Looks like the 6 month romance between myself and SharpReader is about to come to an end. It had to happen. I knew it from the moment I realized why it was called SharpReader: it was written using Microsoft’s C# and .NET technologies.
It did work though, I have to admit. But it was like dating a Republican: the sex may be great, but you know you’re sleeping with the enemy. You try not to let it bother you, but you *know* that fur coat is real, and you *know* that browser integration sits atop Internet Explorer code.
Mozilla to the rescue again. Their Thunderbird email client (free) now integrates RSS. This is old news to many people, but c’mon, geeks: RSS itself is still “new” news to most. They may even be blogging, but have no idea what syndication is yet. That’s why it’s so important to make RSS applications native to apps we already know and love.
Email is the natural place for RSS. I like to know when I’ve read, and am finished with, an article obtained from an RSS feed. If I want to remember that article, I feed it (no pun, in either direction) to del.icio.us. Either way, it’s off my plate once consumed.
The other advantage to moving RSS readers into email clients is suggestive. By suggestive, I mean, having email and RSS sit side by side in one application is bound to suggest their proper usage. Email is for private conversations between two or more people. RSS is for public distributions, and unlike mass emailings, has implicit opt-out.
I would love to offer The Mind Mined Newsletter in RSS only, but it’s too early. 90% or more of our audience will totally forget about us if they don’t get the occassional email. But I hope that changes. We’re ready for it. The Mind Mined News has been available in RSS format here for several months now, and we can’t wait for the final conversion.
We don’t want to email you, ever again. But we would like to be in your mail reading application.
As a kid, I collected comic books. I still have them, several thousand, in residence at my mother’s house to protect them from any “eBay moments”. Fond memories.
And currently I am reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, the novel that earned Michael Chabon his Pulitzer, well deserved. Read it. It’s about the lives of two Golden Age comic book creators, one a Holocaust escapee.
Kavalier and Clay’s first blockbuster hero, “The Escapist,” premiered before WWII and continued to be published after, in the story. Kommandant X was the chief villain, and Chabon points out that the evil X “quite easily made the transition from Nazi to Commie” after the war. This got me thinking. Naturally, children’s literature would reflect the contemporary heroes and villains of its day. But what happened after the 1950s, I wonder? What heros and villains did the comics of my day portray?
My comic book heroes, in the 1980s, were The X-Men (no relation to the Kommandant). The X-Men were created in 1969 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Who were the X-Men, and who were their villains? The face of “evil” didn’t seem to map any longer to the consensus enemy of the day. In ’69, the US was trying to save Vietnam from the Commies, but the consensus had evaporated.
The X-Men were mutant “freaks,” who often looked different and (as is the superhero mandate) were possessed of super powers. They ended up that way as a result of genetic mutations, the story goes. Their enemies were not generally the political enemies of the United States, but rather the villainous embodiments of intolerance to the freaks themselves. 1969.
I haven’t read a comic book, or its “mature” cousin the graphic novel, in a long time. I can only guess that today’s villains are terrorists, thinly veiled from 6 o’clock news terrorism, if disguised at all. I might have to look into that.
Who, I wonder, will the next villain be? And how distinct, this time, the line between good and evil? The emotional health of a society depends on its ability to properly identify the enemy.
Having entered it into a podsafe music directory, I was pleased to be hear that Unattended Glass has been played on the Tower of Song podcast out of Dallas, TX. This is the Corkscrew‘s first podcast appearance. Thanks, Tower of Song!
What is this spontaneous renaissance of web innovation we’re going through? Anybody have any idea why this happening, or rather, why now?
My own progression as a web developer has lagged the web’s advancements, hard as I tried to keep up. More and more, I find myself relying on remote services (Flickr, or the yummy one I decided to join today, Del.icio.us), or, I end up installing existing codebases (WordPress for this very blog) to buttress my sagging abilities.
Amazing applications are being demonstrated everywhere and we want them: now. What really tempted my tummy today was my long-procrastinated evaluation of this “del.icio.us” site I’d been hearing about so much. Anything with that pretentious a name had to suck, I figured. But no; here was a fine example of elegant simplicity that did exactly what I needed. I had been imagining such a service-based link organizer for some time. Del.icio.us still needs to add private links and page caching (at time of post), but those two things would make the perfect app for me.
But again: why now? No one invention or technological advance comes to mind. Instead our best works emerge slowly and evolve just under our noses. Then one day we wake up and everybody is saying “Check it out: it’s the Web 2.0.”
Things are getting interesting. As though they weren’t before. Pink Floyd said it: welcome to machine.
Now if I only had time to get that podcast rolling… stay tuned. You can hear all this boring shit from the horse’s mouth pretty soon. (!)
Dylan’s last album came out on 9/11/2001; I’ll never forget that. I always thought there was something prophetic in the opening lines:
Tweedly Dum and Tweedly Dee
are throwing knives into the tree.
Strange. And then:
Two big bags of dead men’s bones…
Yikes. What a day that was. Our generation’s shooting of JFK, yadda yadda. Too much to comprehend. Frustrating to know that history is making you a lot more than you are making it. At least Love And Theft is an awesome album. Best moment is the knock-knock joke in “Po’ Boy”. Dylan had never been better.
Hello friends, neighbors, countrymen: lend me your monitors.
I feel no need to be completist about this address (such is blogging), but I did want to share a few ideas this morning.
Having started mindmined.com in 1998, and being that technology moves so fast in the web space, I am forced now in 2005 to step back and evaluate. Are my websites serving their intended purposes effectively? Have the intended purposes evolved, or should they, in new directions?
I have always been the first and most active user of my own applications, because they are first designed for me. It is only as an afterthought that they are opened up to other users.
Still, I find that developing things I find useful is the easiest way to turn a personal tool into a service. Often, people don’t even know what they want or need until you present it to them. Instead of “we need a hammer,” down from the sky falls a strange and oblong object, a wooden handle with an heavy iron head on the end. What are we going to do with it?
Enough of that. I received an email about an upcoming playwrighting contest. They wanted three bound copies of the play as submission.
I’m also thinking of ways to keep my RSS work abstract, to be used in various places without too much customizing. I realize I often end doing my own programming for extremely picky reasons. For instance, there are services in existence (Feedburner comes to mind) that will take the url to your mp3 and some metadata and convert it to a deliverable xml-formatted podcast. I could just use that, but I want to build services that I own and maintain so I know they will be available as long as I need them. Plus, I can build custom features that might be useful only to me.
The state of the web in 2005 is an environment of increasingly dynamic models for sharing information and encouraging participation. For the small operations like mine, things are just as exciting as ever. I think most of us are happy as clams contributing to that Long Tail, and as long as creativity permits, there will be new ways to diversify our output all the time. I do think we are heading to a sort of network-imposed socialism, one that will clash violently with capitalist and other fascist governments. I think it might be important that the online community organize early, and state our political positions on network behaviours in authoratative tones before Big Brother moves in more confidently. I think there will be a lot of interesting and dangerous battles ahead, and that online skills may become more necessary for survival than they are today.
None of this sounds the least prophetic, as everyone is saying it. I should call this fucking blog Garden of Parrot. Marcus out.
More podcasting ideas…
Despite my ongoing personality conflict with the letter K, I think I might still call the podcast CozmiKast. Hell, it didn’t prevent us from using Cozmik Corkscrew, and I count two prominent Ks there.
So, a cute little musical theme is needed, and then start each show with “Far out.” Writing about it now gives me an appreciation for what a different medium audio is. This all sounds like shit on paper (paper, har), but trust me: it’s gonna be huge. Har.
Okay, so that last post: I’m no Jonathan Swift. In fact, I’m not too swift at all sometimes. If I’m going to write satire, I should pay a little more attention to craft, and keep things tight.
Oh, well. Blogging is such a crank-it-out, blank-it-out medium, I often suffer “blog shame” when reading previous posts. Sometimes I can’t resist going back to reword a particularly awkward sentence. If a blog were a stage, then the form would be improv. There is no time for hashing and rehashing, only a post to make in the moment. A skilled blogger would be fast on his feet. Not easy, I am finding.
So, forgive the experiments you’ll find on these pages, and be entertained if you can. Both flowers and weeds, in the garden.
It is heartwarming when average citizens respond with generosity to help victims of natural disasters. The truest form of democracy emerges when people vote with their wallets.
What a fabulous model to use in other national efforts. If we all pitch in like this for natural disatsers, we should rise up in kind for the unnatural distasters we support, such as the war in Iraq. We can’t expect government to fulfill all the needs of war by itself. We must subsidize these monies with our own charitable contributions to the righteous cause.
American interests in the Middle East need to be defended, lest oil prices rise and damage our fragile economy. Horrible dictators have to be dealt with, to curb the abuse of prisoners. And above all, terrorist regimes must be bombed to Hell, because as we all know, terrorists have bombs.
Please support the war in Iraq today. Phone lines are open. 1-800-KILL-NOW. Your beneficiaries would thank you from the bottoms of their hearts, were their hearts still beating.
Since I have gotten questions: Mr. Innes Tolman and family are safe and sound, far from Mississippi at the moment, but their apartment and belongings were wiped out. Hurricane Katrina. Emily’s mom is also just fine, though she remains in Bay St. Louis.
It was only their third night in the new apartment, a couple miles from the coast. Everything was lost, except themselves and their vehicle.