Tapping Dave Winer's backend , so I don't have to.
June 26, 2000 11:52 PM   Subscribe

Tapping Dave Winer's backend , so I don't have to.
Are Webloggers and Weblog-followers getting so jaded as to not even care about the New-And-Improved SubHonker Filter? Let's see: according to Weblogs.Com's Weblog Search, it has been mentioned by only 9 weblogs (including its creator's own) prior to this post, and never made it over the threshold to show up on Beebo's Metalog. Or maybe that's the point. We're not supposed to be counting hits or trolling for readership. But when you're looking for something new and fresh from someone who has something unique to contribute to the Weblog Community (which we're not even supposed to admit exists) is there an easier way to go than a random dive into the SHF's list of "New" blogs? Or maybe you just want to be made aware within an hour of when your favorite web-pundit has posted another magnum-opus (or magnum-bill-the-cat). Do these tools matter anymore? Or is it just that, with a couple thousand registered to weblogs.com, you have to be an obsessive-compulsive nutcase (like me) to even dive into the swamp, no matter how much Dan has improved the filtering interface. (Four hours going through the list so far, and I've only decided Yes-or-No on about 15%, and it's the obvious 15%!)
posted by wendell (17 comments total)
Actually, I'm not surprised at anything anymore. News that I thought would have spread throughout the weblog community routinely does not.For example, after I wrote an Open Letter to Blogger last week about creating a native comment system, I was surprised by how few people linked to and read it. I would have thought that it would be a big topic of discussion and that I would have gotten a mountain of feedback, but so far I haven't.
posted by hit-or-miss at 6:28 AM on June 27, 2000

I'm not even registered at weblogs.com. I didn't quite understand what it was for, and since I'm registered at all these sites I don't even remember how to get to, I didn't think what they apparently were offering was worth signing up for something yet again.

I don't need the SubHonker Filter. Many of the blogs and journals I read aren't listed at weblogs.com. When I want to read weblogs, I open up my private bookmarks page, and click on the links. Since I only read from my journal list once a day or less, I don't have a compelling need to know when everything's been updated last.
posted by Electric Elf at 6:32 AM on June 27, 2000

I'm a Backflip user, and I find their "daily routine" feature useful for checking a certain set of weblogs every day. It's a frameset, where the (not too large) top frame has navigation controls that let you flip through a predefined set of pages in the bottom frame.
posted by harmful at 7:26 AM on June 27, 2000

I haven't checked out Backflip, which I assume has other features, but if you know how to make a basic HTML frameset, you can set up the same thing yourself in a matter of minutes. I did this on my PC, stored the frameset on my harddrive, and made it my homepage. Since it's on my PC, there's no waiting time for it to download, and, of course, it's ad free. (And I've set it to load MeFi in the bottom frame as the default page).
posted by grumblebee at 7:52 AM on June 27, 2000

Backflip is a web bookmarking app, and yes, the "daily routine" is only one of its features. I find maintaining my bookmarks and routine through its interface more convenient than editing HTML, and can access the same list from any computer. And before anybody starts the usual argument about the reliability of web apps, I'd like to note that I can easily dump my whole bookmark list to a local file from time to time.
posted by harmful at 8:00 AM on June 27, 2000

What I'd really like is a service that allows you to build a collage out of multiple web pages. For instance, I might want a frame which just displays the computer news portion of CNN's homepage next to a frame that displays the top post on MetaFilter. I guess this would work by searching for key words. Does anything like this exist? If not, maybe I need to start coding...
posted by grumblebee at 8:04 AM on June 27, 2000

There was something like that discussed on one or another of the weblog lists a few months back, with the attendant issues about the ethics of "scraping" and selectively viewing sites. I can't remember the name of the app though. Anyone?
posted by bradlands at 8:27 AM on June 27, 2000

Re: SHF - For the longest time, I didn't even know what the hell it was or what it did. The name didn't mean anything to me, nor does the site say what it's about when you go there (although that info is available on the about page). Perhaps a name change and the addition of a little mission statement/elevator pitch on the front page would help matters. It's good tech, it might just need a little polish here and there.

Also, the login-to-use thing is always a barrier to use...even if it gets linked...many people will come and immediately leave.

Re: Open Letter to Blogger - You didn't call anyone names or say anything even remotely agitating to anyone. Evidently, that's the key to getting linked everywhere.... ;)

But say everyone had their own little Metafilter attached to their Blogger weblog....how many gigabytes of information would be moving through Pyra's servers every day? At 10 posts a day/weblog, their FTP traffic would increase 10-fold (approx). Not to mention all the hard drive space that it would take up. Someone needs to pay for that, and that would be a pretty big hit for Pyra to absorb solo.

Grumblebee: I haven't used it, but OnePage might be close to what you're looking for.
posted by jkottke at 8:32 AM on June 27, 2000

Thanks Jason! I just checked OnePage out, and it's pretty damn cool. But it's still far from perfect. You can select the part of the page you want to display by chosing an image from the page, a table from the page, an area of the page, or a "headline" of the page.

I tried it first on the visitor-counter on my website. I knew "image" wouldn't work, because each digit of the counter is a separate GIF. So I tried "area". And OnePage divided the page up into sections and let me pick one to display. I'm not sure I get how it determines a section, but one of the sections WAS my counter. Pretty cool!

Next, I tried it on Metafilter. I wanted to see if I could get it to display the top post. I tried every option, but I couldn't get it to work. Headline seemed like the best bet, but that gave me links to specific text, which would, of course, change as MeFi gets updated.

They need to add some more ways to specify areas. They should allow you to select an area by pixel dimensions. And they should also allow you to specify by beginning text and ending text--and the "text" should have an include HTML option, so that you could, for instance, pull a section from the first < p> to the second < p>.

Still, it's a good start.
posted by grumblebee at 9:03 AM on June 27, 2000

Daily routine? I've got yer solution! If you use IE4+ and Windows, of course. It's a little utility I wrote that sits in your system tray and controls your web browser. Never got past the beta version (do I ever?), and I think I'm the only user. Nevertheless: Webcruiser.
posted by daveadams at 9:57 AM on June 27, 2000

The topic drift is more interesting than my original topic, so I feel guilty going back, but for the record:

The name of the "SubHonker Filter" was originally tied to the strange domain name Dave W. gave to his weblog directory before he put it in weblogs.com; as such, it's kind of an inside reference that doesn't mean anything to anybody anymore (like Dennis Miller on Monday Night Football). The "favorites" feature on weblogs.com was intended to make the SHF redundant and unneeded, but I still preferred having access to ALL the registered weblogs I could choose to View or Hide (especially after weblogs.com's main page was cut back to the most recent 3 hours).

And, hey, the Open Letter to Blogger did make the Beebo Metalog Saturday with 5 links...
posted by wendell at 10:08 AM on June 27, 2000

I'm sure "subhonker" makes every bit as much sense in the native tongue of Userland as the cowskull does.
posted by harmful at 11:40 AM on June 27, 2000

grumblebee: Perhaps DoDots is what you're looking for.
posted by netbros at 11:54 AM on June 27, 2000

DoDots crashed my system.
posted by grumblebee at 1:05 PM on June 27, 2000

Wow, I almost missed this thread. Many thanks to Wendell for posting, and to everyone for comments. The SHF is very much a work in progress, so feedback can easily lead to its implementation within a couple of days. So keep it coming!

I was pressed for time to get the app working, so design went a little to the wayside. A blurb on the front page about what it is is on my to-do list, as is a more useful not-logged-in display (i.e. 60-100 of the most recent weblogs). My to-do list has tons of other stuff on it too, such as color and font customization and element toggles (turn on/off the search box, the New to Hidden button, and anything else I might add).

I thought about changing the name with the rewrite, but couldn't think of anything. Suggestions are welcome.

What I'd really like feedback on, esp. from this rich design community, is how the Weblogs ("Filters") selection interface can be improved. I'd like to maintain the three-list model, and of course it has to keep all 1200+ weblogs accessible. Maybe an (optional) fancy DHTML interface is called for, so it doesn't have to hit the server until changes are to be locked in.

Other ways of finding out about weblogs are probably called for. I had to drop Weblogs.com's banner ads because they kept the apps pages from loading quickly. If I had the time, I'd write "featured weblog" blurbs. Or I could just download all the banner ad URLs and store them locally. I'm in a limited hosting environment, so many really cool ideas are out of my reach right now. (I'm considering moving it to my own server, so I could even [*gasp*] spider blogs myself. But I need to get around to that.)

And so on and so forth. Thanks again for the comments. Feedback is always welcome.
posted by dan_of_brainlog at 1:34 PM on June 27, 2000

The SHF looks like a great coding job, and quite useful to the people it's intended for. I meant that I didn't understand the purpose of weblogs.com. The SHF's About page explains what the Filter is for very well!
posted by Electric Elf at 2:29 PM on June 27, 2000

To understand the language of Dave Winer, you must read the glossary.

posted by yarf at 6:59 PM on June 29, 2000

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