Archive for September, 2007

If you got excited about Streamy…

…then you should check out FeedEachOther. That’s what Marshall Kilpatrick of R/WW says. If you were let down with Streamy, on the other hand, it looks like you will also be let down by FeedEachOther.

What’s the bummer? These “feature-rich super-social RSS readers” just aren’t that feature-rich or social. They’re just not so different from Google Reader. They’re still RSS readers.

But first the good news. The thing pulls comments from the original blog into the reader. That’s awesome. Multiple kinds of relationship are good too.

I don’t want to subscribe to “similar” feeds according to some recommendation that’s a huge black box. In fact, it doesn’t really even work, and its black-boxiness prevents me from knowing why. Why, for instance, does FeedEachOther only give me recommendation based on the whole feed? Why not on each post? Whole feeds contains posts way too diverse to derive sufficiently sufficient semantic patterns from them.

It’s not okay to look at all of Jeff Jarvis’s feed and offer me this string of banal tags: “advertizing – buzz – internet – news – technology – blogs – daily – marketing – politics – web – blog – commentary – jarvis – online – trends – business – imported – media – tech – web2.0 – blogging – culture – journalism – opinion – tv.” Setting aside the problem of blogs-blog-blogging, it’s not okay because they’re so generic and because I can’t stack them up and take their intersections. I can’s use these tags the way the people who created them use them. When someone in delicious tags something “journalism,” they might also tag it “trends.” Neither topic is interesting alone; only together are they interesting. (Indeed, ‘trends in journalism’ is very interesting.)

Plus! On top of reading each post’s comments with a feed, I can share notes and items within the system. But wait! “The only thing better” would be to post comments from the web app to the original post? Actually, that’s a lot better. That’s worlds and worlds better. A web app is still just a basic RSS reader until it can weave itself into the same cloth of which the many, many thousands of blogs with their comments are made.

So, no, “the absence of offline and mobile modes, weaker analytics than Google Reader offers and a limit of 500 feeds by OPML import” are not the “only shortcomings.” Someone’s seriously drinking the RSS Reader Kool-Aid. And that’s too bad—because RSS itself is so many times greater and more magnificent.

In the end, Google Reader, Streamy, and FeedEachOther are bastions of only ONE component of networked news. They allow readers to network the news by publisher. Sure, they do more than dabble in allowing readers to network by fellow readers. There’s got to be more though—comments from reader to blog would be a big step. Lastly, both Streamy and FeedEachOther just don’t have the necessary kind of semantic (or “Semantic”) insight into their content yet. The three components of networked news must be as one for any to be truly worthwhile.

When will my news platform serve me up content that’s from my favorite author and recommended by my good buddy and about my favorite subject or story or beat? When that happens, we’ll not only all be reading our own really interesting stuff—we’ll care enough about it to get into even more interesting conversations.

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Dear Mr. Winer:

I’d very much like to go to Jeff Jarvis’s upcoming conference on networked journalism. I’m a political junkie, although a bit less than I used to be, now that I’ve moved from a tech position at a progressive Washington non-profit to a banking gig in New York. I’m also recovering cable news junkie of the worst kind. Gone are the days when I could name the margins by which obscure congressmen won their elections

I’ve shifted my energy into being an avid thinker about the news—as broadly construed as reasonably possible. I think about the news all the time. I think about where it’s heading all the time, in at least half of my sore brain’s idle moments. What’s its most essential functional unit? The I also think about mapping the news. News graphs (of a simian kind) spin and reform themselves in my head to my delight even when I parse out thoughts about the sub-prime mortgage market, CDOs, high LTVs, low doc loans, default probabilities, IC and OC tests, PIK toggles, and so on.

I think Mr. Jarvis likes this general idea of maps, which I’ve been publicly and privately writing about for upwards of a year now, ever since I met, loved, and ultimately loathed this project for getting so close to something really interesting but stopping short.

This all been in my head for too long now. I need to get out and hear, in person, what others are talking about. I need to listen, and maybe I need to talk in turn. I want to be in the illuminating thick of a conversation on networked journalism. And yet I’m told that the conference may be overstuffed. I’ve expressed my keen interest the conference’s organizer, but that doesn’t change the brute fact that I’m a small-time blogger, an amateur thinker. So, Mr. Winer, I don’t want to sit idly while an invitation passes me by. Do you have any advice about how I can fatten up my meager chances of winning a coveted invitation?

I’d appreciate your kindly advice very much.

Why I, for selfish reasons, sorta like the term ‘social graph’

Because it helps people understand what a ‘news graph’ might be. If you can imagine your facebook connections as a graph, with your friends and friends of friends as nodes and with all their relatonships, of whatever kinds, as edges, you can maybe begin to think about the news within the same architecture.

What if we had a picture of the news, a graph of the news, with the people in it as nodes and the issues, stories, and controversies that relate those people to one another as edges? Is that possible? How would that work?

Of course, I think I know. It involves, oh, the future of news. It would be networked news. Ha!

Why I totally respect Dave Winer. Plus, seriously.

This is why I cannot help but have deep sense of respect, a kind of profound regard, for Dave Winer: “So if you don’t want to sound like an idiot, call a social graph and social network and stand up for your right to understand technology.”That’s rhetoric at its apotheosis.

There’s a substantive statement of real importance: Let’s just do without the jargon, guys, whaddya say? Can we all be easy, huh, and do away with the self-congratulating fanciness? There’s also an utterly non-substantive but rather provocative statement: If you sound like this, you sound like a monkey.

The first part is all that really matters. But in a time where there’s a sea of other statements to read, the second part is how you get people to listen. (A monkey might be tempted to call it post-scarcity era in which content is instantaneous and ubiquitous. A monkey might also be tempted to call the second part pure, shameless link bait.)

And that, of course, is why it was all over Techmeme, not once or twice but thrice, in three different forms. Yours truly is very late (about twenty-four hours) to the game.

Digg Adds Depth

Digg just added social networking to its position as the leading player in submit-and-vote news! Yes, Digg added the second component of networked news to the first.

I’m not sure enough many people will have enough friends to end up caring so much more about what they think about the news than what the universe of diggers thinks about the news. I, for one, as a twenty-something workaday guy, just don’t know enough people who use Digg to slurp up their news efficiently.

But maybe there are fifteen-year-olds who use Digg to get all their news. And maybe there are enough who have lots of other friends who use Digg similarly. If so, the submit-and-vote version of the first component of networked news could be on its way.

Many people, including me, don’t use Digg because its content—often dominated, they say, by upper-middle class geeky white dudes—just doesn’t cut it. I’ll stick with hours upon hours in front of google reader, backed up by aideRSS, of course. But with networks of friends, like-minded intellectuals, no doubt, Digg could really scratch my itch for content on the impending collapse of the dollar or Barack Obama’s position on chatting with foreign leaders or this conference I want to go to badly. (They say there’s so little room! They say Dave Winer may show!)

Anyhow, when are we going to be able to digg stories from outside digg.com? When am I going to install on my facebook profile a digg application, in which I can choose to see everyone’s diggs, just my friends’ diggs, just diggs of certain topics, just my diggs going back through history, etc.? When, indeed, am I going to be able to vote from facebook? Stick an ad in your widget and be done with it, Mr. Rose, who’s a near-hero of mine, for his lack of technical skills, mostly. (He paid a guy—someone else, someone who could code—ten bucks an hour to develop the site.)

PS. Mr. Cohn, toss me an invitation to the conference you and Mr. Jarvis are doing God’s, or at least the Republic’s, work to organize! And ask the top diggers whether they think, or under what conditions, they think their role could shrink because people like me would shift our attention away from the Digg homepage to our own friend-centered niches by way of Digg’s bringing on the second component of networked news!

Google Reader Counts Past One Hundred

That’s awesome. Whew, I shall remember these halcyon days warmly.

I can’t find the official word, however, so I can’t put a link on offer. You’ll just have to log in and check—if you’re like me and can now fret that the number of posts you have yet to read seems to have leaped by an order of magnitude, now up to “1000+” and beyond.

Actually, It’s great knowing the difference between 103 and 803.


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