A pale moon’s shadow

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Jeneane writes about lazy aggregator people, and the loss of community because of RSS aggregators. Her solution is for everyone to bring back the blogroll. Ralph agrees, stating that feed aggregators reduce every site to a dull grey lowest common denominator…. Both talk about the disruption in conversation that reading feeds in aggregators can cause, and consequently the loss of community.

I don’t think community can withstand the vagaries of this environment. Differing experiences and interests over time will surely drive a wedge between both community and conversation much more quickly than the use of any technology. Consider a recent experience: Ralph and Jeneane had a chance to meet and chat at SxSW. This is an experience they shared others of us have not; there is now a virtual line through their community; there are now those who have physically met and those who have not.

Communities grow…apart as often as not.

I have resisted the full feed for long because it was important to me at one time to know people were out there and I was actually being read. I still believe that fullfeeds adversely impact on the discussions you have at your site.

I also put much effort into the design of my site, all of which is lost to an aggregator. I like my site design. I think it’s soothing and elegant, but has enough interesting bits to it to make it stand out. The photo changes every time you visit, though you won’t see this if you’re using IE. I worked very hard for this effect — that and the new shadow and the perfect choice of color. You won’t see any of this through an aggregator.

Now, it’s not as important to me if people visit the site or read my writing through an aggregator. Oh, I do mind my photos being republished in a feed because of the bandwidth; or my syndication feed being re-published at another site, especially one that features ads. For this reason, you’ll have to send me an email requesting access to the full feed I’m creating, as I’m password protecting it.

I’m also thinking of putting a line at the bottom of each post in the Atom feed, saying:

“Created especially for my friends. Does this mean you’re my friend? Good. I need a place to sleep, then. I’m no bother. Really. Well, aside from the insomnia. Oh, and I have 8 cats. Well, my boyfriend’s kind of scary, but the meds seem to help.”

Communities, friendships, a sense of companionship and sharing can’t be made or broken through the use of tools. If anything, when we become friends through our online associations, we have done something extraordinary–we have reached beyond the limits of technology and created something human, and real.

But it’s a fragile reality–like the shadow of a pale moon.


Music to draw by

The muse has finally settled kindly on me, and I believe I may be able to meet deadlines this Monday — not just one, but two. In order to do so, though, I may have to write all night–but that’s not a bad way to spend a night. In the meantime, time to move away from technology for a bit.

Dave Rogers wrote a thoughtful post on fear masquerading as anger:

If you’re an angry driver, you’ll flip someone the bird or ride their bumper or cause an accident. You can tell yourself that those other drivers are assholes, but it’s just fear. If you’re a multi-millionaire, you’ll hire a lawyer to intimidate someone to give you what you want when you want it, so they won’t do something that you can’t control. You’ll tell yourself it’s just business, but it’s really just fear. If you’re a country with an anxiety problem, you’ll attack another country. You’ll tell yourself it’s a matter of national security, but it’s just fear. None of which ever solves the problem. All of which create bigger problems of their own.

Subtle reference to discussions of this week aside, I have gestered angrily at drivers before, usually because the other driver and I have, briefly, sought to occupy the same space at the same time. I can greatly identify with what Dave’s written.

The post also reminds me, for some odd reason, of a song that’s been running through my head all week. It’s a song by Robert Palmer, and though it’s not his most famous, it is known for its use in French car commercials many years ago. However, it’s the words, not the synthesizer that has always appealed to me:

Johnny and Mary

Johnny’s always running around, trying to find certainty.
He needs all the world to confirm, that he aint lonely
Mary counts walls, knows he tires easily

Johnny thinks the world would be right, if it would buy, truth from him.
Mary says he changes his mind, more than a woman.
But she made her bed, even when the chance was slim.

Johnny says he’s willing to learn, when he decides, he’s a fool.
Johnny say’s he’ll live any where, when he earns time to.
Mary combs her hair, says she should be use to it.

Mary always edges her bets, she never knows, what to think.
She says that he still acts, like he’s being discovered.
Scared that he’ll get caught, without a second thought.

Johnny feels he’s wasting his breath, trying to talk, sense to her
Mary says he’s lacking a real, sense of proportion
So she combs her hair, knows he tires easily.

Johnny’s always running around, trying to find certainty.
He needs all the world to confirm, that he aint lonely
Mary counts walls, says she should be use to it.

Speaking of tunes, Stavros the Wonderchicken writes on the Three Ages of Wonderchicken–18, 28, and 38–as defined in music. Jeff Ward from This Public Address followed up, defining music for his four ages: 18, 28, 38, and 48. Scott, who creates his own music for defining every day of his life, passed on a reminder of the importance of death:

We need to stop pretending that death is an aberration from the norm and realize that death is the norm. Death is a vital part of life.

I’m not sure I can find the music to draw who I am so adeptly. When I think of myself at 18, I draw a blank. Same with 28, 38, and 48. I can tell you what I’m listening to this week, which must draw who I am at the moment:

Sweet Rain by Bill Douglas
Breathe (2am) by Anna Nalick
Here’s to you by Joan Baez
Johnny and Mary by Robert Palmer
Eleanor Rigby my favorite Beatles’ song
Sleep to Dream of her by Dave Matthews
Into the West from Lord of the Rings
Sway by the Perishers

Perhaps I should record my most played music from my iPod weekly, as a diary to remind myself of who I was in, say, March 19th of 2006. When I’m old, older, I can pull them up on the MegaPod of the future and dream of being young again.

I may not be able to identify my younger self musically, but thanks to Ian Dickinson, I do know that in the Which Science Fiction crew do you belong on quiz, I am Moya from Farscape.

Moya (Farscape). You are surrounded by muppets. But that is okay because they are your friends and have shown many times that they can be trusted. Now if only you could stop being bothered about wormholes.</em


Think of the children

Danny Ayers sends a plea along to the semantic web folks working with RDF:

This may seem a strange request from an RDF fan who is on record calling OPML bloody awful (or words to that effect). But I’d like to humbly ask that anyone exposing RDF services on the web consider also emitting the following :

1. Content supplied as RSS 2.0 and Atom
2. Simple resource relations as OPML

In a word: no.

As Danny writes later in his post, by exposing our RDF data as OPML and RSS 2.0, people using tools that work with both can access the data, and eventually they may realize that there’s a lot of rich data out there and maybe they should take a closer look at RDF. It’s an interesting backdoor method to getting ‘the word’ out, and normally I would give it consideration.

Not anymore. If you all want to use crappy specifications, that’s your problem. Spending my increasingly rare free time coding to something like OPML means I have that much less time to create applications that work with a carefully designed and tested specification like RDF. If people don’t want to use my applications because I’m using RDF–even if they’re never directly exposed to the RDF–well, then I’d say they’re less interested in the application, and more interested in being a part of the buzz. Frankly, then, they’re not the type of people I’d want to use my applications.

I will never be part of the buzz. If I spend the next four months sucking up, I will still never be a part of the buzz. I am an outsider, which means that I’m free to do exactly what I want. What I don’t want, is to work with OPML and RSS 2.0.

When Henry Ford was asked what color options the Model T would have, legend has it he answered, “You can have any color you like, as long as it’s black.” OPML is a black Model T, and RSS 2.0 is a black Model T with only one gear: reverse.


Knight errant

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Centuries ago, knights could challenge the dragons of their time with stout heart and clear mind. They had no conflict as to who was, or was not, the enemy. Neither did they have any confusion about how to deal with said enemy.

In the beginning of weblogging, we also had the same clear cut path in front of us, except our swords were our weblogs and our words. If we disagreed with another, strongly enough, we would write about it and provide links to the offending source so that others could either agree or disagree with us. The irony of the situation was that the more we would point to those with whom we disagree, the more attention they got; so much so that today the top webloggers consist, to a large extent, of people who piss other people off.

We are becoming more sophisticated now in how we spread ‘attention’; monetizing it in such a way that sometimes I wonder if we’ll reach a point where the only discussions that are occurring are between marketers scratching each other’s backs.

Do we ignore the dragons then? Do we ignore the statements made, the assertions implied, the outrageous, the vicious, the absurd because to notice them, to refute them, we give them attention?

I want a dragon. I want a sword. I want to kill something cleanly. Figuratively, but cleanly.


Two real stories to end the week

A quirky redefinition of the term, RIP. Made me smile.

And from Sheila Lennon, a lovely tale in time for St. Paddy’s: A Danny Boy for my Father.

Danny Boy was one of my Dad’s favorite songs, too. He was, he would say, descended from lace-curtain Irish–a tale told me with a straight face, but smile writ large in bright blue eyes.