Sunday, January 26, 2003

Software as a service

This is an idea that is ready to happen. Jon Udell: Publish globally, script locally talks about it and in several other postings has demonstarted it. Like any other major shift ( I will avoid the p*** word) this will require a mojor shift in thinking. As part of my blog mapping project I am going to commit to both using other services and provide it as a service. If you believe in a revolution you need to stand up and be counted. Open source is just the first step - open services is where the revolution is !

Saturday, January 25, 2003

Dynamic Graphs

If you click on the image before it will bring up an applet with a map of my local blog space. Navigate mode allows you to set a blog (by clicking on it) as the center, then you can shrink and expand the map. Going to edit mode makes the nodes clickable and enables the ability to click the various blogs.

Feedback is welcome - I have a few ideas about how to make it more interesting and relevant.

Monday, January 20, 2003

Fun with maps

after my last exploration with mapping blog relationships I moved over to using a Java based library Touchgraph that allowed a more dynamic look at the relationships between the blogs I link to and those that link to them. If anyone has read the book "The Tipping Point" there is a discussion about the various types of people that cause the formation of social groups. I think mapping how blogs relate to one another can illustrate some of the points the author (Malcolm Gladwell) makes. I need to re-read the blog and probably re-read linked to before I can draw any conclusions. I will admit to being fascinated with the entire investigation.

Here is my most recent map of the links around my blog. It is a static image generated from a Java Application. If I get sometime in the next few weeks I will turn it into an applet that will allow users to browse and manipulate the map. Each node expands into the next level down. I have not gone beyond that - need to do some more work on my crawler to increase speed and reduce memory consumption.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Scarily Cool

Jon Udell demonstrates in O'Reilly Network: Services and Links [Jan. 13, 2003] a scarily cool REST web service. The idea of a web service this cool and easy is humbling. It even works (kinda) even with Blogger. Being able to create a useful service without the plumbing necessary in SOAP is somewhat disturbing but something that is also strangely liberating.

Monday, January 13, 2003

Trust and networks

Ross Mayfield's Weblog writes about Cognitive or Emotive Trust. Trust is something that is often overlooked when security issues come up.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Open Source and Blogs

One of the biggest learnings from the little mapping experiment I am working on is the power of community. To build the application I relied heavily on the hard work of others in the Open Source Community (many thanks to the teams involved with: HTMLParser, Graphviz, and Xerces).
Being able to share ideas with others in the blogging community such as Steven Dulaney and Ross Mayfield gives real-time feedback that then sparks new ideas. Even though between pressures of work and family I am a little pressed for time I still feel part of a larger community through blogging. Thanks all.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Navigation Links

Stephen Dulaney e-mailed me that he liked the navigation map on my blog. Well it is the season, so Stephen here is your own navigation map [feel free to cut and paste].

istori/logBlogging AlonePython Community Server: Development
a klog apart
Scripting News
Ron Lusk's Radio Weblog
Second p0st
Seb's Open Research
Marcus' Tablet PC Radio Weblog
Ross Mayfield's Weblog
The Shifted Librarian
Jon's Radio
thomas n. burg | randgänge
Universal Rule
Jon Schull's Weblog
Ross Mayfield: Social Networks
Ray Ozzie's Weblog
John Robb's Radio Weblog
RatcliffeBlog: Business, Technology & Investing
Peter Drayton's Radio Weblog
A Man with a Ph.D. - Richard Gayle's WeblogMarc's Voice
Boing Boing Blog
Steve Gillmor's Radio Weblogkottke.orgStephen RapleyFast TakesSam Ruby   Hugh's ramblingsJeroen Bekkers' Groove WeblogJohn BurkhardtJeremy Allaire's Radio Robb Beal's Radio Weblog

This is just a small example of how make use of the visualization of blog links. While creating nice graphics is fun there is the question to be asked - what is the use of visualization?

Jon Schull makes the point that the number of nodes quickly makes the problem very hard to manage. Just going a few levels deep from my home page I get the following image map that has 250+ nodes. It is clickable and it is fun to navigate around and get to other blogs in one click rather than navigation through several other links.

The value of mapping may not be in mapping the raw connections but lifting patterns out of the maps. Sounds like another project...

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Changes to RSS to make mapping easier

As part of my mapping experiment I had to parse through HTML and determine by heuristics which link was the RSS feed for the particular URL etc. There were two problems with this:

  • Determining if the link was a RSS file: naming conventions vary widely, any chance we could all agree to use .rss as the extension?

  • Extend the RSS schema to include referrals as part the schema. This would allow very fast mapping of blog relationships.

These two changes would allow blogs to be machine mappable without the current crufty coding required to walk through HTML files. This should lead to lots of unintended consequences....

Mapping my Neighborhood

For a while I have been interested in different ways to look at information and how people interact to create new ideas. After talking about it for a while I decided it was time to actually do something about it. So over the holidays I hacked together some code to map the surrounding blog space from a starting URL. It is still a little buggy i.e. I get unexpected results sometime.

The code parses a starting URL builds a map matching links to URL feeds using several heuristics. The rational is that if you have an RSS feed you are likely a blogger therefore you are included in the map. This does exclude some notable sites and may include some non-bloggers but it gives a pretty good initial picture.

This is the first image map of my local neighborhood to a depth of three links removed.
Now that I have all this information at my finger tips the interesting thing is what can I do with it and what other relationships can I start to determine and visualize.