Scripting News for 10/4/07

Integrating multiple apps & services 

Fred Wilson: “When will people start building apps/services that sit on top of multiple APIs?”

It’s a good question, and the answer is — we’re already doing it. The services are now so reliable and flexible that you almost forget how complex the systems are.

Let’s look at a Twittergram scenario:

1. Chris registers with the Twittergram site. That’s App #1.

2. She takes out her iPhone and opens the phone app. That’s App #2. (Yes, the mobile device is also a computer, it’s running an app, with an interface, it can dial a number and transmit audio. It’s old fashioned, but it works great.)

2. She calls BlogTalkRadio, 646-716-6000. That’s app #3. Records a 30-second message.

3. She hangs up. BlogTalkRadio calls the Twittergram app. App #1, again.

4. Twittergram calls Amazon S3 to store the MP3. App #4.

5. Twittergram calls TInyUrl to create a short URL for the MP3. That’s App #5.

5. Twittergram calls Twitter. That’s App #6.

So there’s a simple application that uses six different apps/services.

Another example, the Flickr-to-Twitter integration, also part of Twittergram.

1. Randy registers with the Twittergram site. That’s app #1.

2. He goes to the park, sees a beautiful flower. Takes a picture with his iPhone. That’s app #2.

3. He mails the picture to Flickr. That’s app #3.

4. Twittergram is monitoring Randy’s RSS 2.0 feed on Flickr. Some people might say this is another app, but let’s be conservative. App #3, again.

5. It notices a new picture, grabs the URL, calls TinyUrl. That’s App #4.

6. Grabs the title of the picture, appends the TInyUrl, sends it to Twitter. That’s App #5.

Another app that uses five different apps/services.

We’ve been doing this stuff for a long time, all the way back to 1998, when XML-RPC first came online. It’s always been about delivering functionality, quietly and reliably, to users.

Techmeme is officially a cesspool 

It was intriguing for a day or two, but now it’s clear that the Leaderboard was the dumbest idea ever, because now more than ever, people are gaming Techmeme so they can climb the list.

Reminds me of something Ted Turner once said about how the Forbes list of richest people in the world was the worst thing ever for philanthropy. If you’re super-rich, now you don’t want to give it away because when you do, you move down (or off) the list.

Techmeme was already severely polluted by people saying stupid shit to rise to the top of the page. That was an ephemeral high. Now there’s a way to accumulate points toward more persistent rank, and everyone who isn’t on the list, wants to be on the list.

I’m thinking of this idiotic post by an idiot who’s known for saying idiotic things just to get attention.

Or Scoble, who started on the list near the bottom — is rapidly rising. How’s he doing it? By saying extreme things that people will react to. That’s how you get points in the Techmeme universe. Scoble ain’t no idiot. If he wants to rise on the list, he rises.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. 🙂

Well, this ain’t blogging, and we’re still getting ready to start a war with Iran, and the stock market is still acting weird, and there are still big ideas out there to pursue, and now Techmeme isn’t even worth reading when the top item on a weekday is guaranteed to be some idiot procliaming himself king of the hill. It’s worse than AM talk radio.

PS: A piece I wrote in May offering a vision for “Web 3.0.”

PPS: Mike Arrington weighs in. “Gabe sometimes edits stuff like this off of TechMeme to keep it stocked with real news.” Hmmm. I’d be surprised if that were true.

My podcatcher is a publishing tool 

I was subscribed to too many podcasts, my old podcatcher was downloading far more than I’d listen to.

So when I started the project to write a new podcatcher, I decided to start with a clean slate, and go for a minimalist set, the ones I really listen to, and add slowly, and make it very easy to remove or suspend a feed.

And as I announced on Tuesday, my podcatcher has a Twitter account, if you’re interested in background programming while you twit the day away.

And yesterday I took another item off the to-do list, and came up with a public web page that shows my podcatcher’s discoveries in reverse-chronologic order.

This will develop of course, what you’re seeing is totally pre-alpha, not even 1.0.

11 responses to this post.

  1. Yeah, it’s kind of becoming like Digg. Not to mention all the “real” news sites they put on there. I don’t need to check TM to find out about the NYT! Although, should magically be on the list tomorrow, I’ll probably have nothing but nice things to say about the whole system.


  2. Well, Techmeme has seen this kind of stuff before, and it’s much too early to conclude it’s increasing.

    Hey, as proud author of the “dumbest idea ever”, I think I can spot an idiot, and I don’t think Jason is one. I think that’s a bit over the top.


  3. amen Dave. i was thinking the same thing. although i couldn’t help myself from reacting to Jason’s comments which i did this morning on my blog.


  4. Gabe, the word I used is mild compared to what I really think but I decided to use a little restraint.


  5. Dave, isn’t “saying extreme things that people will react to,” more or less what you’ve just done with this post? So I guess we can assume that you’re trying your hardest to climb the Techmeme leader board?

    Anyway, it’s not like Scoble hasn’t always said extreme things in the past — this isn’t exactly new behavior for him, he’s made a career out of it. Same with Calacanis, come to think of it. I rather doubt that Techmeme’s leader board has anything do with it.

    Also, I’m not sure Ted Turner is right… or at least, our two richest people (Gates and Buffet) also happen to be a pair of the most philanthropic.


  6. First, about Ted Turner, did you look at the date on the Time article. In 1996 it was hard to forsee that Bill Gates, who was still fighting tech wars, would turn out to be a great philanthropist.

    About the rest of it — maybe you’re right. Who knows. Could be you understand my motives better than I do. 🙂


  7. Liking Techmeme. I stopped liking it when it reflected the Silicon Valley circle-jerk that it continues to be. I have read it a bit more in the last few weeks, but mainly since it is entertaining to see what it “bubbles up” as news. Techmeme just has some arbitrary method of defining both the stories and the “leaders.” Digg, on the other hand, just has a bunch of blathering idiots who vote up any story that happens to be fanboy-related.

    Techmeme sucks, just like Memeorandum sucks (and why both have no place in my aggregator).


  8. Funny. Now your Techmeme cesspool rant is prominent on Techmeme. That must be some kind of recursive irony. Josh Catone had it right, though, didn’t he.

    Not that I disapprove.


  9. I know. It’s really wearing on me as the cesspool piece gets its own chorus of idiocracy tagging along, trying to get to #1. It’s not a meritocracy. Maybe Catone was right, maybe he wasn’t. It’s all a distant memory now. I hope to have atoned for it with my piece about integrating. Of course that won’t even get one link. 🙂


  10. I changed the image from Bozo to Mr. Natural. And I put a black helicopter in there too. Maybe that’ll take the hex off!


  11. Don’t know Dave – for me, techmeme has always been a stale, scummy pond of content as far as I was concerned – with the same old fish swimming around in it – jumping on the same hooks week after week (who acquired who, who released what, blah, blah).

    There are many extremely bright tech voices that never show up on Techmeme. It regurgitates the same players saying the same things over and over again.

    But, if it is an objective and unbiased representation of what conversations are taking place online (and I think it is as much as it can be at the moment), then I suppose that it’s the conversations that we should be criticizing, not the algorithm.

    It shouldn’t surprise us that some silly shite gets more attention than profound, thought-provoking and practical discussion. That’s life. There are over 1 billion people on the Internet. Over 900 million of them don’t really care about Microsoft’s new strategy or Google’s latest acquisition or the latest web 2.0 app launch. That’s fodder for the small pool of early adapters, like yourself, that are trying to forge a path for the herd to follow a decade or so later.

    And even early adapters would rather talk about silly shite sometimes. Sex still sells, even for technologists – and perhaps more so.

    All the best



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