Neutral Weblog Hotel

I rarely discuss weblog-world stuff here, since Ftrain is not a proper weblog, for reasons I don't want to explain now, and the word “blog” gives me hives. But still:

There is a concerted effort underway by a group of the well-informed and enthused individuals to create a common, standard format for “weblog syndication, archiving, and editing.”

Every one of the 8,000 lines of code for Ftrain is written in XSLT by myself (I did adapt the calendar code from something evil and miraculous found on a mailing list in the days before EXSLT date functions). While I can think of plenty of interesting things I could do with the giant webwork of content currently being tossed around the web, I don't have the time or interest to write code that will play nicely with other weblog services if there isn't a defined standard for those services that I trust enough to implement.

Take RSS2.0. It's a technically sound format. It makes sense to me, but there was absolutely no way to motivate me to implement it as part of the Ftrain code because I did not trust that the standard is stable. Now, in the interest of completeness, and because I am being paid to do so, I am probably going to add it as an export and import format. But not out of love for the medium.

And without love, what do you have? Just cold data and dwindling hope.

I don't care about the arguments that have led to this situation; all I know is that my gut instinct says RSS2.0 is not right for me. My gut instinct said RSS1.0 was right for me, and my gut instinct loves XSLT, which some people think is sheer drunken madness. To each their own, but still: you have to go with what feels right, because you're going to be living with it—with the tools, technology, and community around your chosen technologies—for as long as you apply any given solution. I think the folks involved in this effort, if they heed community criticism and feedback, have the potential to create something stable and standard that I'll trust, something that I'll want to learn and talk about with others.

That lack of the feeling of stability in the current formats, and the low quality of RSS feeds in general with regards to validation (many require incredibly loose parsing), has kept me away from all but RSS1.0, which I use inside of Ftrain because RDF's data model is predictable and reliable.

Me, I have often wished for a single neutral format that would allow my CMS to interact freely with the other weblogging tools. This looks to be that format, and it has my full support.

Whatever that's worth.




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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

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Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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