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September 05 2013


I would like to believe ...

I would like to believe ... that soup's @kitchen is really aware of the onging problems with the RSS import feature - by avoiding meanwhile the expression "auto" in combination with "import", like I did occasionally in earlier times in's rich and long history of dysfunctionalities.
Reposted byeveryone everyone

July 04 2013

Sponsored post

March 14 2013

September 26 2012


Globalvoices is down - since yesterday (2012-09-25) ... is back 2012-09-27

September 12 2011

Four short links: 12 September 2011

  1. HP Emulates Next (BoingBoing) -- In mid-1993, a few months after CEO Steve Jobs had shuttered the NeXT factory, and was in the process of switching to an all-software company—a path that led to its later acquisition by Apple—the lights were turned back on in its Fremont, Calif., factory. NeXTWorld's rumor columnist, Lt. Sullivan, reported that the U.S. military and another undisclosed customer wanted more machines, and so NeXT was to fire up and spit 1,200 more devices out.
  2. FeedsAPI -- service that turns a feed of partial posts into a full feed.
  3. Cinderella -- a fully managed development environment for open source hacking on Mac OSX. It's powered by homebrew and chef. You only need Xcode to get started. (via One Thing Well)
  4. The Greenwich Time Lady (Futility Closet) -- the old and the new coexist. From 1836 to 1940, this one company sold the time to people; their pocketwatch was certified by Greenwich Observatory in the morning and for the rest of the day they charged to look at it. New technology, government standards, and plenty of competition didn't end the business instantly. Compare to Clay Shirky's That is what real revolutions are like. The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place.

September 01 2011

Subscription vs catchment

Recently I was filling out an OSCON feedback survey and arrived at a question that stumped me:

Which of the following industry publications and/or blogs do you read on a regular basis?

Following it was a very long checkbox list, starting with ARS Technica and ACM Queue and ending at ZDNet:

OSCON survey

I started going down the list, answering as best I could, but what I really felt was: "The world doesn't work this way anymore!"

As far as subscriptions go, the main thing I subscribe to these days is Google Alerts and other filters for the topics I care about. Things just float through my alerts, or my Twitter feed, or whatever the catchment du jour is. Subscribing would feel like over-commitment to a single source. If the feedback form had asked "Which of these do you find yourself clicking on most often?" that would have been much closer to reality.

I still have an RSS reader, somewhere around here, but the only two items from the survey list actually in my reader are, I think, Slashdot and O'Reilly Radar. Yet, I read articles from the others all the time. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've read more ZDNet articles than Slashdot articles in the last month, even though I'm "subscribed" to Slashdot but not ZDNet.

As I'm usually not in the advance guard of technology trends, I'm pretty sure I can't be the only person who's basically given up on old-fashioned subscriptions [1]. Is the "subscribe to X" model on its last legs?

Active source loyalty may just not be a thing anymore on the Net. Who evaluates sources as sources now? We're looking more at the cloud of endorsements and references around the sources. This gives us subtle clues as to whether we should go the whole way and click through. More and more, this is true even with publications that have a good reputation and that have spent effort to build that reputation. I like Linux Weekly News (LWN), but I'm not actually going to go to their front page. I'm going to wait until the generalized social waves coursing through the Net bring LWN to me.

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The catchment model means that the urgent task, for those trying to get your attention, is to look enough like what your friends and colleagues endorse to fool your filters. (Of course, one way to do that is to enter into partnerships with the filters, or just be the filters. The rest of this parenthetical aside is left as an exercise for the reader.)

In the past, the sources were a destination all on their own. But as the sources become inputs into a larger filtering system, the filters are the next natural target for those seeking influence — or as we prefer to say in the technology field, the next site of innovation. When people are trawling so many sources, it no longer pays to concentrate on sources at all. It makes much more sense to start studying how the trawlers work and how to become part of the filtering infrastructure.

Perhaps this is all obvious. It just struck me because I've filled out similar evaluation forms for years, and only lately has that question felt like it's based on an obsolete model. And that model doesn't just go away: it gets replaced with something else, something in which broad data collection and pattern discernment matter far more than the reputation and branding of any individual source.

Thanks to Andy Oram for his helpful comments on earlier drafts of this post.

[1] Subscriptions on the Internet, that is. I'll still get my paper copy of The New Yorker until they make it illegal to chop down trees to support East Coast intellectual elitism — a day I hope never comes.

Associated photo on home and category pages: email_subscribe by derrickkwa, on Flickr


July 20 2011

Four short links: 20 July 2011

  1. Random Khan Exercises -- elegant hack to ensure repeatability for a user but difference across users. Note that they need these features of exercises so that they can perform meaningful statistical analyses on the results.
  2. Float, the Netflix of Reading (Wired) -- an interesting Instapaper variant with a stab at an advertising business model. I would like to stab at the advertising business model, too. What I do like is that it's trying to do something with the links that friends tweet, an unsolved problem for your humble correspondent. (via Steven Levy
  3. JSON Parser Online -- nifty web app for showing JSON parses. (via Hilary Mason)
  4. Facebook and the Epiphanator (NY Magazine) -- Paul Ford has a lovely frame through which to see the relationship between traditional and social media. So it would be easy to think that the Whole Earthers are winning and the Epiphinators are losing. But this isn't a war as much as a trade dispute. Most people never chose a side; they just chose to participate. No one joined Facebook in the hope of destroying the publishing industry.

May 10 2011

Twitter and Facebook Both Quietly Kill RSS, Completely | Stay N Alive - 2011-05-08 | via oAnth-miscellaneous at

RT @FrueheNeuzeit RT @rcweir: "Twitter and Facebook Both Quietly Kill RSS, Completely" || important!


Converging the World of Marketing and Technology


 ... seeing as I'm the only one who noticed, I have a feeling they have little reason to re-add the open protocol back into their interface. Personally, I think it's a shame, as it makes it so only developers like myself can code anything to extract that data - the average user has no way of pulling that data out of Twitter or Facebook.

It seems in 2011 and the era of Facebook and Twitter we've completely lost any care for open standards. Maybe it's not just RSS that is dying - it's the entire premise of open standards that is dying, and I think that's really sad, and really bad for not just developers, but users in general.


April 20 2011


Some websites, BBC News for example, offer only a headline and a short excerpt in their RSS feeds and you therefore have to leave your Google Reader to read the full news story.

Now there are a bunch of services - like FiveFilters, FullTextRSSFeed and FeedEx - that can quickly transform partial RSS feeds into full-text feeds but with certain obvious limitations.

First, these services can only process a limited number of feed items per day so the transformation may not work with high-volume feeds. Second, when you convert a partial feed into a full feed, you are actually creating a new RSS feed and this will only exist as long as the conversion service is in business.

If you are a Google Chrome user, there’s however a much better option that will give you the best of both worlds. You will be able to read the full text of a story inside Google Reader itself but without going through any transformation service.

To get started, simply install the Super Google Reader extension inside Chrome and it will add a new menu called “Super Settings” to your feeds page. Then choose the “Readable” option for all the partial RSS feeds that are you are subscribed to in Google Reader.

That’s it. The next time you expand a partial item inside Google Reader, this extension will automatically fetch the full content of that page in real-time and will display it in place of excerpts. You can use the ‘pre-fetch’ option to let it process the full feed in the background and this will reduce the time it takes for Google Reader to display the full text entries.

I have a quick screencast that explains how to get full feeds inside Google Reader with the help of of this super-useful extension. Thanks Nagalakshmi Viswanathan for the tip.

Convert Partial RSS Feeds into Full Text inside Google Reader
Reposted fromSigalon02 Sigalon02

March 10 2011

Four short links: 10 March 2011

  1. Everybody is Spamming Everybody Else on MTurk -- one researcher found >40% of HITs are spammy, but this author posted a Mechanical Turk HIT to supply recommendations for visitors to a non-existent French city and got responses from people expecting that every response would be paid regardless of quality.
  2. Javascript Garden -- a growing collection of documentation about the most quirky parts of the JavaScript programming language. It gives advice to avoid common mistakes, subtle bugs, as well as performance issues and bad practices that non-expert JavaScript programmers may encounter on their endeavours into the depths of the language.
  3. A 5 Minute Framework for Fostering Better Conversations in Comments Sections (Poytner) -- Whether online or offline, people act out the most when they don’t see anyone in charge. Next time you see dreck being slung in the bowels of a news story comment thread, see if you can detect whether anyone from the news organization is jumping in and setting the tone. As West put it, news organizations typically create a disconnect between the people who provide content and the people who discuss that content. This inhibits quality conversation.
  4. Full Text RSS Feed -- builds full-text feeds for sites that only offer extracts in their RSS feeds. (via Jason Ryan)

January 28 2011

January 03 2011

September 22 2010

Personal data stores and pub/sub networks

The elmcity project joins five streams of data about public calendar events. Four of them are well-known services: Facebook, EventBrite, Upcoming, and Eventful. They all work the same way. You sign up for a service, you post your events there, other people can go there to find out about your events. What they find, when they go there, are copies of your event data. If you want to promote an event in more than one place, you have to push a copy to each place. If you change the time or day of an event, you have to revisit all those places and push new copies to each.

The fifth stream works differently. It's a loosely-coupled network of publishers and subscribers. To join it you post events once to your own website, blog, or online calendar, in a way that yields two complementary outputs. For people, you offer HTML files that can be read and printed. For mechanized web services like elmcity, you offer iCalendar feeds that can be aggregated and syndicated. If you want to promote an event in more than one place, you ask other services to subscribe to your feed. If you change the time or day of the event, every subscriber sees the change.

The first and best example of a decentralized pub/sub network is the blogosphere. My original blogging tool, Radio UserLand, embodied the pub/sub pattern. It made everything you wrote automatically available in two ways: as HTML for people to read, and as RSS for machines to process. What's more, Radio UserLand didn't just produce RSS feeds that other services could read and aggregate. It was itself an aggregator that pointed the way toward what became a vibrant ecosystem of applications -- and services -- that knew how to merge RSS streams. In that network the feeds we published flowed freely, and appeared in many contexts. But they always remained tethered to original sources that we stamped with our identities, hosted wherever we liked, and controlled ourselves. Every RSS feed that was published, no matter where it was published, contributed to a global pool of RSS feeds. Any aggregator could create a view of the blogosphere by merging a set of feeds, chosen from the global pool, based on subject, author, place, time, or combinations of these selectors.

Now social streams have largely eclipsed RSS readers, and the feed reading service I've used for years -- Bloglines -- will soon go dark. Dave Winer thinks the RSS ecosystem could be rebooted, and argues for centralized subscription handling on the next turn of the crank. Of course definitions tend to blur when we talk about centralized versus decentralized services. Consider FriendFeed. It's centralized in the sense that a single provider offers the service. But it can be used to create many RSS hubs that merge many streams for many purposes. In The power of informal contracts I showed how an instance of FriendFeed merges a particular set of RSS feeds to create a news service just for elmcity curators. The elmcity service itself has the same kind of dual nature. A single provider offers the service. But many curators can use it to spin up many event hubs, each tuned to a location or topic.

The early blogosphere proved that we could create and share many views drawn from the same pool of feeds. That's one of the bedrock principles that I hope we'll remember and carry forward to other pub/sub networks. Another principle is that we ought to control and syndicate our data. Radio UserLand, for example, was happy to host your blog, just as Twitter and Facebook are now happy to host your online social presence. But unlike Twitter and Facebook, Radio UserLand was just as happy to let you push your data to another host. To play in the syndication network your feed just had to exist -- it didn't matter where -- and be known to one or more hubs.

This notion of a cloud-based personal data store is only now starting to come into focus. When I was groping for a term to describe it back in 2007 I came up with hosted lifebits. More recently the Internet Identity Workshop gang have settled on personal data store, as recently described by Kaliya Hamlin and Phil Windley. The acronym is variously PDS or PDX, where X, as Kaliya says, stands for "store, service, locker, bank, broker, vault, etc." Phil elaborates:

The term itself is a problem. When you say "store" or "locker" people assume that this is a place to put things (not surprisingly). While there will certainly be data stored in the PDS, that really misses its primary purposes: acting as a broker for all the data you've got stored all over the place, and managing the metadata about that data. That is, it is a single place, but a place of indirection not storage. The PDS is the place where services that need access to your data will come for permission, metadata, and location.

The elmcity service aligns with that vision. If we require the calendar data for a city, town, or neighborhood to live in a single place of storage, we'll never agree to use the same place. Thus the elmcity service merges streams from Facebook, EventBrite, Upcoming, and Eventful. But those streams are fed by people who put copies of their events into them, one event at at time, once per stream. What if we managed our public calendar data canonically, in personal (or organizational) data stores fed from our own preferred calendar applications? These data stores would in turn feed downstream hubs like Facebook, EventBrite, Upcoming, and Eventful, all of which could -- although they currently don't -- receive and transmit such feeds. Other hubs, based on instances of the elmcity service or a similar system, would enable curators to create particular geographic or topical views.

I've identified a handful of common calendar applications that can publish calendar data at URLs accessible to any such hub, in a format (iCalendar) that enables automated processing. The short list includes Google Calendar, Outlook, Apple iCal, and Windows Live Calendar. But there are many others. Here's the full list of producers as captured so far by the elmcity service:

feed producer# of feeds -//Google Inc//Google Calendar 70.9054//EN151-//Meetup Inc//RemoteApi//EN14unknown14iCalendar-Ruby6e-vanced event management system6-//DDay.iCal//NONSGML Limited Event Feeds//NONSGML//EN4-// Inc//NONSGML R25//EN3-//Drupal iCal API//EN3-//Microsoft Corporation//Windows Live Calendar//EN3-//Trumba Corporation//Trumba Calendar Services 0.11.6830//EN2-//herald-dispatch/calendar//NONSGML v1.0//EN1-//WebCalendar-v1.1.21Zvents Ical1Coldfusion81-//Intand Corporation//Tandem for Schools//EN1-//strange bird labs//Drupal iCal API//EN1-//SchoolCenter/NONSGML Calendar v9.0//EN1-//blogTO//NONSGML Toronto Events V1.0//EN1-//Events at Stanford//iCal4j 1.0//EN1-//University of California\\, Berkeley//UCB Events Calendar//EN 1-//EVDB// Inc.//mySportSite//EN1Mobile Geographics Tides 3988 20101

Google Calendar dominates overwhelmingly, but the long tail hints at the variety of event sources that could feed into a calendar-oriented pub/sub network. How much of the total event flow comes by way of this assortment of iCalendar sources, as compared to centralized sources? Here's the breakdown:

(Click to enlarge)

It's roughly half Eventful, a third Upcoming, a fifth iCalendar. There's negligible flow from EventBrite, which focuses on big events. Likewise FaceBook where the focus, though it's evolving, remains on group versus world visibility.

In a companion piece at O'Reilly Answers I show how I made this visualization. It's a nice example of another kind of pub/sub network, in this case one that's enabled by the OData protocol. For our purposes here, I just want to draw attention to the varying contributions made by the five streams to each of the hubs. The Eventful stream is strong almost everywhere. The Upcoming and iCalendar tributaries are only strong in some places. But where the iCalendar stream does flow powerfully, there's a curator who has mined one or more rich veins of data from a school system, or a city government, or a newspaper. Today the vast majority of these organizations think of the calendar information they push as text for people to read. Few realize it is also data for networks to syndicate. When that mindset changes, a river of data will be unleashed.


April 29 2010


Message for @kitchen - the automatic feed import is broken || CEST 12:30

@kitchen, please, have a close look inside your features! In contrary to the current feature status >> the automatic feed is broken || CEST 12:30 - greetings from muc by oanth

February 14 2010


RSS import now back!

@kitchen, many thanks for having fixed the broken RSS Import - it works great now (20100214 CET 2:30) -
Tags: RSS
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