Fear of an Aggregated Planet

Let’s mix it up a little… Perl, Python, HTML-TemplateAtom, RSS… Words, Photos, Links, and Objects of Desire…

Say what?

Say Planet Planet!

Or say Planet RasterWeb!

There are billions and billions of planets out there, well, ok dozens maybe. (Heck, there’s even a WordPress Planet.) the one that was the tipping point for me was Planet Burningbird, which is explained in It’s the Oddest Thing.

After seeing Planet Burningbird, I said “Heck, let’s do it!”

The Planet website has no real documentation and very little explaining things. (True geek software, eh?) I downloaded whatever version I could from whatever link I found, and took a look. Python. I mean, I completely gave up on Python earlier this year, but, well, OK. We’ll give it a try…

Now, on Mac OS X I did have a hiccup or two. Searching…. Ok, this post about Mac OS X fixed things. After that it was on to templating. Ah! HTML-Template, but done in Python. (Gosh, where have we heard about HTML-Template before?)

So templating was fairly simple, since I knew the tags. What’s next? Feeds! Yes, we need some feeds… I grabbed my own feed from this site, as well as my feeds from and Flickr and… Is that it? Hmmm, I need more feeds. Luckily I had been experimenting with a Perl module named WWW::Amazon::Wishlist to create an RSS feed of my Amazon Wish List. Of course some of the stuff on my wish list was from the year 2000, so I had to update it. (Honestly I don’t expect anyone to ever actually buy me a gift, but you know, if you want to, the option is there… hint, hint. Aw, who am I kidding? I can barely get feedback on the stuff I do here…)

So where was I?

Ah yes, Feed the Planet, yes… Oh, PubSub! I got two feeds there! One for sites that link to RasterWeb! and one for sites that “mention” RasterWeb!. You’d think if they mention it, they’d link to it, but they seem to have different results. So in theory now, if you link to this site, you should show up on the planet. (This might go sour in the future, we’ll see…)

Is there more? Sure! Though Planet doesn’t seem to handle enclosures in any way, we also have RasterWeb! Audio, which is one of those “podcasting” things we started back in August before podcasting even had a name…

Ok, so that’s the lowdown on the planet. It’s seems to have been released under the same license as Python, and a quick check with the Open-Source Initiative’s Licenses says it’s open-source. (I think.)

Any problems? Well, it doesn’t quite validate. I mean, all the feeds I have control over seem to validate fine, but the Planet page itself doesn’t, partly due to the foreign content from the PubSub feed, and maybe because of Planet doing something silly as well.

So that’s my combination of Perl, Python, HTML-Template, Atom, RSS,, Flickr, PubSub, and other things I won’t mention again. Enjoy!


Furl Gets Bought

Gosh, look at that: Looksmart Acquires (See Also: Why is neat, and Bootstrapping out into open space.)

[Sometimes I hate being a smart hacker type with no business sense…]

One thing I found interesting in the article is this bit:

“Every person who furls a page is casting a vote for it,” said Krim. “We’ll be taking the masses’ votes instead of just the webmasters’ votes.”

They even mention Google’s PageRank, which is interesting, because I see it having one of the same problems, context. Is someone ‘furling’ a URL a vote for… how authoritative the page is? Maybe. I mean, I stick plenty of things into just because I want to read it later. It might be a link to something that totally sucks and is wrong in every way, but I won’t know that until later, when I read it. Just like Google’s PageRank, which is a measure of popularity, not quality.

Hmmm, perhaps we need to solve that problem!

Oh, and as for the whole ‘masses’ versus the ‘webmasters’ – well, I guess us weblog types are ‘webmasters’ eh? Shouldn’t all the masses become webmasters eventually?

Ok, back to testing…


So you’ve learned how to backup your data with something like this:

curl -o delicious.xml -u username:password ""

(Well, the 10000 most recent entries anyway!)

(Note: Since originally writing this, a new method was added: might be used instead. See the API docs for details.)

Now what?

Obviously you run some sick and twisted Perl code on it and you get an HTML page that lists all your posts, by tag, with posts displaying under each tag they belong to…

Anyway, that’s what does…

(It ignores the timestamp and extended field, but you could hack those in if so inclined…)


Why is neat

I’m here to tell you why I think is neat.

Perception, baby! I go to and it’s simple. really simple. Too simple. Can it be this simple?

The About page has some disclaimer text:

This system is pre-pre-alpha; many features have yet to be added. Additionally, many, many bugs remain. Please be careful.

I reserve the right to take appropriate measures if you misbehave.

Is that it? It’s run by “some guy” and it’s “pre-pre-alpha” and it might go away at any second. That’s all ok though, really it is.

When I go to Furl (and even though it’s at .net and not .com) I see that it’s Copyright 2003-2004 Furl, LLC. So I start to wonder about the business model, and how they plan to move forward in the future, and if it’ll be free, or subscription based, or whatever… (See: Say farewell to Blogs and Bookmarks and get your Furl on for background info.) I know, Furl is not exactly the same as, but they share similar traits.

Ok, forget about Furl for a minute and go to Spurl. Hmmm, similar name (and another .net and not .com) and it looks really nice, and they have a privacy policy and terms of use that look ok, but they have this page about partners that mentions:

Spurl is building a group of strong partners to help us reach our goals.

Though what those goals are, I’m not quite sure.

I’ll admit, I have not dug deep into Furl or Spurl (are there others in this space I don’t know about?) but the beauty of is in it’s simplicity and it’s elegance, as well as it’s depth. On the surface it’s really not that complex. From a front end view, a good programmer could write a clone of it for personal use in a few days time. (Of course part of the value of is in the “social” aspect of it all.) As for the API, that might take a bit more time, and if you wrote your own version, you might not even bother with it. But the API is where the action is, it’s what allows you to easily backup everything you’ve put into the system at any time, and you should do this regularly in case it does disappear one day. (There are many links to backing up your data, or pulling it into your own site, do some searching…) almost begs you to do cool things with the data, and people do… Ok, here’s a few random links:


Tags, Taxonomies, and Categories

Most people are familiar with categories in web-based thingies. Look at Yahoo! or the Open Directory Project, or applications like Movable Type. They have hierarchical categories, where you create a category, then create categories within those categories, and so on. When you do it yourself in Movable Type, chances are you’re just guessing at how to best organize things based on your own experience and data, which is fine, it’s your view of things. In theory though, Yahoo! or the Open Directory Project have some sort of “well defined” categories created by experts, or some such thing. This is also fine… The problems come when you want to have a similar category set, so that what you call “Hardware” (Computers?) is what someone else calls “Hardware” (Hammers?) right? Syndic8 uses the Open Directory Project (DMOZ) categories, as well as some others.

Syndic8 uses multiple sets of categories, which is really more like taxonomies. At least by my understanding of taxonomies. I’ve always though of categories as sort of the “common” or “average” way to classify things, while taxonomies are more of the expert’s view, where more thought goes into it. That might not be the case, but I’ve viewed it that way. I think developing taxonomies as being more involved, since you can have multiple taxonomies that are completely separate from each other. For instance, you might have a taxonomy that works like your average category set, but them might have a taxonomy that works like a rating system, with G, PG, and NSFW categories. Taxonomies seem to allow another way to organize and classify data. (Drupal has a really nice taxonomy system.) I’ve often wished iTunes allowed for multiple taxonomies. I’d like to have a rating system for songs that had “kid-safe” and “explicit”, or perhaps “silly” and “serious”. Multiple classifications if you will… Perhaps TuneTags can provide that.

TuneTags seems to take the tags approach, like or flickr. Tags are a bit different, and somewhat like keywords, in fact they may be keywords, but in a simplified way, which makes them more powerful. Tags appear to be a single word, all lowercase, and you add multiple tags by just space separating them. This is brilliant in it’s simplicity, and can be powerful if presented properly. shows you the most active tags in the system, and while entering new data into the system, shows you all the tags you’ve previously used, with a count of usage. This seems like the fastest way of categorizing things, and with the ability to get a list of the most active tags, it’s easy to align your categorization with others, if you so desire. (John Udell is doing some interesting things using tags and flickr also provides a list of the most popular tags, which, just like, really moves the whole idea of “social software” forward, by making things easy and powerful. Those two extra things, providing a list of the most used/active/popular tags, and the display of your previously used tags are key to making things work – I’ve used systems where there is a field to enter keywords, but without those two things, it falls short of accomplishing what it really could accomplish.

This is all just off the top of my head, so if you think I got anything wrong, or missed something, let me know