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Contact information

There's been some confusion recently as how to contact me, it seems, regarding things that don't fit in the comments on a given article.

My e-mail address is . Remove the -spam part, though, else I'll never see the message.

I welcome any thoughts or feedback anyone has to offer. Eventually, I'll set up a catchall article for this kind of thing and permalink it from the left bar; until then, the e-mail will have to do. I do read 100% of the emails I get, and try to respond when appropriate.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled articles. Thanks for listening :)

The Library of Google


Google's been very friendly towards the blog community, as evidenced most recently by their plans (stated at the Supernova conference) to provide a SOAP interface to asking for specific pages to be re-spidered.

I'd like to see them extend DMOZ to support trackback article pings. The blogging community would promptly have to extend the DMOZ categories, I suspect -- what are the chances of FOAP being listed, for instance? With the ability to ping multiple categories, you could, perhaps, escape at least some of the shoehorn effect as well.

There's another side effect as well, one that Google would likely benefit from. The DMOZ-categorized trackback pings would form the equivalent of a dynamic, online scientific journal. You could publish the top fifty most popular links in a newsletter -- electronic or paper -- each month, while retaining all indexed content on the web.

It's like crossing Daypop, Science News, and Trackback.

The common taxonomy problem is solved here as well; I find the DMOZ categories quite usable, and I observed that they're peer-modifiable -- which means we can add all the categories we need to integrate the blogging/smartmob community into Google's database.

I would die for the ability to do topical searches within the selection of blog posts available; I've found with NNW that I can't locate old articles, and I'd rather see that solved by Google (masters of the search engine) than my client program.

The educational community would suddenly find that they have an incredibly useful resource: the ability to easily research a hundred thousand peer-reviewed articles, indexed by a sane categorization system.

Then DMOZ categories become the call numbers of the net.

On improving the commentators feed

I've been subscribed to Ben Hammersley's commentators feed, and a couple things have come to mind that would improve it.


It'd be nice if the content of each person's article showed their three (five? ten?) most recent articles; I'd like to get a sample of the content that $random_person has on their blog, included as content with the entry for their blog itself.

This would, of course, require assigning RSS urls to each of the entries in the commentator database; blog authors could submit them as corrections, perhaps. Not sure how that would be managed.

RSS autodiscovery could be attempted on the given URLs, perhaps; GET and search for the tag (or whatever it's called these days), and if found, grab the linked content.

I've already subscribed to several blogs found through this commentator feed. Is this commentators thing available as an MT plugin?

Second, it'd be nice if I could instruct it to consider "*" all part of the same blog; right now I think I'm listed about three different times, thanks to my occasional habit of putting referrer-type information as GET parameters on my URLs (see this post for details). I'm not so sure how to implement that, though.

Tracking blogroll referrals


Here's an idea.� When you put someone on your blogroll why not add something like "?blogroll=true" to the URL.� This way click-throughs via the blogroll (rather than an article) will stand out.

<< end quote

CGI parameters are one way to track blogroll referrals; it's a rather harmless method of doing so. There might be a one in a thousand who don't want to indicate that they found you through a blogroll link, but they're already going to be fighting a battle with HTTP referrer headers, and this doesn't add much. There's a couple other method, though, that may serve the purpose better.

If you look at a few of my comment postings around the blog community, I've been using unique email addresses for each blog; I used to do it per-comment, but Doc Searls' list of visitors' blogs started listing me multiple times, so I stopped that. The hyperlink URL to my blog generally is tagged with a ?from=radio-0107808 or somesuch parameter; I don't currently have referrer logging turned on, and I'm curious to know who visits in the meantime.

My web server seem to completely ignore "unknown" (see: "from") CGI parameters, so I don't expect you'd run into any problems there.

There's a way to do this, though, that would allow you to indicate the source being a blogroll using HTTP referrer headers. If MovableType's blogroll list was available via mt-blogroll.cgi, say, then you could route click-throughs on the front page through that CGI; it puts out a redirect page, and the linked-to page gets a Referrer header showing that it came from a certain blog's mt-blogroll.cgi.

I'm just using MT as an example there; it could be done as a simple redirector with a visible name that includes "blogroll". Apache mod_rewrite, CGIs, mod_perl handlers, whatever. I invoke the lazyweb here, with a willingness to code such if someone asks me directly :)

Dolphins blow bubbles, too.

Apparently dolphins can sense the water currents in their environment, and take advantage of this rather incredible ability to blow bubbles.

Dolphins understand the real purpose in life: Have fun.

It's absolutely incredible that they can do this -- but the ability to unconciously sense yet conciously manipulate your environment is something that humans do, too (martial arts come to mind here, as does the Force).

What do humans unconciously sense and take advantage of? Gravity, for walking. Body language, for communication. Bioelectrical fields, if you're into psi-type stuff. Ideas?

Feeling Places

Someone's applied the concept of FOAF to describing places with metainformation.

People, places.. Now all we need are FOATs (Friend of a Thing). Then we'd need FOAFOAT (Feel of a "Friend of a" thing). Auugh, meta-meta-information madness.

Dimming text

Apparently the default MT template is a bit too gray for some people; I've darkened it somewhat in the templates; hopefully that will help.

Blogger or Lurker?

This post on establishing presence with a blog is something I haven't seen before.

I like the broadened definition of blog, to include wikis and email newsletters (like RRE and Ditherati).

The timing of this article is impressive; I set up my blog tonight for the sole purpose of being able to share my thoughts with the community.

A few minutes later, an article pops up in NNW, explaining why I did this.

"A blog [...] represents the basic social building block: one person."

RSS is the new Usenet

There's a strong parallel between Forté Agent and NetNewsWire.

They share an almost identical interface layout: "groups" (feeds) on the left, "articles" (posts) on the upper right, "body" (content) on the lower right.

It's like I'm reading Usenet all over again, except this time it's cooler: you look for groups you like, subscribe to them, and watch for new articles.

I'd like to see a gateway that turns RSS feed articles into NNTP posts; imagine alt.rss.smartmobs, for instance, showing up in your local news feed.

Suddenly the technology of the news readers becomes available to the RSS crowd: easy ability to filter (killfiles!) and track unread posts come to mind immediately, with posting as a possible option. It also enables platforms without high-quality RSS readers to use existing high-quality NNTP readers.

Done properly, the gateway could represent comments as individual posts -- allowing the threading technology to come into play.

Add the ability to denote relationships between comments, and you've got the nested threaded discussion hierarchies many Usenet readers are accustomed to.

We're doing something that's been done before, improving a few things: machine-parsable feeds, common formats, decentralized listings.

Simplifying the telco transport layer

Cory posts his comments on stupidnet and telco inertia.

Stupidnet solves the need for lots of people to do maintenance rather nicely; deal with the core stuff, let the applications handle the rest.

It'd be nice to see the telcos implement a nationwide network, with a sane, interoperable design.

Must pinch my arm and stop dreaming (for now).

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