Blogging, Other

Vancouver, Northern Voice 2006, and blogging

For them who do not know, I am in Vancouver since four days, and I need to say that I love that city. I met a lot of really interesting people that work in the blogging and social software industry. This is probably The Canadian city for all the social software hype.

The second Northern Voice conference (the first and only Canadian blogging conference) will be, for the second time, in Vancouver this next February. If you want to meet great people with a lot of ideas related with social software, knowledge management, blogging, and the web 2.0; take 2 days and come to the meet them here. I hope and I will try to be there.

I leave for Banff tonight, so I am not sure if I will be able to post anything else for the next week, but it is sure that I will have a lot of stuff to write about the Web 2.0 and social softwares when I will come back home (the best time to think about such things is probably on a plane, don’t you think?)

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Blogging

Consumer bloggers: the new generation

Some weeks ago, Duncan Riley of Blog Heralds talked about the decline of the geek bloggers:

I’m never one to mince words, so I’m getting straight to it: the geek bloggers are in decline and there is very little they can do about it.

He explained this assertion with the fact that blogging is evolving and that new generations of bloggers are emerging. The only thing I whish is that he is right, and if we check at the current state of the Blogsphere, he is right.

Blogging is evolving, and his real utility is emerging. Reading geek bloggers are really interesting if you have an interest into the theories of blogging. These geek bloggers opened a path to future generation of bloggers; tested and developed the technologies that support the concept.

Is it good news? You bet. Blogging give to people the ability to say what they want to talk about, anonymously or not. Blogging is cheap, easy to use, and spreading is everywhere. Currently, people are taming the concept and evaluating its value. A person(blogger) will talk about his journey, another one will talk about his professional experiences, another one will talk about his cancer, another one will talk about his experience into the Katrina hurricane, another one will talk about his life in Delhi in September 2004, etc. You see the picture?

Currently we see blogging as a way to talk to others, a way to express yourself, and a new way to communicate. However, on the long run, blogging will be a way to have a sort of chronological social encyclopedia. Historians in 20, 30, 40, or 100 years will search in blog archives to know what people lived in a special situation, and how they lived it.

Blogging is becoming a planetary personal journal that will be usable by future generations to know what happened during a special event or how their ancestors lived.

This vision is only possible if people, any people, geek or not, from anywhere on the world, from any social environment, blog.

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Talk Digger, Blogging

Trackbacks are useless, let links!

Trackbacks: an essential characteristic of blogs: false

I first thought that trackbacking was an essential characteristic of blogs. I used trackbacks and I implemented them on my blogs. I pinged trackback systems to let authors know that I wrote about their articles, other people pinged my trackback system to let me know that they wrote something about one of my articles.

I thought my thought about trackbacks was good, but I was wrong.

Trackbacks: only good to be spammed

My thought changed: trackbacks are only good to be spammed. With the experience I have with some blogging system and blogs I maintained, I mostly only had problems with trackback spamming. Many blogging systems have some implementation problems with trackbacks and do not give any feature to try to handle trackback spamming.

Trackbacks: unnecessary works

You write something about an article you want to talk about. You publish that post on your blog. Now you want to let the author know that you write something about about his article. So you use an application to ping the author’s trackbacks server, and finally ping it. You spent many precious minute to do the work, and you will do that extra work each time you want to be trackbacked by a system.

Instead: links to that article, it only takes a second

In a second you can link to an article, and many others. A simple link into one of you post is much powerful than a trackback, why?

  1. It works with systems that does not support trackbacks
  2. It takes only a second to make a link, so in 10 seconds you can create 10 trackbacks
  3. It add value to your posts for your reader

A trackback is a link, and then a link is a trackback.

How the authors will know that I linked to their article?

  1. Search engines will know that you put a link to a specific document in your web content, so if people ask them who links to a specific URL, they will return all the web sites, including yours, that links to it
  2. If one of you reader click on the link, the web server that store the article belonging to that URL will log the entry page. Then the author will know, when he will check at his log, that you are linking to one of his article

Read that article: Talk Digger: Join and follow discussions of the Blogsphere, for a better understanding of the concept.

Dynamic trackbacks using Talk Digger

I put down the trackback system on my personal blogs. Why? Because they are useless and that they are an open door for spammers.

I replaced the trackback section by a link to the Talk Digger system. That way, if you link to one of my article using his permalink, and if one of my readers clicks on the Talk Digger’s link, he will instantly know who talked about that article, and he will ultimately be able to follow/enter into the discussion evolving around it.

This is what I call dynamic trackbacks: include a single link into one of your post and all the connections will be done intrinsically; finally a discussion will then emerge from that cloud of links.

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Talk Digger, Blogging

Everybody has something to say: now we need to connect them

Rich or poor, male or female, Muslim or Christian, in health or not: everybody has something to say. We are social creatures and our deepest desire is to share our thoughts and learn about people we meet. Over centuries, communication evolved. From growl to talk, from voice language to body language, we communicate what we think about some things to others. We developed tools to survive, and we also developed tool to communicate: from smoke signals to the Internet.

Internet has growth exponentially in the last decade. Now everybody can have access to his personal web space for free. Everybody that has access to the Internet, and the knowledge, can share his thoughts with the rest of the World. This is where we are now.

The next problem we will need to solve is: how to connect these people? Many technologies have been tested and implemented to try to resolve this problem. Some works, others don’t, but all have some drawbacks. There is a list of some of these technologies:

  1. General search engines
  2. Specialized search engines
  3. Contact networks supported by some type of search engines based on people’s location, sex, interests, etc.
  4. Trackbacks systems in blog engines
  5. Tags
  6. Networks like 43things.com
  7. Web 2.0 ceoncepts like FOAF (Friend Of A Friend)
  8. Talk Digger: check who is talking about someone or something, then enter the conversion and get connected with them

However, no one of these techniques work effectively. They are all time consuming for anyone who tries to connect to somebody else that shares the same goal, interest, etc. They all try to resolve the problem, but they all have their drawbacks. The next step is to try to connect all the current information in such a way that connections will emerge from the mass.

The next step is proposed by Adina Alevin: conversion clouds. What is a conversion cloud?

The cloud would be a picture of a conversation surrounding a person or a topic. The picture would show the relationships between the participants in a conversation. The densest areas would represent people who frequently cross-reference each other over time.

It is a way to dynamically create relation links between conversations and a new way to browse them. The idea is really attractive and it makes sense. What I personally like in the above idea is the concept of time: conversation over time. The oldest the conversation, the richest in information it is and the greater his value.

She also add:

p.s. Zawodny talks about the need for content discovery. I don’t know about you, but a lot of the content that I discover comes from browsing through a conversation and finding voices that I want to keep hearing.

A way new way to discover new content… it is exactly what I discovered the first time I checked at blogs. I came across a whole lot of information that I would never be able to discover by another way. However, things change and now I do not have all the time I would need to discover all the content hided into my subscribed feeds, so we need a new way to discover it, and that conversion cloud could be a partial answer to the current problem.

I will throw that idea without thinking about it: what if these conversion clouds replace web feeds? What if such a technology would make web feeds useless? I mean, I would search for conversation I like, and not people. That way, I would always spend my time to read things useful for me, and not browse content in search of that usefulness. If a person I like write about something useful to me, than I will read it with pleasure, otherwise, I will not. Do you see the same thing I see?

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Talk Digger, Blogging

Follow what people say about an URL with your feed reader using Talk Digger’s RSS service

I am glad to finally put online a new option of Talk Digger: the RSS feed generator. With that new option, you have the possibility to generate a RSS feed and follow the evolution of a discussion around a specific URL within your favorite feed reader.

What is interesting with that new feature is that you can have access to all the power of Talk Digger from anywhere. The only thing you need is that that “anywhere” support RSS feeds in someway. So you can now easily access to Talk Digger’s searches from your mobile phone or PDA; the only thing you need is a feed reader.

From the How does it work? information page:

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This option give you the possibility to have access to the results of a Talk Digger search via a RSS feed. If you go to the RSS feeds generator page, you will be able to generate a custom feed that will fill your exact needs.

How to use it?

  1. Go to the RSS feeds generator page
  2. Put the URL you want to search for into the edit box at the left of the “Generate RSS feed” button
  3. Two type of information are included into the RSS feed for each search engine
  4. Results number. This is the total of results returned by the search engine
  5. Results content. This is the news items that the search engine had recently indexed into his database
  6. Check the boxes you want to include into your Talk Digger search feed. For example, if you only need the results number and the results content of Technorati, then you only have to check the two boxes at the right of the Technorati line and leave the others unchecked
  7. Press the “Generate RSS feed” button when you selected all the options you wanted to include into your RSS search feed
  8. Copy the new link that will appears at the bottom of the RSS feed generator
  9. Add this new feed (the generated link) into your favorite RSS reader

How does it work?

Once you subscribed to the generated RSS feed, all the new results will appear into your favorite RSS reader.

  • If you have selected the “Results number” option, the number of results returned by a search engine will appear as a single, new item into the feed
  • If you have selected the “Results content” option, each new results found by the search engine will appear as a single, new, item into the feed

Updating these feeds could be sometime slow. The rapidity of updates depends on the quality of the search engines services at that time. The fact is that each time you refresh a Talk Digger search RSS feed, a request to each search engine is send, and then Talk Digger wait for the answers. If the search engines are slow, then Talk Digger will be too.

When you create a Talk Digger search feed, you can build one feed that will search all search engines at once, or you can build one separate feed for each search engine. What is the difference? The rapidity of the requests. You will see the results much faster if you build a separate feed for each search engine because Talk Digger will not have to wait until receiving the results from all search engines to create the RSS feed. The problem with that method is that you need to subscribe to more RSS feeds.

Sometimes, the search engines could be too slow to answer to a Talk Digger requests. If it happens, Talk Digger only omits to add the results from these search engines. It is the reason why some results are sometime missing. However, do not worry, when the connection between Talk Digger’s server and the search engine’s will be better, the results will be available and then included into the RSS feed the next time you will request an update of that RSS feed.

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If you find a bug, a glitch, or have a new idea to increase the power of that new feature, please leave a comment on that post.

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