Prentiss Riddle: Toys

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Prentiss Riddle
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Austin blogging density approaches infinity, hell sighted 0 miles SE

There's too much nifty stuff happening on the Austin blogging scene not to blog about it, even though this isn't a techblog and I usually find blogging about blogging pretty tedious.

First of all is the whole GeoURL phenomenon. The idea is simple: add a META tag to your website with its latitude and longitude, ping the GeoURL server, then a simple query will turn up other sites near yours (for example this one). Austin bloggers are prominent among those busy proposing the generation of GeoURLs for all sorts of things: not only blogs but coffeehouses, weather stations, cultural events, even individual blog entries (buzzword "GeoBlogging"). One contribution is AustinURL, "a tool for hanging GeoURL links on places in and around Austin", i.e., places which don't have websites or whose websites you don't control.

I think GeoURLs are delightful but I don't understand how people can proceed down this path without addressing questions of scale and of additional metadata (e.g., a taxonomy with an associated controlled vocabulary) to permit useful lookups. What happens if every business, blog, or blog entry -- in the standard metaphor, every lightbulb -- has a GeoURL? Aside from the question of whether a central GeoURL server can handle the load, won't the concept soon cease to be useful if every GeoURL report consists of a jumble of 500 "things" in the immediate neighborhood? Imagine you hit the GeoURL button on your PDA while walking down the street and it coughs up Joe Bloe's five-year-old report of what he was thinking while eating a sandwich at Subway, thirteen competing business directory listings for Toy Joy, a bit of GeoSpam about a sale at Buffalo Exchange, the current status of the 29th & Guadalupe traffic signal, the locations of any GPS- and WiFi-enabled vehicles or pedestrians waiting for the light, Conan's and Baskin-Robbins coupons, 68 reviews of miscellaneous videos rented from Vulcan and Pleasure Land, a literary note about the bench where Lars Eighner used to sit with his famous dog Lizbeth, notes on graffiti in a nearby alley, 237 archived blog entries from the seven bloggers living in Texana Dorm (and another 133 entries from their boyfriends' or ex-boyfriends' or would-be boyfriends' blogs)...? You get the idea. Most of this stuff would be potentially useful information to search geographically (it would be great if every city bus constantly pinged the world with its GPS coordinates, for instance), but only if there are better ways to organize and filter it.

Meanwhile, in other blogging news: Adina Levin has set up an AustinBlog demo site, to which anyone can syndicate their Austin-relevant blog entries on a first-come, first-served basis. You can ping it automatically using TrackBack or by hand using a form. Expect the site to be reconstituted at its own domain and with a nicer layout soon. I've had quibbles with this, too -- would it pose lower barriers of entry to drive it with RSS feeds rather than Trackback? -- but Adina and company convinced me that their way would be simpler to get up and running (and inspired me to finally play with TrackBack myself, using the standalone TrackBack implementation from the Moveable Type folks). I may still play with an Austin RSS blender anyway, though.

At the Austin Weblog Meetup the other night we learned that there's a parallel scene of Austin "journalers" who may be three steps ahead of us bloggers, despite the massive development of our geekal lobes. They already have a nice aggregator site called Austin Stories, have twice-monthly gatherings (once for coffee, once for happy hour) independent of Meetup, and will be hosting a national gathering of other online journalers some time this spring. I still don't quite understand what online "journaling" is, except that for its proponents the relationship trekker : trekkie :: journaler : blogger seems to hold.

Finally, there's also a new Austin-Bloggers mailing list for people to kick these ideas around in.

toys 2003.01.21 link

Comments

Thanks for the well done and badly needed summary of all the amazing things that have happened in oh, say, the last few weeks!!

davidnunez • 2003.01.21
In one of my classes, we're going to have our very own MoveableType blogs. It should be a very interesting experiment, as class listservs, message boards, and chat rooms have proved problematic in many of my classes.

kika [kika ARROBA expositionkink PUNTO com] • 2003.01.22
I agree, blogging about blogging is far to meta for me to even begin to get into.

Nice recap of stuff. We've actually decided to shift the focus of our journalling group to be a bit more inclusive... and I'll be at the bloggers meetings to liase a bit, and let everyone know what's going on...

timbrat [timbrat ARROBA yahoo PUNTO com] • 2003.01.22
That's kind of your journaling group, Tim. Now I feel like a cad for my "trekker : trekkie" remark. Do keep us posted about the upcoming conference. Thanks.

Prentiss Riddle [riddle ARROBA io PUNTO com] • 2003.01.22
Aw, c'mon. I mean, you're all like right and shit, but the point is that it's NEAT-O! Speaking of the globe and URLs, I am blogging from the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre all this week, so come on down waaaaaaaaaaaay south of the Pecos. I'm also participating in Project Ciranda, a copyleft journalism initiative, covering democratization of media and Cultural and Linguistic Diversity. Do summon all riddlers to send along their curiosities and I will try to answer them, and get a Chomsky autograph if I can.

hairball [iggy ARROBA hairyeyeball PUNTO net] • 2003.01.23
This essay posits the difference between journaling and blogging.

NemesisVex • 2003.01.23
John Lebkowsky tells me that Joshua Schachter was kind enough to quote my rant in his Geospatial Markup talk at the O'Reilly ETC conference.

I'm honored! On the off chance that anyone googles here as a result of that talk, welcome. And have you seen my geocoded garbage dumpsters?

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2004.02.12
Alas, GeoURL seems to be down (for "renovations" but, as with restaurants, we know what that means). Here's a GeoURL snapshot courtesy of the Internet Archive.

I so wish I would save archival versions of things when I blog about them. As Don Turnbull says, "Save as PDF! Save as PDF!" should be my mantra.

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2004.10.01
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