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Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.
Permanent link to archive for Monday, October 20, 2003. Monday, October 20, 2003

A picture named tree.jpgI think I'm going to have to do something radical to bootstrap the distributed directories idea. Here's what I may just do. I could turn Scripting News into a directory. Forget the weblog. We already have enough of those. My directory would be the top of the tree of knowledge, like Yahoo used to be. You guys could send me links. I'd ignore you, because I'm so cool, I'd only point to people I like and people who pay me lots of money, or kiss my ass. I wouldn't point to any of your sites or your friends sites, and you'd get pissed off. "I'll show him," you'd say. "I'll do a kickass directory that's a billion times better than his! A trillion times better. I'll make him look like a total idiot. And I won't link to any of his sites" And then we'd have two directories. Someone else will think you're a total idiot and make one that's a trillion times better than yours. And so on.  

Ed Cone: "The most powerful piece of software inside Microsoft may be the $40 application from a tiny vendor called Userland that Robert Scoble uses to write his weblog." 

Lots of people are tuning into NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen. If you want more, check out the interview Chris Lydon did with him at BloggerCon. It's great great stuff.  

A picture named siteScriptedWithFrontier.gifA recent Columbia Journalism Review article gives credit to Pitas for having the first weblog tool, in July 1999, but UserLand's NewsPage suite shipped as part of Frontier 4.2, in early 1997, and was in wide use when Pitas arrived. Jorn Barger said: "Scripting News formalised many characteristics in 1997 by building them into the Frontier scripting environment, in its 'Newspage suite'."  

A picture named scoble.jpgJust had a phone talk with Scoble, and finally I have a clue why people use aggregators integrated with email clients. He had a couple of compelling reasons. 1. Since it's integrated with email he can easily forward an item to people he works with via email. 2. He has a folder where he drags items he wants to write about later. BTW he uses NewsGator. I still prefer the blog-style interface of Radio's aggregator. 

Andrew Grumet: "Does this sound crazy enough that it just might work?" Yes. 

Google's directory of weblog tools. None of the tools I wrote made the list. Centralized directories on the Web are like buggy whips for cars. Let's fix this bug. Google, this makes you look like a total asshole company. Your tool is listed first, and your competitor's tools aren't listed at all. When will it become too embarassing to support this antiquated model. 

When I first posted that I thought it was just a repurposing-DMOZ-problem, so it was a question of how Google looked, not anything they had actually done. But then Seth Dillingham posted a pointer showing that Radio UserLand is actually on the DMOZ list for weblog tools, so Google modified the list to take Radio out. This is surprising, and imho, requires an explanation. Did they modify it? If so why? And do they modify search results to favor their products and services? This is scary stuff.  

A picture named snow.jpgI'm getting lots of comments but only in email, so I can't point. Apparently the problem is page rank, there's no way Radio has zero page rank, but that (apparently) is what Google thinks. I can tell this is going to get nasty. Folks, I didn't say Google is a total asshole company, I said the mistake makes them look like a TAC. That was this morning. This evening I'm beginning to wonder. I certainly have heard from a number of total assholes, but that's life on the Internet. I'm used to it.  

A picture named grahamGal.jpgBlog Graham has become 100 million times more interesting since the candidate dropped out of the race. Eventually he will be joined by nine other Democrats, former candidates for the nomination, with varying amounts of life left in their political careers. Perhaps one of them will find a new purpose in punditry. I check out the Graham site every time it updates nowadays. 

Sander van de Donk asks about sub-feeds in RSS. 

Wired profiles Harvard cardiologist Mark Keating, who believes that human bodies can be taught to regenerate hearts, livers and kidneys. 

Maybe Gregg Easterbrook said the stupid things about Jewish execs in Hollywood for the obvious reason, to get more flow for his weblog. It wouldn't be the first time that happened.  

Four years ago today: "One would think that, by now, with the Internet and 'convergence' that I would have my choice of talk-tracks. Why couldn't I do the play by play myself? Instead of making stupid comments about people and history, instead we'd make metaphysical observations. 'I wonder what God meant by that?' Dave the announcer would ask. We'd call a random fan to ask his opinion. 'Sir, are you watching the game?' I'd ask. 'What did that last play mean to you?'" 

Not much metaphysics in last night's game. The play by play. Yankees up to bat. Score runs. Marlins up. No runs.  

How to decentralize directories 

1. Decide on a format for a directory. It should be XML-based so people can use any text tool to edit them. I designed OPML for this purpose, but if you want to use another format, I won't fight you on it. This is too important to have the usual fight over the bits on the wire.

2. Build software that renders data in this format as if it were a Yahoo or DMOZ directory. All environments should have well-tested efficient renderers, commercial and open source.

3. When this software encounters a node that includes another directory, include its hierarchy in that directory. These inclusions are what determine page rank, just like links in HTML pages.

4. If you run a search engine, index these files. Use page rank to determine which is shown first. Don't segregate these files, include them in the returns for HTML and all other formats you support.

5. Evangelize. Get academics, librarians, researchers, etc to produce data in this this format. Link and organize.


Last update: Monday, October 20, 2003 at 8:09 PM Eastern.

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