If I recall, programming wasn’t necessarily your strong suit, but like many in the IndieWeb will say: “Manual until it hurts!” By doing things manually, you’ll more easily figure out what might work and what might not, and then when you’ve found the thing that does, then you spend some time programming it to automate the whole thing to make it easier. It’s quite similar to designing a college campus: let the students walk around naturally for a bit then pave the natural walkways that they’ve created. This means you won’t have both the nicely grided and unused sidewalks in addition to the ugly grass-less beaten paths. It’s also the broader generalization of paving the cow paths.
In addition to my Following page I’ve also been doing some experimenting with following posts using the Post Kinds Plugin. It is definitely a lot more manual than I’d like it to be. It does help to have made a bookmarklet to more quickly create follow posts, but until I’ve got it to a place that I really want it, it’s not (yet) worth automating taking the data from those follow posts to dump them into my Follow page for output there as well. Of course the fact that my follow posts have h-entry and h-feed mark up means that someone might also decide to build a parser that will extract my posts into a feed which could then be plugged into something else like a microsub-based reader so that I could make a follow post on my own site and the source is automatically added to my subscription list in my reader automatically.
In addition to Kicks Condor, I’me seeing others start to kick the tires of these things as well. David Shanske recently wrote Brainstorming on Implementing Vouch, Following, and Blogrolls, but I think he’s got a lot more going on in his thinking than he’s indicated in his post which barely scratches the surface.
I also still often think back to a post from Dave Winer in 2016: Are you ready to share your OPML? This too has some experimental discovery features that only scratch the surface of the adjacent possible.
And of course just yesterday, Kevin Marks (previously of Technorati) reminded us about rel=”directory” which could have some interesting implications for discovery and following. Think for a bit of how one might build a decentralized Technorati or something along the lines of Ryan Barrett’s indie map.
As things continue to grow, I’m seeing some of all of our decisions and experiments begin to effect others as these are all functionality and discovery mechanisms that we’ll all need in the very near future. I hope you’ll continue to experiment and make cow paths that can eventually be paved.
Featured Image: Cows on the path flickr photo by Reading Tom shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
5 thoughts on “Reply to Brad Enslen about The Future of Blog Snoop”
Cow Paths: Yes we have this concept in both New Urbanism and planning municipal bike/hike trails. It’s a good analogy for what I’m doing: “What’s available off the shelf and free as a stopgap until somebody designs something better?”
Blog Discovery: I’m sure directories are not the best solution for blog discovery, but like blogrolls they have a place at the table because they are low tech and cheap. Here’s a rough hierarchy:
Do In A Pinch: Blog acting as a directory.
Minimum: A proper directory script (ie. phplinkdirectory or similar) This allows for blog owner to submit their blog, write a description etc.
Better: A directory script that not only lists blog URL but also lists blogs RSS feed.
Better x 2: Directory described above which also generates it’s own RSS feed for each category and subcategories.
Better x 3: Some sort of fusion of the x2 directory above, and Indieweb stuff to some degree. Maybe a fusion of a standard directory with Kicks Condor’s Indieweb.xyz. This is just brainstorming.
Better x 4: Probably an RSS search engine like the old defunct Daypop. Because this leads the searcher to individual posts about a topic in close to real time. Such an engine could use Post Kinds as filters for the searcher to refine their search. There used to be a lot of RSS blog search engines I could find only RSSMicro today.
Best: Some sort of hybrid directory/RSS/crawler engine listing only blogs. The search crawler digs deep into a blog for those posts from 2015 or before that are buried and won’t appear in feeds. The RSS search engine for the newest posts.
Something like that.
I don’t think we have tapped RSS fully.
OPML: I use Inoreader and I subscribed to your Indieweb list from your Following Page. Brilliant list and thanks. I think there is a future for this for deep discovery.
rel=directory: My instincts tell me this is important and they are on the right track. The directory also is a low tech way to sort by topic. Because it’s not enough to just have all the Indieweb plugins, but people need to know what the blog’s topics are.
Vouch: Yes. Needed in some form. I used to move at the periphery of the spam crowd although I was never part of it and I can tell you, right now Indieweb stuff, (webmentions etc.) are in a honeymoon. The spammers will figure out how to exploit these in ways you never dreamed of.
Thanks to you and to Kicks Condor for taking the time to reply so extensively. The first step needed for Blog Snoop is to have an extensive index of blogs. Only then will it be of any use. And this was a useful discussion because it gave me some ideas that might work. Again thanks.
↪Some thoughts on cow paths and manual until it hurts in service to website/blog discovery, blogrolls, OPML, following, #IndieWeb, etc.
@bradenslen @kickscondor @davewiner @kevinmarks @schnarfed
Brad Enslen mentioned this reply on ramblinggit.com.
Brad Enslen mentioned this reply on ramblinggit.com.