Technorati, the next Digg?

I got a chance to take a look at the new Technorati during lunch today and I was pretty surprised. It seems like these guys are constantly reinventing themselves, still struggling to define the currency of the blogosphere. Is it the blog, the keyword, the tag, or the post itself? The post seems to get the vote in this latest redesign, which has top blog posts broken down by category in a manner very similar to the latest Digg. These days, Digg must be feeling very flattered.

Truth be told though, Technorati may be the more ideal social bookmarking platform than Digg. Digg is a supposedly an open platform, but you have to be a member to submit or “digg” content and these days you may even have to sign in to view it. This and the fact that “digg”-ing a story takes extra effort is the reason why only a subset of Digg’s readers actually contribute. Technorati, on the other hand, uses links as its article sorting method. It profits off the links people are already putting in their blog posts. So it in theory is a more accurate reflection of what is hot on the Internet.

But does the wisdom of the masses produce a better set of articles? I would argue no. The front page of Digg still seems much more compelling content-wise than the front page of Technorati. It’s the same reason I like the most-emailed stories more than the most-read or most-linked on the New York Times. Making the “cost” higher means that people focus on more interesting stories, rather than ones that are already popular. So while the new Technorati is interesting, its Digg-likeness is only skin deep.

Moving On, Moving Up

I am changing the location of this blog again, hopefully for the last time. I recently reaccquired the rights to http://www.quietkid.net again, so I am moving this blog to that domain. You can read about how I originally lost the domain here. WordPress.com has been a great host and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to get into blogging. I wanted a little more control, however, and this gives me the oppertunity exercise that. The new site has mostly the same look, but I have made some improvements and added some additional content.

I'll keep re-posting here for a limited time while people make the transition, but eventually I'll stop. So you can start directing your bookmarks and feed readers to http://www.quietkid.net from now on. Last of all I would like to thank all my readers who have discovered me on WordPress.com. For the first time in my blogging career I felt like I was contributing to a community and had a real audience. I hope this will continue at the new domain. I appreciate your help and patience in this matter, thanks for all the support.

Slow Times

Man, I’ve gotten myself into another posting slump again. I feel like half of all my posts are me apologizing to my non-existent readers about my posting irregularities. I have a lot of ideas to write about, but I can’t seem to get them out. So I’ll play a little catch up.

I survived last week and got home safely for spring break. Now that I am home I am battling with allergies a bit. I have come to the conclusion there is something in the house, specifically the living room area, that is causing me to sneeze a lot. I was out a lot today though, so it wasn’t too bad. I picked up Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on DVD today and was annoyed to have to chose between a plain release and a 2-disc edition. I guess they’re trying to charge more for value added features, but its just really annoying for consumers.

Speaking of movies, I enjoyed the Oscars a lot this year. I didn’t think that Chris Rock was bad last year, but everything else was pretty boring. I thought Jon Stewart did a great job and I was glad to see others having fun as well. I was really happy to see Crash win Best Picture. I don’t have anything against Brokeback Mountain, I just felt like Crash was better movie. Thus I am kind of annoyed by all the whispers about Crash‘s win, saying that Hollywood was too scared of gay cowboys. One thing Hollywood is scared of is DVDs as noted in Academy president Sid Ganis’ speech that encouraged people to see movies in theaters rather than on DVD.

On a much more serious note, I just wanted to mourn the loss of one of my high school classmates Jay Crawford. He died suddenly and unexpectedly in his sleep last week, the exact cause has not been determined yet. I can’t say I knew him well, but I was in a couple of classes with him my freshman year. I was a shy new student then and he was one of the first people to treat me as a friend. He was a good guy and will be missed.

My Super Weekend

Hope you had a good holiday weekend. That’s right, Super Bowl Sunday is a national holiday according to one PSU professor. It certainly does a good enough job getting people to come together. I watched the game in a dorm with some friends, including one annoyingly happy Steelers fan. Though we like to think its a 50-50 split, the truth is the Steelers are the favorite team here in State College. It seemed like they might have been the NFL’s favorite too. Truth is I like the Steelers as a team, I just didn’t want to have to deal with their obnoxious fans. Congratulations to the Steelers, especially Betis and Cowher, and the thousands of Steelers fans who live under the delusion that their support made the difference. If you weren’t interested in the game, I thought the FedEx’s cavemen commercial was the best.

Actually the biggest sports news around here is Penn State’s upset of #6 Illinois on Saturday night. I went to the game Wednesday night against Michigan, which was a closer match-up than it should have been. I imagine I will be going to more games after this weekend’s performance. I spent my weekend at the theaters seeing Something New and Captoe, both very worthwhile. I think Phillip Seymore Hoffman should be getting an Oscar for his performance. Speaking of which, I am planning to put together my belated Best Films of 2005 list and Oscar picks soon when I get a chance. Also, I got tricked into watching Grey’s Anatomy after seeing the commercials – only to be left with a cliffhanger. It confirmed most of my worst suspicions about the show, including the fact that it couldn’t take Scrubs in a fight.

My real reason for writing tonight was just to get back to blogging again. I have been really slow about posting, though the posts I have written have gotten a lot of attention. It’s nice to take time and write a good post once in a while, but lately I have just only been doing long rants which don’t really reflect what I am thinking. So starting tomorrow I will go back to posting at least once a day, something I did when I started this blog. I am also pleased with the way I styled this post, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I do even more first person writing. Anyway, more posts are on the way in the future.

The Community Blog

There’s a good essay going around the blogosphere about a former journalist who started up a blog about the happenings of her local community. She uses sarcasm and humor while covering “hyperlocal” stories, such as a train delay or a set of lazy lifeguards (I take a bit of offense to that one, because I was once a card-playing lifeguard myself :)). At its worst she calls it “small town newspaper meets the Daily Show”, but at its best they publicly scrutinize the small town happenings that never get covered.

Blogs get a lot of attention these days, usually unwarranted. This is the type of thing that the medium is great for. Jeff Jarvis talked about the flaws of local newspapers today before talking about this essay. The truth is a lot of news, and blog postings (i.e. this one) are regurgitation. There’s a lot of news going on in your own backyard and I would like to see more people recognize this. The web has an opportunity to enhance real-life communities by mirroring them in cyberspace. We see this in play on campus with the Facebook.

This is the type of thing I would love to be doing in my hometown when I am through with school. Last summer we had two totally random shootings that got some press coverage, but I haven’t heard much since. We also had a town commissioner hit a cop, that I would like to hear more about. Until then, though, I guess I’m stuck with reading Philly.com.

Web Conversations

I came across Google’s Firefox Extentions yesterday afternoon when I was looking for new software to play with. I downloaded and installed a new one called Blogger Web Comments. The extention uses Google’s Blog Search to find posts that link back to the page or site you are currently viewing. So it automatically brings up any posts about the page you are using, which is pretty handy.

It does have some weaknesses. For starters its branded as a Blogger tool, so its meant to allow Blogger tools to add posts. So I can’t use it to post to my blog. It also includes a lot of splog entries, which is rather annoying. Still, I find it kind of handy and I plan on playing with it for a while.

What I think is really neat is kind of creates a notion of blog posts being part of a larger online conversation. I wonder if in the future blog search tools will also be able to aggregate comment systems on a site – a one-stop shop for web feedback. Imagine if you could search for a movie and get a listing of critics and users opinions. This sort of interconnectivity sets the web apart from other mediums.

Much Ado About RSS

I started reading Scoble’s blog recently because he’s an important voice in the tech world and he has a lot of interesting views. Among his favorite technologies are RSS syndication. In the last 48 hours he’s tagged at least 6 posts as RSS and I think there were even more that weren’t. He’s clearly got RSS on the brain.

RSS is a great technology and has certainly changed the way I browse the web. I have been using Bloglines for a couple months now and I am very pleased with it. I rarely visit most of my bookmarked sites now since I subscribe to their RSS feeds. It is an important development and I am glad to see even Microsoft will support it in the future.

Still, I see some flaws in the format. It works great for blogs and other online-only media like News.com, but not as well for traditional media like newspapers. Online media delivers a few stories an hour, allowing users to easily glance over the course of a day. Newspapers are still largely stuck in the deadline world and dump a feed of 20-80 stories at one time a day. Sorting a newspaper chronologically like RSS doesn’t work.

I visited the New York Times website tonight for the first time in a while, since I get its web feed. I noticed three stories that I did not catch when I saw them in Bloglines. It wasn’t because they don’t offer fulltext feeds either. I think some of this has to do with design. RSS is not a very rich format at this point, which is another drawback. I think advertising becomes an issue too, especially since fulltext RSS doesn’t even require a reader to go to the site and see ads.

RSS is a pretty exclusive technology too. At a time when most Internet users struggle to grasp important issues like virus protection or adware, its unlikely they will go out of their way to figure RSS out. Clicking on an orange RSS button loads still loads an XML page in most browsers! How are they supposed to work with that?

I agree that RSS is an important technology, but it has a long way to go. Part of it getting content publishers to rethink the way they put out stories and tailor them to fit the format. On the tech side of things, though, we need to make it easier for users to use RSS. Otherwise, we’ll never be able to get our parents to use feeds.