It’s kind of a thing

August 2, 2002

Since I mentioned Shelly Powers’s departure from weblogging, I should also mention that she has since returned. (via Doc Searls) #

A lot has been written (mostly not by me) about the relationship of weblogging and more serious (paid) journalism (1, 2, 3). If I think of it at all, I think of it as a complimentary one, with reporters doing research and webloggers providing additional information and corrections. This idea, that “weblogs keep the media honest” as the Washington Post put it, is not without flaws.

The fact is, weblogs aren’t the unalloyed force for truth that some have suggested they are. This has nothing to do with the weblog form itself, but rather with the attitudes of the authors. Simply put: being on the web doesn’t make you more honest by itself. Take the issue of hyperlinks. When I discuss an idea I agree or disagree with here, I link to it so that my readers can check it out. In theory, even if I misrepresent it, my readers can still see the original and discover my error. But does that work? Even linking to a post doesn’t guarantee fairness to the post if my audience is prepared to disregard contrary information.

The web won’t make you smarter or fairer if you don’t want it to. (via Doc Searls and WebWord) #

For a good look at the promises—good and bad—of the semantic web, check out this article from 2009 (which, it should be pretty obvious, is a work of fiction) describing one path towards it. RDF is one of the central parts of the story, despite its relative obscurity today, which is one reason why I think the story is actually plausible. RDF is one of those ideas which, once you get a handle on it, seem so obvious that it almost seems less important, like XML. Once you’ve absorbed the idea, you forget how hard things were before. (via MediAgora) #

Mapping the blogosphere

There are now multiple projects working to glean the connections among weblogs (two of which were recently referenced by Doc Searls). Some background: Many weblogs contain lists of other weblogs that the author reads or otherwise recommends (these days, it’s common to have them on the main page; mine is on a separate page for historical reasons). These lists, commonly called “blogrolls”, give insights into the structure of the weblogging community, such as who is held in high esteem and what subgroups exist.

The most recent revision of my threading vocabulary (currently available as a draft) absorbs some earlier work I had made towards a language for describing weblogs in RDF. The property used to indicate that one weblog includes another in its blogroll is “recommends”, as in “(Doc Searls Weblog) recommends (JOHO the Blog)” (note: not actual RDF syntax).

Having a standard way to describe the fact that one weblog lists another in its blogroll is useful in that it allows crawlers to exchange information without human intervention. The fact that it’s done in RDF allows any RDF-compatible system to be aware of that fact. (They might not know what it means, but they can still know it.)

There are two other ways that weblogs can recommend each other. A blogroll entry applies to the weblog as a whole, but individual posts usually include links as well. Thus, one post in a weblog might refer to another weblog, or to a post in that weblog. These are still inter-site connections, but now their meaning is more diffuse. Presence in the blogroll indicates that the author thinks the site is worth reading; being referred to in a post simply indicates that the site or post is being referred to. (My thread vocabulary allows for some references to include more meaning, such as “I disagree with this” or “I’m just referring to it without discussing it”.)

Does any of this mean anything? Who can say? I fully expect my work here to be ignored in favor of proposals by those with actual working software, but I find it interesting enough to work on anyway. #

Otakon 2002

By popular demand (Hi, Sharon!), I present some notes about my experience at O2K2. I has some second thoughts about attending this year, actually. Since leaving Penn State, I’ve drifted away from the anime scene for a number of reasons (not being in a club, not having a fast enough connection to make following rec.arts.anime.misc painless). In fact, the last anime purchase I had made, as far as I can tell, was at last year’s Otakon.

(Wondering what I’m talking about? Among English-speaking fans, anime means “Japanese animation”. Otakon is the largest east-coast convention of anime fans, which has been held in Baltimore for the last four years. To clarify “largest”, I’ll note that the estimated attendance this year was 12,900 people.)

Despite my concerns, I had a good time. I got to see a lot of people from college and had a chance to see new things without a big up-front investment. (I also got to make some more purchases at discount prices.)

Some highlights:

I’m surely leaving out a ton of stuff, but this entry is getting long and the night is getting old. Perhaps more later. #