3 Apr 2002 raph   » (Master)


A long patch of "raph lag" has finally ended, with all of "Gary's branch" being merged into HEAD and applied live. Did you notice?

April fools

I'm really glad I didn't try any April fools pranks with the site this year. Aside from the usual issue of having no time, the obvious jokes (getting bought out by a BigCo) are pretty stale by now.

Two were funny: PigeonRank, and Binary Lexical Octet Ad-hoc Transport. The latter was funny because it had a real point, one well worth paying attention to.

Instant outlining

Dave Winer is rolling out something called Instant Outlining. I think there's something interesting there. I don't think he's doing any interesting new science. The polling/notify protocols look fairly crude compared to some of the more elegant work on such things in distributed systems research. The XML format (OPML) is not particularly elegant, although I must say it is something of a relief to see XML being used to represent primarily text with a tree structure. Cramming all the text into <outline text=""> elements is merely a syntactic nit. The fact that it's relatively simple XML positively invites people to play with it.

What is interesting is that Dave seems to have made propagation of annotated links extremely easy, but still under manual control. Because of the manual control, the trust issues are manageable. If you read the testimonials on Dave's site, you'll comparisons to email, which of course gets its trust all wrong and suffers badly from it.

I don't think Instant Outlining gets everything right. Browsing through some OPML files, I see some dissonance: between the flow of time and the tree, between missives and replies (they don't seem to be formally linked), between freeform text and formal structure, and between freshness and permanence. But at least they're playing with these concepts for real.

I also think that tree-structured outlines are a very useful concept, and underappreciated in today's world. Note how Advogato diary entries have evolved a very outline-like style, with headings tagged by <b>. If the volume of diaries scales up, it might be very useful to formalize that structure, and present a "collapsed view" for at least some diaries, showing the headings but not the bodies.


In response to some inquiries, I wrote up a Attack Resistant Trust Metric Metadata HOWTO. I posted it to p2p-hackers, which seems like the best demographic, but perhaps there are people here who might be interested as well.

Latest blog entries     Older blog entries

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!