Scripting News for 10/1/07

Nice to be #1 at something 

Fred Wilson noticed that on the new TechMeme list, his blog is the sixth written by a person. Mine is first.

Ben Metcalfe raised a similar question earlier today, noting that TechMeme didn’t differentiate between professional publications like the NY Times, Reuters and CNET and TechCrunch, Engadget and GigaOm. It’s not clear what the distinction is. I don’t see any of those pubs as being blogs, so I think Gabe did the right thing, just lump them all together and let god (or mashups) sort them out.

A pragmatic question for people who want to follow the TechMeme LeaderBoard — it’s clearly not practical to look at it as frequently as it could change, every 20 minutes.

So what kind of tool do we need to tell us about change? Email notification? An RSS feed for each site? I’m interested in knowing what people think.

Speaking of being #1, this blog is first on MSN for bricked iPhone. Needless to say it’s generating some traffic. šŸ™‚

Optimizing Flickr RSS reads 

There’s a lot you can do with the Flickr API, I’ve pretty much mastered it, and it may look a bit intimidating at first, but it’s well designed, and once you learn how to do one set of calls you pretty much know how to do the others. I would have relied more heavily on XML-RPC encoding for uploading pictures, but now that I’ve been uploading pictures for a couple of months, the pain of developing that glue is fading.

BTW, I’ve got glue for the OPML Editor, it should work well in Radio or Frontier. I’ve exported a snapshot of the system.verbs.apps.Flickr, for all to use. It may be included in any distribution. (To be clear, OPML Editor users don’t need this, it’s already in the update stream, just choose Update opml.root from the File menu.)

Anyway, I want to expand the Flickr/Twitter experiment, but before I do that I wanted to check with the Flickr folk because this service does a lot of polling of their RSS feeds. I suggested it might make sense to create a service that would allow a caller to find out which of the feeds its interested in have changed since the last time it checked.

They responded with a simpler feature, they implemented a Last-Modified header on the RSS feeds, so that you could skip processing if a feed you’re interested in hadn’t changed. I’ve now updated my code so it does that, and everything seems to work. You’ll find the script at Flickr.readFeed. Here’s a text listing of the script.

A new top 100? 

12PM: The TechMeme Leaderboard site is live.

Like almost everyone else, I keep track of who’s pointing to me in Technorati, a service that was created in a Thanksgiving programming binge by David Sifry, based on the output of (my own labor of love)

Technorati grew to become a blog search engine, and much more, but as Mike Arrington points out on TechCrunch, their unique position has been whittled down by other blog search engines who are doing a better job technically. Not hard, since Technorati is famously unreliable.

Technorati is also famous for its top 100 list, ranking blogs according to the number of in-bound links. Scripting News started out as the #1 blog on Technorati, and occupied a top 10 slot for a long time, until they changed the algorithm to place less weight on long-term links, so Technorati’s list became a measure of recent popularity. News sites, that aren’t actually blogs (imho) became the mainstay of Technorati’s list. Today, Scripting News is solidly in the second 100 on Technorati.

Last night Mike Arrington got a scoop, as he so often does, that there’s a new list coming soon, from TechMeme, that ranks the sites based on some other measure, which is not (yet) understood in detail. Mike also has a screen shot, which teases, by showing that TechCrunch is number 1 (all those scoops make a diff) followed by Engadget and the New York Times. The Techmeme list doesn’t pretend to know what is a blog or isn’t they rate all sites regardless or race, creed or color.

But Mike’s screen shot teases, stopping at #30. What about the rest of the list? There are a hundred or more bloggers who want to know if they made the list, and if so, where they are. Brilliant marketing by Gabe, and damn you Mike. šŸ™‚

So I begged Gabe for the list, and he relented, and sent me an OPML file containing the data which I then turned into the list below. Enjoy!

  1. TechCrunch 

  2. Engadget 

  3. New York Times 

  4. Ars Technica 

  5. CNET 

  6. Read/WriteWeb 

  7. GigaOM 

  8. BBC 

  9. InfoWorld 

 10. Wall Street Journal

 11. The Register 

 12. Reuters 

 13. Silicon Alley Insider 


 15. Between the Lines 

 16. Gizmodo 

 17. Google Operating System 


 19. Search Engine Land 

 20. Computerworld 

 21. Crave: The gadget blog 

 22. Associated Press 

 23. TorrentFreak 


 25. VentureBeat 

 26. The Unofficial Apple Weblog 

 27. Business Week 

 28. CrunchGear 

 29. Business Wire

 30. Google Blogoscoped 

 31. Techdirt 

 32. Microsoft

 33. Bits 

 34. Rough Type 

 35. DailyTech 

 36. Scripting News 


 38. PR Newswire

 39. CenterNetworks 

 40. The Boy Genius Report 

 41. ZDNet 

 42. Guardian

 43. All about Microsoft 

 44. PC World 

 45. Wired News 

 46. Inquirer 

 47. AppleInsider 

 48. Epicenter 

 49. Tech Trader Daily 

 50. Washington Post 

 51. Forbes

 52. Bloomberg 

 53. Times of London

 54. Apple 

 55. BoomTown 

 56. InformationWeek

 57. Publishing 2.0 

 58. Scobleizer 

 59. A VC 

 60. iLounge 

 61. Download Squad 

 62. All Facebook 

 63. Financial Times

 64. Boston Globe 

 65. Electronista 

 66. Yodel Anecdotal 

 67. apophenia 

 68. Official Google Blog 

 69. Google Public Policy Blog 

 70. USA Today 

 71. Compete Blog 

 72. AdAge 

 73. Apple 2.0 

 74. WebProNews 

 75. Mashable! 

 76. New York Post 

 77. Googling Google 

 78. iPhone Central 

 79. Todd Bishop’s Microsoft Blog 


 81. DigiTimes 

 82. Digital Daily 

 83. BuzzMachine 

 84. comScore

 85. Security Fix 

 86. CNN

 87. Andy Beal’s Marketing Pilgrim 

 88. NewTeeVee 

 89. istartedsomething 

 90. Think Secret 

 91. ProBlogger Blog Tips 

 92. Reflections of a Newsosaur 


 94. O’Reilly Radar 

 95. MediaShift 

 96. ipodminusitunes 

 97. Doc Searls Weblog 

 98. Kotaku 

 99. Valleywag 

100. Los Angeles Times 

PS. This is a snapshot taken last night. The list is fairly volatile, according to Gabe, and will change quickly as stories move up and down the ladder at TechMeme.

PPS. The existence of this list will probably make getting stories on TechMeme even more highly valued than before, if this list is taken as gospel, as Technorati’s was, even with its flaws and skews. There was no correlation, for example, between flow and rank, a site with very high flow could have very low rank on Technorati, if it didn’t get many inbound pointers. It was just one measure, as TechMeme is just one measure.

The end of the road for Office? 

Since the re-rollout of Office in 1996, it’s been really clear why Microsoft was so hell-bent at first owning and then suffocating the web browser, along with the web.

Tim Berners-Lee understood, before there was a Mozilla and a Netscape, he said the web was inherently a two-way medium. We struggled against the inadequacies of MSIE as a writing environment when blogging was booting up in the late 90s and early 00s. The air was mighty thin, which was no accident, Microsoft deliberately tried to keep us from breathing. Because for them, writing was not something that would be done in a web browser, if they improved their browser as a writing tool, that would be the end of Word, and with it, a big reason for using Office.

Synopsis: Microsoft wouldn’t let MSIE become a decent writing tool, because they were protecting Office.

That eventually had to run its course, they couldn’t hold back the inevitable forever. Sooner or later the web would route around their roadblock, and we’d be writing on the web, as we are today. It didn’t happen the way I wanted it to happen, with decent writing software built into the browser, rather through the ingenuity and peseverence of programmers who managed to make HTML and Javascript approximate the user interface of a desktop app closely enough to make simple writing tasks work inside the web browser. It probably helps that today’s computers have gigabytes of internal memory and several gigahertz of processing power. If instead, Microsoft had embraced the web, and with it the shift in their product line and economics, in 1995, we’d have a much richer writing environment today. Blogging would have happened sooner, in a bigger way. It’s hard to imagine how much the sins of Microsoft cost all of us.

I won’t shed a tear for Office. Good riddance, I say.

I use Google spreadsheet happily, even though it doesn’t have anywhere near the features of Excel, and is way slower. Every sacrifice I make there is something I’m giving back to the web to heal the Microsoft wound.

However, we traded one monster for another. It seems there must always be a certain amount of evil in the tech business. The Java Wars are behind us, as are the Browser Wars. No one is going to fight Google in the next war, I doubt if many will even protest.

7 responses to this post.

  1. Valleywag made the list? Ugh….


  2. …and like the average broad coverage Top 100 list, 95%+ of it is of little interest to most individuals…


  3. Is it a done deal that Google will be a monopolist for the next stage? Why can’t open standards develop that will allow portable spreadsheets, office docs, presentations, etc. and allow vendors to compete on implementation?


  4. I still use Word because all my editors (people, not programs) prefer it. _I_ know conversion in and out of there is straightforward, but any hiccup throws many of my clients out of whack. So I opt for safety, just in case. For personal work, I’m starting to look at other word processors.


  5. #1 “written by a person” linked-to source on Techmeme. I like that. Of course, all the information pointed to is written by “persons.” Perhaps “corporate” vs. “individual” is a better way to differentiate. Whatever it is, I think it’s a distinction worth noting.


  6. Posted by Ken on October 16, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    You say that Microsoft tried to bury the browser as an environment for writing, but Microsoft was the one who developed the XMLHttpRequest concept which has accelerated the web as a publishing platform. I’m not sure Microsoft wanted to stifle the web so much as they didn’t know what to do with it.


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