[linux-elitists] open linklogging, anyone?

Shlomi Fish shlomif at shlomifish.org
Tue Mar 26 00:42:31 PDT 2013

Hi Don,

On Mon, 25 Mar 2013 21:01:04 -0700
Don Marti <dmarti at zgp.org> wrote:

> begin Teh Entar-Nick quotation of Mon, Mar 25, 2013 at 01:48:04PM +0000:
> > Don Marti:
> > > begin Teh Entar-Nick quotation of Mon, Mar 25, 2013 at 10:03:48AM +0000:
> > > > I'm not sure what that really means, formally, but
> > > I saw it on Wikipedia, so it must be a thing:
> > > 
> > >   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linklog
> > 
> > Weird.  This is the original definition of "weblog", you realize.  Jorn
> > Barger was just logging all the interesting Web pages he'd gone to, with
> > a short comment.
> Today, different people's definitions are all over
> the place...
>   It's like a press release, except we can use links
>   and curse words!
>   It's like an column, except you sign over your
>   copyright, we don't copy-edit it, and we pay you
>   less!
>   It's my diary except that...well, um, it's exactly
>   like my diary!

Heh, that's nice. However, you should read
http://www.paulgraham.com/opensource.html :

It was the narrowness of such channels that made professionals seem so superior
to amateurs. There were only a few jobs as professional journalists, for
example, so competition ensured the average journalist was fairly good. Whereas
anyone can express opinions about current events in a bar. And so the average
person expressing his opinions in a bar sounds like an idiot compared to a
journalist writing about the subject.

On the Web, the barrier for publishing your ideas is even lower. You don't have
to buy a drink, and they even let kids in. Millions of people are publishing
online, and the average level of what they're writing, as you might expect, is
not very good. This has led some in the media to conclude that blogs don't
present much of a threat-- that blogs are just a fad.

Actually, the fad is the word "blog," at least the way the print media now use
it. What they mean by "blogger" is not someone who publishes in a weblog
format, but anyone who publishes online. That's going to become a problem as
the Web becomes the default medium for publication. So I'd like to suggest an
alternative word for someone who publishes online. How about "writer?"

Those in the print media who dismiss the writing online because of its low
average quality are missing an important point: no one reads the average blog.
In the old world of channels, it meant something to talk about average quality,
because that's what you were getting whether you liked it or not. But now you
can read any writer you want. So the average quality of writing online isn't
what the print media are competing against. They're competing against the best
writing online. And, like Microsoft, they're losing.

I know that from my own experience as a reader. Though most print publications
are online, I probably read two or three articles on individual people's sites
for every one I read on the site of a newspaper or magazine.

And when I read, say, New York Times stories, I never reach them through the
Times front page. Most I find through aggregators like Google News or Slashdot
or Delicious. Aggregators show how much better you can do than the channel. The
New York Times front page is a list of articles written by people who work for
the New York Times. Delicious is a list of articles that are interesting. And
it's only now that you can see the two side by side that you notice how little
overlap there is.


Again, I recall going over the livejournal.com most recent posts feed
( http://www.livejournal.com/stats/latest.bml - nowadays it's mostly in
Russian and other Eastern European languages, but it wasn't always this way),
and frankly, most of it was a lot of teenagers telling what they did that day
or the day before. But like Paul Graham said, if a blog post reaches
http://slashdot.org/ or climbs to the top of one of the major sub-reddits in
http://reddit.com/ , then it is usually interesting and notable enough for
reading. And most blog posts that appear there are perfectly fine articles or
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essay (see http://www.paulgraham.com/essay.html )
in their own right.

Looking back at the first blog posts I've written (see
http://www.advogato.org/person/shlomif/diary.html?start=9 ) then I can testify
that they were not too interesting or things of note, and even contained some
rumours or defamation. But my blogging improved since then. If you don't
practise writing, you're not going to improve.

"Blogging" in this sense still existed back in the old Usenet days, where
people posted various essays to Usenet and asked for opinions. Usenet fell out
of fashion recently, and tends to have a lot more spam than it used to, but
might make a comeback, and in the meanwhile, there are plenty of alternative
Internet mediums for publishing essays and articles. To quote
http://bible.cc/ecclesiastes/1-9.htm “What has been will be again, what has
been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” - people
have been posting essays (or whatever[1]) starting from the Cuneiform, and then
using the Alphabet, the print, typesetting systems, word processors, HTML/Web
1.0, Blogs/wikis/etc. and finally raw text+URLs social networks such as
Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.

As a result, I think we shouldn't be quick to dismiss a newer or trendier
technology just because it has a lower barrier to entry (like it was easier to
set up a blog on livejournal.com or whatever than it was to write HTML as a web
page), just because it has a lower barrier to entry, or because it is more
mainstream, or because the median result is not too high. [OlderIsNotWorse] Of
course, I have seen quite a few fads too that quickly went away (e.g:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Push_technology , which is now mostly RSS/Atom ),
but I don't expect technologies such as Google Plus , Facebook or Twitter, to
quickly disappear, because they fill an important niche and we should embrace
this change. (Although it is possible that, in the future, they will go out of
business and replaced by a different provider, like Facebook has taken over
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myspace , which hardly anyone remembers now).

As demonstrated by the English Wikipedia and other Wikimedia and wiki sites, it
is possible for a close-to-100% open source/open content solution to become the
category killer of online reference sites, so there is a future for good

Switching to GNU/Linux may still be pretty intimidating for most
desktop users, but some FOSS programs such as
http://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.html have become very popular on Windows or
Macintosh systems too due to their high quality, and people who use a lot of
FOSS on Windows, and end up trying Linux on VirtualBox or whatever may end up
either using GNU/Linux as a host or alternatively doing most of their work in
a Linux/etc. VM or a remote X11 desktop system (which I did in my last
workplace, where I had a VM running Ubuntu Linux and it was a tolerable

Sorry for getting carried away, but I hope you enjoyed this post, which can
provide fodder for some blog posts or whatever.


	Shlomi Fish


[1] - according to
the oldest joke dates to 1,900 BC and is written in Sumerian. 

Taking an objective view of the Hebrew Bible
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanakh ), we can see a lot of adultery,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_%28fiction%29 , spreading of nasty rumours,
curses, lies, sexism, racism (see http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt3001.htm
), erotica (same link), conspiracy theories (see
http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/poly/est.htm ) and most everything else that we
still hold in much contempt during our times.

[OlderIsNotWorse] - I do not mean to
imply that older technologies do not have a place, and while no one is using
cuneiform any more, I was told Jewish scribes ( see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sofer ) are still writing various manuscripts by
hand, because that yields the most quality results, which cannot be achieved -
not even using typesetting.


Shlomi Fish       http://www.shlomifish.org/
Freecell Solver - http://fc-solve.shlomifish.org/

There is no IGLU Cabal! Home‐made Cabals eventually superseded the power and
influence of the original IGLU Cabal, which was considered a cutting edge
development at its time.

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