Archive for December, 2004

Lessig to revise book by wiki

December 30, 2004

This spring, Lawrence Lessig will try to get his 1999 book Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace updated by wiki for paper publication later in the year. He’s inviting volunteers to serve as “Chapter Captains”; Lessig will donate his advance and royalties to Creative Commons. (Link via The Volokh Conspiracy.)

Another piece of Mizzen

December 23, 2004

Reading Building an Address Book as a Modern Web App, I see that deus x has brought up another major facet of the personal social-network web app I’m speccing out in my mind:

So, in the spirit of pico-projects, I’ve started building that address book application I mentioned awhile ago and I want to start writing about it as I go.

First off, hopefully you’ll notice the quick diagram I threw together in OmniGraffle. This is a sort of rough sketch of the loosely-joined architecture I want to explore with this thing.

  • Data: This is where address book entries live.
  • Model: A set of objects encapsulating the data, this is how address book entries will be accessed.
  • REST API: Model objects exposed as resources identified by URI, serialized and deserialized as XML, and manipulated by GET / PUT / POST / DELETE methods.
  • XSLT Filter: XML data produced by REST API calls can be first passed through XSL at a given URL before being served up as a response.
  • HTML, CSS, JavaScript: Thanks to the XSLT filter layer, the XML vocabulary used to describe address book entries can be transformed into user interface presentation.
  • HTTP: Everything happens via HTTP…
  • Web Browser Client: …and everything is viewed in a web browser.

Now, I call this a loosely-joined architecture because I want to stress that you should be able to swap out just about any part of this whenever you want.

Want the Data to be in MySQL? Fine. Want it to be in flat files? Fine. Just make sure the Model can cope while maintaining a consistent interface for the REST API. Want to change the user interface in the browser? Great– ideally, all you have to do is change some XSLT files. I’m writing everything from the XSLT Filter down to the Model in Python. Don’t like that? Fine. Rewrite it all in Perl, and hopefully everything from the XSLT up to the browser will still be useful to you.

At some point, you might even want to ditch the browser for a native desktop client. Fabulous! Just ignore everything past the REST API and HTTP, don’t use any XSLT in the Filter, and use the API and XML directly.

I don’t think any of this is particularly revolutionary– although I thought it was when I first saw Amazon Web Services doing some of this, and I hope to throw a little GMail in as well. I hope that this will all be useful as I muddle through explaining what I’m doing. In the meantime, you can see me getting the stage set as I start checking things into my Subversion repository over here:

The Graphing Calculator Story

December 22, 2004

In The Graphing Calculator Story, the author explains how a useful software utility for the Macintosh PowerPC was developed (almost) entirely by stealth:

I view the events as an experiment in subverting power structures. I had none of the traditional power over others that is inherent to the structure of corporations and bureaucracies. I had neither budget nor headcount. I answered to no one, and no one had to do anything I asked. Dozens of people collaborated spontaneously, motivated by loyalty, friendship, or the love of craftsmanship. We were hackers, creating something for the sheer joy of making it work.

It illustrates that traditional corporate heirarchies aren’t always necessarily the best way to leverage resources.

Pogue welcomes advice

December 22, 2004

David Pogue welcomes suggestions about how to improve his new weblog.

xian's favorite blogs of 2004

December 22, 2004

OK, I took a crack at my current subscription list and started off by narrowing it down to 30 or so favorites split among several (sometimes semi-arbitrary) categories:

Politics and Media:

  1. The Poor Man (feed)
  2. James Wolcott (feed)
  3. PressThink: Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine, by Jay Rosen (feed)
  4. Fanatical Apathy (feed)
  5. Daily Kos: Political Analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation (feed)
  6. Orcinus: Policy, Culture and Journalism in the 21st Century (feed)
  7. California Insider: A Weblog by Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub (feed)

The Living Web:

  1. Andy Baio lives here (feed), and Waxy Links (feed)
  2. Micro Persuasion: Steve Rubel on how blogs and participatory journalism are impacting the practice of public relations (feed)
  3. Many-to-Many (feed)
  4. BuzzMachine (feed)
  5. Sandhill Trek: Voice and Vision in Decision (feed)
  6. Dan Gillmor’s eJournal (feed)
  7. The Power of Many (feed) – yes, self-dealing here, but I honestly think I and my co-contributors have built an amazing blog over the last year

Diarists (Writers and Thinkers):

  1. True Dirt (feed)
  2. scot hacker’s foobar blog (feed)
  3. Shelley Powers’ Burningbird: I do not exist in syndication feeds (feed)
  4. The personal site of Tom Coates, a London-based gay man interested in personal publishing, online communities/social software, collaborative media consumption, graphic design and technology… (feed)
  5. WHATEVER: The online home of writer John Scalzi. Taunting the Tauntable Since 1998. (feed)
  6. jwz (feed)
  7. Aaron Swartz: For real (feed)
  8. Best of Craigslist: Best postings from, selected by readers (feed)

Geeks and Gadgets:

  1. Daring Fireball: Mac and web curmudgeonry/nerdery. By John Gruber. (feed)
  2. Workbench: Programming and publishing news and comment (feed)
  3. Jeremy Zawodny’s blog: SELECT * FROM random_thoughts ORDER BY date DESC (feed)
  4. ongoing: Ongoing fragmented essay by Tim Bray (feed)
  5. “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” –Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (feed)
  6. Backup Brain: Backup Brain: Tom Negrino and Dori Smith on technology, culture, and politics (feed)
  7. Kalsey Consulting Group: This is the blog of Adam Kalsey, a Web technologist and CTO of Pheedo. The views expresed here are mine alone (mine, I tell you!) and do not neccessarily reflect the views of Pheedo. (feed)
  8. Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger: Robert Scoble’s look at geek and Microsoft life (feed)

OK, your turn.

Craigwatch: Newsweek calls craigslist 'a sleeping giant'

December 22, 2004

Quoting from Susan Mernit’s blog:

Ever see someone you know get really famous for what they’ve accomplished?
It’s definitely happening to Craig, whose Craigslist has the media marveling. The latest story, in Newsweek, has a clever pix of Craig with “Where the Wild Things Are” fuzzy feet.
Quote: “…The list is a sleeping economic giant that’s already dishing nightmares to ticket scalpers, employment brokers and publications that live by classified ads. “
More you know where.>

Best blogs of the year?

December 22, 2004 Feeding On Itself lists the 26 (or 7) best blogs of the year.
What are your picks?
I’d start with my current OPML reading list and have to whittle it down somehow.
Update: Here are Kottke’s favorites.

IDG announces RSS conference in New York

December 22, 2004

Quoting RSS Conference in NYC (Steve Rubel’s Micro Persuasion):

IDG announced a new conference focusing on content syndication. The theme of the inaugural show will be RSS: Risk, Reward and Revolution. The conference is billed as executive-level, and created for content owners and producers, media execs, corporate marketers, advertisers and PR professionals.

'The Long Tail' (book and the blog)

December 22, 2004

Quoting from The Long Tail the book and the blog:

Chris Anderson is writing a book about The Long Tail which started as one of my favorite articles that he wrote for Wired. He has also started a blog about the Long Tail. The original article is online at Wired.

Social book recommendations

December 21, 2004

Books We Like is trying to build a community of book-recommenders, and offers price-comparison shopping for recommended books.
This is a good step in the direction of collabortive review communities. I often want to write about a book I’m reading on my blog but I’m frustrated by the impoverished data structure (cue Marc Canter, et al.).