The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Sunday, June 09, 2002

Top 10 RSS Feeds at NewsIsFree

"Well, time to do an exercise I haven't done in a long time: web server logs inventory... 10 most downloaded RSS feeds from NewsIsFree:

Number 1 was downloaded nearly four hundred thousand times. Number 10, one hundred and fifty thousand times. Sometime this month though, that feed stop sending real content and is redirecting people to IDG's own feed they started providing....

IE 6 is twice as popular as IE 5.5. Radio Userland is used as much as IE 5.5....

A bad number (not that the others were good): our front page only gets a quarter of the hits that the most popular RSS feed gets. And it's the only non RSS page which appears in the top 30! This means their is no way the portal can in itself sustain the RSS feeds, whether by advertising or by subscription. And no matter what service we can come up with, people can get the feeds and replicate pretty much of it on their desktop. Which, in the light of recent developments in news aggregators and web services, is probably a good thing! So it looks like pretty much inevitable that the RSS feeds will have to go, and some other form on content delivery will have to be designed. I wonder what the less disruptive way of doing it would be..." [Too Much News]

Some interesting statistics from Mike Krus that highlight how popular aggregators are, although admittedly they're not even close to a tipping point yet. Obviously, the big numbers are the good news. The number of Radio users versus IE 5.5 is also interesting, showing the impact it's had at the intersection of blogging and news aggregation.

The bad news is, Mike has to figure out a way to make some money from NewsIsFree, which as he admits, is going to be difficult. I'm not sure what the revenue model is here yet, although I wish there was a way for Mike's karma in the community to translate to some profits.

I hope this isn't a case of Mike being ahead of his time. It's too bad the BigPubs aren't looking to him to help syndicate their content, since they have the most to gain from wider distribution right now. Today I realized that I have read more articles from the Chicago Sun-Times in the last two months than I had in the last ten years, all because Mike's providing their feed to my aggregator. So thanks, Mike, from me and the Sun Times (even though they don't know it yet).

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Count Me In!

Detritus of a Cranky Morning.

"A colleague on one of my e-mail lists sent around a list of "more wierd [sic] facts." The bold comments are mine.

More Wierd Facts: Did you know...

It is impossible to lick your elbow....

Over 75% of people who read this will try to lick their elbow.

38 percent will try to lick someone else's." [Over the Edge]

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Who Will Be My Neighbor?

Real Neighborhoods?

"Seeing the recent activity surrounding sites and their link-related neighborhoods, I'm compelled to get out my own horn and make a little noise.

Since last Fall I've been talking about putting *real* locations on feeds. Ones based on genuine latitude and longitude values. To that end, the Syndic8 database does support a feed presenting it's own lat/long and other location metadata.

There's a help document that describes this idea over at:

Basically you stuff some meta tags into your HTML page and the database will come get it. Right now a listing based on server NetGeo locations can be searched at:

Yeah, it's crude and lacks the whizzy map everyone would like to see. But I've been a bit too busy (distracted?) to get the last bits of it completed.

What you can do, meanwhile, is add the metadata to your HTML and mark the feed for it as having scrapable metadata." [Syndication News from Bill Kearney]

A very cool idea, one that ties in perfectly with the previous post. I'm going to try to add these tags to my site in the near future, and I'd like to encourage the other Prairie bloggers to do the same.  :-)

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The Need to Catalog the Blogosphere

David Gemmel left a note that he's written up some ideas about Thesauri and Web Logs:

"The importance of a thesaurus to knowledge management is that it gives a common language to users who are keywording content for an index. If everyone agrees to use the same terms for the same meaning then metadata indexes become much more effective. Consistent relationships can then be inferred among documents and other content....

So how could a thesaurus be used with a blog network?  Here are some ideas:

  • Intranet bloggers use thesaurus terms to create categories for their web log. Readers on an intranet, for example, could then see blog posts made by anyone on the network for a particular thesaurus term.  Links to related, broader and narrower categories could be created automatically.  Essentially a meta-blog of content based on commonly used thesaurus terms.
  • The preceding idea could also be done by assigning thesaurus terms to individual blog entries and then indexing that metadata.
  • A hierarchical subject index of blogs could be created based on the categories that are used by individual blog writers. They are added to more categories as they write content in those areas.
  • A Yahoo-like directory/index of an intranet could be created based on the thesaurus which then indexes a blogged set of content. The google-bombing effect of blogs then raises more relevant content to the top of the search results list.
  • Blogs indexed by a structured thesaurus makes it much easier to find other blogs that talk about similar topics without having to rely on the bloggers themselves to create the association via direct links. This could be a supplemental tool to the referrals that currently drive traffic between blogs.
  • A thesaurus manager could monitor related weblogs for new language being used that should be entered into the thesaurus as a formal term."

This list parallels my own thoughts for what I need to explore in order to get Radio blogs up and running internally at SLS.

The other question is how to scale this to the blogosphere as a whole. The web started out with Yahoo, graduated to Google, and who knows what awaits us in the future. It would be nice to have a directory of blogs, in addition to Daypop for searching blogs, along with the current move towards RSS auto-discovery. We still need some type of metadata or categorization to help connect the dots, though. How do I find the other Illinois bloggers, library bloggers, or peanut-butter-chocolate lovers?

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And You Think Grocery Stores Are Noisy Now....

Chatterbot Butter-substitute Pitches Self to Supermarket Drones

"Special tubs of Parkay will ship with motion-sensor chips that make than say 'Butter' and wiggle when shoppers pass them at the supermarket.

' 'These tubs are a major in-store piece of theater,' Kramer told The Post.

He added that research shows shoppers make 70 percent of their buys on impulse - making a Parkay pitch in the supermarket potentially more effective than on TV.' " [Boing Boing]

So is it stealing if I walk by the display without watching it?

Can you imagine a whole store full of these things? A Palmolive bottle that says, "You're soaking in it," as you walk by. Sony saying, "I'm cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs," in the cereal aisle? An Almond Joy bar singing, "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't," as you walk down the candy aisle? Oy vey!

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Hacker Rides in on White Horse

Update: Hackers Unlocking Norway's History

"A Norwegian educational center for cultural preservation lost the password to a historical database cataloging 11,000 original books and manuscripts, but was able to recover it with help from the Web.

E-mail messages from more than 100 good Samaritans flooded the Ivar Aasen Center for Language and Culture starting Thursday afternoon after the organization called for aid in hacking into one of its own databases to which the password was lost, said a message posted to the center's Web site on Friday. Among the messages was the correct password to the locked database, which the center had posted online." [CNET]

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I'll Take Door #3

Amazon Unwraps Timed Discounts

"The leading e-tailer has introduced a new feature called 'Gold Box,' which offers customers discounts once a day on a select group of products. As with the limited-time discounted offers on the cable shopping networks, after clicking on the Gold Box's treasure chest icon, Amazon customers have just one hour to decide if they want to buy one of five deeply discounted items. If they pass up the offer, their Gold Box won't be replenished with new items until 24 hours later....

Customers who click on their Gold Box are presented with offers for products that are priced lower than Amazon's typical discounted prices. The products are presented in succession, and a customer has two choices of buttons to push: 'buy now' or 'pass forever and see next offer.'

As with QVC or the Home Shopping Network, customers aren't necessarily getting personalized offers. Instead, Amazon is grouping customers together based on what departments they've shopped from in the past and offering a random set of products to each grouping of customers, Smith said. Each person within a group would see the same offers, she said.

Among the products that were offered to one Amazon customer on Friday were a rechargeable Norelco shaver, a Bissell carpet cleaner and a Cuisinart 7-cup food processor." [CNET]

The problem with this is that I have to visit their site to open my "Gold Box." While I do buy stuff from Amazon and I probably visit their site at least 3-4 times a month, the chances of me visiting and finding that box, opening it, and then acting on it are pretty slim.

Now, if they put that "Gold Box" in my aggregator... well, that would be a different story. Let me pick categories that interest me, and then send me offers and you've got yourself a pair of eyeballs daily.

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New Poll re: Aggregators

Here are the results so far of the poll of bloggers and how many sites they track daily. Currently, more folks read between 21-50 sites (32% of you), with the next level being 21% reading 11-20 sites. Here's a graphic of the full current results set, although you can view it live, too. Interestingly, 11% read 81 sites or more in their aggregators, one of whom is reading more than 231 (hiya, Phil!).

I wasn't thinking clearly when I designed the form, though, because it doesn't really answer the question I wanted to ask. I want to know how many sites are being read by those using news aggregators versus those visiting sites manually. Plus, I don't think I really care if you're a blogger or not, so to rectify this situation, I have started yet another poll that is open to everyone.

These are the numbers I want to track over the next six months to see if they go up as more people learn about aggregators. Thanks for helping satisfy my curiousity!

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M-life Is a Bad Ad Campaign, but a Good (and Very Real) Concept


"Ridley Scott made a mistake in Blade Runner. He forgot to show the Japanese-esque city using mobile phones for SMS, i-mode, or video.

Oyayubi-zoku, or Thumb-Tribes is the new name in Japan for the youth that are transfixed by the use of mobile networks. It's plane by the uptake in Europe and Australasia that mobile phones have gone beyond voice. From the basics of short text message (SMS), to buying Coke (first used in the Netherlands, home of Nokia) to the release of video via mobiles.

Kristi Heim at Silicon Valley has the report, 'Hanging out with Japan's high-tech 'thumb tribe'' ". [DotBlog]

An interesting point about Blad Runner, but here's yet another article about the thumb generation in Japan (filing away for future reference). But of course, it's not just Japan:

Brits Going Mobile With Parties

"Britons are unabashedly in love with their mobile phones.

Besides making calls on them, they send short text messages to flirt, to ask for help in an emergency situation, to cheat on exams, and to wish someone a happy birthday. Text messaging on the devices is so common that the Guardian newspaper once sponsored a poetry contest in which hundreds of people composed haikus on their mobile phones.

Now, they are meeting potential friends and dates at M-Parties, Britain's latest display of affection for the mobile phone.

Here's the typical format for the M-Party: Guests -- not told the location of the party -- register their mobile phone numbers on a database.

On the evening of the event, guests receive a text message with clues as to where the party will be held. People eventually find others scrambling to the event and get together to figure out where to go. Depending on how much the event's host or hosts are willing to spend, the party could end up anywhere: a restaurant, dance club, limousine or cruise ship.

'It's a fun and funky party using text messaging,' said Tom Carr, founder of Pocket Generation, a company that arranges M-Parties. 'People have had an amazing time.' " [Wired News]

I still can't believe cell carriers in the U.S. aren't doing as much as possible to bring this technology here. Enough with the contracts and expensive pricing plans already. Europeans send 30 billion text messages each month. Imagine what that number will be (someday) in the U.S. (especially in a few years when Net Gens have it in their hands)!

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