June 26, 2003

Newsmonster 1.0RC1 ships with Technorati support

Kevin Burton has been a busy guy lately, getting a new release of his uber-aggregator tool Newsmonster out the door.  I've been playing with it and it is really quite slick.  Kevin's built a cross-platform tool because it runs inside of Mozilla.  So, right off, it runs on every platform that Mozilla runs on, including Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.  Kevin adds in multipaned windows, and automatic integration of feeds/pages that don't have RSS, and things start to really cook. 

Then to top it all off, he has integrated the Technorati API into the application, which makes finding the conversations around any article you're reading as simple as pie.  He's posted some screenshots as well.  Here's a view of Technorati threading and here's one of its Technorati Keyword Search integration.  It even has its own reputation system built in. These features are what sets NewsMonster apart for me - being able to quickly get context information on news and events of the day ads a tremendous amount of value to my daily web experience, and by displaying the Technorati Link Cosmos results as threads in NewsMonster makes following the conversation a much richer experience.  Kudos, Kevin!  Now all we need is the ability to post to a weblog via NewsMonster, and I'll be all set.
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June 24, 2003

Comments on the RSS Controversy

There's a lingering open wound in the weblog technology community, and it is called RSS.  Last week, Dave Winer and I had a long phone call discussing the issue, and I've been doing some reading and thinking about the controversy.  My perspective on the RSS issue: I think it all comes down to naming.  Dave has said (on numerous occasions) that if the folks who created RSS 1.0 had given it another name, he wouldn't have had a problem with it.  For example, here's Dave's perspective from Scripting News on 8/31/2000:
The proposed syndication format takes a new direction. It should have a new name. Then there's no problem. Further, a new format is not bad or good. If there's a suitable new name, and if it gains traction, we'll support it, as we would any Web syndication format that has content support.
Mark Pilgrim has also written up a great summary of the history of the fork. 

Does the problem really boil down to this fundamental issue?  Last week, I asked Dave on the phone, "So would this whole controvery be solved if RSS 1.0 was renamed to something else?" 

His answer?  "Yes, absolutely." 

Now here's the really good news.  A number of folks who helped write the RSS 1.0 specification, like Aaron Swartz and Sam Ruby, have expressed willingness to drop RSS 1.0 future development, and to rename their future weblog standards development.  Sam's even put out a call for new names.  Here's my suggestion:  Call the new work "MSS 1.0".  MSS would stand for Metadata Site Summary. Make it clear that this is solving a different set of problems than RSS 2.0 solves - I think the wiki already goes a long way to describe the differences, both in scope and in philosophy.  Let's let the confusion end, and bring some healing to the weblog technology world. 

Then we can all move forward together.  And get to what's really important - sophisticated interoperability and new features that users will love.

UPDATE:I've been told that Sam Ruby was not one of the original RSS 1.0 authors, sorry for the mischaracterization.

June 21, 2003

Technorati hits 400,000 blogs watched

fourhundredgrand.png Subject line says it all.  We hit 100,000 back on March 5, and 200,000 on April 6.  I forgot to note when we hit 300,000, but it was sometime around mid-May, and I'm too busy right now to go back and check in the data archives.  Technorati is currently tracking about 3,000 new weblogs per day.  Andrew Anker makes some interesting predictions based on the numbers.

June 18, 2003

The New York Times on Bloggers

A Blogger's Big Fish Fantasy is the latest from New York Times writer Catherine Greenman in today's Circuits.  This is the article I was talking about two weeks ago - it discusses the struggles, and sometime successes of webloggers looking to establish audiences.  Of course, not all bloggers are looking for audiences, but some are, and it is human nature to want to participate in conversations - to feel like someone is out there reading and thinking about what one says. 

And since the NYT is my old hometown paper, being quoted is sure to make my folks proud.  Kudos as well to Meg, Paul, Susan (who, along with Ryan, was found via the earlier blog entry), and Elizabeth, and great plugs for NewsMonster and Popdex, as well as Technorati.

June 10, 2003

BusinessWeek on Blogs

BusinessWeek Online has just produced a special report on The Social Web, and the best article of the bunch is Jane Black's piece on weblogs, titled, The Wild World of Open Source Media.  Jane succinctly describes the thrall of blogging as well as its impact on the wider media world, using Salam Pax and the resignations at the NYT as examples.  She did her research as well - discussing diverse viewpoints: from David Weinberger and Glenn Reynolds, Nick Denton to Clay Shirky.

She also writes kindly about Technorati:
It hasn't taken long, however, for the impact of Sifry's software to exceed his harmless narcissism. In the eight months since Technorati appeared, it has become a tool not just for bloggers but for anyone who wants to discover what's on the global agenda.
Well, shucks. 

June 9, 2003

Technorati Keword Search

I'm extremely proud to announce the newest Technorati feature, Keyword Search.  You can now search Technorati's database of over 360,000 weblogs and get up-to-date information on your search terms.  Bookmark this page:

http://www.technorati.com/cosmos/search.html

The indexes are rebuilt several times each day, which means that it can take as little as 2 hours from the time you post something on your weblog to when it shows up in Keyword Search results.

A few disclaimers:  This is BETA, I whipped it up on little sleep over the weekend, and it may still have bugs.  There are some things that need fixing, like the results ordering and some parts of the user interface.  Rather than wait for everything to be perfect, I figured I'd release what I had in the hopes that some of you would find it useful. As always, I'm interested in getting feedback on how to improve it.

I've also implemented a REST-ful API for search requests as well.  This means that you can use HTTP GET or POST to the following URL:

http://api.technorati.com/search

and you'll get back an XML document with the search results.  Standard disclaimers apply, and you've got to abide by the Terms Of Service, which basically says that the results are for non-commercial use only, and must include a "powered by Technorati" link when displaying the results. 

First off, you'll need a Technorati API key, and if you don't have one already, you can get one for free by signing up as a Technorati member on the signup page and then retrieve your API Key

Next, construct your query.  For the sake of readability, I'm going to show this as an HTTP GET query, but it can just as easily be encoded in a POST for all of you REST zealots. :-)
query=SEARCH_TERM
Don't forget to URL encode your search term if it has spaces or quotes in it.
key=API_KEY
Here's where you put in your Technorati API Key.  You get 500 queries per day, from midnight to midnight PST.
start=RANKING
The API call returns 20 results.  If you want to see result 21-40, set start=21.  You can begin viewing results anywhere in the stream, so if you set start=30, you'd see results 30-49.  Note that there is no guarantee that results will be contiguous - rankings can change, and because the indexes are rebuilt frequently, some rankings may change between calls.  If this is an issue for you, let us know
version=0.9
type=xml
These two variables are built to allow for various format changes as time goes on.  The current Technorati API is at version 0.9, and as long as you set version=0.9 in your API call, we'll always return API  0.9 results.  This gives you developers the assurance that your applications will work for a long time, and it allows us to make changes and extensions to the API.  If you leave the version variable out of your query, it will default to the most recent version of the API (which is currently 0.9).

The type variable controls the format of the output itself.  We may decide at some future time to support other formats other than this XML format.  Putting in this variable allows developers to specify the exact type of output you want to receive.  Right now, the only legal value is type=xml, and it is the default value.

So, if you wanted to perform an API call on say, "David Sifry" and return the first 20 results, you would use (GET syntax):
http://api.technorati.com/search?query=%22David+Sifry%22&key=94035daac6b136378856f3239648ab27&start=1
Please send your feedback and comments, and if you have problems or questions, check on the api-discuss mailing list - lots of smart people hang out there.

Note to self - we still need to make changes to the XML DTD (Ken?) to incorporate the search results.  We also need to include some different sorting options, like sorting by date or authority, not just by relevance. 

June 4, 2003

Time for a physical - and a social software lazyweb request

beforeafter-small.jpg I've lost 50 pounds on the Atkins plan since November.  I feel great.  Take a quick look at these before and after photos.  Now, I want to go to a doctor and get a complete physical - both for health insurance reasons (lower those premiums!) and because it has been about 3 years since I've seen my doctor.  Well, there's the rub - when I called to make an appointment, they told me that he moved out of town.  Couldn't wait for me to call, I guess.  Frankly, I never much liked him anyway.

So here's my dilemma - I'm looking for recommendations of a good doctor or group in San Francisco that can become my new GP.  This is where the social software idea hit me - I'd love to go to a place like LinkedIn and make a non-work-related request - like finding a good doctor or dentist - and get back responses from my friends or my friends' friends. I know there are tons of good doctors in San Francisco, but this is the kind of choice that becomes so much easier to make if I can get a response from someone I trust - which is the point of these networking services, no?  I'm sure there's even a business model in there, perhaps something like the Meetup model.

So, dear readers, got any suggestions on a good doctor in SF that takes Blue Shield?  Submit it as a comment or drop me a line.