Seb's Open Research
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and social software, collected by Sébastien Paquet

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Monday, April 14, 2003
Exploiting RSS auto-discovery in Radio Userland

I finally got to understand what RSS auto-discovery was good for by perusing this example page  [found thanks to David], which points to Mark Pilgrim's Radio auto-subscribe bookmarklet. Once you have this bookmarklet in your link toolbar,

Whenever you visit a site that you want to add to your Radio news aggregator, click your "Subscribe" button on your link toolbar, and it will try to find the site's RSS feed and auto-subscribe you.

If you're using Radio, you can try it out here, on this very site (note the sneaky tactic to get more subscribers). It worked for me, at least on the home page. Of course a problem is that not all weblogs support auto-discovery. In the worst case the button seems to just do nothing.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you could start on my page on personal news aggregators.

What do you think? []  links to this post    11:00:10 PM  
Learning-oriented RSS

RSS feeds from Learning Object Repositories - Known Examples. Quote: "Below are the actual syndicated feeds for the Object Repositories that I know are providing RSS feeds" [Serious Instructional Technology]
What do you think? []  links to this post    10:38:50 PM  
Peer-to-peer journalism at its best

Here's an excellent account of what it's like to live with mental illness, coming from someone who actually experiences it, rather than some expert who doesn't. Thanks, Michael!

Living with Schizoaffective Disorder (Part II). Here I continue the discussion of my mental illness that I started in Part I of this three part series. Being schizoaffective is like having manic depression and schizophrenia at the same time. Part I described what it's like to be bipolar. In Part II I discuss my schizoid experiences, something I haven't written about much before. In particular I explain visual and auditory hallucinations, dissociation and paranoia. []

What do you think? []  links to this post    10:24:49 PM  
The Blue Oxen Vision

Blue Oxen Associates - that is, Eugene Eric Kim and Chris Dent - had a launch party in San Francisco last week with their first official piece of output: a 20-page research report on how open source communities function.  The report features case studies of the communities that have formed around the TouchGraph and SquirrelMail software development projects. It was sponsored by the Omidyar Foundation, the very same foundation that awarded a grant to Tom Munnecke's GivingSpace initiative a few months ago.

On the occasion of the launch, Chris wrote a statement of what motivates him in this enterprise. Here it is in full.

We live in a time when the decisions of our governments are made outside any appreciation for reasoned and reasonable consensus. Information is delivered to us, packaged, shiny, and full of persuasive power but often lacking in the awareness of past, present and future required to make wise, lasting and honorable decisions.

I am tired of this. I'm tired of feeling powerless and listening to my self, my friends and my colleagues, filled with good ideas, swing in and out of a lonely and ineffectual desperation.

While it took me some time realize it, helping to start Blue Oxen is my small way of saying I've had enough, it's time to do something. I'm here to suggest that we can make the better world we believe is possible: one where people truly communicate and communicate truly, one where ideas are shared, one where the goodness that is our nature is allowed to emerge, in concert with one another, our neighbors down the street and our neighbors around the world.

I want Blue Oxen to catch and enhance the building wave of people who have acknowledged that sharing ideas, openly and frankly, is a creative force for improving the world and for motivating action. I seek not a free marketplace of ideas, but a free community of people collaborating to create and refine new thought.

Collaboration is a fully buzzword compliant term these days yet it is still an undefined discipline. Eugene and I connected over a casually tossed phrase that I made in response to the question of what is augmentation for. I said, "To make me less dumb." It's now several months later and while I still believe this is an important aspect of what collaboration is for, my close association with Eugene and the members of our first collaboratory and the looser collaboration with disparate voices discovered by the simple act of making some noise has revealed a larger focus: Less dumbness emerges from open communication.

When the internet reached the public, it was hailed as a compelling democratizing force. The power of personal publishing was going to alter the face of society. It didn't quite happen like that. I remember being disillusioned as the significance of my own web server faded in the face of the shine, the gloss and the money of centralized media.

We are, today, thanks to motivated and idealistic people, in a new phase of enthusiasm. Systems such as weblogs and wikis and the developing genre of social software are birthing dynamic social networks that produce new understandings. In and of themselves these tools are nothing, it is the people who use them and what they do with them that matters. People are exploring, communicating, generating and accepting feedback; using their freedom to generate more freedom.

I want Blue Oxen to be an experimental gardener in this realm. Our task is to participate in the discovery, engenderment, development, evolution and facilitation of the patterns of behavior and process—and the tools the patterns use—that bring the ecology of collaborative evolution we need as a society. Our challenge is to see that the communication facilitated by collaborative systems continues, stays open, and creates artifacts that are accessible and reusable by others. Openness leads to shared and knowledgeable understanding, shared understanding leads to shared goals. Goals lead to motivation and motivation leads to action. Let's do what we can.

Chris is interested in the politics of collaboration, which seems like a hugely interesting topic. A later post of his is titled Anarchic Emergent Collaboration, and reflects on the ways in which we structure collaboration. Chris speculates that "emergent and loose collaboration is the most natural style." (which seems to resonate fairly well with Chris Corrigan's musings on Open Space Technology). Chris Dent writes,

"So I wonder if there are threads of connection that we can draw between extremist political theory (and history), systems theory and discussions of collaboration. Even if the threads prove ephemeral the exploration will probably be productive."

What do you think? []  links to this post    2:21:35 PM  
Clueful markets yield good products

Here's an "aha" quote from this interview with computing pioneer Alan Kay (found via Michel):

After complaining about the current state of software targeting children, I ask Kay how we encourage the production of better educational software for kids. He answers, "don't buy bad stuff."

As simple as that sounds, he points out that "the market needs to reject what is bad. The stuff that got put out wasn't rejected. It's a certain kind of laziness. [...] On the other hand, you have to make sure people are aware of their alternatives. A popular fast food restaurant might be across the street. Meanwhile, a mile a way is a better restaurant where a good meal costs just a little more than at the place across the street. We need to help get the word out for the alternative.


What do you think? []  links to this post    1:16:51 AM  
Radio backup report

(This post is of limited interest to non-Radio users)

Just backed up this Radio Userland weblog. It seems to have worked fine, though a weird category bug prevented the verification from completing. I'm breathing a little easier now. By the way I noted that any files you may have in your "www" folder are not backed up by this procedure.

What do you think? []  links to this post    12:09:43 AM  

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