Curiouser and curiouser!
 'Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?' He asked. 'Begin at the beginning,' the King said, very gravely, 'and go on till you come to the end: then stop.'

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 3/13/03 - click to visit a random Radio weblog - for
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 28 May 2002
10:48:37 PM    Social networking in Radiospace

Jon Udell has written a very thoughtful piece on social networking.  I especially liked his point about the difference between blogging and more established forms of collaborative communication.  Jon recognizes the need for tools to help clusters of people form around shared ideas, but not at the cost of jeopardizing what makes blogging a new and unique form of expression.

5:21:39 PM    Ed Cone on DaveNet

As Ed Cone writes in his guest DaveNet appearance:

"At some level, though, not linking to other bloggers negates a certain part of the essence of blogging. Maybe those pages are less “blogs” than just frequently-updated personal Web pages, if such a distinction exists. Sullivan writes that he disdains the concept of “community,” but the blogging community and its subcultures are real. And on a practical level, links between bloggers are a critical way of getting readership for blogs. Blogging is more than the sum of its parts."

» This really speaks to me -- a desire to be part of a wider community is a compelling reason for me to be a blogger.

And on Sullivan's disdain for the concept of "community", well here's what Ryan Ireland has to say:

"Sullivan then begins to poo poo the idea of the bloggers functioning as a community. He insists that his reasons for blogging are fueled by his individualistic nature, wanting to publish without the hinderance of an editorial staff and press politics.

Actually, blogging, in it's current and most successful form is indeed a community activity. One blog cannot stand alone. Without the support and conversation of a community the single lone blog is just another homepage with blinking icons and pinwheels. But Andrew wants to "have a great interaction with readers in real time." That sounds pretty much a like a community effort. You see Andrew, perhaps your naiveté has caused you to miss the fact that we bloggers do have "great interaction" with our readers, through links and comments. This is how we communicate. "

» I dont want my blog to be a personal page with blinking icons and pinwheels!


1:14:49 PM    Community Builder

Going on with the idea of the Blog community builder (I'd love someone to suggest a cool name) here are some more thoughts:

  • This should be a tool that plugs in to Radio Userland like the Radio Community Server.
  • The tool allows people (including yourself) to register their blog.
  • Each registered blog is indexed on a regular basis (this might include indexing an incoming RSS feed rather than the site itself)
  • Each index creates a set of likely keywords.
  • The blog owner is notified that their blog has been indexed (email?).  They can then sign in and modify the keywords that have been suggested and then rank them in order of importance.
  • Some weighting algorithm is then applied to the keywords for the blog to try and match it up with likely candidates.
  • The candidate list is filtered against a list of already generated candidates as well as those to which the blog already links.
  • This candidate list is then provided back to the blog owner.  Options: email, web page or RSS feed.

The reason I think this should be a Radio tool is that it can then be run by many people.  Some attempt should be made to allow these to tools to federate and share index information.  The index will need good algorithms for matching blogs up.

It seems to me that there is also a temporal issue here.  If my blog is all about, for example, Scuba diving and then I happen to post one day about my Dell Inspiron laptop what do I want to happen?  I suppose this may be solved by repeated keyword filtering (i.e. I don't allow 'dell laptop' to become attached to my blog) but I guess I would rather the system have some clever way of evolving its representation of your interests.

Indeed, is there some way around having to know about and rank keywords in the first place?


11:16:01 AM    Build communities by categories

Ian Bruk wants to build communities as well, he has a simple but powerful idea for using categories to do this.

Although I don't think categories are discriminatory enough for my taste I think these ideas are all complementary.

[Ian: Do you have a Blog?]


11:08:18 AM    Creating communities from thin air #2

I've had some interesting comments about my previous post on creating communities.  It seems like it is, at least, not a stinker!

One simple thing that came up was that we should be able to attach meta-data to our postings.  I had already been wondering about the idea of adding a keywords field to the posting box backed up with some simple UserTalk to automatically grok the new posting for suitable keywords for you.  I'm no RSS expert but I'm sure somebody said that new tags could be added without breaking existing applications.  This means we could introduce meta-data and let the applications catch up.

Another idea that came up was that this should not be a centralized service, that it should be democratized.  I think it's a good point, but wonder how it can be achieved?  The value of the service would be in making good recommendations and so would lie in the index.  Distributed systems that don't hold the full index won't be able to make many recommendations (unless we come up with some kind of brokering service, or a distributed search or something like that).  I'd love to hear suggestions on how this problem could be solved.

Since the basic idea doesn't sound like a dud I'm going to start working on it.  I'd love to hear from anyone who would like to collaborate with me.



10:50:03 AM    
Doing a Backflip.

It's basically an online bookmarking service.  You add a button to your browser tool bar which you click when you want to grab a page.  You can then describe and categorize the page in your BackFlip directory (kind of like your own Yahoo directory).

Wow - how the world turns full circle. I was one of the two founders of The BookmarkBox which I would like to say pioneered the online bookmarking space. Backflip came on the scene later, as one of our largest competitors - before we sold out to (which used to be good, sadly now it is popup-riddled and unusable). [Curiouser and curiouser!] [rebelutionary]

»Mike's right, Blink is ruined.  Pop-ad's are the pits.  And do they even work?  I know that I tend to find it offensive enough to be 'popped at' that I will avoid the products on principle...

They also seem to have lost the plot with a points and prizes mentality.  I think there are many reasons to share stuff and the good ones have nothing to do with points.

Hopefully BackFlip will not fall into this trap.

I've also sent the BackFlip guys some suggestions which I think have gotten lost in their web self-service autoresponder:

  • Allow you to create Weekly and Monthly routines as well as the Daily Routine.  This would be great for regularly visiting news sites that don't update so often.
  • A Routine is really nothing more than a tour.  In this case it's a very personal thing.  But if you let people create any number of tours with a useful name and perhaps some categorization you could then let them share their tours with each.  I think this has the potential to be much more interesting that just sharing a folder of bookmarks.


10:36:42 AM    Thought provoking

From BigEmpty via the rebelutionary.

"I read something seth castleman wrote, "in the holocaust no one was there to bear witness. people either oppressed or were oppressed, helped or turned their eyes away. what would happen if people opened their hearts and truly watched in jerusalem? can we deeply accept tragedy with an open heart, then move to heal and help from the seat of witness? in quantum physics, the act of observing inherently affects the observed. perhaps this applies to humanity as well. the atoms that change when watched, become the world that has been transformed... will the heart open or close? will we take our sadness and let it harden or let it melt?"

I wanted to post some viewpoints but I was unable (with a quick wave of Google) to come up with a balance...