Posts from January 2005

a9 panorama tool

Let the A9 local image hacks begin: Run up and down the street. Put in an A9 search URL, and get a panorama of the whole street. (to the left or right.)

Also, Craig let me know what the group bike thing is from my last post: a seven-person conference bike.

A9 Storefront Images

Amazon's search engine added pictures of storefronts to their yellow pages. For example, here's camera shops in Portland. Here's their description of how they did it. This seems like it'd be a nightmare to keep up to date, but Amazon is a huge company with lots of resources. Will they let business owners update their photos themselves? And I wonder if any of these bulk photos caught snippets of people living their lives (by accident). In any case, it's great to see the world wide web getting local like this.

Update: heh, Alan Taylor was wondering the same thing about unintentional A9 photos, and he set up a Flickr tag (a9local) to track interesting images anyone finds. (For example, what is this thing?)

Corvallis Paper interview

I talked with Mary Ann Albright from the Corvallis Gazette-Times yesterday morning. She called and asked for the interview because of the PC Magazine thing, and she wrote a very nice article from our conversation: Blog days are here.

I'm especially glad she mentioned a project I put together called ORblogs. (If you read this site regularly, you probably already know what it's about.) I think localized blogging is something that's going to be important to communities, and it'd be great to see this idea gaining ground. I really would like to see more people in Corvallis blogging, if only for my own selfish need for information. But I think there are lots of people like me who read the local paper, watch local news, and still want to hear more. (Especially since Corvallis doesn't have its own local radio and television stations.) If everyone in town had a weblog, I could learn a lot about different parts of the community.

It was also good to meet Gazette-Times photographer, Ryan Gardner. (Who also runs with his wife.) Now I know what it's like to be on the other side of the camera. It was something like this—

Ryan Gardner

Speaking of local blogging... If you're in Corvallis, you should definitely tune into the Bigha weblog. They're a local company that makes outdoor gear, and they've been at the center of the green laser stuff you've been hearing in the news. They're using their company weblog to respond to the press. It's great to hear unmediated voices like this!

fired for blogging?

Anil has a theory that no one has been fired for blogging, really. I think it'd be interesting to compile a list of people who have been hired because of their blog. I know I've made contacts and received work through this weblog. I've heard about journalists being "discovered" via their weblog, and hired by a media company. I think the positive, hiring end of the spectrum is much more common than the negative that people seem to focus on. And a list of real stories gathered together somewhere would make that apparent.

inverse google bombing

I was thinking last night that the nofollow tag creates the ability for inverse google bombing. This would be where everyone links to a specific site, but they include the rel=nofollow in any link to that site. You'd have a situation where thousands of people were linking to something like mad, but it never shows up in Google or any of the major search engines. Hate Microsoft? Want to link to them, yet not give them a pagerank boost? rel=nofollow.


I added rel=nofollow to my comment links. More info at Six Log: Support for nofollow.

Update: John Batelle weighs in on nofollow
My gut take on this yesterday was "We're making a decision without thinking through the implications." My second gut take was "We can't possibly imagine all the implications." So my third gut take is "Don't do it if we can't imagine what consequences it might have."
I think John's reaction assumes that the big search engines are the only "processors of our collective reality," and that any change in how they operate represents a major change in our collective reality. I think the nofollow tag puts more control of search engines into the hands of content-controllers. (eg. hosted weblog services, ISPs, etc.) This means there's less control for people who contribute content, but don't own and control their own web space. I'm not sure how I feel about the implications of that (not good right now), but I also know that comment spam is a serious problem and something needed to be done before all discussion stopped.

oregon blogging map

Last night I played around with worldKit—a Flash mapping program. (You may remember this from such flash maps as The World as a Blog.) Their tagline is "Easy Web Mapping", and that's very accurate. I decided to build a geographic map of recent posts by Oregon bloggers, and I had it up and running in about an hour. worldKit has a simple XML config file, and it accepts geo-tagged RSS as input. Using their MapProxy, you can build custom images based on satellite photos, topographic maps, or the tiger census maps. With a few tweaks to the tiger URLs the MapProxy provides, I had the map I wanted. And "Oregon as a Blog" was born on the ORblogs Cities Page. (Of course you'll need Flash installed to view it.)

Mapping Hacks cover

Check out the cover of the forthcoming Mapping Hacks—full color!

Somewhat related, a weblog about maps: The Map Room.

sxsw baby!

Brad has resurrected sxswblog for 2005 in the form of: sxswbaby! Due to changing servers and changing plans, the old sxswblog is no more. It's great to see Brad keeping the tradition alive. If you want to get an off-the-record, unofficial view of South by Southwest Interactive—and meet some folks virtually before you meet them in person—sxswbaby will be the place.

Unfortunately, it looks like I'm not going to be able to make it to Austin for the conference this year. But I'll be eavesdropping on the site and living vicariously through everyone else. :)

b!X questions credibility conference's credibility

b!X is fighting the good fight for bloggers in some comments on a list of participants for the invitation-only "Blogging, Journalism & Credibility" conference at Harvard. b!x says:
There is a difference and distinction, however, between people who code the technology which makes blogging possible, talk about what the technology and the form make possible, or journalists who happen to also blog (on the one hand) and the many and varied people across the country who are not technologists, media observers, or traditional journalists, and who have been spending their time actually practicing the intersection of weblogs and journalism itself.
With a word like credibility in the title, I think b!X is right to question the credibility of the discussion itself. [via Brad Stenger's Tech Blog]

New Site: Ask ORblogs

In a blatent ripoff of er, homage to Matt Haughey's Ask Metafilter and Ask PVRblog, I put together a site for Oregonians called Ask ORblogs. The idea is the same: anyone can ask a question, and hopefully someone reading will be able to answer the question or provide some info. Ask ORblogs won't have the sheer number of people that Ask MeFi has, but if local bloggers tune into the site once in a while, I think the concentration of local Oregon knowledge would be much higher than you'd find at Ask MeFi. Of course the questions don't have to be Oregon-specific, but I think that's where the site will be able to help people the most. down?

Asking the ether for tech support: Does anyone know why the changes.xml file at is requesting a user/pass?

lazyweb UK RSS

oh lazyweb, why do you mock me? I'm trying to comment on a post at lazyweb, but it says:
Your comment was denied. It contains content currently banned by my blacklist.
oh yeah? Well now you're on my blacklist, lazyweb! fwiw, here's what I was trying to say—
It's not easy. I hacked my Amazon RSS tool to do UK feeds: Amazon UK RSS. A better way would be to write your own Amazon UK XSL stylesheet. People have been asking Amazon to add UK feeds for a while now. Alan Taylor put together the RSS for, but he has moved on, so this feature may be on the back burner for Amazon UK.
That doesn't look like comment spam to me. for sale was a project I worked on in 2003 that tried to inspire weblog authors each day with a word or phrase, and then point to the results. The domain is expiring, and I'd rather see someone use it than have it go to domain squatters selling whatever domain squatters sell. If you're interested in doing something with (beyond selling ch3ap v1agr4), contact me.

Update: Someone has claimed I'll post more details when I can.

timestamps and weblogs redux

I received a thoughtful response to my silly post about timestamps and weblogs the other day—
The main reason I (and, I'm sure, plenty of others) don't use timestamps is that I sometimes blog from work and don't want the higher-ups knowing about it or (worse) being able to "prove" that something was posted during work hours.
With the cases of people being fired for their weblog, I understand why bloggers want to be careful. (We never hear about the stories where people are promoted because of their weblog.) I still feel like a weblog without timestamps cripples one of the weblog's primary functions. I think this problem points to the need for employers to clarify their stances on weblogs, and personal use of the web. Ross Mayfield wrote about this in his post, Standard Weblog Employee Policy
Employees want to do the right thing. They want to have a voice, get approval and use it for the benefit of their company. Right now, they can point to the Sun Policy on Public Discourse, Groove Weblog Policy and the evolving Corporate Weblogger Manifesto as examples. They can talk their executives into considering it by pointing to Jonathan Schwartz, me (heh) and Bill Gates any day now. But its still an emerging issue.
It's a bit different when employees are posting to their personal weblog on company time, but people send personal email all the time. (Which employers can easily track.) Weblogs shouldn't be treated differently.

Weblog Prediction

Well, my weblog prediction for 2004 didn't come true as far as I know. I thought a prominent blogger would be sued for libelous comments. Awareness of legal issues related to weblogs definitely grew in 2004, and Dan Gillmor devoted an entire chapter of We The Media to blog law. I'm hesitant to make another prediction, but I agree there's a weblog backlash on the way. I guess my prediction is that a major old-media (TV, Newspaper, Magazine) personality will start a crusade to discredit weblogs. Rather than stopping existing bloggers, a campaign like this could discourage new people from writing weblogs. (More professionalism in weblogs could have the same effect, ironically. Maybe someone should start a "keep weblogs weird" campaign this year.)