Thursday, March 25, 2004

Laws of Media

This would be a dream come true:

One of the last things Marshall McLuhan did was attempt another rewrite of Understanding Media (highly reommended) and result posthumously was the book with his son called "Laws of Media". I'd love to create a site where people could give their opinions apply to the media analysis. And they comment on the proposed law.

RSS and Google

Okay, for my last microcontent, I looked in Google for the link to RSS and got Mark Pilgrim. While Mark may (or may not) be a nice guy, I think Google blew it for both this search and their last algorithm update.


CMS is so Wired. If you were not burdened with years of previous experience, why would you ever consider an CMS or CES (Content Management System or Content Entry System) which did not have RSS as the foundation of the the design. In other words, RSS should be the foundation of the design of any web applicatin which assists in the creation of a web site.

My son would probably call most CMS products "old school." (It should be a four letter word.)

RSS is like fishing

(Disclaimer, I don't fish often, but can enjoy it.) Anyways, I think RSS is like fishing. You throw your hook (XML) out there and you never know who wil take the hook.

Micro Content

Micro Content is a very important meme. Don't let it go!

The web falls into the old way of doing business: publishing. Micro-content is the first meme that moves us out of the Amos and Andy Show and into the "message" of the new medium. (Let me explain. Amos and Andy was a very, very popular radio show that was redone for television. It did not work. The concept and use of a sound byte did not work in newspapers. The sound byte of internet content is mostlikely "microcontent." Exploit it, now.)

So start thinking about microcontent intead of pages. I know this is hard for people with a publication background (I'd perfer to use bias, but then peopel would not understand.) Work to free yourself from the old media!

My hands

I am very frustrated tonite. I had to redo much of the DWV installation I did on my new bathroom. It started out great, but the effort to tie it into the existing stack failed. So I have to restart tomorrow and pick out what piece I need from my local Home Depot. I'd rather buy it from my local plumbing supplier, but they close before I get home from work.

Anyways, my hands are now full of glue -- which is a bad think - and I'm peeling it off between keyboard hits.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Education Newspaper Stories in RSS (March 2004)

Newspapers and news organizations are one of the early adapters to RSS technology. On a regular basis I'll be updating an OPML with a list of newspapers that provide Education feeds and maintaining it here.

The BBC and New York Times are the veterans of this group. I'm not sure how long the Christian Science Monitor has offered their Learning feed. More recent are the Philly papers and now the Washington Post.

Please let me know if you know of additional feeds.

Friday, March 19, 2004

RSS 2.o Description Field

There are several ways to store content in RSS 2.0. This post show how Description can be different.

I know that you can put link into <link> or <guid>.

Makes it easy for feeders, difficult for programmers.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Chicken and the Egg Content

Obviously, I've been excited about RSS for some time now. And writing Bletter has been great. But I've recently figured out how to incorporate RSS feeds into HEMS. This is my HTML Entry Management system (more about that later).

Back to the Chicken and Egg: so I was thinking on the walk home from work, that with HEMS and Bletter both creating and reading RSS feeds, it is very hard to say in which software you produce the content. Do you start with Bletter and then read the RSS feed into HEMS? Or the other way around? And how much can you slice and dice, cut and paste, mix and match items (articles) from different feeds to create a new feed?

I'm excited and motivate to get this into HEMs very soon.

Pat Dinizio of The Smithereens

Just back from seeing Pat Dinizio of The Smithereens. I walked down the street to meet my friend Walt at Jammin' Java.
First, Jammin' Java has changed and is great. Check out that bands/performers that will be there. I don't know how or when it changed from a Christian music venue, but it is great now. And the sound tonight was very, very good.
If you even know the name Smithereens, you would have enjoyed this show. Pat just kept playing and having fun. His comments were wonderful about the single chord in Neil Young's song, then two chords in Fleetwood Mac. He also did an acoustic of Black Sabbath that had everyone of the 30 people laughing. In his finale of "Blood and Roses" he mixed in the Who and encouraged the audience to sing along. Can not wait to see him at VA Beach.
Pat is trying to promote a different business model for music. He's looking for patrons on his site. Interesting concept that might work.
Also, he recently produced/directed a movie. Walt bought a copy. Should be interesting given all of the horror movie stuff on his web site.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Mix OPML and RSS to get Hyper Documents

Not all content works in RSS. While great for articles, news and logs, RSS can not represent what I call Hyper Documents.

A simple example is a web page that shows a geographic map. Clicking on an area of the map brings up the appropriate document. Assuming a map of the US this Hyper Document would consist of 50 state pages and 1 map page. This does not translate to RSS.

An option to explore is storing all 51 pages in 51 RSS items and then using OPML to loosely relate the items.


Monday, March 08, 2004

Past times are pastimes

Past times are pastimes is one of my favorite lines from Marshall McLuhan. It went along with the concept that the content of all media is old media. But pastimes are entertainment and I think it is easier for people to grasp.

A prime example is my remodeling of my house. I enjoy it for many reasons. It is fun, not work. Something very different than my work which involves no physical labor. I'm learning a lot about engineering first hand that I did not learn by the book in engineering school. In previous generations, this would have been part of the work for the males in the household.

An easier example is probably my bike riding. I spend hours on many weekends and after work riding my bike. It is recreation and exercise. There is little practical purpose for me to ride 35 miles to get a beer at the Old Dominion brew pub. The point is that bike riding is fun. In previous times, bikes were primarily transportation. But now that technology has mainly be replaced by the car. This allows the bike to be used as a pastime.

So if you are looking for a new hobby, look in the past. You'll find a pastime there.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Review Mirror

I've spent a few hours in the dentist chair the last few days. Watching the dentist work by looking into a mirror got me thinking about how different his world must look. Sure I can drive looking in a review mirror, but I can not write my name looking in the mirror. I was always fascinated in how McLuhan kept pushing the review mirror concept and now I have a little more experience to add to the "rose is not a rose" about review mirrors.

McLuhan: Medium is the Massage was a typo

Michael McLuhan, Marshall's son is quotes as saying:
Actually, the title was a mistake. When the book came back from the typesetter, it had on the cover "Massage" as it still does. The title should have read "The Medium is the Message" but the typesetter had made an error. When Marshall McLuhan saw the typo he exclaimed, "Leave it alone! It's great, and right on target!" Now there are four possible readings for the last word of the title, all of them accurate: "Message" and "Mess Age," "Massage" and "Mass Age.
Thanks to for sharing.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Blogger Con II

I've registered for Blogger Con II and Will Richardson noticed that I work at NEA ("Terrorists in our midst???"). Andrew from left a comment because of Paige's terriorist remark asking people to respond.

I'm still trying to work out logistics, but I hope to be there.

RSS driven Internet Site: Part Three

A set of RSS content makes possible synthetic feeds. For example, your site may have feeds on apples, pears and mangoes. By combining all these feeds into one feed, you now have a "fruit" feed. As you increase the number of feeds you dramatically increase the number of possible synthetic feeds.

It is these synthetic feeds that become useful to populate more top level web pages. For example, your home page might lead to the fruit page which would lead to the apple, pear and mango pages. So the content of your second level page could be the synthesized feed. And users could subscribe to the RSS feed or the enewsletter. However comments would be in the apple, orange or mango archives (permalink) page.

Another option for synthetic feeds is to create personalized pages. Instead of creating separate areas on a page like MyYahoo or, let the user select their feeds and then combine them into one. So in one area they see all of the latest news.

So synthentic feeds provide you another level of content.

RSS driven Internet Site: Part Two

Too often people start designing (or redesigning) an internet site with the home page. I believe that this approach is a fatal error. Rather, I think one must start looking at the content which can be regularly updated and sent to the users via email and now RSS.

Hopefully this effort produces several initial feeds. This is just like publishing books, magazines or other materials in that you can never be sure which feeds will succeed. So plan to roll out several over a few months with the understanding that you might fold up a feed or two along the way.

The tools used to produce this content is the same tools used to produce blogs and takes advantage of all of the tools for promoting blogs. For example, one could use Manilla or TypePad to create the content. They allow editing, access control, posting the message, notifying and other sites that the content is update, writing the RSS file and storing the archive. They also allow users to comment and possibly display links back to the content from other sites. These products can also send emails to an email list manager (e.g., Lyris) or can be used with Bletter for more customization.

So this most important content is stored in RSS with the web interface being handled by a blogging tool. This gives you web pages, archives, RSS feeds and enewsletter to reach your audience.

RSS driven Internet Site: Part One

First, best practices show that an internet effort requires more than a web site. While it use to be that you also need email alerts or newsletters, you now also need to provide users with RSS feeds. Taking that a step further, I believe that the content of your RSS feeds is also the content for your email. Therefore, your RSS feeds become the "backbone" storage for your content.

Second, not all content fits in RSS. For example, you could have a map of North America and clicking on a country retrieved a document about that country. This would require several pages of HTML (or tricky JavaScript or Flash coding). This type of document, that I'll call a hyper document, is not meant for RSS.

Third, just because content is stored in an XML file does not mean that the web page has to be generated dynamically. Static web pages provide faster response to users' clicks and use 90% less server resources. So it is beneficial to have the most frequently requested pages reside on the web server as static HTML pages which are created from RSS feeds, templates and other content.

So this is what I mean by an RSS driven Internet Site.