I was using Bloglines. Nothing wrong with it all actually. It is actually a great news reader if you want to use one. I’ve just decided I just want to go back to reading the news on the sites themselves. And yes this means I’ll be going back to reading just a handful of sites a day. It’s not the quantity of connections that matter but the quality.
Interesting. I was just thinking about my last post, trying to find a good example to show the difference between a blog journal view versus a summary view and I think I found one that is quite common. If you’ve ever used Flickr, you know that its photo stream format is very similar to a blog format. You can post a picture every day describing what is going on in the picture along with the post. Even more so, you can tag each post so that others can find your information on a global level.
However, at the same time, you can take a selection of these photo posts and group them together into a photo set which is nothing more than this summary view that I’m talking about. By doing so, you are again tagging your information but at a different more local and meaningful level to you. These posts could be in sequence right after another in the same time frame or they could be spread over years. For example, I could have a photo set summary of my travels in Mexico which would probably be in the exact same sequence from my daily posts. Yet, at the same time, I could also create a photo set summary of selected photo posts of vacations that I have done from around the world over the span of my life.
Therefore, in creating my summary view how I wish it could be, it would nice if it could follow the same logical format as how Flickr handles these summaries or groups. When you are viewing a photo set summary, your next and previous navigational elements relate to the summary view you are in. Therefore, in my journal blog, if I had a summary view talking about my best posts that talk about culture, I’d like my summary view’s previous and next nav elements to follow the flow of the summary view instead of following the flow of the journal posts (which is how most blogs systems work today).
How to achieve this though is the question. I mean right now it is partially there. When you look at your journal filtered by category, the previous and next nav buttons relate to the those specific journal entries relating to that category only as well. Yet the problem right now (at least in Squarespace anyways) is that I can’t make that category view as a separate module so that I can add a page header to it (describing the the summary view). Even more so, it would be nice if this initial summary view could give you a brief excerpt on each post (kind of like how Flickr shows you a thumbnail view of the photos in the photo set).
Imagine you just heard about an awesome new computer game that is coming out and a friend tells you to go visit the game’s product site to find out more about it. So you enter in the web address and up pops the site. Hmm, strange you think. The game product site is nothing more than a discussion forum. Ok, no big deal you think, I’ll just read some of the latest posts to find about the game.
Very quickly you start getting frustrated because the latests posts do talk about the game but none of them give you a good overview of what the game is about. So you decide to continue reading the forum posts. After an hour, you think you’ve learnt more about the game but you STILL aren’t absolutely sure what it is about. Finally you throw your arms up in frustration and leave the site because you can’t find the information you need.
What am I talking about? Blogs. The thing that tons of people use everyday, yet they still don’t give us a good grasp or overview of what a person may be talking about on the blog, especially if you are new to that blog. Think of it like a summary or synopsis of the best posts aggregated, filtered, and grouped for your review so that you can quickly know what the blog and author are talking about. Sound like Squidoo? It is to a degree but instead of manually creating your Squidoo page, you’re dynamically creating these summary pages via the blog system itself.
I don’t know about you but I’m already seeing a ton of uses for these types of pages or views. I know a lot of people who are frustrated right now because they may be looking for work or may be wanting to communicate their ideas to other people (both of which I’ve experienced myself in the past). Well I honestly believe these people are so frustrated with blogging because a normal blogging format doesn’t really help them because it just shows their stream of thoughts. If they want to communicate why they would be a great hire for employment or why their ideas are great then they need to find some way to aggregrate, filter, and group their best thoughts on their site, even if they have to do it manually. Why these summary viewpoints are extremely important is that they provide a solid foundation for which people can quickly and easily understand what a person is all about, without having to traverse the person’s entire stream of thought to do so. And as you can already guess, yes I’m working on this for my own site.
When I’ll actually have something up is another story though. And actually in mentioning the word "story", you could also thing of these summary viewpoints as exactly that. Stories that are comprised of a collection of events, organized and formatted for easier understanding.
Robert Cringely has a very interesting post about Google’s upcoming usage of shipping container-sized datacenters distributed around the world.
Two years ago Google had one data center. Today they are reported to have 64. Two years from now, they will have 300-plus. The advantage to having so many data centers goes beyond simple redundancy and fault tolerance. They get Google closer to users, reducing latency. They offer inter-datacenter communication and load-balancing using that no-longer-dark fiber Google owns. But most especially, they offer super-high bandwidth connections at all peering ISPs at little or no incremental cost to Google.
Wow, this is ingenious because it relates so well to this connected communities idea I’ve been talking about in the past. The idea here provides a global solution for Google by focusing on a local level. Each local datacenter addresses the needs of each local area and connected together they achieve a global solution. There is no way this speed and efficiency could be achieved if all of these datacenters were grouped together in one location in some big massive centralized datacenter. By distributing the datacenters around the world and creating a network with them, they have not only achieved far superior speeds but also much better fault tolerance (since other datacenters can pitch in to cover a neighboring area if something goes wrong with one).
This approach mirrors exactly with a connected community of people. Through the use of decentralization, they all work and address their needs on a local level but in doing so they are also able to solve problems on a global level, often at a speed with which they could never achieve through the use of a centralized approach.
They let you listen to any and all of their music for free. If and when you want to buy, you can download or download and get a physical CD. You can burn your downloads. You can GIVE COPIES TO THREE OF YOUR FRIENDS. You can podcast their music. And the split with musicians is 50/50.
I definitely need to do some more exploring though, as I haven’t browsed through their selection in a while.
Oh, I almost forgot. This approach that Magnatune is taking is something I talked about a few of years back. I call it the “give model” (versus the normal business “take” model) and it touches upon my notes of In Giving You Make Yourself Stronger. You want to reward the artists for all of the great music that they are giving you as an investment in them. In doing so, you’re giving them the ability to sustain themselves, so that they can continue doing what they love and you can continue enjoying their music.