Scripting News for 6/19/2006

Scion billboard in NY: “So wrong for so many.” 🙂 

Jay Rosen: “All sites become equidistant from the reader.” 

Johnny Carson via Doc Searls: “Don’t bother getting married, just find someone you hate and buy them a house.” 🙂 

Jon Udell picks “user generated content” as the most offensive buzzword.  

Jeff Veen: “The mob mentality of the blogosphere turned it’s wrath on Tim O’Reilly for taking a vacation…” 

Just drop the B 

A few years back I wrote that the P in P2P is people.

It got widely quoted, by O’Reilly even.

Now we need to hack and mash again, to put the focus back where it belongs because it has wandered, again.

Web 2.0 is wrong because it’s about technology, and the importance of the tools are that they empower people.

Luckily, it’s easy to fix, just drop the B and it makes sense again.

Morning BloggerCon Notes 

Paolo is on his way from Italia! And thus begins reporting on those traveling from far away to be with us this week. Paolo is just the first. Meanwhile, our to-do-list overfloweth. I’m way behind on lots of things including the software Doc will use to take notes while we have our informative and respectful user-focused discussions. I think we’re going to buy lunch on both days. Probably nothing too extravagant, but there are lots of great restaurants nearby, even on Saturday. We think we have the webcasting nailed. First, John Furrier at PodTech volunteered to pay the $8K, for which we were very very grateful, but it turns out we don’t need it, we found another way that’s free. I’ll tell you more about it as we get closer. We’re going to do some live webcasts on Wednesday and Thursday to check it out. So if you haven’t been getting your fill of Morning Coffee Notes, we should make up for that, amply, this week.


Steve Gillmor writes about his dreams. Renee Blodgett writes of dream catchers. I had a funny dream myself. Sitting in a crowded movie theater, probably in NY, someone’s cell phone rings, and the fcuker not only answers it, but he starts a conversation, in full voice. An usher, who for some reason was seated in the audience, gets up, grabs the phone, and walks out of the theater, with the guy following. Somehow I know who the usher is, it’s Saddam Hussein! I wonder if the guy knows who he’s about to get into an argument with. The crazy thing is that in this dream, Saddam is a smiling, friendly old guy, with a nicely trimmed beard, wearing a clean well-pressed usher’s uniform. I guess everyone needs a job, and what’s he going to do now that he’s been deposed by President Bush and Karl Rove with his fat backside. 🙂

Feeds Of Evil 

I decided it’s time to unsub from feeds that have those annoying little web bug graphics in each item, masquerading as “useful” stuff — they’re really there to send messages back to the publisher that the item was displayed in my browser.

This means that every time I read the newest stuff, my machine sends hundreds of stupid messages to ComputerWorld, Fast Company, WNYC, USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor and other sites with these bugs.

Enough. I’m on a campaign to eradicate these Feeds Of Evil from my subscription list.

PS: Ze Frank’s feed, whose show I love, has these stupid bugs in it too, so goodbye my dear friend, I’ll have to get my knowledge by hand. Maybe I have to think for myself now.

PPS: I got an email from Erik Gavriluk and from Ze Frank himself. They showed me how to work around the problems with the web bugs, and gave me a pointer to a feed with enclosures (the one I was reading didn’t have them) so now I’m happy! My podcatcher is busily downloading the episodes I missed, and will automatically copy them to my video iPod so I can watch them on the subway. Awesome.

Karl Rove’s big fat backside 

NY Times: “Representative John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat and Vietnam War veteran, on Sunday mocked Karl Rove, the president’s senior adviser, for championing the war while ‘sitting in his air-conditioned office on his big, fat backside.'”

9 responses to this post.

  1. These “web bugs” are there to help people take action on these feeds. They don’t send any information about you or your machine.

    But these are added by FeedBurner (I use FB in my own blog) and when FB serves a feed it will tabulate information about the client, number of subscribers, etc.

    This is very important metric. I like to know how many people subscribe to my feed. I don’t know who they are, but I know they are out there.


  2. Posted by Anonymous1 on June 18, 2006 at 9:38 pm

    M Freitas: my main problem with ‘web bugs’, especially the Email This/Add to kind FeedBurner uses, is that they add a lot of visual clutter to the feed. That conflicts with why I use RSS in the first place — to consume information efficiently.

    Also, if you really care about your metrics, wouldn’t you rather serve your RSS off your own server? Web analytics software isn’t rocket science to deploy.

    Anyway, until then, folk using Firefox and a web-based aggregator could always use Adblock to block web bugs. RSS Bandit also has a ad-blocking module built-in for some time now.


  3. I had to laugh when I clicked on the link to look at the picture of these so-called “bugs”. I immediately flipped back over to the GreatNews feed reader that I use, and took a screenshot of what Scripting News looks like in it.

    Are you getting any “stupid messages” from my machine? If not, where are these “messages” being sent?

    I understand not wanting ads in feeds, but these are not ads. Should people stop putting pictures in posts, to cut down on the visual clutter even more, Anonymous?


  4. A couple of reasons for using FeedBurner, in my case:

    1.unload the server: we have more than 15,000 feed readers in a busy day and this would be a load in our server;

    2.Advertising: yes we run advertising in our feeds, supplied by FeedBurner. This way it cover their costs (after all the service is free, right?) and is a small revenue for our site. We have a small operation, and we need to cover some fixed costs.

    But I understand this is a personal preference 🙂


  5. I don’t think one line of text-looking links adds any visual clutter above and beyond one more line of text… and yes, I find it interesting that Dave is so against these “webbugs” when he puts the equivalent in a lot of his posts… four or five in the past week alone.

    The FeedFlare doesn’t send back any more data than Dave’s scattering of “A Picture Called whatever.gif”s do.


  6. Well i respectifully disagree. There is nothing evil about this, and in fact it is very useful. To eradicate it you would need to eliminate all references to objects outside of the hosting blog from showing up in the feed. That is a big thing to give up. What is evil about a blog being aware of who is reading it? In fact, thanks Dave, i think that evenually i will implement one of my own … i have no idea how many people are reading fastblogit …. i know my stats are dramatically increasing … but i have no idea whether that is due to better google indexing or my readership increasing.


  7. Posted by Paul Kent on June 19, 2006 at 11:17 am

    wish you’d let us know the email-tip you got dave. i too would like to sub to a Ze feed that had the shows as an enclosure. cheers!


  8. Mike Arrington at Techcrunch uses the nasty web bugs too, BadAstronomyBlog [ ] and several others, I like knowing if there are any comments, and I don’t have any objection to them. Corrente [ ] has 7 ways to spread the word, on each post at the site, not in the feed, but they’re guilty of partial feeds, which I do object to. I have been trying to spread the RSS benefits for a year and a half, I know, not long, relatively, but it allows me to read an incredible number of websites.


  9. Posted by Anonymouse1 on June 21, 2006 at 9:09 am

    Funny, I don’t see any web bugs in Scripting News.

    > Should people stop putting pictures in posts, to cut down on the visual clutter even more, Anonymous?

    Visual clutter isn’t a binary thing. When every post is punctuated by a bunch of “add to”/”email”/furldiggredditpluck images that all stand out and ‘drown out’ the rest of the text, it’s clear a line has been crossed.

    I wish I could be more specific but you could always pay Jakob Nielsen to run some usability tests for you 🙂


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