Scripting News for 7/23/2006

Doc Searls: “I thank Edwards too.” 

Okay, here’s a feature I want to implement, to connect directory pages with a page on the wiki. I want to generate a URL into the wiki, and then when someone clicks on it, and the page doesn’t exist, the wiki offers to create it for you. I tried this with PB Wiki, to see if it works, I thought it might, but alas it doesn’t. Is there something I need to put on the URL to get it to offer to create a page? Do other wikis have this feature? Here’s a screen shot of a page with the wiki link. And here’s a shot of the page it links to. 

I’m learning a lot, as I start working on the podcast directory. For example, I didn’t know that NBC News provides the full Nightly News with Brian Williams in podcast. This is quite useful, I’m almost never around to watch TV when the news is on, and frankly it’s a waste of human bandwidth for me to watch the news. I can listen while doing other things. Until now the only daily news I was getting via podcast was the News Hour with Jim Lehrer.  

I wonder if the media organizations are watching this. I’ve created, by hand, the OPML files for NBC and the NY Times. This is something they must actually do for themselves, because I won’t know when these files need updating. But I don’t mind helping get things started, that seems to be my job. If you need some pointers, please get in touch, or join the directory editors mail list if you can.  

New directory branch for Dutch podcasts

I’ve gotten a bunch of emails asking how to add a site to the directory. Because we’re going slow, and I’m sort of feeling my way through this, there is no way. I’ve started lots of directories, some that work, some that became disorganized messes. I’ve learned that the only way to end up with something good is to go slow. That said, I’m not going to be able to do what everyone wants me to do, so that will create the need for more directories. That’s fine and good and right. There shouldn’t be one directory any more than there should be one weblog. But if we do things right, the atomic units will be small enough so that they can fit into lots of different structures. So topics like New York or Minnesota podcasts are small enough to fit in. So far, sorting by geography seems to work. Of course that’s just one way to organize. 

Ole and Lena jokes never go out of style. 

A year ago today, a drive along the Charles River in Cambridge. 

You did know the flamers were coming… 

Here’s a dark cloud on the podcast directory project. I don’t know who the guy is, but I’m not a gatekeeper, route around me, please, right now. If you’re going to flame about it, let’s see if people really want the directory enough to stand up to the BS. I’m just doing a directory, it’s not the only one, not by any stretch of the imagination. And the OPML that people generate for my directory can be included in any other directory. What I’m contributing is promotion and an example for people to copy. If people would rather I didn’t, no problem, I’ve got plenty of stuff to do.

New Spa Per 

Are you tired of pros, like the New York Times, writing “Web log” when the correct word is weblog or blog?

Both are in common usage, they’re even in the OED, so why does the Times persist in knowing better?

How would they feel if we wrote about their product as a New Spa Per? Nahhh, that would be immature.

Maybe they could accept blogging for what it is, and stop messing with the name.

17 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lee on July 23, 2006 at 7:49 am

    Even after you said that you won’t be able to do what everyone wants you to do, I’m wondering if it would be useful to add the description content under each podcast in the directory. I would like to know what some of these are about before subscribing.


  2. RE: NBC and NY Times OPML files

    Sweet! Thanks. Even if they don’t update, at least this is a start and also is some stuff I was looking for.


  3. Posted by Bob Boynton on July 23, 2006 at 11:18 am

    About offering to create a page:

    If I understand what you want in a wiki, has it. You do not need a url you only need a name. It does content management so it ‘supplies’ the url when a url is needed.


  4. Lee: OPML kinda doesn’t do that too well. It is possible, but OPML renderers like Frontier, Grazr and Optimal don’t show it. They do, though, let you click on the feeds and have a look at them. Depending on how they are rendered, you can often see the entries. Grazr (my employer) even renders up a flash player so you can listen to each episode.

    Dave: I’ve just put up an OPML file of philosophy podcasts. There are details on my blog, and the OPML is here:


  5. Oh, and MediaWiki offers the functionality you are looking for. You just put &action=edit on the end of the URL.


  6. I was going to suggest what Tom said. If you want to play with the functionality of mediawiki, you can go to (the “for profit” company started by Jimmy Wales) and use the “scratch pad wiki” — or whatever it’s called, to play with. Or, you can see the feature on any mediawiki site, including wikipedia — if you plug in a URL or do a search and there’s no page, you are asked if you’d like to create one.


  7. Tom Morris, bzzzt — I did what Lee asked, before he asked. 🙂

    If you read carefully, you’ll see that he asked for teh description of the feed, and that’s not an OPML question, it’s an RSS question. The channel-level description element is required, and most of them have it. If you look at a feed in the podcast directory, you’ll see the description, in italic, before the feed items.

    About OPML descriptions, there’s a convention that if the first sub-item is a comment you treat it the same way. I haven’t implemented that yet in the current directory browser, but Manila’s did.


  8. Rex, I need a wiki that I can use for the indefinite future. Wikia is not something I want to support, I’d prefer to work with someone who is respectful of the people his wiki covers, and that ain’t Jimmy Wales. He’s a commercial man in a non-profit space, and he doesn’t deal with the conflicts very well. So give me someone who’s hungry for a leadership position in the wiki world, someone who’s likely to value working with this community.


  9. I stand corrected, Dave. Thanks for adding the Philosophy branch!

    On the wiki front, you can always host MediaWiki yourself. Jimmy Wales can’t get to you on your own server! Have a look at or for free MediaWiki hosting.


  10. Dave, I’ve just written a script that normalises the qPodder (gay, lesbian, queer etc.) OPML. It doesn’t have htmlUrl attributes, but is otherwise a good list:

    I’m cleaning it up and, as I figure out how to do other things, I’ll add them. I don’t edit the OPML, I just scrape it and fix a few little bits and pieces.


  11. Re: Dark Cloud. I hope everybody gets this point about OPML. If anyone’s a gatekeeper, everyone’s a gatekeeper. While there will be alot of awareness of Dave’s directory, anyone’s free to build a directory including/excluding whichever parts of Dave’s directory they desire.


  12. Thanks Gabe. People need to get this right now. Build small pieces and if you don’t like my directory, make one of your own. There shouldn’t be one root for the directory any more than there’s one home page for the web.

    I’m pretty sure the Dark Cloud guy wants something other than light, but people need to know this right now. I’m not going to stand up to flamers this time, so let’s get that clear right now.

    If people want the directory project to go forward, you have to tell the flamers to go somewhere else. As soon as I find myself standing alone, I’m going to quit. And if that happens now, no problem here. I’m sick and tired of taking the punishment for trying to help.


  13. If I understand your meaning, Dave, WikkaWiki does just that.

    I did a fresh install here:

    Register and then play around.

    BTW, it has a great set of RSS tracking functions!


  14. Nothing wrong with taking it slow in my opinion. And the node maintainers will have control over their individual OPML files so this is a highly distributed effort.

    Someone has to provide the server space and the engine. No matter what the directory someone will do that. It’s fine with me that you’re stepping up to be that guy.

    One of the great (and sometimes frustrating ) things about podcasts is that they can be sliced and diced into so many categories. Media type, geography and content type are the most logical ways, but there are many others that work as well. So the beauty of this is that if someone wants to maintain a node for political podcasts on topics that affect women (just an example) then they can do that.


  15. The moinmoin wiki engine offers to create a new page, if it doesn’t exist, based on a URL.


  16. Dave I use PB Wiki for both my shows and I have written to them and asked them to help you get the PD Wiki doing what you want. I would imagine they will respond.


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