Techmeme River

Post ImageTechmeme is a fairly popular aggregator for technology news from around the blogosphere, but I’ve never really liked it. I hadn’t thought about it before, but I think the main reason I didn’t like it was the layout. On Monday that changed, when founder Gabe Rivera launched a new layout option called Techmeme River:

River pages are compact, with no news clustering, but include permalinks to standard pages where Discussion and Related items can be found.

In summary, River eases a number of common power user pain points, all with a basic long list of headlines. Enjoy!

I wouldn’t consider myself a Techmeme power user, but I do find the new /river layout much easier to use. I find myself visiting Techmeme far more often now. Check it out!

Read: Techmeme River

Scoble is leaving Microsoft!

Post ImageNews is flying fast and furious that the blogosphere’s most famous blogger has decided to leave Microsoft to be a videoblogger at PodTech.net. I’m really quite shocked at the news, and as Chris Pirillo notes, most of the blogosphere won’t even find out until Monday! Scoble himself is yet to post any extensive commentary on the move, save for this:

This is a rapidly-evolving part of my life. I just made this decision and it got out before I was completely ready to talk about it. I invite you to meet with me at the VLoggerCon tomorrow evening at 3 to 6 p.m. in San Francisco where we’ll talk about it further (and I’ll post again tomorrow about what’s going on in my life and why I made this decision).

I wish him the best of luck, but man, what a blow to Microsoft. Or a huge mistake on their part if they didn’t try hard to keep him. Some might argue that Scoble has single-handedly made Microsoft a “nicer” company in the last couple years. He is the reason they have adopted technologies like RSS, and his Channel9 initiative has been amazing at kickstarting the trend at Microsoft to open up to the community. Scoble is not the kind of employee you can replace.

Here’s a bunch of notable “first mover” posts on the news:

I am looking forward to Robert’s post on this. There must be something truly special about PodTech for him to leave what he liked to call “the best job in the tech world.”

You might think that a blogger leaving his current job for a new one isn’t news, but I think you’re dead wrong if you hold on to that belief. Scoble leaving Microsoft is huge, and I don’t think we’ll truly understand the effects of this for quite some time.

UPDATE: Robert has posted about his decision. There’s also an excellent Reuters article on the story. Isn’t that crazy? A blogger switching jobs makes Reuters. Told you this was big news!

Notes on The Changing Face of Journalism

Post ImageStaying in the same room, where Mike Tippet, Mark Schneider, and Robert Ouimet are talking about the changing face of journalism. This probably going to be similar to what was talked about yesterday during Moosecamp. Here are some notes:

  • We are experiencing an existential moment in the news.
  • Readers can now make their own news, and they are going online to consume news.
  • Michael Tippet essentially gave an overview of NowPublic and the circumstances that allowed it to exist.
  • Robert Ouimet is from CBC, and is talking about how news is changing.
  • He asked how many people in the room watch the 6 oclock news – very few hands went up!
  • Mark Schneider is now sharing his journalistic background. He says the truth of the matter is, the news is really sick. There’s a toxic quality about what we are consuming. The news organizations themselves have been tainted.
  • Now we’re on to discussion. Not many notes on this session – it was very interesting, but much harder to write stuff down. I am getting hungry for lunch too, maybe that has something to do with it!
  • Mark says there is something called NewsML (markup language) in the works.
  • Robert: focus is important, and is taught to journalism students and employees, but is an exercise in rejecting everything else.

Really great discussion in this session!

Notes on The 7 Competencies of Online Interaction

Post ImageI decided to switch rooms to check out Nancy White’s session on Snow White and the Seven Competencies of Online Interaction. Some notes:

  • I’m also chatting live in the NV Back Channel. You can join if you want! Dickson just commented that he hates IRC…I guess he’s run into too many viruses!
  • Our world is far more unbounded – we’re creating our own reality.
  • Nancy is kind of telling a story like Julie, using images on the screen as she goes.
  • We have the ability to let this magic happen by changing our organizations.
  • Communications Skills – scan, see patterns, write, image-inate, vocalize, intuit; write blog daily, test, draw, record, summarize, listen
  • Learning with others – learning as a practice, gift economy, collaborate, open hand…
  • Ramlinger – 6 Network Functions: filters, amplifyers, convenors, facilitators, investors, community builders
  • Nancy: note, make a competency about tools!
  • Facilitation for: relationship, identity/reputation, presence, flow
  • Shouting creates quite a different environment online than in meatspace. Learn about improvisation and creatively abrasive!
  • Convening Conversations – invite, name the question, initiate, design for local choice, nurture
  • Intercultural antennae: broadly defined, heart variations, “default” culture – look, read, live/work/play, bridge!
  • Tolerance for Ambiguity – OK with not in control, not knowing, move forward without certainty
  • Ability to switch contexts – connectors, networkers, multiple perspectives, outsiderness
  • Self-Awareness!
  • So what? Undeterred by failure, care for the whole, willing to be vulnerable, value the human system first
  • The struggle is the solution. Grieve for the cost of what exists now. Treat the conversation as action. See the reality in the current situation.
  • Edith Wharton – There are two ways of spreading the light: To be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.

Notes from Sifry on the Blogosphere

Post ImageDave Sifry and Tim Bray are on stage now, getting ready to do their presentation, apparently with no visuals! Sounds like they will be accepting questions from the crowd as well.

  • Kind of a cool interview setup, Dave and Tim sitting on stage.
  • How many people are bloggers? Everyone raises their hand. How many people don’t have a Technorati ego feed? No one raises their hand!

I’m going to try and capture some of the Q and A here but don’t expect exact quotes – I’ll be summarizing essentially.

T: Why do we need blogs?
D: [Explains why he started Technorati.] Mailing lists suck! Started looking around to see if there might be a better way and came across a dynamic web publishing system, a blog. I immediately became a stats whore, I wanted to know what people were saying about me! The problem was fundamentally the way search engines are built – in essence built on the model that the web is the world’s biggest library. Even today we talk about the web as if it were a library – web pages, documents, indexes, etc. What I wanted was the immediacy of conversation. Traditional search engines don’t really understand the concept of time. This doesn’t mean that the web as a library metaphor isn’t a good one. What I realized was, pages are created by people. Authority does not denote veracity! I built Technorati because I wanted to know who was talking about me.

T: What leaps out at you from your state of the blogosphere series?
D: We don’t pretend to say we’re tracking every blog that exists, but we’re working hard to get all of the public ones. Korea for example, we don’t track quite as well. There’s about 27.6 million blogs, and that grows by 75,000 every day (about one new weblog per second). How many blog after three months? Just over 50%, about 13.7 million. About 2.8 million post once a week or more, and just under a million post once a day or more. There are about 15 new posts per second. The blogosphere is incredibly many-to-many. People like Instapundit or BoingBoing are starting to look a lot like the mainstream media, where they get a lot of links and just can’t respond to every comment, etc. It’s the people after these top ones that are much more interesting; their traffic is still manageable enough to carry on a conversation, yet they are still authoritative. The idea behind Technorati’s Blog Finder feature is to try and help these people get discovered.

Audience Member: How can we deal with the fact that the world of tagging is messy and there’s multiple languages, etc?
D: When you setup the system so that it’s easy to do, an emergent system starts to occur. As long as tagging is easy, emergent thinking will occur.
T: I think we can agree that’s the only hope too, no one can create a big dictionary.

T: Blogging is changing so much, what can go wrong?
D: Wow! The growth cannot continue forever, because there’s only so many humans in the world! We’re still very much at the beginning though, and there are some enormous challenges like spam, splogs, spings, etc. As Cory Doctorow said, all healthy ecosystems have parasites! Net neutrality, is one of the most dangerous threats to the net. This is the idea where telecom providers try to do preferrential pricing.

Audience Member: How many spam blogs are being created by robots?
D: About July of 2004 is when they really started to appear, and there’s two kinds; the ones that do SEO type blogs, and those that are scraping content to try and make money. The way to solve this is to get down to the economics of why people do this. And it has to be an ecosystem approach, different companies have to work together.
T: I think it is hitting the long tail less hard than the head of the tail.

T: [Asked something about RSS and advertising I think.]
D: Your RSS aggregator is not “push”…it goes off at some regular interval to pull down information. And they all understand when something is “read” differently.

Audience Member: What about federated networks?
D: It’s a shift in the economics of publishing. We’re starting to see, in effect, a guild system. It comes down to, can you write with quality and can you work effectively with advertisers to make money?

Scoble made a comment about advertising at this point.

D: I think advertising sucks, but imagine you could see ads you actually want to?

Okay I am back to just some notes:

  • Google Bowling – people will create spam sites that point to competitors so that they get kicked out of the index.
  • Tim says he observed bored children in the audience, and reminds everyone of the kids room.

Google launches Blog Search

Post ImageGoogle today unveiled Blog Search, which as you might expect searches blogs and is in beta:

While Google web search has allowed you to limit results to popular blog file types such as RSS and XML in web search results for some time, and its news search includes some blogs as sources, Google hasn’t had a specialized tool to surface purely blog postings. In fact, while all of the major search engines have been dabbling with blog and feed search, none has done much with blog search until now.

Google’s new service (in beta, naturally) is available both at google.com/blogsearch and search.blogger.com. Google blog search scans content posted to blogs and feeds in virtually real-time, according to Jason Goldman, Google product manager for blog search. “We look for sites that update pinging services, and then we crawl in real-time so that we can serve up search results that are as fresh as we can,” said Goldman.

Google defines blogs as sites that use RSS and other structured feeds and update content on a regular basis.

Yet another entry into the growing list of blog search engines. Unfortunately, Google’s new Blog Search doesn’t seem to do anything special. It looks and acts like Google though, which make it attractive for a quick search. Can’t help but wonder when the MSN and Yahoo versions will come out now.

Read: SearchEngineWatch

Predicting Katrina

Post ImageNow that the blame game is well underway in the United States and especially in New Orleans, it’s interesting to see who predicted Katrina and who did not. Surely someone must have known it was coming right? In fact, lots of people did, including Brendan Loy:

One of the earliest and perhaps clearest alarms about Hurricane Katrina’s potential threat to New Orleans was sounded not by the Weather Channel or a government agency but by a self-described weather nerd sitting on a couch in Indiana with a laptop computer and a remote control.

“At the risk of being alarmist, we could be 3-4 days away from an unprecedented cataclysm that could kill as many as 100,000 people in New Orleans,” Brendan Loy, who is 23 and has no formal meteorological training, wrote on Aug. 26 in his blog, irishtrojan.com. “If I were in New Orleans, I would seriously consider getting the hell out of Dodge right now, just in case.”

I think it’s pretty interesting that in 2005, someone can make a prediction like that and post it to the Internet for all to see. Unfortunately, this also highlights a current shortcoming of the blogosphere – finding interesting and meaningful posts as soon as they are created is still difficult at best.

Read: New York Times