Revised blogthread proposal
When I last spoke about blogthreads,
I was already working to revise the specification I had written, not because
the concepts were changing but because I wasn’t sure I was explaining it
adequately. Well, the latest version is out
and—surprise!—I’m already starting to think that it could be organized better.
At this point, the document contains two major parts:
- An RDF
vocabulary for describing discussion threads in weblogs,
message boards, news groups, and e-mail
- A simple coding convention for web pages which allows software
to break an archive page into its component posts, even in cases such
as the front page of a weblog, where the posts are mirrored from their
Another document extends the RDF
vocabulary with weblog-specific information,
such as what’s in the “blogroll” (the prominent list of other weblogs seen on
many weblogs). Another intended companion document would extend the vocabulary
to describe topic-based discussion forums, such as message boards.
Given the considerable overlap between the three described vocabularies,
and given that the RDF
stuff and the coding convention exist on different levels of operation and can
be used independently of each other, I’m
beginning to think that it makes more sense to have all the
RDF stuff in one
file and the coding convention in another.
Anyway, if you’ve gotten this far, check out the new version. I spent
a lot more time trying to give some background on why anyone would care, and
I added some keen diagrams.
The dark side
Shelly Powers has announced her departure
from weblogging, which I probably wouldn’t have noticed if she weren’t
working on a blogthreading system of her own (one a bit less clean than my own,
IMHO, but with the advantage
of actual software in development).
In any case, she has a lot to say about the dark side of weblogs. This bit
in particular struck me:
once the words are out and the writing is
finished, no matter how terrific the post is, it’s slowly pushed down a
page and hidden among other postings and blogrolls and blogstickers and
other graphics until it eventually falls off the bottom of the page,
never to surface again unless some strange person puts a bizarre request
into Google that leads to one of our archives.
It’s probably a minor point from her perspective, but it does describe
one frustration of my own regarding the weblog format. Categories and
theoretical thread overviews can help bring older, important stuff
forward, but sometimes things will simply be lost in the archives.
A weblog can produce so much material that it’s difficult to tell where
Certainly, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my fiction is moving
so slowly while my site gets updated so frequently. But would I give it
up? I’m not sure. I write ZedneWeb with a strange cognitive dissonance:
I write with the hope that lots of people will read, but at the same time
I feel like I can say almost anything because hardly anyone reads it.
(Hi, Sharon.) I deliberately
avoid looking through the server logs so that I can keep those two contradictory
illusions in my head.
More bloggery stuff
Two more items. First, Mark Pilgrim has been running an
excellent series on improving weblog usability.
Lots of good advice on making your weblog (or any site) as usable as possible
to the blind, the poorly-sighted, the bandwidth-challenged, and others. It’s
unfortunately presented in reverse chronological order, so skip to the end
of the page for a list of the first few posts.
I am in the process of applying some of his advice to my calendars.
Unrelated, but still tangentially connected to weblogs, is NetNewsWire Lite, a Mac OS X
headline reader, which reads RSS
feeds and presents them in a simple three-paned window. It’s not perfect yet,
but it can slurp up the experimental
ZedneWeb headlines feed and present it nicely. (See this screenshot.)
This is potentially useful if you don’t
feel like visiting ZedneWeb every day in case there’s something new.
(via Jeffrey Zeldman
and Wes Felter)
Just in time to prevent people from giving up entirely,
XNSORG has released the technical
specifications for their Extensible Name Service, which has become
a complex set of digital identity services that I won’t claim to
understand entirely. I’ve been watching XNS
it started, but aside from registering my name (under the “free for life”
promotion, without which I wouldn’t have bothered) I haven’t really been able
to do anything with it.
Still, I always had a liking for XNS,
mostly because their original documents made a lot of smart moves when
dealing with names and identities. They recognized, for example, that a
person may change their name without becoming a different person, so they
split the user-level names from the software-level identities. This would
allow me to change from “=Dave Menendez” to, say, “=Zednenem” without
breaking anyone’s address books. The original specifications also provided
independence from your hosting service, so that I could change the organization
hosting my identity information without breaking people’s address books—but
that doesn’t seem to work in the new specifications, so far as I can tell.
For more background, see
“XNS Gets Free” at Digital ID World.
The technical specs are out royalty-free, but I’m guessing the question to
ask is: Will anyone care?
Quick Macworld 2002 reactions
Despite living in the New York metropolitan area, I’ve never made it to a
Macworld Expo. But I can still talk about the things I’ve heard.
- iTools, Apple’s set of free Internet services (low-volume web hosting,
on-line disk space, e-mail) is being replaced by Dot-Mac (usually written “.Mac”),
an expanded set of services that cost US$100 a year. I guess I won’t be using
that mac.com e-mail address as a backup after all.
- iSync is a great idea
which fits in well with Apple’s “digital hub” strategy. Essentially, it
uses your Mac to keep the address books in your e-mail client,
PDA, and cell
phone consistent. Disadvantages: the only calendar it supports seems
to be iCal and the cell phone part only works over Bluetooth.
On the other hand, it works with the iPod, although putting contact
information and calendaring on a music player still strikes me as odd.
- iCal looks like a pretty neat
calendar, it has iSync to back it up, and it doesn’t tie you into Dot-Mac’s
servers for publication. Combining multiple calendars is a great idea which
surely someone has thought of before, right? I wonder if it’s at all
compatible with the iCalendar standard.
- The built-in address book
is a great idea, which will hopefully take us one step closer to e-mail Nirvana. (We actually
knew about this one before, but I don’t think I mentioned it here.)
- I hadn’t mentioned Rendezvous
either, but it’s still great to see the zeroconf work
emerge in a commercial product. That and
IPv6 support… Mmm….
I’m skipping over a lot of stuff (iTunes 3, for example), but it’s
late and I’m sleepy.