blogs are interesting. I like how easy they are to update, and the informality of being able to mention a topic without having the overhead emotional commitment required to have that topic justify its own new webpage/url.

When you see the "feed icon" feed-icon-16x16.gif on a web page, it should be a link to the "rss" file which can be used by your blog reader.

My website has a blog running down the middle of the home page; these are ephemeral topics including responses to interesting news items or stuff I see elsewhere on the web.

Tech note: my index.html file has a line like this:

<!--#include virtual="/blog.html"-->
to tell my webserver (Apache in my case) to include the contents of my blog.html file (which is updated by blogger) into my main index.html page. Make sense?

You can my blog posts with a blog reader which can read atom. My other more permanent items have their own web page URL and are linked from the left column on my home page.

My first blog (now offline) was a community blog I created with blogger on 9/12/01, and I don't have to tell you what that was about.

I think some professions should consider requiring blogs, e.g., teachers and students could blog new learnings, important lessons, etc. (Just think how Snow Falling on Cedars might have turned out if lighthouse guys used blogs instead of paper notebooks.)

I once had the opportunity to meet with Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web. He told me he was disappointed that the web evolved to become read-only, where 99% of people do not publish. His original vision was that web technology should allow more people to publish, and having relevant stuff easily findable by people interested in it. It seems blogs help solve the former (ease of use for publishing) and Tim is working on the semantic web (via "RDF" etc) to help solve the findability problem.

Here are some changes I'd like to see with personal (e.g., david, bhyde, danbricklin...) and "editorial" blogs (e.g., scitech):

  1. Volume of submissions; most blog tools only produce good blogs if you post a lot; what about blog tools for folks that only want to post something every few/several weeks? How would those sites be organized? Also, when I post something, I should be forced to pick a "priority" for that posting (default to normal), so that over time, my slow changing website will show the important stuff first, not just the most recent thing (which could be weeks old and low priority).

  2. Auto-hide stuff that visitors have already "seen" before. To do this most effectively, blogs should be rendered to fit on my browser without scrollbars, and fit in a single column. Then an item which has been displayed, unobscured, on my screen for N seconds could be marked as "seen", so the next time I go there, I by default will only see stuff I've not yet seen.

  3. Indices should automatically be created and maintained by title, broad subject and date. The current default behavior of most blogs to organize by date is either arrogant and/or naive, assuming all readers are faithfully reading my diary regularly, and assuming that all of my posts are of equal value. Most people, those who would not post daily, should have the default view of their blog be posted by subject, not by date.

  4. Found FYI functionality would allow me to see something I like on the web, and to click an FYI button (or favorites link). This would bring up a form where I would have to enter at least a sentence about why I found that article interesting, and maybe confirm the broad topic of the article (science, philosophy...). Then it would send "notice" to my "colleagues" of that interesting article, as well as posting a link to it in my own personal blog. By notice, it would send email by default, but then letting each recipient customize how they want to receive future notices if at all. E.g., real-time email for each one, appending to a reading-list for that person to scan later, as well as their level of interest by broad topic (and perhaps by friend as well).

  5. Wrote FYI would be similar to the above, but would be triggered automatically each time I wrote something in my blog. I would confirm broad topic, and people interested in my postings on that topic would be notified in the way appropriate to them. New readers could signup without my involvement (except a possible confirmation or FYI email to me if I wanted).

  6. Boring Filter would remove all blog content that says stuff like "well, today is boring, i don't know what to write" or stuff like "well, i played around with my background image and moved the search box over to a new column". However, if there was such a filter, would there be anything left to read in most blogs?

Blog Related Software

  • Blogger is perhaps the most popular free blog editor, run from your browser (no software to download or install) and hosted on your space or blogspot etc. It is insecure since you have to give them your ftp password. If they get cracked (which has happened), bad guys have your password. :(
  • Movabletype is blog client software, pretty, and used by a bunch of my friends.
  • FeedDemon is a great blog reader.
  • Bloglines is a web-based aggregator.
  • BlogBridge is being created by my friend Pito.
  • SimpleBits is the website of Dan Cederholm, and it has some nice little software for attractive postings etc.
  • has a Python-based content management system.
  • is an open source application server, including content management etc.

Other Stuff

  • GNU slash is a database-driven news and message board, using mod_perl and MySQL.
  • bloghop is community ranked blogs; cool, but spend half an hour to do some voyeuristic browsing of best rated blogs, and you'll see that most blogs are really boring. And bloghop uses frames, which is really annoying.
  • blogchalking is a cool idea for putting a standard "chalk" logo on your site with standard meta tags about yourself, so it is easier to search for blogs by certain standard criteria.
  • blogdex aggregates
  • radio userland is starting to become popular in some circles, it is geeky software you download and install and then run from your web browser, served off your pc. I'm playing with this now, here is my feedback.
  • klips seem cool.
feed-icon-16x16.gif 08-May-2006