posts tagged with the keyword ‘libre’



The BarCampMadison folks are gearing up for August 28, 2010, and they’ve got something called Google Moderator in place to gauge interest in topics. I’d never heard of Google Moderator, but you see, I’m learning already… way to go BarCamp!

I’ve proposed a session titled “Reclaim What’s Yours… Take Back Your Data!” (You can vote on it if you like.) The idea is such… We spend a lot of time putting out data into other people’s streams, be it Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Delicious,, and on and on… Our input makes these sites exist, and really, what would they be without us, the users, the contributors, the lifeblood of these sites.

Call it “user generated content” or “Social Media” or whatever… The fact is, you are probably creating content and giving it to others. Does that data still belong to you once you post it on those sites? Do you have the rights to it? How do you get it back? That’s the topic… That’s the problem… I have a few solutions, but I’m guessing others do as well.

That’s my idea…. What do you think?


I’ve had a renewed interest in my data lately, and that’s manifested itself in making sure I’ve got copies of my data. Those bits and pieces we so easily create on other web site? I want them. I want them “here”, where here is under my own control, on my own site, my own server, not just living in the cloud somewhere, at the whim of some 3rd party.

Twitter - Since Sept 2006 See, I’ve been using Twitter for a long time… since September 2006 supposedly. I’d love to go back and see what my first dozen tweets look like, but Twitter doesn’t allow that. I’ve been kicking myself for not saving all of that data since the beginning, but with micro-content you tend to think that a. It’s tiny, so it doesn’t matter, and b. It’ll always be there. We’ve learned (time and time again) that this isn’t the case.

About 2 years ago I was doing some Drupal work and set up an aggregator to ingest my Twitter feed, which managed to back up a large portion of my tweets, but not all of them. It was more experimenting with Drupal than trying to create a good backup. Still, I was slightly happier knowing I had some sort of archive. I still wanted something that would display my own content (tweets) on my own site.

I then found Tweet Nest. Developed by Andy Graulund (@graulund) it’s a simple open source PHP/MySQL application that does just what I wanted. It grabs your tweets from Twitter using the API, and stores and displays them on your own site. Perfect!

Tweet Nest : @raster The install was pretty painless, and I actually spent more time customizing the CSS (and I’m still not happy with what I came up with.) Of course two days after I installed it, it appeared to stop working. But alas, no worries, it was just a “rate limit freakout” with the Twitter API. After that, things have been smooth.

Tweet Nest also did a great job of grabbing all of my tweets as far back as October 2009. Not quite back to September 2006, but I’m starting to think that will never happen. But, I did manage to get tweets as far back as March 2008, thanks to another service called Backupify. Now I’ve got to find a good way to load the data into Tweet Nest, and I’ll have most (but not all) of my tweets stored on my own site.

You can find my archived tweets at, and just like my recent Delicious/Scuttle/bookmarks exploration, I now feel that much better about my data. (But I’m not stopping there. The next project may take quite a bit more hacking on my part, but it’s another one that’s long overdue.)

So go check out Tweet Nest if you want an application on your own server, or Backupify if you just want a nice, secure backup.


Data Portability

When you’re building a web application (you know, like Twitter, or Flickr, or Facebook, or Last.FM, or Posterous) you obviously want people to put data into it, and you’re going to make it easy to do.

But are you making it easy for people to get their data out of it?

Here’s my simple rules for building a web application:

  1. Make it easy for users to get their data into your system.
  2. Make it easy for users to get their data out of your system.

That’s it. Do number 1, then do number 2, Do not stop in between number 1 and number 2.

If you’re convinced your application is amazing, you shouldn’t have to rely on lock-in to keep people using it. They’ll praise it openly, they’ll become your fans, they’ll shout it to their friends. Anything else is bullshit.


Because I always fear the CloudFail™, and because I like hacking on open source projects and interesting APIs, and because I like to store my own data… I’ve got Scuttle up and running again.

p2url: Bookmarks I started using in 2003 to store my bookmarks. I loved it. Over time had some issues with reliability and there were times when I could not access my bookmarks that were stored in This made me sad. Around 2005 an open source project named Scuttle appeared, which was basically a clone of you could run on your own server. I ran it on my own server, and put together some code to make it sync up with (At some point the name changed from “” to “Delicious” but I am calling it here for historical reasons.)

For years this ran on my own home server, and served as a great backup for my bookmarks in This was all very easy because Scuttle implemented (most of) the API, so syncing the data between the two was so trivial, even a hacker like me could cobble a bit of code together to make it work.

As an interesting sidenote, while ended up being pretty darn reliable (Yahoo! eventually acquired it) others were not so lucky. Ma.gnolia was another social bookmarking site. Ma.gnolia died a tragic death, and lost all data. See for details. This is why having an API is important. This is why having a backup is important. This is why you should trust yourself with your own data.

I’ve collected a few links for the blog posts I wrote about Scuttle,, and related sites.

(Most of the bits above can also be found on the page at:, and while you are welcome to browse through as it is a public site, I’m the only on who will be adding bookmarks to it, because it’s there for me. If you want your own, I encourage you to go make it happen. Let me know if you need help.


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