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Eran's blog

Google Alerts?!

From Google Blog: (Emphasis and editing mine)

If you track information on a batch of discrete topics all the time like I do, managing your inbox is no day at the beach. Monitoring a number of mailing lists for interesting news on, say, [harry potter] or [sony aibo] or [housing bubble] without actually subscribing to what could be hundreds of mailing lists is a daunting task…
Some of us thought it would be cool to offer a feature that does this work for us… a beta version of Google Groups Alerts. It monitors the top 50 most recent Google Groups search results that relate to keywords you’re interested in. Any new articles posted that match your criteria will be emailed to you, just like Google News alerts.

Email? Email??? It’s nice of Google to allow us to subscribe to search results but why through Email? Where’s my RSS support? Technorati does it, Yahoo does it but Google, you know, those guys that developed AdSense for Feeds? They do Email.

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Filed under: Aggregation, The Net

Tag Tuesday #2

Kevin Marks writes:

Our July meeting will be:

July 26th, 2005 – 6:30 9:30pm Tag Tuesday July meeting – Odeo – at 77 Natoma Street at 2nd Street, San Francisco, CA USA

Meet other Bay Area tag developers, and hear how Odeo is using tags in their podcast directory.

Filed under: Tagging

miniProject: Microformat Autopopulation

I’ve been thinking about various ways to parse microformat data into an object. There’s plenty of ways to tackle this problem but most require a different script for every microformat standard. The alternative that’s most alluring to me is reflection – learning the schema and values of a piece of data and automagically creating the appropriate object populated with the correct values. I started working on something similar to the database refelction used in Ruby on Rails but soon stopped and limited the scope of the project. Since most microformats still lack a proper schema and since the XHTML structure lacks definite data on the internal structure of the object, full reflection is a complicated affair and might not even be possible. I chose to use an existing schema (database tables and module files) and to limit myself to autopopulation of the values in objects based on that module. The resulting script (while not complete) contains no specific references to any microformat (with the exception of the schemas, of course). I currently have a schema in place for xFolk RC1 entries and will soon add more.

To play with the current (early!) iteration, go to http://hellonline.com/reflect/public/dispatch.fcgi/xfolkentries/text
(NOTE: this version uses class=”description” instead of class=”extended” as per the recent changes )

How it Works
The script relies on creating well formatted names for properties based on HTML elements information (element name, class name and rel value). Once a name for a possible property has been decided it checks to see if the object in question has a property of this name and sets the value according to the object type (if it exists). Using Ruby it is easy to detect that a certain property is an array and treat it correctly.

Complete source is available but the interesting file is really lib/microformats.rb

Update: The application can now parse (most) hCard data as well. Next in line, hReview.

Filed under: MicroFormats, Projects

citeRel at microformats.org

CiteRel has finally found its way to the microformats.org wiki (thanks Ryan). We’re still at the brainstorming stage, trying to get as much feedback as possible. There’s interesting discussion going on in the mailing list and interest seems to be growing.

Filed under: MicroFormats

A Moment of Zeitgeist

Waiting in line to get my beer at the Zeitgeist I overhear this couple discussing Karl Rove. My first thought? “Hey! that was the top search on Technorati today!”

It’s nice to be reminded that those ideas we play with and the tools we shape them into are used by real people in a real world that is more than bits and bytes.

Filed under: General

Things are looking up

for humanity that is.

I recently stumbled on this article by Chris Anderson in Wired, turns out it’s actually the eponimous Long Tail article, but my being late to the ball is not really the point here. Anderson claims that
Many of our assumptions about popular taste are actually artifacts of poor supply-and-demand matching – a market response to inefficient distribution.” As the world becomes more digital and distribution becomes easier, retailers are offering bigger and wider selections. Your neighborhood video rental store’s potential market is about a 1-2 miles radius, Netflix can rent a DVD to almost anyone in the US, no wonder they can offer a selection that’s about 10-15 times wider. But that’s not all. What happens when distribution becomes completely digital? With unlimited shelf-space, retailers are no longer forced to pick and choose which products to offer and consumers are not far behind.
as users can access non-mainstream entertainment they do.

and this book (mentioned on daily show) claims that TV today is actually becoming smarter, more engaging and more challenging.

could it be that the long process of dumbing down the masses is finally meeting some serious resistence? I definitely hope so.

Filed under: General,

Aggregation

Now that our data is scattered so wide and so far, it’s time to start pulling things in; this is where aggregation becomes important. This is also where microformats can make a huge impact. From my viewpoint as a user, I can see two sides to the aggregation game:

  1. Aggregating from many people and one/many sources. You’re probably reading this post on an RSS feed reader, that’s exactly what it does. Technorati is doing something very similar with an added bonus – search! We’ve been doing this type of aggregation for a while now and I think it’s time for a nice shake-up.
  2. Aggregating content from one person and many sources, what some may call a Digital Lifestyle Aggregator (DLA). A DLA tries to recombine your fractured online persona into one piece. You can see a pretty good example for that in tribe’s new profiles.
    Behind all the flashy new design options, the new profiles let you pull in syndicated content from anywhere else, displaying it all in one place. My biggest problem with tribe’s implementation is their target audience for the aggregated content. Unlike your RSS reader which pulls in content for you to consume, tribe’s profiles pull in the content mainly for others to consume. I want to see my events from upcoming, messages from flickr and active tribes in one page. I’ve heard tribe employees say that a similar revamping of the main page is coming up soon and I think this is the way they’re headed. I’m definitely looking forward to that!
    Another interesting new example is CNet’s new Shoebox. You can read all about it yourself. finally somebody realized that I don’t need to upload my photos to their server before they can let me play with them.

Filed under: Aggregation, MicroFormats