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Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

New news flows Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named obamaBerlin.jpgWhen we talk about news on the net the conversation is dominated by the interests of news organizations. The stories we tell are from their point of view. The vexing problems we face are their problems, not ours. That's been the point of the series of pieces I've been writing about news. I do care about the people of news, as I care about the people of the car industry and the people who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers. And the 10K contractors who may be laid off at Google. But for the sake of this discussion, what I really care about is news and how it's going to get from them that have to them that want.

In a comment yesterday I said it's often overlooked that while the Internet makes some things that we used to do diseconomic, if you took the Internet away some things we've come to expect would go away too. All the stuff people call "crowd-sourcing" -- the million eyeballs that are constantly watching, and the thousands of them that are there when news happens.

I watched a bunch of campaign events this year, and one of the things that's largely been unreported is how much reporting goes on at them. I first noticed it when Hillary came out on stage to make her concession speech. Immediately every pair of hands in the room goes up, not in salute, not cheering -- each pair held a digital camera, and they were capturing images of the Clinton family. There's no doubt if you wanted a picture of that event you could get many to choose from.

It was something else at Mile High Stadium for the Obama acceptance event. It seemed everyone there was taking in the history of it, and again, the cameras were everywhere.

Look at this striking picture of the audience at the Obama rally in Berlin, taken from Obama's perspective. This is what he must have been seeing as he went across the country. Recording devices of every kind, all pointed at him. (A fair number of American flags too, which gave me goose bumps.)

A picture named hrc.jpgNow if there isn't something we can do with the next generation of networking tools that's truly exciting and enabling, then we need to hang it up and let someone else drive for a while. In a couple of years every one of those devices will be replaced (knock wood, praise Murphy) and will they communicate better? I hope so! At the same time, we need to work on software and networking tools that allow us to process millions of pictures of an event and do intelligent things with it. When I was in Boulder in August I saw such a tool.

Update: VentureBeat has an excellent description of Occipital. "If multiple people upload multiple photographs from the same event around the same time, Occiptial will figure out that an event just happened and classify the photographs accordingly. Doing this right is really, really hard, yet with two people, Occipital seems to have done it. This team is scary good."

I've also been playing with a flow of thousands of professional photographs every day. It's really something to wrap your mind around, but after almost a year, I'm beginning to understand what kind of editorial tools you need to make sense of such a flow.

And that's always the tough problem, in my experience, making sense of the information. That's what reporters do. But it's all happening now on such a huge scale, we need new systems to grapple with it.

Do I think there could be money-making ventures built off this flow? Absolutely. What are they? Not sure yet. ;->

TechCrunch federates with Facebook Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named identityMan.gifTechCrunch: "TechCrunch readers can now use their Facebook accounts to sign in before leaving comments."

Interesting. And it integrates with Facebook's news feed.

I left a comment suggesting they do the same for Twitter, FriendFeed and Very easy to validate a name with any of those services, though the companies didn't make a big deal about it. I'd like to see some of the smaller developers get a chance to play in league with the big guys. They could also share a pointer to your comment in the flow of any of the services, their APIs make it brain-dead simple to do.

Update: There's another reason for a site like TC to federate with the three sites above. Some of us don't use Facebook, but are regular readers of TC. I do have an account on FB, of course, but I almost never check it. I get FB friendship requests from people I haven't seen in years, and care about, and it makes me sad that I don't have the bandwidth to add Facebook to my rotation, I just don't think about it. But... I recently added a connection between Disqus and Friendfeed, and I like what's happening there. I am a constant user of both software tools, so connecting them makes a lot of sense. Any time I post a comment anywhere on Discqus's network, it propogates to FriendFeed. TC is not on the Disqus net, but I would like it to be on the FF net. I think it makes sense for TC to support any site that a significant number of their readers use.

Bathtime in Clerkenwell Permanent link to this item in the archive.

XML-RPC update Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named icbm.gifIts been a long time since I written about XML-RPC, it's one of those things that when I do, the flamers show up and get all personal. I shouldn't let that get in the way, of course; and while I wasn't looking, for example, Mozilla baked-in support for XML-RPC. Not sure what you can do with that, but I'm sure someone will explain.

The other day when I asked about an XML-RPC interface for ImageMagick, Justin Walgran took me up on it, and deployed one on Google AppEngine. Now that makes sense for so many reasons. A perfect application for AppEngine, and since its native language is Python, and Python has great XML-RPC support (we upgraded ours in Frontier based on their inspiration, the highest form of respect), it was not a very large programming project.

Hopefully I'll be able to test it out today, once we know the name of the procedure, what server its running on, and what parameters it takes.

I made a suggestion in the comments that where the procedure calls for the image itself, that it accept the URL of the image. This would work better for my app because by the time it needs the thumbnail it has already uploaded the image to an HTTP-accessible server. It would work better to not have to upload it twice. ;->

So the procedure would look something like this:

imageMagick.createThumb (image, height, width) returns binary

Where image can either be a binary type containing a JPEG, GIF or PNG graphic; or a string that contains an HTTP URL to the graphic. Height and width are numbers that reflect the desired height and width of the thumbnail. It returns a binary type containing a PNG (?) thumbnail.

Of course if there's an error it uses the XML-RPC exception mechanism.

Needless to say this is a very interesting project to me. And if someone wants to create an equivalent REST application, I will promote it alongside the XML-RPC application.

Update: Imagin appears to be exactly what I was looking for. It's fast, flexible, takes a URL as an image parameter. Very nice. What's not clear is how hard you can drive it without pissing him off.


Last update: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 at 5:14 PM Pacific.

A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

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"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

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