Monday Jun 22, 2009

Keeping in touch

Like most 'touch users, I am looking for a "keep in touch application". I was pointed at Zensify, a personal network aggregator. Its not quite one network, but gathers the posts from your correspondents in several networks and ceates a feed and tag cloud for you.

a screenshot of Zensify feed screen    a screenshot of Zensify tag cloud screen

I have just subscribed to several really prolific feeds on Twitter, and while I have also pointed my Google Reader at them, I have not yet subscribed to my twitter public timeline using Zensify. I use Facebook instead. I have come to the conclusion that Facebook is not only useful for keeping in touch with real friends but it can turn colleagues into friends, and here it is a way of keeping in touch with people.

I had come to the conclusion, that one should use these tools either as an aggregator or as a publication tool or as an end-point. I had made my twitter feed a publication tool, friendfeed as my aggregator and facebook as an endpoint. Unfortunately since we can't agree on what tool and what purpose, its a not very useful model. One really needs to consider one's readership and also assume they can find your stuff. It's not necessary to make everything an aggregator. By keeping a purpose in mind, one also makes it easier for people to find your referenced content. They don't have to trawl through several pages in your web space.


Wednesday Apr 22, 2009

Another intra-net community

Another tip from midweek, by Miles Berry, the british education community is adopting a community software product called the learning landscape for schools, its based on code from Schools have even more concern that they control access to their communities than business and one of elgg's advantages is that you can install it on your own server and place it behind your firewall.


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Monday Jan 05, 2009

Has Digg jumped the shark?

The comments on the Digg post on "Shouting in the Data Centre" [ Youtube | this Blog ] disappointed me. I am not a great user of Digg and very few of my submissions have taken off. It is one of the feeds I subscribe to using Google Reader which is my first choice feed reader today. It seems that I am obviously not interested in the same stuff as most of its users, but to find the majority of comments about the provenance of the Digg takes self reference to the point of absurdity. It reminded me of a very recent a post 'openpeel', called '5 Ways to fix Digg', and it also reminds me of Simon Phipps' comment,

"When you invent a system, you invent the system that games it!".

Its a shame, but I suppose that the social software designers will have to become cleverer. It's clearly a fact that a 'karma' systems attracts people to contribute to the 'wisdom of crowds', but also trying to measure the influence, popularity or even innovativeness/leadership of contributors often leads to anti-social, even destructive behaviour.

I wonder if digg has jumped the shark as its user community has grown beyond an expertise focus and its designers loose the arms race with the gamers. Is there an alternative? I have considered for a while the use of 'clubs', where feed consumers, i.e. me and you, qualify the contributors to our feeds, or membership is gated. I use to keep my bookmarks and thus act as the original source of my contributions to finding interesting news. These thus become available through RSS, and then those I really think are interesting to others, I use Google Reader shares to share them. In the past I have used Slynkr, and have been using Digg to act as an entry point to my friend feed. The Google Share is a cute feature as the Google Reader makes my google friends' shares available to me. I use this to read other people's shared articles. The google shares I post may become my Digg replacement, but there's now no weighting or rating and my community is pretty small, since it is based on google talk/chat friends, which is not my first choice chat protocol.

The Google Share/Talk synergy is another interesting example of leveraging closed communities, and functional synergy by the software authors. Retaining the choice of internet participants against this new "lock in" could be open source's next big problem to solve.

tags: ""


Thursday Aug 07, 2008

Help with making a personal feed using SaaS

I have for a while tried to create a personal feed of stuff I put on the internet, in the hope that someone might be interested. Historically this has been a planet but I now have a FriendFeed account. I am considering aggregating my bookmarks from into the feed and wonder what my correspondents, that's you that is, think. The reason I worry is that I issue a lot of bookmarks.

The current feed is at My Planet, (hover over the link for a preview). It has been implemented using an old version of planet planet, and so is available in RSS, ATOM and HTML (?). However it has a couple of problems (see below). One of my facebook correspondents pointed me at FriendFeed. Prior to finding this, Richard Morgan pointed me at, (see below). One of the things that makes friendfeed so useful is that it has a generic feed service, so if their specific services, and they have a lot, don't suit then you can use the generic service, which is how I subscribe this blog, and my bliki to the friendfeed.

One neat gadget they offer is a weblog widget, which looks like this...

<script TYPE="text/javascript" SRC=""> </script>

I am currently post into the feed from my blog, my bliki blog, my google reader shares, my flickr and my twitter. The Flickr subscription consumes both my photostream and favourites.

The ones I have syndicated at planet/davelevy and not yet syndicated on friend feed include my bookmarks at, which is the nearest thing I have to a microblog. You have to work at it and it tells you what I'm reading on the internet i.e. what I am thinking about not what I am doing. I also syndicate my digg posts at my planet and I have displayed the digg stories on the full article page.

The final feed consumed at my planet is my slynkr posts. I have decided to stop using this. See Au revoir Slynkr, below.

This leaves my plazes feed as unforwarded. Since I use the plazer, each time I move computer or network, it generates a new plaze. This can lead to many entries for the same place on a single day. I expect that people want to track location, and most importantly timezone, not my connections. The plazes feed needs a filter to restrict the feed to first of day and change of location and I have considered using planet or venus to do this.

The one feed that I think would add to the Friendfeed is my bookmarks. On some days, when researching something I may write number of bookmarks in quite short periods. Is this a burden to my correspondents?

When done, I can pump friend feed back through planet for any legacy users. Perhaps I should check its actually used by anyone other than me.

Use the [Read More] button for more on my usage of Twitter, Digg and Planet.


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Wednesday Aug 15, 2007


And then there were micro-blogs. I have just a finished a conference call about Consolidation with a customer, and hooked up with a colleague Lou Springer with whom I had a quick chat about Twitter. If you don't know what this is, then you'll have to go there.

It's been best described to me as micro-blog site, that delivers to a number of clients, but potentially most interestingly to the phone by SMS. (This means that the article length is limited, you're not publishing essays there!) Lou's not the first to suggest I subscribe, but its quite popular with the people that persuaded me to start out at facebook and there is a facebook integration application so I joined up and bumped into the people who'd invited me.

I've spent two days playing with it and was deciding that I wasn't keen on yet another application that I could use to tell people where I am. However,

  • it seems more popular than plazes, so I get more feeds from from more people, and some from the same
  • it has a phone & IM publication interface, although it uses AIM and is allegedly having difficulty in making the latter work.
  • it can be set to read your feeds on the phone, which is good for days when one doesn't connect to the internet by computer, (I wonder how I'll feel when I'm on holiday), however, this could be the killer justification .
  • Lou says its great for home workers as for him it becomes one of the technology equivalents of people walking past your desk/office, so this might also apply to geographically dispersed teams as well.

I also feel that my feed is a micro-blog, since I always try and comment the URL's and you get some view of what I think of the page, or sometimes why I was reading it. I also gather everything together (except this blog feed) at Planet DaveLevy, which includes the blog entries from my bliki. (These aren't very exciting but it is another window on to my life, although most of this content is just documenting stuff, its facts I want on the internet.)

I think, I'll keep my correspondence at twitter to micro-blogging stuff of relevance to my followers (thats the word they use, I'm not starting a cult), and use it mainly as a reader. If you want to know where I am, you'll have to find me at plazes, and I need to wait for them to fix my outstanding niggles.


Friday Aug 10, 2007


Dave Levy's Facebook profile Friends are moving to Facebook, so yesterday I had my first look at it. I checked out some of the add-on applications available by browsing the utility applications pages and discovered some amazing facebook applications. I have installed "my RSS" and connected to my bliki's rss stream (No I havn't there seems to be a quality issue with it, fortunately, there are several other apps that claim to do the job). I have also installed the (which works) and the plazes plug in (which has some problems), but there are so many that seem worthwhile and I need to go back to check them out.

I should probably get some feed back from my correspondents as to how they feel about the traffic created by these applications which all seem to write into the facebook feeds.

I have connected this blog to my profile and this may mean that I need to using the summary/content feature of roller which until now I only use occasionally.

Whoever argued that opening up the applications interface is awesome competitive advantage is absolutely correct, a true proof point that free and open source creates value.

I have bookmarked "Define Me" & "Books" (now replaced by a query on books), but also think that "My wish lists" (amazon wish lists), Friend Cloud, Memberships all seem worth exploring.

Talking to Alec Muffet, he suggests that it's possible disadvantage is that it is an internet end-point, it only broadcasts to your friends in the community and none of this interesting stuff about oneself is available on the net. I suppose your friends havn't given permission to publish their content. Alec, however, will probably let us know what he thinks soon.


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