Eran's blog

RSS Mangler 0.2

See it mercilessly mangle RSS feeds at http://smallweb.cs.usfca.edu/dispatch.fcgi/rssmangler/


  1. Transform iCalendar files to RSS feed full of hCalendar.
  2. Randomize order of entries in existing RSS feeds.

Developed using Ruby on Rails with the vpim library for iCalendar support.

Update: version 0.21 fixes some typos, improves XHTML compatibility and uses correct media-type (thanks Ryan).
Update2: for more information and source see: http://smallweb.cs.usfca.edu/cgi-bin/trac.cgi/wiki/RSSMangler
Update3: version 0.22 fixes additional XHTML issues (thanks Tantek).


Filed under: Projects

Non-Geeks and Technology

Saw this ad for the examiner on Market St. in San Francisco. Is this really how non geeks look at technology?
Examiner Ad
Go for a a closer view.

Filed under: General

mini-Project: RSS Transformer

Finals are here and I’m looking for anything to get my mind off of studying, what a great time to start a new mini project!

The final goal for this project is a web application that can generate and mangle RSS feeds in various ways. I’ll start off with 2 options:

  1. Import an iCal calendar and generate an RSS feed of hCal events.
  2. Randomize the order of items in a given RSS feed

These are simply based on things I wanted to do in the past (import Niall Kennedy‘s tech events file and randomize the order of photos in my flickr feed). I’ll be glad to play with any additional ideas so just go ahead and post your favorite transformations here.

update: RSS results of version 0.1 ical importer are available.

Filed under: Projects, The Net

Object Mediated Social Networks

The one thing I left out of my last post was the different types of social connections or links we keep. Tribe.net, delicious and flickr all use different types of connections. Jyri Engeström has a very interesting post, describing those different connection types as object mediated social connections (where the object can be Job, Pictures, etc.). A Meta Social Network (like mates) would have to support connections of different types in order to be useful to the many services that build on it. I think that letting services create new mediation objects in the meta social network and then using object mediated links between people would be a very elegant and expressive way to create an open and useful social network. It would also be much closer to the way we view those social connections in RL.

Via: Zengestrom

Filed under: General


From mates Web Site:

mates is a location-based social networking system in the form of a robust web service, or Relationship Engine, and an optional rich media client application, or Relationship Space Navigator.

Our objective in creating mates has been to build an open infrastructure to introduce and connect individuals based on the intersection of physical location and other properties they might have in common.

mates is different than the wide range of existing social networking and instant messaging applications. We strive to create an open infrastructure that will allow existing software to harness the power of location based social networking and a platform on top of which other new, powerful applications can be developed.

(Emphasis mine)

I’ve been waiting for a truly open social network for a long time now. Been looking forward to it so much I actually considered writing one myself. I don’t see a reason why I need to create a new network of friends and contacts on services like flickr or delicious when my real network is mostly found on tribe.net. An open social network would let “specialist” services focus on what they do best instead of worrying about handling contacts, friends and realtionships.

Via: Ashton

Filed under: The Net

“What about Tagging?”

Tagging is the new foo. There’s no doubt about it. Tagging seems to overtake even social networking as the buzzword of the moment so I guess it’s time for me to rant a bit. This post is mostly a collection of things I posted in several other places with some new thoughts and ideas added for variety.

This article on CNN has some interesting quotes that I think show very well why tagging works and how it might fail as well.

David Sifry

“Tagging is something selfishly useful. It helps you understand and categorize something for yourself”

Stewart Butterfield

“I don’t think in the context of Flickr that there are bad tags, the point is not for you to find all of and only pictures of elephants but to give people a few extra tools to organize their own stuff.”

Both Sifry and Butterfield seem to think that tagging is a personal activity, done more for one’s own benefit than for the “greater good of humanityâ€?. I don’t tag a bookmark to enable others to find it; I tag it into my own little catalog using my own private key so that later it’ll be easier for me to retrieve it.

There is definitely some emergent behavior born from Tagging on a wide social scale such as we see on del.icio.us. Related tags are an interesting improvement that takes Tagging to the next level. By using co-citation and clustering algorithms we can guess that tag A is related to tag B, thereby creating a sort of loose structure on the global set of tags. This structure can then be implemented even on the local (single user’s) set of tags to improve the user’s personal experience. The user’s local tag set might not be rich and big enough to create those connections but she can still enjoy a pretty accurate list of related tags based on the larger set of information created by all the users in the system. Related tags, however, are a limited tool both in breadth and depth.

Related tags work because it’s possible to invert the relation between tag and URL and then to use meta-information on the set of URLs to learn about the connected tags. On a system like flickr this inversion is not easy. There is no co-citation (pictures are mostly tagged by one person) and clustering of pictures according to topic is a pretty difficult problem.

On the other hand, even in systems that have related tags, how deep is that information? Does the system know anything about the meaning of the tags or the pages? Given a new, unseen page, can del.icio.us tell me what tags it should have? Related tags are a very shallow approximation of knowledge. They fake context but carry very little actual contextual information. We are left again with a set of personal tags that mean very little to anyone but ourselves.

So what can we do with Tagging to improve on this situation? How do we take tagging even farther? Coming soon: lexical analysis, tag translation, hierarchical overlays and more!!

Update: Apparently someone wrote a related tags browser for flickr. It does a pretty good job (on some tags at least) and has a very slick interface too. Via: Ryan King.

Filed under: The Net

First Post.

This is my second attempt at a blog. The first one was of a more personal nature, I started it as a way to keep in touch with friends and family back in Israel when I moved to San Francisco. It was appropriately titled “Stranger in a Strange Land – My life and adventures in foreign lands and places far away.” I stopped writing that blog when I simply became bored with the process. Now, I’m starting this new blog. For now, it is nameless, I’m borrowing my website’s name, maybe in the future I’ll come up with a better name. This is going to be a different kind of blog, more technology oriented and not as personal hopefully it will prove to be more interactive as well. I hate writing in a vacuum, I thrive on discussion and confrontation so use that comment button, offer some insight or just call me up on my bullshit – it’s all good.

Filed under: General