NY Times: “Mr. Schwab views the spread of Web logs as more evidence of the changing power equation. He said he might have to rethink guidelines for reporting events, which put many of the sessions off the record.”
Passionate and lucid essay by Briar Dudley on why it’s so urgent that we define “blog.” Once thought, by some, to be an unimportant academic discussion, the lack of a clear idea of what is and isn’t a blog is standing in the way of meaningful campaign finanance rules.
Valleywag lists five reasons to fear for the future of Steve Jobs.
People’s Daily: “U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was deeply involved in the leak of a former CIA agent’s identity in the summer of 2003, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said Tuesday.”
Steve Rubel: “Someone should commission a study on bloggers who choose to syndicate the full text of their posts in RSS feeds vs. those who abstain. Something tells me they’re read more.”
The new governor of Masschusetts is podcasting. Pioneered at Harvard just a few years ago, podcasting has been growing at an amazing rate.
Jeff Walsh: “Who wants a CEO that gets mired in nuance and grey areas?”
Please read all of what Jeff says, and consider it carefully. It is flattering to me, and like everyone else I like to be appreciated. But his point is right on. Columbus popularized America and deserves credit for its discovery even though Vikings had arrived here, by accident, centuries earlier, and did nothing with the discovery.
To me, I’d like credit for discovery of some cool stuff, invention of software that makes it work and content that makes it compelling, all of which are neccessary but not sufficient, because the new stuff also has to be demystified, and it has to stay easy to understand, so that rather than intimidate, it should invite discovery by everyone else.
I don’t make credit an issue, other people do. When I said I want to celebrate not just ten years of Scripting News, but ten years of blogging, I got a pile of “who does he think he is,” as I knew I would. Well, something started with Scripting News in 1997, whatever you want to call it, I call it blogging. If you think I’m wrong, blog it. :-)
That’s how blogging started by the way. I had a discussion group here, and people would write there how wrong I was about this and that, to which I said — you need to start a blog. I must have said that to hundreds of people. By giving them something to respond to, Scripting News played the role that a shipwreck plays to a coral reef. You can quote me on that.
I learned from the Frontier community that people will always do what I do, even when I did what I always wished other platform vendors would do — telegraph the roadmap, clearly. When I would do that, other people would start to do what I was going to do, and then scream loudly when I did it. That taught me that if I wanted people to do something, I had to do it first. The Pied Piper effect drives adoption and builds communities. It’s not surprising that the generation of bloggers that came after the the first generation said they hated me and were trying to steal my thunder. That’s human nature. But they were doing exactly what I hoped they would. They blogged their discontent, and as a result built something much larger than one person can build, and then they spawned communities that eventually hated them, and on and on, ad infinitum.
I also know that discovery comes in layers, as did the blogging world. There are many levels of early adopters. Today there are people who are discovering new applications of blogging in new contexts. Davos, this year will have more blogging than it had in 2000, when Lance and I were (probably) the only two people blogging there. I can’t claim credit for bringing blogging to Davos though, because my efforts didn’t gain traction and grow. If blogging was meant to happen there, it didn’t happen in 2000. Maybe it’ll happen in 2007.
My last piece about RSS aggregators was well received, so let’s try some more advice.
From time to time I get emails from readers saying the feed for Scripting News doesn’t display well in apps like Netvibes or Google’s customizable home page because some of my items don’t have titles. Some have even said I am wrong to have items without titles, but I don’t agree, and the spec backs me up on that. The item-level title is optional.
The reason titles are optional is that there have always been blogs that had items that don’t have titles and those items had to be expressable in RSS, as did ones with titles. There are some aggregators (such as the ones I wrote) that deal perfectly well with either kind of item, so I know it can be done. Two of the earliest blogs, Scripting News and Robot Wisdom, both had title-less items. I admit they’re not common, but it’s good way to blog, and right now I’m not going to change, especially when the developers who are reading these feeds could easily adapt (and since they all came after RSS had this feature, it seems to me that they must).
Anyway, that’s the historic preamble. Now here are two ways to deal with titleless items.
Choice #1: The simplest way is to ignore items with no titles. Pretend they don’t exist. This is so much better than displaying a blank line, which is what some do.
Choice #2: Synthesize a title. Here’s a way to do that. Take the description text, strip the markup, take the first fifty characters (or whatever works for you) and add an ellipsis (two or three dots). If you really want to be cool, back up to the last space, delete everything after that, and then add the ellipsis.
BTW, there are likely to be some condescending and fairly nasty comments about this, and that sometimes has the effect of reflecting negatively on me. That’s how those people stop me from helping, or at least how they have in the past, and it’s one of the reason blogging doesn’t work so well these days. If you take the way they express their opinons as reflecting only on them, then we can go somewhere. You have a lot more power than you realize. Me, I’m just trying to make things work better. Really. :-)
Scripting News has long posts, like this one, and very short ones, that are basically links to off-site articles that I think an informed person would want to be aware of, but about which I don’t have anything to say. Here’s a screen shot of a few of those from the Jan 10 SN. Those items are just links to articles, but each one should be its own item because they came online at different times in the day. To give each of them titles not only would waste screen space, it would create intellectual clutter, something that I’d like to reduce, not increase. Esp when it’s so easy for software to handle the case.