Travel Weblogging

Howdy from Cheyenne

Short trip today – Salt Lake to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Uneventful day on the road. Still feeling rough from last week, aided and abetted by memory lane trip yesterday. I look and feel like I’ve been rode hard and put away wet.

Tomorrow, pushing through to St. Louis. Rah.

So many people have been doing “series blogging” lately, such as Mark Pilgrim’s 30 days to accessibility, and Jonathon’s World Cup reportage. I thought I would give this a shot by creating a series of postings on one central theme:

The Bird’s Tips to Becoming a Good American

No, seriously. In fact, I’d start tonight, but my connectivity is poor and I’ll need bandwidth for my first tip: “Verbal Weaponry in the War against Terrorism”. No hints other than it will be action packed. Be prepared to take notes.

I hope that Mark and Jonathon don’t mind me stealing their series concept. Mark seems cool, and we know Jonathon has a sense of humor – all people who live in a relaxed, squishy world have a sense of humor.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go hang out at Mike Golby’s place – he’s talking sex.

(BTW, Mike, I looked all over at Phil’s for a Sex Fixit FAQ but all I could find was weblogging stuff. Darn.)


Threadneedle and RSS

The problem with a developer being around during the design phase of an application is that the developer tends to pull things back to an implementation viewpoint – we can’t help ourselves.

However, a discussion about ThreadNeedle and RSS is, I feel, important at this time.

Why am I not creating ThreadNeedle as a new module on RSS (Rich Site Summary)? After all, as webloggers we’re familiar with RSS, weblogging tools already generate RSS files, and we’re used to using aggregation tools that process RSS. Why am I not piggy-backing ThreadNeedle on to the RSS specification?

RSS started as a way of recording information about channels – sources of information of interest. The adoption of RSS within the weblogging community grew out of Dave Winer’s and Userland’s support of RSS as an XML vocabulary to describe individual weblog postings. With RSS, news aggregators can grab this information, providing it for quick purusal.

RSS 1.0 is based on RDF – Resource Description Framework. RDF is, in reality, a meta-language, a way to describe languages so that any vocabulary can be described in RDF. One aspect of RDF is that it can be used to describe XML vocabularies, something we’ve desperately needed since the inception of XML.

In a manner similar to the relational data model being used to describe different business data within commercial database systems, with RDF you can create different vocabularies for different business uses, and the same tools and technology can work with each. So, I can create a RDF vocabulary for a post-content management system, and a vocabularly for ThreadNeedle, and process both with the exact same Java and Perl APIs as I can use with RSS 1.0. For instance, I’ve processed RDF from all three types of XML documents using Jena (Java API) with absolutely no change to the code I used.

Very powerful. Very handy. What’s been missing from XML since day one.

Best of all, through the use of “namespaces” – ways of identifying which elements belong to what vocabularly – I can combine different vocabularies in one document and the namespace designation prevents element collision: two elements with the same name from two different vocabularies combined in one document.

Within RSS, the use of namespaces is being used to add “modules” to the RSS specification -new additions to the vocabulary to record information about new types of sites, such as WikiWeb. These modules are, in reality, new vocabularies that can stand alone, but are meant to be used with RSS. With this, the core RSS specification doesn’t need to be modified to meet new business requirements (i.e. aggregate information from WikiWeb sites).

Good stuff.

However, RSS has a specific business purpose – to aggregate information from various sources of information, including weblogs, and to allow subscription to same. The point of focus of RSS is a specific news source – a weblog or a WikiWeb or a web site (technically referred to as “channel” within RSS) – and vocabulary elements become adjectives of same.

ThreadNeedle has a different business purpose. For instance, it’s main entity of interest is the discussion thread, which transcends any one source of any one point on the dialog thread. In addition, there is a connectivity between thread points that is critical information to capture – again something that’s not important from a business requirement standpoint for RSS.

Bottom line: trying to add blogthreading as a module to RSS would be the same as trying to use a banking database for an insurance company application. Yes, both are financial applications and both support customers and have to meet certain levels of accountability (government, stock holders, and so on). However, at this point the similarity ends – the business models differ.

More information:

RSS 1.0 spec
RDF Primer

Travel Weather Weblogging


Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I checked and it’s only 85 degrees and 20% humidity outside – St. Louis is 91 and 41% humidity. I’m going to die. I just know I’m going to die. I’m going to hit the sidewalk there and my toes are going to curl up and I’ll start melting into this puddle of goo, plaintively calling out “I’m melting. I’m melting.”

Allan posted a link to a cartoon send up of webloggers. Okay, I squirmed a bit with this ‘toon. I must write more in-depth political essays of the essentialness of the American experience, and our war on terror. And must weblog about sex more. Not today, though. I’m tired, and have a headache.

This is fun: AKMA, Wonder Chicken, and Rageboy have been given parts in a re-make of Dune. AKMA stars as Dr. Yueh, Wonder Chicken is Jamis, and Chris Locke is The Beast Rabban. Of course, now that they’re all big names and stars they won’t be socializing with the little people. We can kiss off the cozy meetings over coffee on Tuesdays, the Saturday socials.

Sheila Lennon writes about a byline strike at the Providence Journal, the Washington Post, Canadian publications and elsewhere. Article writers are withholding their bylines from stories in protest about not having a contract between their various Newspaper Guilds and the publications they write for.

This is an interesting protest because writers like to be given credit for their publications. I support the writers – of course – but wouldn’t a better strike be to not write for the publication at all?

Shannon’s a Godmother of a new baby girl, Charlotte. Can’t ask for a better nanny to sing one to sleep can one?

Hmmm. That last sentence was meant as a compliment. You all took that as a compliment, didn’t you?

And chocorate. I like chocorate.