RDF Social Media Weblogging

Really simplifying syndication

My move to simplify my syndication has not met with unqualified success.

The folks at Bloglines were able to delete all of the many different syndication feeds for my site. Unfortunately, rather than move existing subscriptions over, they just deleted them, which means about 250 people are now no longer subscribed to my site. This would be a minor inconvenience to these folks to re-subscribe, except I’m not sure how many will notice that my site is gone from their lists.

I mean, that’s like throwing your own funeral and no one comes.

The .htaccess redirects also caused some interesting results at times. Wordform uses WordPress’ syndication functionality, and the only way to change the number of syndication feeds I support–as well as the default format–is to write a fairly complicated plugin or directly hack the code. As it is, I’ve had to add some of the functionality back in to allow feeds for categories, which means people could subscribe to one feed three different ways: through the static index.rdf file I generate, directly through the program, or attaching /feed/ at the end of my site.

This is something Bloglines should look into: providing a user interface for users to control feeds, and be able to ‘redirect’ a subscription for one feed URL to another feed URL. Bloglines can’t seem to distinguish that the three different feed URLs are to the same feed.

As for forcing people into providing many feeds, that’s something weblogging tool developers should look into: it isn’t efficient to have sites provide many different feeds. Let your users pick a feed that suits their needs, and give them the option to just display the one feed. The same format should work, then, for category feeds, comment feeds, and the main feed.

For myself, I prefer RDF/RSS because the format fits in with my other metadata use. But for others who are into podcasting, they may want to use the iTunes version of RSS 2.0. And still others who like the precision and flexibility of Atom, give them the Atom format. It’s too late to try and focus on one and only one syndication feed format — the three variations each have too wide a distribution. However, aggregators can support all of these main feed types, and people shouldn’t have to worry about keeping each and very version and variation of feed type alive at their site. It’s messy. It’s inefficient. It’s XML overkill.

Eventually if RDF/RSS dies out, which I don’t think it will, I’ll just add support for whatever syndication format best suits my purpose and redirect my index.rdf file to it. Yes, I know — crufty URL, and I should have just stayed with as a way of designating my one and only feed. Then I wouldn’t have to do the redirects I’ve done, and may have to do in the future. I knew this. But no, I stuck with index.rdf, anyway.

Sometimes I just get pig-headed, mule-brained, heels-dug-in stubborn. I am a tech, after all.


Still wired

I did not cancel my internet connection on Monday, after all. I needed to keep it up for some work I’m doing this week, but planned on canceling it at month end. However, I had a nice conversation with a person from Charter Communications today and we worked out an equitable solution to our existing contract dispute.

I am canceling the television portion of the cable, but keeping the internet at discounted price (which is a good price). In return I agree to keep the connection until December, the remaining time on the contract according to their records.

Note that I expect the SciFi fans among you to keep me updated on the Stargates and Battlestar Galactica storylines.


Follow-up to When we are Needed

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The discussion following my posting of When We are Needed last week split into two different directions: one focused on the discussion of women, competition, and need; one focused more on the tech job market in this country and the factors that are driving both men and women out of the field. The two are related, but the problems with the tech industry really go beyond lack of diversity. In fact, the tech industry in this country is in trouble, and it has little to do with big companies not being able to find ‘good’ people. However, I want to get into this in a separate post.

(There was also a third thread, primarily between me and Seth about whether there is any true value to the Slashdot effect, which would also be a good separate article.)

Returning to the issue of women and need and competition, comments attached to the post were exceptionally good and I am appreciative of those who took the time to respond. I don’t want to pull a comment in out of context so I won’t quote any here; I recommend that you read them for yourself. The author of the book I quoted in the post, Emily Yellin, added commentary and posted a link to a relevant article well worth a read. I want to, in particular, thank Dave Rogers for his very astute comments and associated posts on culture and human nature and their impact on this issue, as well as Yule Heibel for her commentary, especially as it regards to her tenure at MIT. I also appreciate Ravi taking the time to write several comments, though I don’t agree with his assessment that quality can compensate for the shortcomings of cultural bias. For more detail, see Dave’s comment here.

Sour Duck wrote a very thoughtful post noting some of the uneasy ambivalence I felt in the writing. In reference to my statement that women have rarely competed with men, she writes, A good point, but this seems to blame women a bit too much. The problem with the act of competing is that it’s a gendered and public endeavor.

It does, and goes back to the statement made, Do we want women to compete more, or do we want men to compete less?

I don’t think this is an either/or. Or lets say that I don’t believe that women can continue relying purely on ‘positive’ contributions to make an impact in western society as a whole, much less technology. I read recently about the little ten year old girl from Pakistan who was the youngest person to get a Microsoft developer certification. When Microsoft flew her out to Seattle for Bill Gates to personally congratulate her, one of the first things she noticed was the lack of women at Microsoft, and one of the first questions she asked Gates was, where are the women?

This young woman is showing us the way: yes, we need to make significant positive achievements–but we also have to rock the boat. We need both.

Jay Rosen is going to Blogher and wrote on it. Good on you, Jay. Sour Duck is also going, and like her, Jay also mentioned the earlier quote on competition, which gives me hope that this will spark some very interesting conversation at BlogHer.

I have been taken to task for not being supportive of this conference. I don’t think my support or lack of it is important; what is important is to acknowledge that the issue of visibility for women goes beyond the narrow confines of weblogging. We don’t need technology, we don’t need links, we need respect. And frankly, I think we can contribute positively until the end of time+1, and we’ll still be having these same discussions. Time to rock the boat. Or to use the analogy I introduced in the essay, time to turn the turtle on its back.

Returning to Sour Duck’s post, she also printed my essay out and it came to 35 pages! My that blows short posts all to heck and gone, doesn’t it? But I have already started editing the work, cutting out some of the rambly bits, and adding additional references, in order to send around to some publications. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and history is waiting.

RDF Social Media

What planet are you on?

Dan Brickley writes about refining his site so that Planet RDF only picks up those posts that are RDF-related. His concern about Planet RDF matches my concern about Planet Identity:

Planet RDF is now taking that category feed (thanks Dave!), which allows me to vent freely on other things without worrying too much about cluttering up a predominantly tech-oriented site. That said, I find the glimpses into people’s non-tech lives to be part of the charm of the site.

I have restricted most of my RDF writing to Practical RDF, specifically because I know there are people who are only interested in the RDF writings. However, it’s a pain to maintain multiple weblogs. So much so that I am definitely not going to continue it with a separate weblog for identity, semantic web, and so on. Instead, I’ve created separate categories for RDF and Identity (in addition to others) and have tied the RDF syndication feed into the Burningbird RDF category, and will ask Pat from Planet Identity to pick up my Identity feed only.

(I’ve also discontinued Practical RDF, but will continue Tinfoil, which does display a different view of the data — photo only.)

I do agree with Dan, though, about the glimpse into the non-tech lives. I would hate to do without my Sparql updates. But I write about technology only about 30 percent of the time — too little to add my general feed to tech-specific syndication sites.

outdoors People Photography

Festival of Nations

A storm blew in tonight and took with it the heat that has oppressed our state. We have broken records right and left, including a heat index of 121 degrees on Saturday, and several days straight with over 100 degree real temperatures.

Now I can go outside, and I need to as my daily level of stress has increased beyond comfort or even good health. I was so desperate that I did go to the Festival of Nations for a few hours on Sunday — with a heat index of only 106.

The poor dancers — especially those in more elaborate costumes. I was so hot that sweat poured into my eyes, burning them, as I surreptitiously wiped my brow with my shirt (having forgotten a handkerchief, and desperate enough to conveniently forget everything my mother taught me when I was young). But at least I was in light and loose cotton — some of these people were in woven silks and satins. The only groups that seemed truly comfortable were the ones from Haiti and the Ivory Coast and South Africa. Their outfits fit the intolerable heat.

But the dancers never showed anything but love of the dance.

The Festival had food from so many countries, including Eritrea, a first for me. Vegetarians would have been delighted as most of the stands had meat free dishes. The Greeks had Baklava sundaes having hastily converted their offerings into something with more appeal on a hot day.

One stage provided the dancers, another music, and other areas provided craftspeople and individual performers. An Irish fiddler roamed through the trees. The crowds were light, and whether it was because everyone was suffering together, everyone was in good spirits.

But it was too bloody hot and I could only stay for a few hours, which was disappointing. Still, there was much to see in those few hours. The time was richly spent.