Scripting News: Thursday, December 7, 2023


Thursday, December 7, 2023

Twitter poisoned our minds with the idea that by taking away the basic features of writing on the web they were encouraging people to write shorter, better, more to-the-point posts and that would make communication on the web like poetry. It was a very zen-like mystical idea, and imho totally wrong. And it's still repeated as if it were gospel -- it's a typical response when I beg for a standard that is more realistic, that incorporates the basic features of web writing: simple styles, links, optional titles, enclosures, the ability to edit and unlimited length. The fallacy of this response is that you are free to write however you want, if you feel your ideas are better communicated in short messages, go ahead. I want to use all the tools in my writing. And if you don't want to read all that I write or any of it, there are tools that make that easy. So everyone wins, and you don't have to try to impose your ideas of religiously pure writing on anyone but yourself. #

A corrollary to the textcasting philosophy is that I should be able to use any writing tool I like to post to the web, and have it flow where ever I want. The idea of being forced to use a teeny little edit box to write my wonderful prose is as silly as bunding a word processor with a printer, and forcing you to use that editor if you want to print it with that printer. If I sent you a document written for my Brand X printer but you had Brand Y, sorry -- you can't read it. I'm at the point in my life where I have to explain to young folk how great things were when I was their age, but it's true in this case, when I was in my 20s and 30s, there were simple standards for text, and you could print documents produced by any writing tool on any printer. And as a result a wide variety of writing tools and editors were available, and there was lots of innovation in a very short period of time because everyone had competition they could learn from and had to keep up with. Now there's no reason for Twitter, Facebook, Threads, Instagram, Bluesky, Mastodon or whatever to improve their editors because after all you don't have any choice. That's another important facet of textcasting that we borrow from podcasting -- lots of ways to create and lots of ways to listen mean things can get better. With lock-in, they can't. #

Why we want feeds in Bluesky#

  • My old friend Chuck Shotton just showed up on Bluesky. #
  • I love Chuck. We've been through a lot together over a long time. #
  • We had a ton of fun in the early days of the web on the Mac. Chuck wrote the HTTP server we all used. And he loved Frontier, so we made our products work incredibly well together. #
  • Those were the days! πŸ˜„#
  • Anyway, of course I immediately followed Chuck in Bluesky, but then I realize, I can also follow him in FeedLand because thanks to John Spurlock, we have feeds for every freaking Bluesky user. #
  • Spurlock is a gifted programmer, like Chuck, who thinks creatively and doesn't mind priming the pump of a bootstrap, something Chuck and I have done many times in the past. (Chuck is an largely uncredited contributor to the bootstraps of RSS, XML-RPC, podcasting, object databases, content management systems, hey pretty much everything I've worked on since 1994 or so.)#
  • Okay, now I get to the point. #
  • I want to build with confidence on the feed connection with Bluesky. Today I know the ability to subscribe to a Bluesky RSS 2.0 feed is there, but will it be there in the future? I would feel better if the feed support were built-into Bluesky, part of its basic feature set. Another very simple API that gets ideas out of Bluesky and anywhere feeds go, which is, as you know, everywhere. #
  • Feeds should be the baseline of compatibility between social media platforms. #
  • Working with Spurlock, we have given Bluesky a huge headstart, a lead in what I hope will be a race to feed support in all the social media apps, to hook them up to the worldwide feed bus. It's a way to get interop without having to concede that any comprehensive API is the winner. Think of RSS 2.0 support at the TCP of social networking, offering a LCD compatibility to a world that desperately needs one. #
  • And then after we have that, we can talk about the format of the data we're sending over this network. We have some work to do there too, but luckily the capabilities and limits of RSS 2.0 are a perfect match here. #
  • In summary, the reason we want it is so we can do more with confidence with Bluesky, integrate it into more systems. #
  • The reason the Bluesky people should want it is that it offers a way to interop with all social nets, that will take almost no effort on their part, and there's no guesswork, we already know how to make feeds that will work pretty much everywhere, and it lets them take the lead in what will be an important way to communicate on the net. #
  • And the reason it's good for all of us is we can start viewing the web once again as a fully supported writing environment, and let the writers of the world get to work on solving all our problems (of which we have many) and get the freaking technology out of their way. #
  • Think of it as the feed-iverse, it's easier and more low-level than the fed-iverse, and can be implemented in a weekend. And it's fun! #

Grandma on a snowy winter day#

  • Moose the cat sits in Grandma's lap while Lionel the dog keeps her feet warm.#

Scripting News for email

08 Dec 2023 at 05:00

Scripting News: Wednesday, December 6, 2023


Wednesday, December 6, 2023

We could make this election a literary expo. Get the great apocalypse scifi and poliscifi authors to write a daily installment of what President Trump and his governing mafia will be doing on 1/20/25 on 1/20/24. Every day a new atrocity in serial form. A textcast. Finally something worth writing about. #

Recreating Twitter is boring. One of these ventures that's trying to do that should blow the doors off the whole thing, and get rid of every limit. Just support writing and reading and get on with it. #

Scripting News for email

07 Dec 2023 at 05:00

Scripting News: Tuesday, December 5, 2023


Tuesday, December 5, 2023

This is how I read my news. In FeedLand most pages are public. #

If you've been reading and only want one panel (as some people do), you can bookmark just that panel. For example, this is the link for my Tech news category. Or the Bloggers tab on Scripting News can be accessed directly in FeedLand like this. "By category" is just one way FeedLand can display a timeline of news. #

BTW, we care when an item changes, so if we see the text has changed, or a link has been added, or an image enclosure, we update the database and update the rendering on-screen. #

We're thinking about different ways to render art. For example, this is news from my Art category. I could see this kind of timeline feeding another kind of image viewer app, maybe something running on a kiosk or in a store window. #

Scripting News for email

06 Dec 2023 at 05:00

Scripting News: Monday, December 4, 2023


Monday, December 4, 2023

I'm back in the Wordle groove, having done the last 42 puzzles without missing one. I think I understand the game much better now. I do sometimes make mistakes, and always pay for them. The thing that keeps me coming back is the feeling when you press Return to see the result of your first guess. It's like opening a present, only better. If you get two green tiles, you can bask in the glow of being extremely lucky. If you guess well you usually can solve the puzzle in three or at most four moves. I've never gotten it in two, and I don't usually try, and when I do it's usually a mistake, I would have done better to stick with the plan of eliminating a bunch of letters and confirming others, and then go for solution in the third round. But the thing that keeps me coming back is the feeling of getting a really good present, and that feeling of fortune and a bit of love, self-love, when you see the answer, decide to go for it, and see five green tiles open up one at a time. That's the feeling that keeps me coming back day after day. #

Scripting News for email

05 Dec 2023 at 05:00

Scripting News: Sunday, December 3, 2023


Sunday, December 3, 2023

"Wait and see what happens" is a losing strategy. By the time you figured out what happened, if you ever do, it's too late. #

Whatever verse you like#

  • I wrote this as a Mastodon post to a bunch of people who somehow I got cc'd to. I figured I should share it here too. #
    • Let's start with feeds and build as much of a Mastodon as we can, without inventing anything new and see what we come up with.#
    • That way we know at every step we're standing on a solid foundation of interop.#
    • At the same time invest in the feed support of every contender, no matter what "verse" its part of. #
    • John Spurlock has done an exemplary implementation of RSS 2.0 feeds for Bluesky. That format should be copied everywhere. He did it in about a week in July and it's great. We're building all kinds of stuff on it. Wish it were in Mastodon, and wish Bluesky would bake it in.#
    • Forget about clubs, what we want is interop, maximally as widely as possible to force the silos to get on board. They won't unless they have to.#

What about the Fediverse?#

  • "Fediverse" is another kind of silo.#
  • Our social media apps should be rising up out of feeds to interop with each other now, not sometime in the future.#
  • By then Facebook (or Meta or Threads) will own us as much as Twitter did. #

Doc & FeedLand & artcasting#

  • I pinged Doc the other day saying he should do an artcasting feed. #
  • Doc is in addition to being a prodigious blogger, also is a photo taker and story teller, so he is perfect for artcasting.#
  • I was then going to think about what would be the easiest way to get him going, and quickly realized the fastest way is Bluesky because John Spurlock did it right and his feeds coming out of Bluesky are totally artcasting-compatible. Just like that. (Artcasting is one of those cases where almost everyone was doing it the right way. Absolutely no one invented it, it was just obvious how it should work, obvious to enough people.)#
  • But I wanted to talk about it with A8C people first, because it's also an opportunity to support it in WordPress, or to create a small app that interfaces to WordPress, so it can lead here too. But Doc beat me to it, he posted a beautiful picture of a building site his new hometown to Bluesky, and it appeared in his RSS 2.0 feed, and of course it showed up in FeedLand when I subscribed to his feed. #
  • So I added it to my collection of artcasting feeds, and the new version is now available on FeedCorps and his name shows up in the list in the artshow app. #
  • This is how we do it, keep turning the wheel.#
  • Interop my friends. #

Feed Info for phones#

  • I've been working on the mobile version of FeedLand. #
  • #
  • This is very much a snapshot in time. Lots more tweaking coming. ;-) #
  • I want to do some more reduction on the menubar at the top. #
  • Timelines and feed lists have been converted. #

Scripting News for email

04 Dec 2023 at 05:00

Scripting News: Saturday, December 2, 2023


Saturday, December 2, 2023

Today's song: Rockin' Chair.#

Podcast: What is Elon Musk doing? There's value in Twitter that goes beyond the balance sheet and share price. I saw the opportunity in January 2017, a few days before Trump was inaugurated. Twitter had just elected a president. What is the dollar value of that? In the hands of someone who knows how to squeeze money from the US government, as Musk surely does (and Trump had no idea) -- it could be worth many more billions than he paid for Twitter.#

You can live in places where people do awful disgusting things, I know, I've lived in New Orleans, Berkeley and NYC. Twitter is so huge, this idea that it could disband just like that, well it isn't happening. Maybe it's time for us to say clearly what we expect of a social network and try to influence how they run them. We have these great tools for organizing, one of these days we're going to use them for good, in a serious way. And at this point the users have a lot of power relative to what we've had in the past. #

I'm cleaning up some loose-ends in the Scripting News redesign, esp in the phone version. After that, I'm going to start applying the same techniques to FeedLand on phones. Our timelines look fine in that context, here's a screen shot. #

I also updated the About tab, to be a bit more current. #

This is the stupidest thing ever. We've had a bit of trouble with the implementation of rssCloud on the new Automattic-hosted server, the pings to coming from one server in particular. We did finally get to the bottom of it and all of a sudden it's working. Except for Scripting News. I added debugging code, stared at server logs, and scratched my head, until I decided to check if I was subscribed to the freaking feed. I wasn't. Once I fixed that little oversight, it's all working, nice and fast. Sometimes the bug is in your brain not in the software. πŸ˜„#

BTW, this is what Scripting News looks like in FeedLand. #

If I could devote myself fulltime to AI development, first thing I'd do is teach a bot how to generate CSS with high level commands from me. After 15 years of wrangling CSS, I still create messes that are impossible to unravel, the only way to fix it is to start over, and then that gets out of control, and on and on. It would take some patience to establish some basic design patterns, but once designed I could say things like "a little less margin on top of the tabs" and boom that would happen. #

Scripting News for email

03 Dec 2023 at 05:00

Scripting News: Friday, December 1, 2023


Friday, December 1, 2023 has a site where people share Creative Commons licensed photos. We asked them to support image enclosures (aka artcasting) in their feed. They just did. And as a result their flow looks outstanding on FeedLand, which totally supports this format. This is a bell-ringer event, this is what we're about -- building up and out from where we are in the land of feeds. We can do a lot if we work together. #

A bit of a mindbomb. All the different ways to view Frank Meeuwsen's blogroll in FeedLand. #

Remember Bingeworthy? It fell off the air when Twitter blew up their API. I keep wanting it back, because I keep watching shows that should be in its database. I miss it. Then I realized it's not that different from the group of explorers who are putting their app choices into feeds. The Bingeworthy database is people, shows and ratings. The simplest relational database possible. It would be easy to represent each user as a feed, where each item is a rating. The link for each item would be a pointer to the Metacritic page. And then give each feed a category of bingeworthy. From there, we explore. BTW, this is the SQL code that creates the BW database. #

Another month past, archive created. Clean slate. #

Scripting News for email

02 Dec 2023 at 05:00

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The page is publicly available but all admin and post actions are gated behind login checks. Anyone is welcome to come and have a look at what feeds are listed β€” the posts visible will be everything within the last week and be unaffected by my read/unread status.

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