a few weeks of practice with turntable to make people dance and smile. It takes a few hours to crank out something good with some software. So with such a low barrier to entry, everyone jumps in and starts immediately being creative. I don't understand why that is illegal.

Right now, it is damn hard to get to the point far enough left on the graph where hobby/interest becomes an economically sustainable endeavor. That's because that point lies on the other side of such things as "the music industry", "the publishing industry", "the movie industry", "the blogosphere" *cough*. In the world of distribution-via-atoms (CDs, DVDs, books, magazines, movie theaters), these barriers were erected naturally by the economics of the undertaking. As these economic barriers slide right due to electronic dissemination/distribution (hello everyone from McLuhan to Negroponte and countless others), my barrier to feeding myself from my signal gets smaller.

And oh god are the barrier profiters fighting tooth and nail to keep those barriers to the left of that graph! Cornered animals they are.

This has been a high noise ratio rambling. Thank you for tuning in, SETI.

Lost in connections

Just noticed that in his track "God Only Knows" off of Fantasma, Cornelius samples, or rather, covers a piece of, The Jesus & Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey", which is the closing track of Lost In Translation as the credits begin to roll. In those credits, A Bathing Ape (Bape) are credited as fashion consultants. (The orange camo t-shirt that Bill Murray wears is Bape.)

Finding links for this entry, I realize that the #1 hit on Google for "Bathing Ape" is a link to an article on "A List Apart" (a webdesigner's staple, run by Jeffrey Zeldman) written by buddy Adam Greenfield, who organized the 1IMC, which is one of the reasons I went to Japan last year and where I ended up meeting Joi. I had met Adam in Joi's comments and then in person at SxSW 2003, where I also briefly met Zeldman...

Arrrgh! ;)

Tack this onto my previous entry titled ... omg... this is ridiculous... I couldn't remember the exact title of the post I want to link to here so I googled an approximation of it and add my handle at the end... and guess who comes up.

The mind reels...

Ah here it is: "Meshing storylines from my life".

One hour well wasted. ;)

Addendum: I should add that it was also at the 1IMC that I met a bunch of really great people whom I am very happy to call friends: Jim, Ado, Dav & Mie, Pete, Gen, Jane, Justin...

(I am NOT name dropping!! Just tracing lines!)

What am I listening to?

Update: Until I find a more stable way of including the list, it's gone. Damn.

So following the boss's... er... endorsement(?), I've had to figure out a quick way to include last.fm / audioscrobbler data on a webpage...

Joi does a good job of explaining what that's all about.

Ok, so if you look in the left sidebar on my weblog, under the "most recent photoblog entries" block, you'll see what I am listening to in iTunes. Rather neat, methinks.

How this works quickly:
The audioscrobbler "app" runs in the background on my computer and tells my last.fm profile what iTunes is playing. last.fm provides an RSS 1.0 feed of the last 10 entries. With a bit of PHP, I grab and parse that RSS and display the list here.

Now this is only the tip of the iceberg! last.fm allows me to have a little "player" which would allow you all to actually "listen" to what I am listening to. (This is the feature I think you want me to implement for you, right Joi?) Also, once I have provided it with enough of an "idea" of what I am listening to, it will start suggesting stuff I may like to check out. Also, seeing stats on what I am listening to is way cool for me, but also for you. Gives you one more look at "me".

Of course, i didn't really need to know that Joi's favorite artist seems to be The Smiths... ;)

Anyways, furthermore, if you start digging in the stats, as more people join up and "populate the database with data", you get a VERY interesting picture of what is popular...

I agree with Joi. This is not only way cool, it is damn smart. These guys are sitting on something HUGE.

A9 leveraging Amazon

Shopping on Amazon to "cash in" a gift certificate, I notice an awkwardly shoehorned ad at the top...



Boris, since you've been using A9.com recently, virtually everything at Amazon.com is automatically an additional π/2% (1.57%) off for you. Collecting this discount is zero effort on your part. It will be applied automatically at checkout (it will happen whether you use the shopping cart or our 1-Click Shopping®). You don't need to do anything to get this discount except keep using A9.com as your regular search engine.

Sweet! Suckers! I just checked it out once or twice really... ;)

We don't advertise this additional discount that we give in exchange for using A9.com, so if you want your friends to know about it, please tell them. It is probably the only way they'll find out. All they have to do is use A9.com as their regular search engine. They should make sure they are signed in to A9.com (it should be recognizing them by name) so that we can be certain they get credit for their visit.


While the π/2% discount is a good additional reason to use A9.com it isn't the best reason. A9.com licenses its web search results from the industry leader Google, and then supplements those results with Amazon's Search Inside the Book™ results. The coolest feature is that A9.com keeps track of your search history for you on the server side. To see how this works, do some A9 searches from your computer at work and then sign in to A9.com from your computer at home.

Wow! Like frikkin magic! Hahahahaha!

How can we afford this additional π/2% discount?

Pray tell!!

Sponsored links revenue -from the small text-based ads on A9.com and Amazon.com search results pages -will help offset costs we incur through the Rewards promotion. With our automatic π/2% discount, we are effectively sharing with you some of the money we collect from sponsored links, i.e. sharing the pi.

Pfffffaaahahaha... Zing! Right over my head! Whatever! Give me my 1.57% off you stingy bastards.

Please use A9.com and tell your friends.

Ummm. NO. Oops. i just did...

Thank you

No, no, please! Thank YOU.

Now if only there were some way I could get a cut of everything you all may buy because of this post...


May I ask you all for a small favor?

So, I have NO idea how many people actually read this weblog thing of mine. My stats are wonky and imprecise, and aside from a handful of regulars, I get very little feedback. I would love to know who's out there watching me!

Please, leave a quick a comment on this post. A "hi!" with your name would suffice. Feel free to make any comments of course as well... about the site, my insanity, whatever...

If you want to remain anonymous, that's cool too. But a pseudonymed "yo!" would be cool too.

Or email me. There's a link at the bottom.

Either which way, I'd REALLY appreciate a shout! I feel so alone sometimes you know... ;)


Nokia & 6A

Six Apart: Nokia and Six Apart Announce Mobile Web Logging for Content Sharing

"Nokia Lifeblog is further evolving into a great tool for life sharing. Thanks to the collaboration with Six Apart, a shaper in the blog community, users will be able to upload multimedia like photos, videos, text messages, and multimedia messages to their TypePad account," said Christian Lindholm, Director of Multimedia Applications, Nokia Ventures Organization. "With the Nokia Lifeblog application and TypePad from Six Apart, we can help operators and other service providers to offer their customers the best possible mobile blogging experience."

I have to admit this caught me totally by surprise. Goes to show how much I isolated myself this summer.

Unclear on the concept

If there is one thing weblogs ARE, it seems to be "hard to grasp".

A month ago I posted this "moblog" entry (which is just a weblog entry with a picture which was posted from a mobile device) showing two cans of Korean-market Japanese sports drink "Pocari Sweat" (click that link... it is a HOOT), which I got here, on the other end of the planet, in a Korean grocery store.

Ok so the Google rank on this is a bit whack but whatever. (As of right now that entry is listing number 8...)

This morning, I get this in my email:

From: atsc@.com
Subject: request pocari sweat
Date: September 5, 2004 5:49:05 AM EDT
To: boris@.com

Dear sir,
our company intersted in buying pocari sweat.
It would be grateful for us to buying from your firm.Could you please tell us the prices of one box.
it would be apperciated for us to become your contribution if you like.
with our best Regards,
Almas Trading Sahar Company

Good god, I'll be rich!


Shall I tell you about the guy in Punjab who tried to comment this morning on a 9 month old entry over at Smartmobs pertaining to some sort of online gambling/lottery scam in the Netherlands? He wanted to know when he'd get his money, and offered up his full name, address AND CREDIT CARD NUMBER. (Ok there is more to it than that, way more, but this guy really offered up his digits... )

Pre Announcement

So I am running late on this little "thing I wanna do" so I am going to make a quick pre-announcement here right now.

Basically I am starting a small "Weblog Services" business. (who saw that coming?!) I will be offering a full spectrum (oooo marketing!) of weblogging-related services, such as setups, upgrades, customizations, design, migrations, hosting, maintenance, etc.

Now, as you may know, Six Apart just released MovableType 3.1, as well as the PluginsPack which contains the equally much awaited MT-Blacklist 2.0. These upgrades are really great, with loads of new features. With new features comes new technical challenges though. Now, no it isn't rocket science, but it can be a bit daunting for the non-tech inclined amongst us. Luckily, folks like myself have the know-how to help out!

Wheeee! ;)

Here's the deal:
I will upgrade your installation of MovableType, install MT-Blacklist, configure both with options that make sense for you, and throw in a special template or two here, a configuration tweak there... (sorry, hafta be vague here for now, but I can say, some stuff which makes dealing with Comment Spam a little easier).

Get in touch if you are interested! Seeing as this is a pre-announcement, I'll be offering this at a "special rate" (until i can get my act together and offer a full services and price list!).

Like they heard my prayers

daikini released "Photon" the other day. Not a week ago I was hunting around and trying various tools that would allow me to easily create photo galleries in Movable Type, in my inimitable picky style. The best I found was daikini's iPhotoToTypepad plugin for iPhoto, but it only worked with TypePad. All the others didn't allow me to select a category, or how I wanted the data uploaded i.e.: what goes in what fields... important for template hacking... (I don't want my links to images to stored int eh database, only the filenames. I want to "hard code" the <img> tags myself in the templates.

Photon does just that. Simple simple simple too. I pick my category (or create one!), one per "gallery", e.g.: Trip to Tokyo, and I set Filename > keywords, "Comments" > Entry Body, etc...

For $10.00USD, definitely worth it.

Bye bye Gallery with yer ridiculous ways. (Complex installation, customization, crappy comments, etc...)


_images_wysiawyg.jpgWell, Adriaan's really done it this time. ecto now has (what he is calling) WYSIAWYG (What You See Is Almost What You Get) weblog entry composing "without having to bother with HTML tags".

Trying it out with this post right now and so far it is a godsend. A little rough, like the dutchman himself, but nice (as well). ;)

One feed to unite them all

/me kicks himself for above gratuitous use of pop cultural reference.

So I finally got fed up and hacked up a PHP script that generates a single RSS 1.0 feed containing the 20 most recent entries to my weblog, photolog and links. The script is run via CRON every 10 minutes or so, and a few Apache Redirects make sure you all get this new feed now instead of the old ones.

That was serious fun. Was up until 5am on this one. :)

I must thank the past week I spent redoing and moving smartmobs.com for teaching me the wonderful ways of Apache .htaccess files. I'd never really played with them before and at first I hated 'em, especially some rewrites smartmobs.com was using ("Do not be fooled by Apache mod_rewrite. Sure it looks all nice and cool but it is Satan."), but yay. Good stuff.

Yeah, that's right. Guess where emails to webmaster at smartmobs get sent to... :D

/me does a little strut around the room.

Timestamp timezones in Flickr

(and by extension, in social software enabled content management systems, especially moblogging ones)

Currently, Flickr timestamps everything in it's developers' timezone, Pacific Standard Time. To anyone not on the western seaboard of North America, this is pretty much useless. Who bothers doing timezone conversions when looking at friend's pictures? ;)

So, two options: display the timestamp based in the timezone of the poster or, even better, in the viewer's. The former is arguably also just more metacrap, the latter is a far more useful frame of reference for the viewer.

"Ohhh he/she posted this 20 minutes ago / while I was making coffee, he/she was in a restaurant in Shibuya / etc..."

Brings you closer to me, you know. :)

Of course! mod_rewrite!

One simple way to reduce comment spam

Adriaan thought up of one more very powerful way to stop comment spam (assuming your blog is on a server you have access too... and is running Apache... and the .htaccess directive is on...)

Simply have the webserver deny requests to whatever does the comment processing, if the request comes from anywhere other than the site itself!


Welcome Steven

Friend Steven Mansour started up a blog over a month ago and I just clued in:
stevesgallery.com | Nil magnum nisi bonum.

Kinda embarrassing to only realize it now as he's been asking me questions about blogging, and blogging software and blogging issues for the past 2 months... sheesh. My attention span is like... oooo butterflies!


Steven is deep into wireless networking (see his company, it's services, it's developed products and projects), as well as a professional photographer. I suppose I should also say he's a pretty good guy and etc etc, but hey.. i don't wanna give him TOO much exposure... ;)

Welcome Steven!

An example

Here is an example of information hunting and establishing connections between bits of data online. This story will remain intentionally vague and short on specific URLs for two reasons: to protect the individual's privacy and to keep my Google rank low for a specific bit of technical wizardry involving a certain mp3 player and a certain make of automobile. Unlike others, I am not interested in becoming the support desk for this little bit of information.

This story begins because of an entry a few days ago where I mention in passing the aforementioned setup. This evening I received an email from someone asking me kindly how I had done it, as his brand new car doesn't allow him to use the (to remain nameless) radio frequency interface solution.

Now the name of the person sounded very familiar, as it is a common name in these parts. To boot, buddy had his own domain, named after himself. Nevermind that I'll sometimes Google people whom I come across, but give me a vanity domain name and for sure I am going to whois you.

I now know where Monsieur lives and even got a map pin-pointing his address specifically. Not that I needed to since I know the neighborhood quite well, it being only a few blocks up from me... small world...

So okay, I hit reply and start writing some of the basics. However my car and my mp3 player are 2-3 years old and surely stuff's been updated. A quick trip to the web forums on the most popular, and useful website dedicated to owners of this particular make of car and I see that indeed, things have evolved. Copy and paste a few URLs and "good luck mon ami!"

This all took about 5-10 minutes. Slow compared to if I had had all this information in my head and/or we were all connected pseudo-telepathically but hey... it used to take weeks to ship cargo across the Atlantic, today it take days, if not hours... and that's atoms, not bits...

It is all about technology. If I were a faster typist... or if my interface to my computer and by extension to the Net wasn't through a clunky keyboard and primitive pointing device...


I finally went out and got a cameraphone. Well, it's actually way more than that but anyways.

So I have begun "moblogging" like a fiend. You may have noticed. I am sending pics to both my own MT-based MobiLog AND to my super cool neato Flickr account (which appears in the navbar here).

Now, I want ALL OF YOU to start moblogging too. If you have a cameraphone, go sign up for a free Flickr account and get into it. OR, better yet, email me and I'll send ya an invite and get you going... One of the many cool things about Flickr is we can all share and see what the other is posting and be kept up-to-date...

What has Seb done for you lately?

Seb Paquet (Seb's Open Research) has a special request today.

Seb's work is funded by the Government of Canada. This funding covers not only his research, but also the fact that he is able to, and does, share much of it, if not all of it, with us. As Seb explains, however, the auditors need to assess the impact/value of his work...

Well, let's show em. :)

My own letter is as follows:

Seb Paquet's shared research stimulates and enriches my life on a daily basis. It adds to my intellectual, psychological and even emotional development as a sentient individual and as such promotes my well being as well as my abilities and desire to share that with others, enriching their lives in the process.

As a fellow Canadian, I could ask little more of my government. (Aside from basic rights and freedoms, reasonable taxes, universal healthcare, etc etc etc... of course... ;)

Hope that's not too cheesy... ;)

Spiegel does RSS

RSS-Newsfeed: Immer wissen, was es Neues gibt - Der Tag - SPIEGEL ONLINE

German news magazine Der Spiegel (think: germany's Time magazine) does RSS feeds of their online edition.

Most impressiv... ja, ja... ;)

An economy of caring

Friend Jim Moore is doing all he can to garner attention, raise awareness and just get people to care about a situation of genocide and other nastyness happening in Sudan at the moment.

Much of his efforts are focused on getting the blogosphere to CARE and visit and link to and subscribe to Sudan: The Passion Of The Present Blog.

Jim wrote me a few days ago to say hi, and also to see if I had any thoughts on helping getting the word out. I was immediately reminded of two things: a conversation between Jim and Joi that I was privileged enough to sit in on in which they discussed how hard it seems to be to get people to care about things outside of their own immediate spheres, and the concept of "The Attention Economy".

The information is all there, available to any one of us. The "Attention Economy" is, loosely, about getting enough attention to the information that matters or is of value. Weblogs seem to do this quite well. But there is another threshold: caring. Once one's attention is grabbed, for example the news of genocide somewhere in the world, there is a gap between intellectually "getting it" and viscerally "feeling it".

I think, in the information overflow of today, we've definitely turned on some sort of desensitization mechanism. A major part of that mechanism is a belief, and therefore actualization, of helplessness. "Yeah but what can I possibly do?"

Weblogging's power of growing attention is definitely one, albeit small perhaps, "thing I can do", which creates a sense of caring in the individual. And when many people exchange, share, spread that caring, we create an "Economy of Caring".

Enough caring always results in some kind of action. Call it emotional payoff.

After the (MT3.0) dust has settled

Blah blah blah licenses. "W!"

My question is this: is 3.0 any better? And by better I mean faster. Has the code finally really been cleaned up and optimized? Does it run better?

Cause, in all honesty, and I love MT, but hell is it a hog on system resources (or so it seems and so it has been explained to me).

I've got MT running on a bunch of different servers, and on some it is unacceptably slow. Posting comments takes upwards of 30 seconds, rebuilds take for ever, and timeouts happen waaaay too often.

Switching blog softwares is NOT an option. YOU tell Joi to migrate to Wordpress... (Ironically enough, it is Joi's blog that has the most performance issues of all the MT blogs I maintain...)

So, someone tell me: is 3.0 better?

Meshing storylines from my life

There are narratives in my life that have quietly threaded along in the background, closely following me. Slowly parts of these stories have meshed into my "real life", and this morning another part intersected for the second time with my blog-life.

In the summer of 1999, I came across a french musician by the name of Philippe Katerine. He had become quite popular here in Montreal that summer with a song entitled "Je vous emmerde" ("I am annoying you"), which is about a drunk poet annoying a girl in a bar by trying to pick her up.

On the same album, "Les Créatures" ("The Creatures"), is a track entitled "Jamais je ne t'ai dit que je t'aimerais toujours, oh mon amour" ("I never told you I'd always love you, oh my love"). The song is a duet with a whispy, childish female voice. That is how I came across Kahimi Karie.

Kahimi Karie is a japanese songstress who sings in japanese, french, english and italian. She and Katerine had collaborated on a few projects. She sang with him, he produced an album, or some songs, for her, with her, etc...

So I started grabbing Kahimi Karie tracks. Turns out she'd collaborated with two other gentlemen (and more, but these two are significant to my story): Cornelius, her boyfriend at the time, and Momus. Both were unknown to me at the time but I grew to enjoy their work as well.

Here the story forks, frays actually. The Cornelius thread crossed over to my blog-life a few months ago, the Katerine thread during my recent jaunt to Tokyo, and the Momus thread this morning.

And the tie that binds all this together, believe it or not, is my friend Joi Ito...

Bear with me.

The Cornelius Thread
Cornelius's work quickly became some of my favorite music. Awesome stuff. Turns out, he is Joi's second cousin. What were the odds of that?

One night during my recent trip to Tokyo, Joi took me to a bar run by his old friend Ko and his wife NaNa: the Tera bar in Sangenjaya. Joi had also invited Cornelius to come by and hang out. Awesome. Joi showed him a little video project I am working on which uses a track Cornelius apparently had released using a Creative Commons license. He thought it was "sugoi" (cool). Double awesome.

Later that night, I noticed on the wall behind me a poster for a Jean-Luc Goddard film from 1965 called "Pierrot le fou", starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina...

The Katerine Thread
The next day, waking up on the futon I was sleeping on at Jim and Yuka's, I turn my head to see a stack of DVDs under the desk beside me.

In this stack of DVDs is a copy of "Pierrot le fou". Zoinks! A few nights later, with nothing else to do, I decide to watch it.

Twenty minutes into it, my jaw drops. Anna Karina and Jean-Paul Belmondo start to sing "Jamais je ne t'ai dit que je t'aimerais toujours, oh mon amour"... A bit of Googling and it turns out 1- Katerine is an Anna Karina fan and they even collaborated on an album: "Histoire D'Amour" ("Love Story"), 2000 and 2- the song had been written by one Rezvani for the Goddard movie.

The Momus Thread
The Momus Thread is ... weird... Perhaps because Momus is weird. Perhaps because his is the thread that has come closest to my real life a few times, without crossing over, and for the first time today crossed into my blog life. What makes this doubly strange is that Momus has kept an online journal for years, publishing insightful articles on a regular basis, posting picture collages of his travels, etc... He is a blogger sans a blog. And has been for a loooong time. Also, Momus was galavanting across Japan at the same time I was last year... we were in Kyoto, Hiroshima and Tokyo only days apart... It even went so far as him playing a show in the same venue, Super Deluxe, where I had attended the 1IMC (1st International Moblog Conference), where I had finally met and befriended Joi!

In the 70's, Momus briefly studied at McGill Univeristy (in Montreal). During Kahimi Karie's last North American tour, Momus appeared with her in Montreal where he recorded two tracks with local pop heros, Bran Van 3000. I know at least one Bran Van alumni personally, and have often often often crossed paths with three of the main Bran Van 3000 "celebrities": James DiSalvio (who in an interview in a local weekly once listed my favorite bar as his favorite bar... oooooo), Sahra (who for a while was a regular there too), Jean Leloup (a Quebecois rock god whom I admired much as a teenager and whom I've had numerous encounters with over the years). Oh and all three could be spotted on any given day at one of two popular Café's in Montreal's Mile End district... an area I too frequent quite often.

But I digress...

So, this morning... This morning, in my RSS aggregator, I read an entry by Seb Paquet on Corante's Many-to-many weblog, where he links to an article Momus published in 1991 with the sub-heading "In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 people". Seb's entry is about, roughly, some social implications of weblogging, while Momus' article seems to be about the future of the recording industry (haven't read it yet... heh...).

While I missed my chance to meet Seb face-to-face last week (my apologies to both Seb AND Mike...), we have chatted briefly, on #joiito, and he is a very respected voice in the blogosphere. He is also a friend of a dear friend of mine, Karl Dubost, who, it must be said is one of the originators of my blog-life...

This story could have been told from the perspective of my blog-life, as well as my real life. There are many many people, close and dear to me, who are also implicated in all this. I became friends with Karl during our trip to SxSW 2003, which I attended only because friend Warren's company, Plank Multimedia, had been nominated for their work on Michael Moore's websites, and they had an extra pass. Plank Multimedia is where I worked, along side one of my very best friends, Stevey, when this particular story started... I met Jim in Joi's IRC channel last year when he ever go graciously offered to let me stay at his place during my first trip to Japan. We became fast friends, and Jim now works for Six Apart Japan, a company Joi is an investor in.

The threads intertwine, and sometimes they connect...

That night at Tera Bar, Joi and John, another great new friend I've met because of all this blog stuff, chided me for having no "ochi": my stories have no clear ending, no punch line, no point.

Perhaps I am a bad story teller. I'd rather believe that stories have no end, and that what I do is point out observations of mine, narrative outakes from my lives... but that's another story.

Interconnectedness and patterns, knowledge and freedom

Mark Federman, over at the McLuhan Program, offers up this great entry.

While the framework of his entry is based on how the limitations on media use that the RIAA (and MPAA) are seeking will effectively limit access to information - in itself a frightening possibility because what government, no matter how so-called democratic, doesn't wish to keep it's people in the dark ? - what I'd like to point out is his use of the language of (what I've come to call for myself) "pattern learning".

The knowledge one gleans from the patterns that emerge from freely aggregated information is, as they say, worth a thousand words, if not more. Juxtaposition of many bits form to create a picture of the whole, and when one uses such universal and "true" pieces of data as pictures and video - for understanding what one sees in them requires little if no foreknowledge of a specific language or code - then the communication and impact is far more far-reaching and powerful.

"Draw me a picture"

MT Template for monitoring comment spam

As the title says, here is an MT Template which gives you a nice RSS 2.0 (don't start with me!!!) feed of your blog's comments, complete with handy dandy links to your MT admin and MT-Blacklist interface for quickly identifying comment spam and getting rid of it:

  • Despam via MT-Blacklist
  • Edit the entry (to quickly be able to delete multiples
  • Edit the comment (you may just want to remove something as opposed to the whole thing)
  • Use MT-Blacklist to show all comments from this commenter's IP (for spam floods from the same IP)


In MT, go to Templates, Create a new template, call it something like "Comment feed", name the output file something original (if you don't want the world to find it...), copy and paste the above template, change the link paths to reflect your particular setup (and if you don't have MT-Blacklist you can remove the lines which link to it), save. Voila.

Normally I'd write much better documentation but hey... it's pretty self evident... and I'm tired... and ashamed to only be sharing this with y'all now as I've been using it for months... ;)

Attention spans, worthwhile content and UI

Interesting thread over at blork blog: Brain rot.

As Mike mentions in the comments, he and I have been talking about this stuff a great deal. I met him and immediatly told him: "you need to blog!" (ugh... sorry... the "B" word)

So I set him up. I gave him some default templates I made for general weblogging. Figured, start him off and we'll adjust the UI as we see what he puts into it.

Because, my friends, UI accounts for much of how we interact with our tools... The architecture and presentation affects how a weblogger writes his/her entries, and also how well readers "accept and adobt" those entries. As such, those who are sensitive to this delicate dance, and who have the ability to do so, will adapt the design, both the look and framework, of their weblogs.

So anyways, as soon as Mike had posted his first entry I knew: "oh damn.. he's actually writing! we're gonna have to adabt the design, or at least how he enters his stuff!"

Entry Body, Extended Entry, Excerpt, Title... I want as many people as possible to be able to read Mike's stuff!

Ed, however, raises another issue, obliquely related: the content itself.

Mike's writing mini essays. RSS junkies that we've become have little time for essays. This is terrible and one of the things Mike writes about, and it speaks to that favorite debate about "what is weblogging", as a medium, as a phenomenon, as an influence on our lives and how we "live".

Mike and I have discussed how best to optimise his blog use... from tweaking the presentation, as well as the level of complexity in his writing (which he refuses to flinch on and I don't blame him).

Near the end of our conversation last night it dawned on me that the conversations that he and I have been having should be blogged (he's not alone... many of the conversation I have with various smartypants in real life should be). As such, I'm thinking of a sort of "salon weblog", or sumthin, where I can have conversations with various people.. since THIS weblog is basically my linkdrop/parrot/light commentary weblog. (And this my "deep thoughts" weblog. Can you tell I have time for such a thing? ;)

Hrm, as such I'll leave that there.

When thoughts collide

I received today my copy of Christopher Alexander's "The Timeless Way of Building" and floated down through the two first chapters as though carried by a gently nimble stream of clear water. More peaceful pondering on that later.

I ordered it for I had seen it mentioned in Ben's profile on Flickr. I briefly met Ben at ETech. His job title at Ludicorp (the makers of Flickr) is "Itinerant Philosopher". I trust in the serendipity of such encounters, even when it means ordering an expensive hardcover book.

Curious to see what other bloggers may have to say about the tome, I keyword-searched Technorati for its title and found that Peter Kaminski, of SocialText, had mentioned it just recently.

Of online social interaction, in the context of applying Alexander's ideas to the development online social spaces, he says this:

whereas architectural patterns of use have thousands of years of experience to draw on, online interactions have only been occurring for decades. It will take time to learn how people best interact online

In an earlier entry here, I pointed us to Mark's "explanation" of McLuhan's "The medium is the message", wherein this is said:

Right at the beginning of Understanding Media, [McLuhan] tells us that a medium is "any extension of ourselves." Classically, he suggests that a hammer extends our arm and that the wheel extends our legs and feet. Each enables us to do more than our bodies could do on their own. Similarly, the medium of language extends our thoughts from within our mind out to others.

I am of this mind:

For the first time, humanity is developing a medium which is not an extension of a faculty we already posses, but one which Douglas Adams refers to as, paraphrased, "the most cursed of social diseases": telepathy. Perhaps even something a step below omniscience. Not knowing "everything", but having easy access to "a heck of a lot". Having built out the infrastructure for our extended central nervous system and memory, personal logging and explicit social network systems will extend our "knowing". While we are at the very very beginning of these developments, it is paramount that we not only stop and ponder the ramifications and changes this will engender, but also make damn sure we move forward in a spirit of what Alexander refers to as "The quality without a name": alive, whole, comfortable, free, exact, egoless, eternal.

As the well placed stones in a garden.

Let me sum it up this way: what do you call a situation where potentially I can know where you are, what you are doing and what you are thinking, and you I? How do we build it, for it WILL be built, making sure we don't drive ourselves collectively batty?

Equal schmequel

Equal footing of social standing on a level playing field is a pipe dream; one that if you smoke too much from will blind you to the malcreants who will take advantage of your torpor to hoist themselves above you.

This applies equally to the current debacle about the "A-list bloggers" as to the state of "democracy" in the world at large, and everything in between.

The ones "on the top" stand on our shoulders. When they forget that, it is our task to shake them down.

Your life is where you are

James Duncan Davidson puts it best:

What do you always have with you? Phone. Wallet. Keys. The mobile phone is starting to become a life recorder. It's ubiquitous. The home computer is the trusted log device. And the web provides for universal sharing.

What do you call it when

This morning, out of the blue, old buddy Michel IMs me this:

i had a friend who had a cool idea for something that'd be kinda like friendster, but for books, music and dvds and stuff.

so basically a group of friends library. where you have your people on your list that are allowed to borrow. and you have your list of books, etc... and the system would let you know who has what, and what's available from your friends.

Not an hour later, a new buddy, who shall remain nameless, mentions he is consulting a also nameless company to build a "social network" tool that would show "people who friended XXX also bought YYY"...

And now, I stumble across a post by also new buddy Jyri Engström where he makes this prediction.

(And he uses the term Kula... Hmmmm...)


About a year ago I had a vision of the worldwide hurricane of garbage and doodads created by entities such as EBay, whereby literally hundreds of thousands of items were flying around in FedEx and UPS parcels all around the world everyday, at any given moment. A veritable typhoon of physical object exchange, encircling the globe...

Round One

It seems to me that the prizefight between mass media and "weblogs" has now begun in ernest.

Some have been debating the "weblogs versus journalism" conundrum, and the use of weblogs and "social software" in political campaigning has garnered much coverage from all sides. Also, there have been a few cases where weblogs have "outed" stories the mass outlets dropped, not to mention provided more in-depth coverage of things the big boys can't or won't touch... But it I believe the really interesting bout heard its starting bell this past week.

The admission by ABC news and others that it's footage of the now infamous "Dean Scream" not only misrepresented the reality of the situation, and that it's widespread use was - "perhaps" they say - an effort to show Dean in a negative light, was one of those chance moments when the World Champion heavyweight lets down his guard for just a moment, giving the unproven newcomer a chance at a really juicy right hook to the head.

This isn't about Howard Dean or "Social Software". It isn't about "journalism". It is about manufactured and manipulated reality sold to an unsuspecting populace.

One of the beauties of many-to-may communication, weblogs being the first step towards a widely accessible and aggregatable implementation of such, is it's ability to de-isolate individuals, and more importantly, to bring them together in a non-regulated way. This is key in any democratic discussion. (Insert everything from power-laws, the trickle-up effect, social networks to "grass-roots movements".)

Slowly but surely the new heavyweight is finding his bearings, refining his technique, learning to dance and gaining in strength. Can a swarm float like a butterfly and sting like a bee? I sure think it can.

The bell rung and the first punch thrown:

Over the last couple of weeks a process that was formerly hidden became visible, as the powers of television, radio and print decide which candidate they want to run against George Bush in the fall.
The last half of the 20th Century was an excessive monoculture, centralized thinking system, where we think, as Citizen Kane snapped"What I tell them to think!" The American news executives who deleted the Dean candidacy through misinformation should do as the leadership of the BBC did -- resign and make way for an overdue reformation of journalism, and as a result the American political system. It's time. As Lydon tells us, the corruption isn't new. What's new is that it's visible now that we can inform each other without relying on them.

The "process that was formerly hidden" is propaganda institutionalized as (most) journalism, marketing and entertainment: cultural fascism, exploiting irrational fears and base desires.

Are you ready to rumble?

Classnotes Wiki

Mike's "Harkness Table" classnotes wiki is taking off!

Way to go! It'll be fun to watch this develop... and spread...


We have relationships with every person we meet/know.
We have relationship networks which connect all these people to us and to each other.
We manage relationships by being nodes and establishing identities (identity facets).

So if we think of ourseleves as a node in a network... Liken the node to an atom. The atom has neutrons and protons... The node has facets...

We can be multinodes in multiple neworks, each node with multiple facets.

Interesting idea came up tonight in conversation with a friend. Do networks have a tendency to draw unto themselves? Sorta like maybe surface tension? Pulling everything to the center? Or how magnetic fields between .. Err... (forgive my lackadasical knowledge of basic physics.. Sheesh!) protons/neutrons.. Or planets... If so, do identity facets have a natural tendency, or "desire", to collapse?

Relinquish the Ego on The Way...

I'm just wondering.. Is there any evidence of this concept in any existing human belief system? The Buddhist "letting go of self and other/multiplicity" for example?

Just thinking out loud... What do you all think?

No Comment

As part of my cable television package, I ordered EuroNews. Nevermind that the news reported is from a european perspective (a welcome change from the CNN et al), but there are two other major characteristics of this All-News network I find fantastic:

First of all, there are no "anchor people". No spin doctors with gussied up hair and fake plastic airs giving you a rehashed, opinion-infused narrative. What you get are voiced-over introductions, as well as translations where necessary, of video reportage of events. Oh and no sensationalist crap - this is real news.

Then, they take it one step further.

A segment called "No Comment". And that is exactly what you get. Real, raw video footage, no reporter, no words, no stories, no crap. Just a look at what's going on. Bombings in Iraq, in Gaza... people running, screaming, pleading, dying.

No comment.

At one point, I tried a little mind trick on myself. I said to myself: "ok, you are not watching this on TV; you are watching this "on the web", a streaming video feed in someone's weblog."

The trick worked. I sat back, blown away, and overcome with weltschmerz. No, that word is not strong enough... grief and sadness.

They make these videos available on the web. Go look.

Content & Relationship

During a "Content" conversation, I was brought to realize that things like "bar talk", "chewing the fat", "shootin' da shit", et al... are Relationship conversations. It was further pointed out that these are just as important as "real", or "Content", conversations, as they build bonds (albeit weak ones often, but nonetheless more or less important).

DUH! Of course! Why hadn't I made the conscious connection?! (Probably because I'm a loner by nature and that despite my quite good socializing skills, I DID spent the first 18 years of my life totally oblivious to the concept of "society" and "community"... )

This adds all the more weight to what I was saying about weblogs... ;)

(sans the Google screed)

Stick this in your Google and smoke it

In a comment on Joi's site, Stewart Butterfield remarked:

I have no idea how to settle an argument about this, but I contend that, for the overwhelming majority of blog readers and writers, blogs have almost nothing to do with 'content', and everything to do with identity and relationships.

Yup. I have to agree entirely. To be precise, not all weblogs would be about content (few are) and not all weblogs would be "identity & relationship building". Many turn out to be a bit of both, in varying proportions (as well as being any number of other things, of course).

For example, predominantly "content-focused" weblogs would be maintained by their authors with the desire and belief that what they are publishing is worthwhile, relevant, interesting, etc... The validity of said belief is beyond the scope of my point, and the desire is at least notable. Among these we can count blogs by Journalists, blogs by pseudo-journailsts (no negative connotation implied!), academics, hobbyists blogging about their hobby, etc. Their goal, if I may say, IS to "publish and share hopefully, somehow, relevant content and perhaps elicit conversation/communication revolving around said content".

Examples of this would be Dan Gillmor and Jon Udell (tech journalism), Anders Bell's Phluzein and danah boyd's Connected Selves (academic/specialized interest), etc...

On the other end of the spectrum we would find the often maligned "what I had for lunch today" style weblog. Here, the idea is to share a bit of one's self and one's life, much as one does at the family dinner table or when "shootin' the shit" in light social settings and daily interactions. "Hey I saw such and such movie last night. I liked it." This essentially identity and relationship management. You get to know a heck of alot about somebody quick by reading their entries of this nature. You get to know them, as much or as little as they want you to, and they get to know you, as much or as little as you want them to.

Again, no absolutes: I am merely setting a possible scale.

So, why mention Google in my title? Well folks, my little RowBoat here leans heavily to the "identity and relationship" side, and as such it seems rather pointless for it to be involved in the ongoing Google-washing that his happening. You wouldn't believe how many referers I get from search engines where people want a picture of a rowboat or to know where to rent a rowboat. If I actually wrote about rowboats, it'd make sense, but as it is, it is merely a silly title I thought up when I was asking myself the perennial newbie blogger questions: "what is this weblog of mine? and what shall i call it?"

So, as of today, using the wonders of the "robots.txt" file, I will disallow search engine crawling of my archives. Also, more serious stuff (content I feel may be of some value/genuine interest) will be remanded to a separate weblog, which I will announce in due time,and which will not be closed to search engine crawlers (spiders, robots, what have you).

The effect of this, I expect, will be that I will be more inclined to fill up RowBoat with stuff about me and my life (fun eh!?)(as you opined, Mike), as well as actually post more of the smarty pants theories I come up with... and they will be much better written and researched of course (as you suggested Anders).

Lawnmower Man meets the Puppet Master

Part of an e-mail exchange with Aaron:

> I WANT what Kevin Warwick is working on! Hrm... Garr... :\

Ah come on, Boris. I know Kevin's all about thinking inside the body but try thinking outside the blog. You want to implant a chip with a copy of MT, the moz-gesture stuff and an 802.11b connection on it. Then you can stand around waving your arms like one of those airport dudes posting stuff to your weblog.

... you could surely get Canada Council money if you recast the idea as a modern dance project.

What happens when you start getting hammered by trackback pings and comment spam is a whole other story.

You *are* fuct in the head but who loves ya' anyway? ;-)

I almost fell off the sofa reading this. :D


One of the things Mike keeps trying to hammer into my head is location-based community communication tools... yeah something like that...

Or, something like this?
locative media lab blog
Link from Smartmobs

Electioneering, stats and the network effect.

What a seriously odd series of moments the last 72 hours have been.

Not five minutes ago I thought to myself "I'd like to see some visual representations of U.S. campaign stats. Like, where's the candidates money coming from, where are they spending it, where are they now, what are their itineraries, their timelines., etc...

Running though my RSS subscriptions, I came across this entry of David Weinberger's, in which he links to this map displaying where the candidate's funds are coming from. That takes care of request one.

Just before that, I checked my email for the first time today only to receive two separate emails, unrelated from each other (The emails that is - both senders I met in Boston and have shared meals and great conversations with and both of whom I now have very interesting friendships with), one inviting me to Burlington to hang out at Dean HQ and the other inspiring me with the clout to do just that, though why exactly I would want to is still somewhat unclear to me.

Last night, I fought back tears watching Josh Lyman on The West Wing be given back his "wings" and admitted back into the "war room". Don't ask. The night before I watched, enthralled, a documentary about the Kennedy brothers and their politics. Go figure. Not to mention the Gore Vidal interview on Charlie Rose which blew me away and off to the bookstore to buy his book. For some weird reason I also grabbed "Political Philosophy - A Short Introduction". Can't hurt.

Back to stats, similar to the MoneyMaps above, yesterday I cam across a project by Ethan Zuckermann, another fascinating person who was gracious enough to invite me along to a dinner he was having with Feedster creator, Scott Johnson. Ethan's project (one of apparently many many, GeekCorps being another) is "Global Attention Profiles":

A Global Attention Profile looks at how a media outlet pays attention to 180 different nations. Instead of comparing how many stories Google has on the Green Bay Packers versus the Dallas Cowboys, we compare Google stories on Sudan versus Libya versus Lebanon. The resulting data gives us a picture of how an individual media source, at a given moment in time, pays attention to different nations.

Brilliant! Can we get one of these maps displaying Attention Profiles for the candidates?!

Why do I care. Dunno. I guess I think things are still pretty sour in the world and anything helps... ;)

BlogMemory, categories, redesigns

I created a new set of default MT templates which I will use whenever I set up new blogs for folks (which seems to be taking up much of my time these days...). Last night I decided to bite the bullet and eat my own dog food and applied them to mine. Some issues to be resolved: box model hack advanced quantum mechanics math (hello IE 6! I hate you too.), font choices (meh), color choices (what's wrong with violet?!), etc...

Just now I was going through my categories, refactored some entries into more appropriate ones and deleted the never-or-too-rarely-used ones. While doing this, I of course "rediscovered" some old posts. Which got me... concerned... Hmmm...

This weblog is a mere one year old. It has about 500 entries. Not much by some standards, but it IS a heck of a lot of text I have written. Some of them are garbage, but some are, if I may say so, pretty good. I mean from my perspective anyways. I have some good ideas, no? ;)

So why concerned? Ok, concerned is the wrong word... It's just that, by the cheer action of "blogging it", I "forget it". Sort of. Not really but anyways. The good stuff isn't "earmarked" or "featured". It is lost in a mire of observations, link-dumping etc...

I wrote a few weeks back about splitting my blog into two, and caught some flack for it. There are many issues to doing this of course, but I really think it depends on what one is trying to achieve here... I'll make no bones about it: I want to 1- share bits of my life with anyone who so cares to follow along AND 2- share some of my deeper thoughts with some folks who don't necessarily want to wade though my daily flotsam. But I shelved the idea, temporarily, for deeper thought. I very much like categorisation (I am german afterall and as a child I had more fun putting away my Legos than actually building stuff with them...), but I also now have great misgivings about deep categorisation. (Insert huuuge discussion of search versus navigate.)

In any event, i will continue to ponder a "split" (the extreme implementation of which would mean an extraction of posts from here to the eventual "other" blog), and for now, the violet stays. :P

Collaborative classnote wiki

Newfound friend Mike Lenczner has started up another project. (He already heads "Ile Sans Fil", a Montreal-based community Wi-Fi service, as well as running around tirelessly meeting with people to get all kinds of stuff going.)

Mike told me about his idea of a wiki where he could put his classnotes, and how he'd like to make it open to his fellow students to contribute to as well. We also talked about in-room IRC backchannels, etc. I told him he should go for it: "Build it and they will come." Apparently he's spoken to some of the school's bureaucracy and they brought up issues like the professor's Intellectual Property etc etc. I say to heck with 'em! Do it!

I'm watching ya Mike. ;)


Wired News: Will Microsoft Wallop Friendster?

Wallop is Microsoft's venture into the red-hot social-networking arena, using the common Microsoft tack of piecing together existing technologies and packaging them for the novice user. Those technologies include Friendster-style social-networking capabilities, super-simplistic blogging tools,moblogging, wikis and RSS feeds, all based on Microsoft's Instant Messenger functionality.

About the previous post

The importance of web architecture, permalinks, etc.

In the entry immediatly preceeding this one (RowBoat: The Destroyer of Worlds) I link to a very heavy and striking Flash based presentation of a "multimedia" piece by Ryuichi Sakamoto (and others). It is the sort of thing I would like a copy of, or at least a permanent URI for.

However because of the way it is published, I can have neither. At least not without a lot of work...

So, there are a number of problems here:

  1. It is Flash.
  2. It is Flash called from within a Flash "launcher" meaning I cannot just suck down the actual Flash file.
  3. The URI for the page on which it appears is a very flakey "index2.html".

Discussing each "problem":

  1. Grabbing a Flash file requires looking at the source, knowing what to look for, grabbing the URI, entering it an application that does HTTP GET and saving it locally.
  2. Becasue the actual content is loaded only after clicking onthe Flash "splash", the URI for it is hidden inside the Flash "splash". It is extractable, but the same as above applies, after which I must crack the thing open in Flash MX, find the reference and go get that. I am betting that that isn't even possible actually... Not sure.
  3. "index2.html" is bound to change the next time Sakamoto's webmaster puts up a new fature, at which point a) my link breaks and b) I never see the thing again.

Of course, the artist's intent counts here. Surely Sakamaoto-san does not want just anybody to come and grab this wonderful piece and weave it into their personal experience of life. Is the intent here to feature the bigger piece, "-LIFE-"? If so, great.. I'll buy it... let's see, where is there a link to buy the full piece? Hmmm not there... Oh hum... Not worth the hassle I guess...

So, in the end... I thank you Sakamoto-san for sharing this, temporarily, and I deplore you for not allowing me the chance to have a copy, by hook or by crook.

It's a shame really... I know for sure that sometime down the road, this piece will come up in my memory and I will want to share it with someone, show them... "look, listen, isn't this something?", but alas I will not be able to.

And your raison d'être? Is it not one of the artist's reasons for doing the work they (we?) do precisely to move and affect the society around us?

I would want the fruits of my labor to be spread far and wide. Either for free or for renumeration... In this case you do neither.

You need to blog.
And you need a Web Architect to work along side the renowned Web Artist who makes your website...


Newstrove.com: News Search Engine

A news search engine which offers custom RSS feeds for topic searches (so you can track topics of interest to you).


In Joi's posting today, he quips:

I remember thinking in the dream, "oh, I should blog this... "

Judging from the comments, some folks find this strange and funny. I don't find it either. I think it's perfectly natural. Whenever you become fluent in any language/medium or exposed to them a lot, it is perfectly normal for the mind to start using the frameworks of said language/medium in its thought process, dreams included.

Cases in point: I find myself very often, many times a day in fact, composing blog entries in my head. Usually in a moment of recline, when relaxing or napping, drifting off into a semi-conscious state. I'll think about something and immediately switch into "blog voice". Sadly 99% of them never get written. (Hence once of the many reasons for my strong desire for a direct brain interface to my Mac, but I digress...)

A few years ago, after a particularly frenzied all day HTML <table>-layout coding session, I found myself having an extremely emotional dream.. all in HTML.

Have you never had characters and scenarios from a movie just watched that evening appear in your dreams that night?

This is somewhat off-point from what Joi said, but it is related. The fact that he can consciously in his dream *think* "I should blog this" is very telling as well. I've heard many times that keeping a journal of ones dreams is a great way to gain control of them, by extension control of one's mind and further of one's life.

Trick number one: in your next dream, make a conscious effort to look at your hands.

Me on BlogSpam

I wrote two things today about Blog Comment Spam.

One was sent to Dave Farber's "Interesting People" mailing list (which he published! Yay!):

Hello Mr. Farber,
/.../, the issue of Weblog Comment Spam is
one I have been following, and fighting, with aplomb lately.

First of all I'd like to recommend, as initial relief, for Movable Type
users, two excellent "MT-Plugins". Yes, they require installation, but for
folks who have actually installed MT themsleves, it is a snap and the
authors have outdone themselves in offering easy-to-use yet powerful

The Plugins are:
James Seng's "MT-Bayesian"
Jay Allen's "MT-Blacklist"

Both authors have spoken about published and distributed
blacklists/whitelists, which with the very organic nature of the blog
ecosystem, could be quite powerful. Imagine TypePad, Userland and Blogger
all performing Bayesian filtering and sharing, in real-time, their lists...

Also, as noted in this thread, spam is a reality we encounter in many forms
in our environment: "snail mail" spam, e-mail spam... Personally I regard
most all forms of advertising as spam, but I digress.

Point being, I observe all this as I observe any living ecosystem, and, as
opined, the vibrant and rapid evolution and growth of the "blogosphere"
allows for a terribly accute perception of the development of this entity
(spam, that is).

Introduce a new organism into a stable ecosystem and watch what happens. The
inhabitants of the ecosystem are forced to adapt, take action, or be preyed
upon and die.

In the email ecosystem, the confines and limitations of the environment are
such that spam seems to be winning. The blog environment has much more
flexibility and tools at it's (easy) disposal.

Just some thoughts. Thank you.

The second was a comment on Dav's weblog, where he introduced another take on the Turing test-style "read the characters in this randomly generated image and type them in to authenticate that you are a human being" spam-stemming techniques (a technique I myself had suggested here a few weeks back but which I now wholeheartedly reject.. thanks for setting me straight Karl!):

Hi Dav!
Yeah, essentially these kind of "Turing test" type deals are not the best way to go, eventhough they may seem so. As we all know it essentially closes the door on some people. To put it in a "high-level" way: we place the burden of the fight on folks who have nothing to do with it. Legit vsitors/commenters (which are the 99% majority) are neither the propagators (the spammers) or the victims (the blog "owners", us).

Since we cannot go to the source and fight the spammers themselves, it falls on us to deal with it.

Therefore, so far, and by far, the best solution is James Seng's Bayesian comment/ping filter. If we build this out in a distributed fashion and get the blog-makers to integrate it, it will be massively powerful and effective. Jay's Blacklist system is also good (both did magnificent jobs on their respective MT plugins, BTW), but is much more labor intensive, especially in the long run.

My 2 cents. ;)

(see, now if I were blind or drunk.. or blind drunk, I could not have posted this comment... ;)

Hehe. :D

It's not me!

Yesterday afternoon I cought and deleted a strange piece of blogspam. It simply said "Boris rules" and linked to boris[dot]com. First thought was: yay, someone trying to be funny.

Ten minutes later, Joi asked me if I had posted "Boris rules" on his blog... "No of course not". "Hrmm" we both said, and deleted the entries.

"The trees are moving, Joi. The birds are agitated and flying high... something's up..."

I just saw on DayPop that Mr. Boris must have been busy because boris[dot]com and "Boris Rules" is, as of this moment, at #10, already declining.

So, for the record: It is NOT me.

"To hell with culture"

To Hell with Culture
Sir Herbert Read (1893-1968).
Leading poet, publisher, educational theorist and social reformer, who was one of the most influential art critics of the twentieth century.

Having only read the introduction thus far, I wish to share with you some excerpts of it which I find highly relevant today, in the context of the cultural phenomena we are observing with the advent of weblogging et al, and the political ideas which have begun to float because them, "Emergent Democracy" chief among them. I also am personally fascinated by the roles of the artist, personal freedom and social expression.

"High profile"

I've been thinking a lot about a topic I mentioned here a little while back. One of the (many) issues/concerns facing "high-profile" people who should blog, is negative feedback. It is of course inevitable. Politicos will get flamed, intellectuals bashed, people in a position of influence, badgered.

On a purist level I am inclined to say: so what, deal with it... it is human expression and an important part of all of this. I can, however, fully understand it being a problem; from signal-to-noise ratios all the way to sheer emotional drain on the individual in question. Not to mention raw bandwidth costs. Michael Moore gets more traffic than I can imagine... his blog would be on top of DayPop within an hour and burst his host's already straining pipes and systems...

So what do we do for these folks? Well, first of all, obviously turn off comments. Hit one. Turn off trackbacks; hit two. It's gonna be hard enough getting these folks into the mindset and lifestyle of "blogging" (read: share their minds) in the first place, that a trade off at this stage is definitely necessary. Compromise is the word.


RowBoat: SP-LOG? BL-AM?
Gees, sometimes I wonder about myself. In the above linked entry, I quote Gen Kanai, then say "I think that's entirely the wrong route", and then proceed to discuss how I implemented something exactly as he suggested.

Duh. Somehow in my head what Gen said registered as "we need SPAM filters for blog comments". Which is not what he said. At all.

Sorry Gen. :\


I've set up a photo gallery.

What is interesting about this development for me is how, almost immediatly, my attitude towards taking pictures has changed. It has changed in exactly the saem way my attitude towards writing changed when I started blogging.

"If I'm going to bother writing this down/taking this picture, then I bloody well should be able to share it in as easy a way as possible. Becasue I sure as hell ain't doing this just for myself. I want to share. If it were for myself, I wouldn't need all this stuff as my memory is quite good thank you very much."

For years I never took notes, never took pictures, because I knew it was all stored in my head (which it all still is). But I want to share. And it should be easy to do so...

Ahhh thank you CMSs! Now I can easily share! And more!

Please take note that the gallery has a Commenting feature. Please use as you see fit!

Hrm.. all this said... I think I may hack an MT set up and use it as my gallery....

Blogged bookmarks

Francis asked me last night how I am managing bookmarks, and I told him I'm sort of floating around between my browsers and my RSS aggregator, basically forgetting sites I want to visit etc...

I mentioned however I was hacking an MT weblog to use as a bookmark manager, and, well, tonight I finished it.

(Not much in there yet... )

You'll notice the categories have RSS feeds so that I can subscribe to them in my RSS aggregator once and use it as my "bookmarks list".

I also use this to generate my "Blogroll" on this site.

Using MT templates I could easily generate XBEL archives as well, but this is useless since the only browser that uses XBEL is Mozilla (I think... not even sure of that) and it would use a local copy and not one it could fetch from the webserver (like RSS does...) and besides why would I? I can use my RSS aggregator as explained above.

How do I add Bookmarks? Easy: I use a Movable Type bookmarklet which allows me to make entries from the page I am on and wish to bookmark... It automatically, through the joys of JavaScript, pastes the URL and title of the page into the entry fields. I can also enter notes or excerpts or keywords into extra fields which then allow me to do a search of my bookmarks.

I've also left on Comments and TrackBacks on and leave the site open to whoever wants to see it. I figure I'm constantly sending emails and IMs to friends and we laugh or make comments.. this way it's all in one place and I'm not pestering anyone. ;)

Not too shabby eh? It IS a CMS afterall... ;)

Sleep time!

Joi interviewed by Lydon

Joi Ito's Web: Dialog with Christopher Lydon

Interesting. They covered alot of ground.


Gen Kanai (Gen: sorry for the dual Trackback!) blogged about "ZipCode", the blog comments spammer, whom I have been affected by as well.

Gen says:

We may need to implement some kind of anti-spam comment posting mechanism in the not-too-distant future.

I think that's entirely the wrong route. Witness how well it is working for email... NOT. ;)

We need to put locks on our doors. Many ways to do this. Authentication, identification, etc...

Or how about one of those little sliding slits where you speak the secret and you are shown in?

I have used a little PHP and some GIFs to demonstrates how this may work. Go post a comment on this entry... You will notice a field titled "Secret" with a 5 character, randomly generated image based "secret" you must retype exactly in order for the comment to get posted. Well... not really... I don't have the wizardry to actually make this work.. it is just for show... (oh wait.. i can make it more convincing using JavaScript.. I will do this later tonight!)

Lemme know what your thoughts are on this.

Please weblog

I want everyone to blog. More importantly I want people who could be considered as "the crazy ones" to blog.

I have found myself recently trying to explain what blogging is and have come to realise it is a hopelessly silly task. "Online journal" makes most people scrunch up their nose, while "connected intelligence" makes them scratch their heads. Besides, the Content Management Systems which make blogging possible are versatile enough already that a weblog is whatever you want it to be. Or rather, whatever you want to put in it.

So yeah, I want some folks with really important things to say to blog as well. I am not say there aren't any, nor am I saying the "A-list" bloggers and current super stars of blogging aren't saying anything interesting (to the contrary). I am saying we need more. Much more.

Ok we now have two U.S. presidential candidates sort of blogging. Big deal. While a good thing in itself, I can't help but smell hidden agendas and "riding the trend" mind-sets.

No, I want the real deal.

I want , for example, Michael Moore to blog. I want Noam Chomsky to blog. David Suzuki should blog. I want every truly outspoken, vocal and already known "crazy person" to blog.

Why you may ask? These people already publish, appear on TV, make movies, etc. Why blog?

Turn your tongue one hundred times before speaking.

Smart Mobs - Cell Phone Recording May Breach Privacy

Folks are going ape about cellphones with call-recording features. Privacy this and privacy that.

On the above linked entry I commented:

Very simple: never say anything that you will regret. What's the big deal? The issue here is not privacy, it is discretion. The person recording your conversation is the person you are having the conversation with in the first place. When I have conversation with you via email, we both have records of it. Same for IM, or weblog commenting/trackbacks.

I wish I had recordings, and transcripts, of every phone call I ever was involved in. Not for legal issues, or blackmail, but for a record of memories and ideas and people.

and then further added:
if you cannot say things you won't regret, don't regret the things you say.

Fuzzy navels

Joho the Blog: Self-Referential Blogging

David Weinberger says:

I think it'd be more accurate to say that blogs are conversational.

For a little while I agreed, and for a little while it was true. It still is a little true, but only for a little longer.

As the numbers increase, I think we may find ourselves again alone in a crowd. Sometimes having conversations, sometimes making chitchat, often speaking to ourselves.

Blogging is as much a conversation as masturbation is making love. Sleeping around, dating, abstaining and finding our one true swinger group can all be groanfully real analogies we could entertain.

(I am not saying masturbation isn't making love, I'm saying the many nuances of who/what/when/where and quality are all implicated.)

Belonging and esteem

Joi posted a really interesting thought today. (The juicy part is after the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" quote.)

The point I sense he's trying to make has to do with how social software (to be specific, web- and cellphone-based expression, communication and social networking tools), which essentially allows for very easy community building by anyone, has at least one very positive side-effect: self empowerment (for lack of a better term coming to mind just now).

Depending on individual personalities of course, weblogging alone makes it really quite easy to start being involved in a community. That starts connections in the real world via such things as, for example, monthly weblogger meetups. Online, one starts posting to weblogs of peopel with similar interests, etc, and bonds are very easily created. In professional circles, one may be incited to attend a conference or presentation one would otherwise not heard of or felt qualified/"worthy" to attend. (In my case, SxSW and the 1IMC.)

Being a regular on Joi's IRC channel, #joiito, has had similar effect for me. A chance to discuss with peers, as equals, on far ranging topics, has not only elevated my feeling of worth, but has also helped my people skills tremendously. That's not to say I was "bad" with such things before, but i have definitely grown as a person, partly because of it (and partly because of "real world" experiences as well of course; some occurring because of weblogging/chatting and some not).

Previous to all this, my only online social interaction was with a small group of friends via IM and email. Though I solidified some great friendships (and very sadly totally failed one) via IM and email, it was totally contained, non-expansive, limited in some ways. This of course is part and parcel with the nature of the technology, and does not fall into the aforementioned category of "social software".

Joi continues with:

"I know that we've had tools for awhile now and online communities are not a new thing, but I think the barrier to entry continues to decline and the tools keep getting better".
Absolutely, and I agree with Marc Canter's comment on the subject, sort of. I take issue with part of his statement:
"create end-user experiences that so rock the house, that business models are the last thing we think about"
Marc, while yes user-experience is pa-ra-mount, a thoroughly thought out and well designed business model will see the thing survive and thrive. If not business model than at least some form of well planned (designed?) short-term goals. Don't get me wrong, I much prefer thinking of user-experience, but we have to keep all elements of a thing in mind.

The entry finishes with:

"I'm also quite interested in how this relates to mobile phones. hmm... "
Hmm indeed. Mobile phone address books/buddy lists, ubiquitous, though unintrusive, availability and connectivity (remember we are talking text-messaging and not voice calls) (and Mimi wrote a very interesting paper on the subject), and of course moblogs: the gateway to all the goodies of web-based social activities and endeavors.

This is everything I want to, and will be, totally into. Thank you, weblogging, for allowing me to allow myself to.

T'o'rip Space

T"o"rip Space

Wonderful presentation of this GPS enabled, 3D interfaced, essentially moblog sphere service/application...

IRC to weblog

Over on Joi Ito's IRC channel, I expressed the desire to have an ongoing log of the goings-on. It caused some heated debate and Joi decided we should discuss it and come to a decision via his Wiki.

So here I will explain my idea a bit more fully and why I think it would be at least a neat thing to try out, in the spirit of Joi's ongoing experiment to fuse various "social softwares".

First of all, the reasons I'd like a log of the channel are several fold: 1- catch up on anything interesting I may miss while I am asleep or commuting to work or otherwise logged off from the channel. 2- I feel much of what goes on there would be interesting to a bunch of other people who otherwise may not want to participate in an IRC "life". Also a log would remove the time requirement of participating etc...

Secondly, a simple "log" is not what I had in mind. I'd like the "log" to be dumped, in XHTML, into a weblog CMS system (I believe Bloxsom to be the tool of choice here), enabling it with Comments and Trackbacks and making it available to Google and Technorati. This would extend the conversation while stripping the time element.

I propose a proof of concept. A separate IRC channel complete with a logging bot which would dump everything into xhtml textfiles, ordered by day and perhaps at one hour increments, into a directory on a webserver which would have Bloxsom running over them. We could dev this out there, show it off.. and perhaps do a trial run for a day or two on #joiito...

So, I need an IRC channel, a python bot script and an installation of Bloxsom on a server... i can take care of the last one, who will do the first two? :)


I've been online since only 1996 or so, but I have never gotten into IRC (Internet Relay Chat)... until this past week. It is total virtual world immersion/time limbo induction. The week gone by seems like a speck of dust floating in a smokey room.

And I have never made so many new friends in so short a time. The experience, however, also extends into the "real world" (a term I dislike more and more as all is "real" to me now: online, offline, dream and awake... ) where in this past week I have also done more, moved more air, met more people and proactively participated more in my own life than I have in months.

Discussing identity and space in a virtual environment, preparing for a tattoo which will serve as a reminder of my physical form, planning a trip to a place I hope will push the last puzzle piece into place in my understanding of... well... I'll let you know when (if) it does. ;)

As long as you all, both online and off, in my space and in my dreams, are around, I'll know I am not insane, for reality is a discussion & consensus of perceptions, nothing more.

No really, I am fine. ;)

Email: natural interface for weblogging?

Thinking about setting up my moblog for my trip to Japan, I immediately thought that I'd have to troubleshoot the setup. Seeing as I don't have a cellphone with e-mailing capabilities, let alone built-in camera, i wondered if Joi's moblog python script can handle email sent from a regular MUA (mail user agent). Theoretically, yes of course.

Then I smacked my head. "Of course, this must be one of the reasons Karl is interested in Joi's script!" I remember a few months back listening to Karl talk about the difficulties of maintaining a blog via email. Myself I am not worried about edits and such (maintenance) but merely posting.

So, to do: set up a test blog and start using Entourage to post blog entries.

This is kinda interesting to me because I'm feeling limited as it is with the current blog posting/editing interfaces I am using... MT's admin site is great except I have to click around alot to get stuff done, and copy and paste URLs and hand code links etc. Kung-Log is nice but it's been acting very bad lately - it for some reason converts the opening brackets in any HTML I insert into ascii.. which I then have to go clean up, by hand, via MT. So basically, it's become useless. Also, Safari doesn't like MT's Bookmarklets so quick blogging of links is out of the question. Sparkign anothe rbrowser and then copy and pasting the URL an dthen hittign the bookmarlet sorta defeats the purpose... Ah well...

So yeah, on with it eh...

Precisely my cunundrum

Wired 11.06: Mind Share

Your mind becomes a part of the space as well. Your own personal site becomes an extension of your memory, as in Vannevar Bush's vision of the Memex, but your memories also become part of the Web's collective intelligence.

I am finding it harder and harder to differentiate my brain from the extended one (the web). So much of my memory now is linked to (or points to) "places" on the web, that when I am not "online" I feel diminished in many ways.

I don't know where in "the real world" that restaurant you told me about is... but I sure know where I can find it online in under 15 seconds...

"Oh I have an interesting tidbit of information pertaining to what you just said... oh wait... what was it again... I found it through that site the other day.. the URL is http://... damn... "

Augmented memory. Cyborg. Hello.

ps -ax

For years I've been playing with the idea that man created the computer in his own image. Memory, I/O, software, hardware, etc. Most of my friends have heard about the "scripts" I've "written" and "run as background processes" in my mind to, for example, make sure I never lose my keys or leave the house without my wallet. We all program our brains, and sometimes have them programmed for us. I could go on, but tonight I'm interested in exploring the subconscious, and to do that I'll look at the CLI, or Shell, or Terminal, or whatever your operating system calls it. For the purposes of this article I'll call it the terminal, because I'm a Mac OS X kind of guy.

Think of the Terminal as the window into the subconscious of your computer. Now, let's turn that around and see if we have a Terminal of our own; a window into our own subconscious. Keep in mind that the Terminal not only allows us to peer in, but also to effectuate commands... and run scripts...

Teenaged cyborgs, moblogging and Emergence.

Link found on Smart Mobs, and quotes below lifted from the Miami Herald article it linked to.

''[Cellphones] extend the spatial and temporal boundaries of a physical encounter,'' she said, explaining that cellphones are providing a way for young people to stay in touch when they are apart.
It is far more than a mere "way to stay in touch when they are apart". That what we've been using telephones for since the start. The interesting part is how cellphones, with integrated, easy instant messaging "extend the spacial and temporal boundaries". Extend? It erases them, and not merely for "physical encounter": for direct communication. Take this:
Linked by cellphones and possessing the ability to exchange silent messages anytime, anywhere, these young people respond to each other quickly, creating the feeling of always being connected.
"Always being connected" + "always being able to communicate" = social network, and more. Read on.

While we're on the topic... (RSS)

Joi Ito has gone and done it. He bought and read Ben Hammersley's new O'Reilly book "Content Syndication with RSS", Of course this means I have to run out and get it too (shame on me for not having it already!).

As Mr. Hammersley says, Ito-san nails the issue right on the head:

It's flexibility vs. simplicity. RSS 2.0 is cool because it extends the simplicity of the original 0.9x RSS with modules. RSS 1.0 is cool because there are so many things you can do with RDF. The problem with RDF is that it is so ugly to read. Honestly, this morning I wouldn't understand what I have just written. The geek inside me is now awake and I want to learn everything there is to know about RDF, bu it took a bunch of people pummeling me to get me to care, whereas plain old RSS 0.91 got me excited just looking at the code. So, I guess I'm on Dave's side in terms of keep it simple and help get it widely accepted. On the other hand, the RDF stuff really does allow a lot of the semantic web attributes that we are talking about in the emergent democracy debate and the RDF framework, once it really starts to get picked up inside of applications could be really powerful.

Myself, I've been cheering for RDF. Not out of any profound understanding of it, mind you. Just out of a very high-level overview conception I have formed over the course of some reading and conversations about it. It does seem to me to be hugely powerful, but I must say that I too tend to have my eyes gloss over whenever I actually look at the code itself. Then again, the same happens, to a lesser degree when I look at any mark up (except HTML/XHTML... after tens years of the stuff I have found myself dreaming in tables some nights!).

Anyways, yes RDF "allows" incredible flexibility, and yes it is a, forgive my french, a "bitch". The true tragedy here is that it has not been adequately picked up by tool developers, which would allow it to reap the benefits of a moderate critical mass.

Let's look at it a tad deeper though, and compare it to other "standards" out there.

And by all means, if I am way off or outright wrong in what I say, feel free to correct me!!! Karl? Ben? Aaron? Steph? Anyone! :)

Emergence: post-anarchy?

Reading the initial chapters of "Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software" by Steven Johnson, wherein, amongst many other things, he speaks of a young Engels' sojourn in Manchester, England, I am struck by a correlation of political and sociological ideas.

Johnson quotes Engels' apparent half-realisation and mild appallement in seeing what appears to have been an auto-development of social segregation in the urban "un-planning" which occurred in Manchester with the arrival and explosion of the industrial revolution. (Working class and middle class sectors of the city being almost perfectly segregated is not something a budding socialist-cum-marxist finds particularly "well and good", I suppose. However, the fact that it just sort of "happened" without any planning is not lost on the young Engels - he just doesn't see the natural ramifications: emergence in other words. He's just dismayed by it and moves along.)

Ourselves moving along, in the context of the recent thoughts of "Emergent Democracy" by Joi Ito and James F. Moore's "The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head" (though I'd call it "Emergent Superpower" since "second" denotes class/rank, and "emergent" brings with it all the force of it's associated notions), as well as Ito-san's apparent strong desire for Japanese political reform (interesting how this was intended for publication in the South China Morning Post...) I can't help but to think of that other, much maligned political system, communism, and it's role as the usher for Emergent Democracy.

Some points he's missing

"The Register" writer Andrew Orlowski misses a few points, and makes some fair ones, in his article "Anti-war slogan coined, repurposed and Googlewashed... in 42 days".

To all intents and purposes, the original meaning has been erased. Obliterated, in just seven weeks.

He's referring to the term "Second Superpower", as used by James F. Moore in his recent article "The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head".
Language and ideas naturally "erode" and or "morph" over time and use. Some examples: historical accounts, religious beliefs, urban myths, pop lyrics. In the arena of instantaneous multi-party communication, which is one of the qualities of weblogging (online conversations, who's only connection to time, ironically, is timestamps), this natural process is accelerated - McLuhan would say - at the speed of light.
Mr. Olowski's contention that the meaning has been "erased" and "obliterated" is his opinion, which is debatable. An inevitable result of hyper-acceleration of communication coupled with sound-byte culture is, afterall, the cliché: a phrase who's original notion and context has been lost. However, with Weblogging, it is not really lost: it is all still there, recorded. It's just a question of taking off the "Google-goggles", or any other blinders, be they technological or social. (Trackbacks, by the way, are a great way of doing this: maintaining the links in the chain.)
As with Moore, academic and historical research in this field is vapored away, as if by magic.

I agree and disagree here. While I do not know Moore's or Ito's academic, historical or scientific "worth", I too can recognize the fact that, naturally, they are not all knowing and that what they write is limited by their own experience. However, they are CONTRIBUTING to the CONVERSATION, and in many cases, starting it. This is INVALUABLE. The fact that they achieve high "PageRanks" serves all the better to get more people with other experiences to join in. Keep in mind, weblogging with this kind of intent is very young and the tools still rudimentary. We are all still in awe of how effective and fast this is now. Imagine 6 months, a year, 10 years from now - 42 days will seem like an eternity. Heck it already does!
Pew Research Center's latest research says the number of Internet users who look at blogs is " so small that it is not possible to draw statistically meaningful conclusions about who uses blogs." They peg it at about four per cent. But we're looking at a small sub-genre of blogdom, the tech blogs, and specifically, we're looking at an 'A list' of that sub- sub-genre.

What did I just say? It has only just begun! And allow me to correct: it is not "tech-blogs". We are seeing lawyers, economists, political thinkers, marketers, entrepreneurs, artists, academics etc etc, slowly but surely joining the fray. Granted, they mostly come from tech-related milieus, but this is to be expected. The term "early-adopters" applies still. Imagine if Silicon Investor offered free and easy Weblogs for all it's subscribers... Oh look! Dave Winer is now at Harvard! What's that? He's pushing the use of Weblogs there? FANTASTIC!

Criticism is welcome, preferably constructive criticism. Especially when it comes from someone who is part of the conversation. So let's have it Mr. Andrew Orlowski. When can we expect your voice, and sharp mind, to truly join the debate?

Learn to love Trackbacks

movabletype.org : A Beginner's Guide to TrackBack

Trackbacks are, IMHO, vital to future wikkidness of weblogging. If you use Movable Type (or any of the supporting systems), turn on TrackBacks NOW. And use them. Often.

<<What are your thoughts on Lily Chou-Chou?>>

<< [[ some thoughts about the movie "All About Lily Chou Chou" ]] >>

<<Erm... Not sure... I found it very difficult to follow (who is who, who does what, what are the relationships between the characters... When is what happening...), which is disconcerting in itself since my own life is really quite limbo-esque, meandering between "reality" and the inside of my head. I also found it extremely maddening.. The things these kids do to each other without anybody ever doing anything about it. Made me want to get up and scream a few times.>>

<<What I liked the most was some of the most awesome cinematographic "shots" I've seen in a looong time, and, though it was motion sickness inducing at times, I appreciated the use of the homevideocam for parts of the film. All in all, it's very modern and cool and all. I did enjoy it, but it left me in a quite emotionally perturbed state... >>

<<From: Bopuc>>

Finally the "R" word...

Joi Ito finally said it; the R word: Revolution.

In his case he speaks of Japan and it's political/economic systems, but I've been itching to hear it lobbed about here in North America, and more specifically, in the U.S. Helloooo wildly corrupted borderline fascist state!!!

But this is not why I am writing this tonight.

Digital Identity

This is a hot topic with many implications and applications. Most of the time when DigiID is mentioned, it is in context of government programs to give everyone universal identification. The fear there is of course centralized governmental control of your identity. While there certainly may be benefits in this, it nonetheless opens frightening possibilities.

But this is not what I wish to address here.

I'm thinking again about "your URI is your identity". Self-managed and SECURE Digital Identification.

Le Web c'est des humains

"The Web is humans"
Indeed, when one considers the Web as a force for expression and communication, especially in the context of Weblogging, we can begin to not only see the truly biological characteristics of the Web, but also gain insight into the human mind.

I feel fairly confident to say that, in some cases – not all – weblogs are a sort of extension of one's mind: a memory offload, a place to store thoughts and experiences and share them with the community at large. The ability to comment and "trackback" (off-site commenting essentially) creates a conversation: 2-way communication.

A conversation between weblogs? No. A conversation between people: humans, human minds.

FOAF & trust/authority

Six Log: Fun with FOAF

Good. This came up during their panel "The Future of Weblogging". Let's see what we can do with this.

Of connexe interest, David Galbraith provides his bio in RSS 1.0 format using the "bio" namespace he is pushing. I spoke to David at the EFF party on, erm, Monday night and we spoke about how this could be used for various self-managed digital identity systems. VERY cool.

Necessary evil.

Name dropping is a necessary evil when attending a schmooze-fest such as SxSW. In fact I've always felt it to play a rather significant role in initial contact with a new person. It allows the other to quickly get a gage of the people you've linked with and who may have linked to you. Real-space blogrolling, in other words. It is one more device in the trust/authority toolbox available to us in our social engineering.

Of course, as with all things, moderation is the key.

The village elders

Or "(wisdom + character) * concensus = authority"
Or "Weblog Trust Indexing"

Traditionally, small communities have always had "the village elder(s)": a person or persons who, through experience and intelligence aquired wisdom, who's character brought them into the forefront of their community's consciousness and through the building of trust in him (them) by the community achieved a level of authority.

Keep in mind, I am NOT talking about the "might is right" crowd here.

Weblogging, when used to share one's knowledge and experience, allows for such a dynamic to develop as well.

Rate me.

What's all this now?

I've built a proof-of-concept WebBlog rating system for my RowBoat. Visitors (you all!) can rate entries on my weblog by clicking the [+], [=] or [–] symbols below.

The idea:
- Visitors can rate individual weblog entries.
- ratings are "positive" [+], "neutral" [=] or negative [–].
- [+](positive) can symbolise agreement, good feeling, coolness etc
- [–] (negative) .. the opposite.
(Here's the important part:)
- all ratings are compiled into an "OverAll Rating" (at the top right-hand side of the screen). This rating gives an immediate visual indicator of the Weblog's rating; i.e. how the readers of this Weblog regard it.

Read on.

Knowledge, language and cultural erosion

Steph forwarded me an email from the archive.org mailing list.

It raises concerns regarding the degradation of global culture due to the alarming rate of extinction of many of the world's languages...

They're picking up on it... slowly...

The Observer | Business | The genius of blogging

What's happening now is that Google has realised that the conversations being conducted by members of the weblogging community has become an important body of content. Acquiring Blogger moves the search engine into pole position for organising and exploiting this amazing resource. It's so simple that only geniuses could think of it. But that's Google for you.

Collective writing

Are we all not just writing in the same big book?
Are we all not just contributing to one large account of our lives, our thoughts, ideas and dreams?
Are we not writing our own history?

Who really are the history writers of today? Will someone take on the herculean task of revising the inumerable stories of our times in order to formulate "a historical narrative"? If someone does, they will most likely refer to journalistic sources mostly, which arguably cannot be considered truthful or authorative or complete.

A comment I left on Joi Ito's weblog:

Can it be that the 'Net, through weblogging and collaborative writing, is the Master Narrative to end all master narratives? A massive chronicling (and shaping) of history and experience as we live it?

And, to whit:

"It may be that universal history is the history of a handful of metaphors."
-Jorge Luis Borges

I highly recommend (again!) reading "The Triumph of Narrative" by Robert Fulford.

More BlogMind tools!

Popdex : the website popularity index
This is getting more and more interesting. PopDex is like BlogDex and DayPop, but they will "weigh" the links, like Google's "PageRank" algos.

Essentially, the more a particular blog or blog entry is linked to, the more authoritive it is considered.

Karl mentioned that there is one caveat here: a link is not qualified. In other words, I may link to something (and a system like PopDex would take that as a "vote for") when in reality I may say something like "what this guy says here is bull!" (i.e. a negative vote).

(Ted Nelson would then say "Ha! Silly hypertext web people! Had you used my Xanadu or ZigZag architectures instead of the web, you could make such things explicit!" Sillyness. The precise reason for the successful existence, growth and evolution of the web is precisely this lack of "control-points", as David Weinberger calls them. It's totally organic. There is no god, no MCP, no laws or guidelines. If there is anything, it is an embrace of chaos and it's patterns. is that not what Zen fundamentally wants us to embrace?)

To get back to Karl, I say this is not necessarily true. Consider the whole thing like any other human or natural environment. Just becasue I speak of something doesn't mean I speak ill OR well of it. The fact of linking does NOT automatically mean I support it. Also, it allows for auto-policing, to a certain extent.

Consider this: Pundit Joe posts something at 9am. By 10am, 20 people have read it. 10 of them have linked to it from their blogs and comment on it. It appears in blogdex as a hottopic. Does this mean it is right? Not at all! It means it's hot. 8 of the 10 people who linked it and are commenting on it are denouncing it as false. Some may say "yes but that original post is still there and someone who never sees the denouncements will be mislead. So what? This happens all the time in daily "real world" interactions as well. It is up to the individual to 1- weigh the information he/she encounters and 2- to further research the issue.

(I am reminded of two things here: Tao: "he who knows does not speak, he who speaks does not know"... "he who knows a site is full of bull does not link to it, he who does is full of bull himself..." or something like that... and Hamlet "Nothing is so bad but thinking makes it so".)


So Doc, calling it "[Cluetrain] [prehistory]" links us to a fun piece RageBoy blogged up, where he goes on about Zen Buddhism and pop song lyrics. (Didn't Bono also sing "Every artist is a cannibal, every poet; a thief"?)

How to explain the pattern I discern?
(Let me be clear that I am not refuting or slagging rageboy's post, just adding it to my pattern)

Literary theory, semiotics: intertextuality, recognition, interpretation. While wonderful tools they are, applying such notions can be... decieving. (Did the Torah really predict JFK's assassination?.) Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum" explores this concept rather thoroughly.

On a side note: one Fabio Rambelli seems to be spending his time researching the semiotics of buddhism. To what end? To achieve a deeper understanding of Zen, presumably. That, to me is akin to studying my shoes to gain a deeper understanding of how blood flows to my toes. Or how I walk... hellooo Sherlock Holmes!

Hmmm, I seem to be irrevocably off course now. Allow me to finsih with some Borges quotes, just so's I look smart. ;)

From "The Fearful Sphere of Pascal":
"It may be that universal history is th ehistory of a handful of metaphors."

From "The Library of Babel":
"The universe (which others call the Library) [...]

Hmmm.. apply Borges' writings against the Internet. Speak to me of order in chaos. Speak to me of patterns. Comfort me with apples.