Tag Archives: Blogs

Listening to old podcasts…

I was doing some work in the garden on Saturday and I had the chance to listen to some old podcasts I’d downloaded early last year (most from 2005). Even though they were all over a year old, it was still more interesting to hear them rather than listening to current radio!

I started off with some stuff from the IT Conversations podcast series (BTW Tom recently interviewed the host Doug Kaye). I began with Dave Winer, who was interviewed by ITC in 2004. TBH, I only knew of Winer as Mr. OPML and one of the people behind the RSS fork, so as a Semantic Web researcher I had some predisposed bias towards him. After the first few minutes listening, I nearly gave up as my brain rallied against his ego, but either he or I calmed down because listening on I think I got an insight into his mind – his fights with Apple (over AppleScript) and other big corps no doubt seemed like déjà vu during his perceived takeover of RSS by O’Reilly.

Next up, I listened to syndication nation, a panel from Supernova 2005 talking about RSS, blogging and commercial models for publishing online. It was pretty interesting, and there was a good mix of technical insight from Kevin Marks and money making ideas from Tim Bray. Finally in my ITC downloads, I listened to a session on blog design from BlogHer 2005, where there were some good general tips and questions from people on how to make their blog sites more attractive. Some were common sense tips (don’t use dark backgrounds, use a large enough font) and others were words of experience (pay that relatively small amount for a designer to give you something unique for your site).

I also listened to some stuff from PodTech.net: what was supposed to be an interview with Matt Mullenweg about blog software trends was mislabelled and turned out to be an interview with George Gilder about the future of media, technology and telecommunications. It was not what I was expecting so I hopped on to one about Yahoo! Alerts, talking about the integration of RSS feed reading into their beta mail client (much as Thunderbird does, except showing an overall view as well as individual feeds).

Finally, I ended up on PodLeaders and finished off a Marc Canter podcast that I must have started listening to some time back (nice of my nano to remember where I was). Marc’s focus has moved on from structured blogging (one of the main topics in this episode) to PeopleAggregator, but even though it was old the podcast reminded me how much can still be done with structured blogging, and how important it is to make SB available for those multiuser blogging environments (Drupal, WPMU, etc.) rather than individual publishing systems. It also prompted me to download another podcast mentioned in the show, an interview Tom did with Salim Ismail from PubSub. That’s next on my list!

Selling a bunch of interesting Irish / general domains…

It’s spring cleaning time, so I’m selling the following domains at Sedo:



Anime, J-Pop


Blogs, Social






Irish Cities






Cyberstalking in Ireland

I was talking with Matt Cooper from Today FM’s “The Last Word” this evening about cyberstalking (see also this G2 crime article).

As an administrator at boards.ie, I (and my fellow moderators) encounter this quite a bit, where someone has been tracked down by either an annoyer or a serious stalker and their content or account on boards.ie is being used as part of a campaign against them. Sometimes we have requests by users to have their account (or a particular post they’ve made) deleted, so that their username (which may indicate who they are) is no longer linked to the posts they’ve made. There is also a responsibility for bulletin board owners to remove users who are threatening or being abusive towards others via their service. Ex-romantic partners may happen on anonymous posts and read something that made them realise who the original poster was, or they find posts in which they or later partners are mentioned, and then regurgitate sensitive bits to mutual friends. Work colleagues may find some personal tidbit about someone which will quickly make its way around the office. Or someone might just be obsessed (e.g. as with Glenda Gilson) or pick on you at random, which may be what happened to Galway writer Fred Johnston:

A well-known Galway writer was stunned this week when he received a sinister e-mail threatening to kill him if he didn’t pay the sender a substantial sum of money. Fred Johnston, an author and poet and director of the Western Writers’ Centre, received an e-mail claiming to come from an individual who had been paid to “terminate” him, and offering to hand over information on the person behind the transaction in return for a larger sum of money.

As I’ve mentioned previously in relation to online social networks, there are a few basic rules that should be followed when posting information online:

  • Use your common sense, and don’t post anything that you wouldn’t give to a stranger in the street. That includes your phone number, your address, your birthdate, etc.
  • Try not to use your real name or your e-mail address in your online nickname or posting account.
  • Keep your work e-mail details separate from accounts used for forums or blogs where you post informally – get a Hotmail or Gmail account for such activities. And don’t give any account password to your partner unless there’s a very good reason to do so (see the G2 article above).
  • Be careful about posting potentially damaging information about your relationships with professional colleagues or friends / family, or personal specifics about yourself (because even though you may be posting anonymously, it can be very easy for someone to put 1+1 together and figure out who you are).
  • If you post inflamatory statements about something or somebody, be aware that doing so under your own name may lead to a campaign of hate against you. And if you post defamatory statements, be prepared for legal action.
  • There is effectively a permanent record of what you contribute to the Web (if you let slip something you shouldn’t about your workplace or family, sometimes even if the original site disappears). It may be on the original site you posted on, in Google’s cache, in the Wayback Machine at web.archive.org, or someone may just save it to their own site or computer. Remember that when you post something sensitive – it could well be there forever – for your parents, your kids, your boss, your future employer to see (even after you’re dead, as we do have some posts from boards.ie users who are no longer with us).
  • Blogging is a powerful medium due to its open nature and public contributions, but it is this openness that means that whatever you say can be read by all and people can build up a picture of who you are and what you are doing (even if you don’t realise that they are reading / actively following your blog). Some people mistakenly think that their blog is only being read by a closed circle of friends; if it’s publicly accessible, Google / anyone can get it and forward it to others.
  • Do not arrange to meet anyone you’ve only talked to online alone in the real world (see dating guidelines below).

I’m not trying to make people paranoid, but it is no harm to be careful about what you contribute. There is already a huge amount of publicly-available information about individuals ranging from phone book entries to local government planning applications and objections, and it will become easier to link this to less formal information such as blog posts or photos taken (of you, by others) at parties or other events.

Also, Redshift from boards.ie compiled a very sensible set of personal safety guidelines for those thinking about online dating. If you are considering using the Internet for dating, you should definitely give these a read through.

All the Latest SIOC Stuff

There’s been quite a few happenings in the “siocosphere” during the past month:

  1. Christoph Goern posted some details about how to enable SIOC output for a community site such as a planet aggregator; I hope to work on this myself WRT Planet PHP.
  2. Again, Christoph has detailed how to generate SIOC data from mailing list archives. Next, we could look at systems like MailMan and MHonArc.
  3. Alex Passant visited us in DERI last week, and together with Uldis Bojars he worked on both a SIOC browser and also a SIOC module for PEAR and PHP5. It was great to have Alex visiting, and he did amazing stuff during the few short days he was here… Thanks Alex!
  4. Christoph has also done some SIOC live query work, in parallel with #3, as well as describing how SIOC can be autodiscovered using RDFa.
  5. Fred Giasson has produced a detailed post on how he has made use of SIOC to connect stuff within the TalkDigger community… Nice one Fred – love this!
  6. More people are installing SIOC plugins on their blogs, including Christoph Goern, Harry Chen.

Wow! I am blown away by all this… I hope to contribute more myself now that I’m back.

SIOC (Was RSS Version 3 Specs Up for Review)

SIOC (Was RSS Version 3 Specs Up for Review)

As (one version of) its name implies (“Really Simple Syndication”), RSS is an excellent way to get your content out to the feed consuming public (people or systems). However, since it is so generic, it has its limitations. When you see an RSS feed, how do you know what it is? Did it come from a blog, a bulletin board, a news site, your aunt’s recipe site, a bookmarks list or a set of recently updated photos? Apart from an analysis of the “generator” string, the proposed RSS 3.0 doesn’t easily solve this existing problem. How is content related to other content? Have there been any replies or comments on this content? Is item 1 a reply to item 2?

For my part, I’m interested in content that comes from online community discussions: blogs, mailing lists, bulletin boards, newsgroups – something where one person makes a post on a ‘forum’ and someone replies to that post.

Researchers in our Semantic Web cluster at DERI, NUI Galway have been working on an open specification for describing communities using online discussion forums, leading to what Ryan King and others term “distributed conversations”.

The result is SIOC, standing for Semantically-Interconnected Online Communities.

The initial version of our SIOC specification has been drafted. It can be used in on its own (having a complete set of terms) or in conjunction with other RDF formats such as RSS 1.0 (and 1.1).

At the moment, online communities are islands that are not interlinked, and the SIOC ontology has been proposed to not only link these communities but to leverage data in ways that were previously unknown.

While there are many (useful) classes and properties in SIOC, it can essentially be boiled down to: Users create Posts that are contained in Forums that are hosted on Sites, e.g.

Site -> host_of -> Forum -> container_of -> Post -> has_creator -> User

Posts have reply Posts, and Forums can be parents of other Forums.

In terms of producing metadata, we’ve started with SIOC exporters for open-source discussion systems such as WordPress and Drupal / CivicSpace, and more are on the way. We’d also love to get input from creators of other community discussion systems. Thanks.

Mentioned in BBC News Magazine

BBC NEWS | Magazine | Rewriting the rule books

David posted a link to this article on the Y! irishblogs mailing list, and before I’d finished reading it I was about to say “hey, I was there!”: then I saw that I’d gotten a mention for my blog post about my first Wikipedia article on “Tonto’s Expanding Head Band”…

Blogs also give a sense of why people commit time to the encyclopaedia, recent examples including Pete Ashton’s Goodbye Myspace, Hello Wikipedia! and John Breslin’s My First Wikipedia Article: the latter’s an entry on some prog rock synth maestros who helped Stevie Wonder with his funkiness: a sample entry from an encyclopaedia that doesn’t have to worry about how many pages it has.

30,000 Articles Stored at POTB / Most Prolific

I was interested to see how many blog posts we’ve gathered at POTB over the past four months. The answer is 30452. What’s interesting is that this amounts to nearly 50 posts averaged per blog. Of course, the actual figures differ. The top 10 prolific blogs (based on stats since April) are:

  1. www.sluggerotoole.com (1235)
  2. tcal.net (1121)
  3. saoirse32.blogsome.com (931)
  4. www.freedominst.org (423)
  5. unitedirelander.blogspot.com (413)
  6. backseatdrivers.blogspot.com (408)
  7. blogs.linux.ie/xeer (380)
  8. gaskinbalrog.blogspot.com (352)
  9. irish.typepad.com/irisheyes (308)
  10. irisheagle.blogspot.com (288)
  11. macdaraconroy.com/linklog (287)

All the usual information on most clicked blogs and entries is available on the POTB listings page.