Friday, May 20, 2005

Swipe me, he paints with light.

LightScribe looks kinda cool. If you have a LightScribe enableded CD or DVD writer you can flip the disk over and burn the label into the dye coating. No more fiddling with applying labels.

20/05/2005 08:28 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Another life used up

I don't know who the miscreant was but during the night my iPod headphones lost a cover and acquired a large claw print in the right ear piece. Fortunately for the furry individual concerned the damage appears to be entirely cosmetic!

20/05/2005 12:32 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Browsable blogging

Over at How to Save the World, Dave Pollard is talking about how to make blogs browsable.

The task of making weblogs' architecture more robust should be much easier. Weblog software with more dynamic information architecture would not only make blogs much more valuable to those browsing for information, they would make weblogs much more valuable in corporate environments. The current emphasis on adding 'tagging' information is, in my opinion, misguided: That would make their content easier to search, and might solve the information overload problem when they're embraced by keyword search agents, but it won't make them easier to browse. Much of the readership of weblogs is serendipitous -- people stumble on them (usually through search tools) when they're looking for interesting reading. Or, they blogroll a weblog because some of its content is of interest to them. What is needed is a way for people to browse through a selected subset of weblog content, all of the articles on a particular topic.
I guess I'm a little surprised not to get a mention. My recollection (am I wrong?) is that I chatted to Dave about this (among other topics) back when Paolo and I were working with K-Collector.

The basic idea is to allow authors to mark up their posts with topics (I still don't like the phrase tag in this context but I accept I may be in a minority) which are fine grained. Categories for me have always been too inflexible and unwieldy. The use of multiple topics allows rich description of a post.

The magic part is what happens next. In my current experiment it means I can generate a page which allows my content archive to be explored by topics. Clicking a topic name takes you to a page that lists the posts, in reverse chronological order, associated (I would say tagged if I didn't think it was confusing) with that topic. Under each post is a link to the other topics associated with that post. Hence each post also offers a cross-reference facility throughout the rest of the content. It makes my blog into a fully-browsable content index, automatically.

These topic pages like Aggregators, Psychology, and Blogging are, if you check the URL, actually RSS2.0 feeds (with ENT topic metadata) being rendered in the browser as HTML. But you could also subscribe to a topic like RSS in an aggregator and only read my posts on that topic, blissfully ignoring what I write about Politics, or Microsoft.

But there's more to come. I also publish a Facet Map of my weblog in XFML format. The potential value of this is not just in improved browsing because XFML also offers a way to connect topics together. This offers us the opportunity to make sense of each others tagging schemes, harmonizing the view of data whilst allowing us to preserve our own preferences.

Two level, even three level, categorization is possible by grouping topics together although things can get tricky at this point. The approach Paolo and I took was to use a simple 2-level structure comprising

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
At the moment I only use two of these. My topics are currently implicitly What and I have automatically generated Date of Publication topics in my facet map file. I might do the other again, maybe.

What I've done others can do just as easily. As much as anything it's a mind-set issue. If you think in terms of categories you're thinking in terms of a rigid hierarchy. Topics are more granular and should be used liberally since the tools at the other end will make them usable by users, as I have done.

20/05/2005 13:49 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

It's no coincidence

I've just ordered Arthur Koestler's Roots of Coincidence and Modeling the Internet: Probabilistic Methods and Algorithms for the Web via Amazon. The first book is out-of-print and I'm getting it via the Amazon marketplace for a quite reasonable £8. The second book is available at £45. However I'm getting an as-new copy from the marketplace for £30.

It's not the first time I've used Amazon marketplace. I also picked up a few Guy Kawasaki books this way. I'm beginning to get comfortable with the idea that the Amazon marketplace, as regulated by them, is a safe and comfortable place to buy. If these two go okay I can see myself ordering a lot more books this way.

Amazon remains, for me, the essential internet service provider.

20/05/2005 14:32 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Floating resolve

Did the 3rd float of my trial tonight. I spent an hour happily floating, drifting, dreaming, and am now deeply relaxed. So much so that I don't want to spend time in front the computer in case it jangles it out of me as computers are won't to do.

I have also been thinking about my exam next Thursday on the Biological Basis of Behaviour. I'm finding it hard to study and I've concluded that the temptation to check email & news and the need to post are continuous distractions that I can well do without right now. So I've decided to take an electronic holiday. I'm shutting down for a week. It'll be another form of sensory deprivation.

Sorry if I don't respond to your email, comments, and so forth. Catch you in a week.

20/05/2005 22:47 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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