Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Web Toys

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Feedster:I recently discovered Feedster. And it is a nice tool, I must say. I like the idea of per-post indexing. Aside from its obvious search feature it may even be a better way to keep track of what I wrote myself than my own search feature or Google. I particularly like how it will present you the links of a blog only – having in mind that I find it much more useful to drop a link cum explanation here rather than only having a bookmark for it in my browser: It's better for myself and I can spread the word of sites I find enjoyable. I guess I'll remove the 'links only' link at the top of the page because of this feature and end my journey into the world of dodgy CSS and creepy JavaScript that way.

It still seems quite young, so there are probably a few things remaining to fix, such as it not handling special characters too well as can be seen in the summary of this search, for example: The fourth word in there should be Köln but appears as K ln. Or is this a problem with my RSS feed?

Another thing I'm not sure about is how well it handles updated posts. There's still some seemingly broken HTML visible in my result on this search, although I updated it while still being on my RSS feed. Anyway, indexing something as volatile as RSS feeds is quite interesting. Let's hope data won't 'vanish' accidentally as you couldn't simply rescan everything but rather have a kind of temporal and documentary thing going on here. Naturally you can also get your search results as RSS. I don't have any particular use for it right now, but it seems neat.

I guess that doing multi-topic posts like this one is somewhat against the spirit behind Feedster, though.

E-commerce frequently sucks, says Mr. Fuzzy Blog who's apparently the guy behind aforementioned Feedster. [Gosh – I really, really don't like it when people don't put their names on their blog, it makes it impossible to refer to them. And that's me making an affort to be polite. It's your blog – so you can easily put your name somewhere near the top. That's not just vanity, its useful information. Or put your name next to each post. It's redundant, but surely gets the message across.] Update: Turns out this wasn't intentional but templates gone astray or something. So "Mr. Fuzzy Blog" == Scott Johnson. But I needed to rant about the lack of names/contact details anyway.

What was I trying to say? Yep, he's right. Apart from amazon, many people trying to sell things on the web don't seem to be too keen on actually selling things to you. And don't get me started on NatWest's online banking.

Flash: Why do we have to use a Flash plugin in times where QuickTime quite happily plays Flash animations as well?

Mosaic: At Ars Technica they found a Newsweek story reminding us that it's only been ten years since the first version of Mosaic. Amazing, how ubiquitous browsers have become in only a decade – in rich countries, that is. Even I got used to things happening with a single-click.

Blogpulse is another site scanning blogs and analysing them. They look for the key phrases of each day. Isn't it strange how 'tabbed browsing' made it to #1 today – caused by Safari? This re-activates another question I asked myself a couple of times: Is it just my personal RDF or is it really the case that the percentage of bloggers on Macs is far higher than Apple's share of the market? [Cue '1984' TV ad: Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!]

OPML: Dave Winer wants to see more OPML, saying: When people look at the OPML files and criticize them I know they don't understand OPML. That's not the way to kick off an open discussion! Perhaps he learned from Dubya's wartime rhetorics. If OPML's so great, why not give people a compelling application rather than saying they're stupid if they don't agree it's cool?

We have seen Yahoo fade away from its predominant position and being replaced by Google. This may have been mainly for the portal vs. bare functionality thing. However, Yahoo also lost much of its initial appeal in that its compiled directory couldn't compete with brute force searching. I have the impression that these days there is too much information around to fit into a directory reasonably. Having a directory always requires editing: you don't want to miss out on things, you don't want to clutter the directory with irrelevant things, you don't want to be biased towards certain opinions on a topic, you want to make sure that everything is filed in the right place(s) in the hierarcy etc. All of the editing needed for a good directory will be hard and time consuming. And there will be a lot of it to do.

Thus, I am not sure what OPML is supposed to do for us. I don't think it can replace large scale searching by directories. It may be an interchange format for outliners some day. But we'll probably have to wait for it to be a widely accepted standard first for that to work – and that'll most likely mean Word saving its outlines in OPML (I seem to remember that Word has an outline feature as well). It's a nice idea to want to have a standard for that kind of thing, but unless it really is one, I don't see a reason to be excited. And the very fact that might make OPML so appealing, namely that it is not a highly complex format but indeed a structure that can be easily replicated by anyone in their own way (say, as MacOS X property list), could make it even more difficult to establish a standard than it would be anyway.

And then there's of course the question of interesting uses of the format. I don't see many. Hierarchical lists of bookmarks should be obvious. But they're not interesting. And keeping outlines for your projects? You'll need projects that are more complex than the outlines you can create in Stickies for that to begin with. And then you'd need a software for outlining that is less of a hassle to use than a pen and a few sheets of paper. No, I don't see it right now. But what do I know – seeing that I didn't understand OPML in the first place?

April 15, 2003, 21:25


Comment by Scott Johnson: User icon

Hi there,

I wanted to thank you for the nice comments about Feedster. I’ll be the first to admit that we aren’t (yet) perfect but we’re going hard at it.

Oh and actually I do have my name on my blog — right about the picture. Its Scott Johnson.

I don’t really have answers yet for all your points but I did want to a) thank you and b) let you know that they’re all being looked at.

Best Scott

April 16, 2003, 19:24

Comment by ssp: User icon

Hi Scott,

I looked at your site again and still couldn’t find your name. So I guess, I was right with my assessment. Oh ? and you were right as well. It seems that we have different ideas about what ‘your site’ is.

For me it’s the place I get to when double clicking it in NetNewsWire: http://www.feedster.com/blog/ ? sans picture and name. You are probably having http://radio.weblogs.com/0103807/ in mind ? with a picture and name.

I just had to vent my frustration with people not writing their names/contact details easily accessible on their sites. I find that by far too common. Nothing personal.

I have the impression that the blogging thing is more personal than news sites and allegedly about ‘conversations’ and stuff. So people should put their name and contact details there prominently, to allow these things to happen.

April 16, 2003, 22:56

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