Presenting some sloggership at the Berkman Blog Group tonight, 3/13/2008

I’ll be presenting Thursday evening to the Berkman Blog Group. It’s kind of an honor, since I really don’t see myself as one. I associate with bloggers, I befriend them, I research their methods… and I hope they don’t mind if they accept me as different.

An XML Schema for the News Experience

In an ideal publication, every online article has a consistent URL format, which remain permanent, and every article allows threaded comments. In reality, few major newspapers follow these simple rules. This alone partly explains the popularity of weblog and CMS platforms like Drupal (used here), which support these. (Incidentally, Clark Hoyt announced yesterday that the Times will be supporting comments on every article.)


Over the last year I’d learned through my work on compliance software about the Global Rules Information Database (now organized under the Object Management Group’s Governance Risk & Compliance Roundtable).

BPM, SOA falling to the LCD (a case for lowercase)

I work in an industry segment where our software revolves around not one, but two, TLA's (Three-Letter Acronyms). They are BPM (Business Process Management) and SOA (Service Oriented Architecture). The headline writers in the trade press love them, the names sometimes just function as "Brad and Angelina" due in the celebrity magazines. If there is room in the cosmic plan for Brad and Angelina to stay together, why not BPM and SOA? 

Intellipedia Oversight

I had some questions for the Intellipedia project, the wiki-based, open-editable encyclopedia for use in the U.S. intelligence community.

I’m a bit late in responding to Clive Thompson’s article Open Source Spying in the New York Times Magazine from December. Naturally the subtitle "Could blogs and wikis prevent the next 9/11?” caught my eye, due to my work in teasing out the different claims of technology boosters claiming to have solved the larger problems of information retrieval. Case in point? It’s not just the ability to find information; I was able to find the article by giving Google the search terms Thompson Times Magazine. I also needed to evaluate the quality of that article, and whether any information was out of date. That problem is hard (ie., not yet automated). The blogs, by themselves, don’t do anything at all to solve it. The favored blog search engine, Technorati, lists 341 blog posts linking back. How do I find the needle in that haystack? (Wikipedia was at least helpful by suggesting related sources for Intellipedia.) The general problem of a blog community as an echo-chamber I have discussed at length in the New Gatekeepers series of two years ago.

Deval Patrick’s Issues

I caught wind before the weekend of Governor Deval Patrick’s bid to freshen up his image by unveiling a new website.

Dan Kennedy asks why he didn’t do it on

I suppose it’s simply easier for him to post the information there. And the discussion on Blue Mass Group basically confirms this. But let’s look at the details:

The LetterVox: a proposal for handling letters to the editor

Linking from a published article to a letters-to-the-editor written in regards to it makes sense; it’s the essence of constructive media. Still, with a decade of web journalism underway, why is this not a standard convention by online newspapers?

Do Process: Notes from the Beyond Broadcast conference

I caught a few bits & bytes of the Berkman Center Beyond Broadcast conference, for a handful of reasons. Beyond the Civilities work, my employer underwrites WBUR 90.9 and I’ve also been a regular community contributor to Radio Open Source on WGBH 89.7. Lastly, I’ve just had a habit of crashing Berkman conferences.


Notes from the Gilbane Conference on Content Management

Here’s a write-up of what I learned in the sessions at the Gilbane Conference on Content Management in San Francisco two week ago.

It is not a complete account for a number of reasons. First, I was unable break the laws of physics and attend every session. Second, I didn’t take as detailed notes as I should have, but this exercise should encourage me once again to do so. Third, I’m reserving some information for the entity that sponsored my attendance to the conference, my employer.

Conference Markup — techniques and technologies

It inevitably follows that in becoming a man of letters– a title which should encompass both "personal publisher" and "freelance researcher"– one has to keep in mental shape by going to a conference every now and then to meet and greet. This impulse is checked only by the need to anchor oneself at the home office to actually get some work done. My home office shared my interest in my going to this particular conference, the Gilbane Conference on Content Management, so I ventured to San Francisco for the opportunity to do so.

Constructive Media

When I started the civilities project over two years ago, my aim was to put forth a cohesive theory of communications media to underlie my software work. I called the theory constructive media. The ensuing research has helped me validate it, which, for the passing time, was more important than selling it. I have not till now revisited the original definition, so I will preserve that on its own, and replace it with the definition here.

RSS Quest: In the Middle… 2001-2004

Today, a typical publisher demonstrates their RSS savvy by the amount of flavors they support, including RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, and Atom– not by the depth of richness of metadata that comes with the feed. None offer support for categorization, threading, discussions through RSS. Blog posts represented in RSS feeds remained really simple. And that was Winer’s vision. Most of the personal publishing that reached millions on the web derived from his style of weblogging (the pure journaling/diary-writing developed independently later, according to chronicler Rebecca Blood).

RSS Quest: In the Beginning, 1999-2001

In March 1999, Dan Libby of Netscape introduced RSS as alternative way of bringing content to users; it stood RDF Site Summary or subsequently, Rich Site Summary. Just how “rich” it would be– how much structure through the RDF Resource Data Framework to employ– was open to discussion. The basic premise of syndication was to deconstruct web content content into its logical components: headline, title, publication time, author, content, in order to be re-assembled by the user. It was a bit of a fluke for its time: websites were trying to be ever more flashy and interactive, and RSS undermined that experience somewhat.

The Yin to Social Software’s Yang

Last night I stopped by the Symposium for Social Architecture, sponsored by Corante and the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School (I hosted one of the panelists, and another one crashed on my couch following a red-eye flight from San Francisco). The “social architecture” up for discussion is really about social software, which has proved to be a very useful term for framing contemporary Internet technology. I was curious about how it should apply for businesses and other community of practice, and whether it is all-encompassing. But first, I wanted to make sure I had a complete understanding of what the term has meant over time.

Evolving Community at Radio Open Source

I’ve been leafing through a six-year old copy of Brill’s Content— a goldmine of hindsight-foresight, grist for an upcoming Civilities piece– and I couldn’t shake loose a media prediction for 2005 from the August 1999 issue: “TV AND THE WEB WILL FINALLY CONVERGE BUT IN UNEXPECTED WAYS.” That’s hedging your bets. Maybe the unexpected ways would be it would be not television, but radio, which would first convervge in a natural way with the web. And the best example of that today may be the five-month old Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon.

Summer of Ignorance turns to Fall of Media

I’m returning from my summer break away from writing. As I hinted three months ago, I’d be on a bit of a break for a while– work had gotten pretty intense, and I was in the process of moving across town (which caused two outages of over a day last month: one by my poor planning, one by Verizon’s mistake in fixing my phone line), and then setting up the new place. And I wanted to get some normal sleep.

Choosing the architecture for a community website

I’ve prepared this document as a general how-to guide for what a community organization should consider in upgrading their website– something to serve the organization and the community. The fundamental choice from the start of the design is what architectural decisions to make. I explain why an open source CMS solution is a good architecture to pick, and do point out Drupal as a worthy example for that.

Normative And Narrative — Styles, Platforms, Usage

There are two fundamental styles of writing which comprise most of the writing around us. I call them normative and narrative, though it shouldn’t surprise me if this has been thought of communications theorists prior. Each style lends itself to a different type of publishing platform. I will explain here what the ramifications are for online publications.

Mistakes were made: can we change site syndication?

As I’ve missed much of the debate over site syndication (RSS), I just wanted to put this brief question out there: will RSS ever take into account that Internet content may change over time, and thus it’s helpful to indicate the recent change, and reason, explicitly in the RSS summary?

Fixing a Blog In Time – Bob’s response

Yesterday I posted the article Fixing a Blog in Time, which was a little experiment in reading a particular blog, and trying to understand how it covered 26 different posts over a period of a little over two weeks. I chose Robert Cox's The National Debate. I did not make fully clear, with each post, how much I was mixing my initial impression of reading it with subsequent understandings. This begs a larger discussion about the tradeoffs inherent in impressionistic news.

Bob sent me the following response via email this evening. I post it in full here with my brief reactions interjected.

Fixing a Blog In Time

Checking the sequence of posts on Robert Cox's The National Debate blog over a sixteen-day period.


How to do online interviews?

Interviews are very underrated in the world of online media, and there’s a great potential for doing more of them. It’s a way to write if you don’t know what to write about. I think also there’s a good way to avoid the self-focus inherent in blogs. An additional person forces an additional perspective into the story. So I thought I’d ask to see what other people in online news are doing in this area.

Interview with Brian Keeler of ePluribusMedia

Several weeks ago, I spoke to Brian Keeler who co-founded ePluribus Media with Susan Gardner earlier this year. Their first project, propagannon, was an offshoot of distributed research done on Daily Kos about the identity of White House “reporter” Jeff Gannon. Susan had brought it to the attention of the Daily Kos diaries after reading about it from David Brock of the liberal Media Matters for America watchdog group. The diaries had been a beneficial crucible for researching aspects to Gannon’s reporting (the site counts tens of thousands of liberal activists as members), but the group soon outgrew the capabilities of the Daily Kos architecture.

Lessons Learned: Two Hundred Posts

It’s now my 200th post. My hundredth post was a year ago. It took me five months to get to that first hundred. I don’t expect to keep up that pace in the next year. But I have a hunch that many of you– my regular readers, which includes 54 bloglines subscribers— would like me to. I really want to get back to the coding that I put off a year ago. I’m looking to people to help contribute editorial content. I’ll explain in the next part what I’m looking for, but I just want to expend a few words sharing with you how Civilities has evolved. Plus links to thirty-one pieces, some of which you may have missed.

The New Gatekeepers

To read the headlines, or the bloglines, one might get the sense that the bloggers have arrived on the scene to challenge the “gatekeepers” of the big media. This is an essay in eight parts to examine this theme.

The New Gatekeepers Part 1: Changing of the Guard

A stark look at the challenge of the old gatekeepers– and the possible emergence of new ones.

First in a series on The New Gatekeepers.

Social Media Scorecard

If you want to know something about social media, blogs, etc. these are the people you might look towards and this is the information you may be able to collect. I have consolidated the data in this chart. Unfortunately, it tells you nothing at all — nothing about the particular expertise of each person in producing good information or interpreting it.

Questions for Participatory Media

A set of questions to be framed for investigating online participatory media.

Comparative Studies of Blogs and Other Online Journalism

This page contains a number of research projects I’ve undertaken in order better study blogs and other online journalism comparatively.

Deconstructing Blogs: Presenting Blogger Archetypes

Presenting a set of blogger archetypes: the singers, the wingers, the fingers, the ringers, and the stringers. Update March 14th: For an abbreviated version of this, read What type of blogger/self-publisher are you? Update October 23rd: I’ve added the archetype flinger.
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