Archive: October 4th, 2005

Ning unveiled

Some things just don’t go together: toothpaste and orange juice, fox news and objective journalism, creationists and reality. Here’s another pair that aren’t compatible: blogging and non-disclosure agreements.

I’ve had to sign a few NDAs in the past few months and I’ve found it can be a frustrating barrier to my usual practice of speaking my mind here in my journal. Thankfully, NDAs lapse when the subject of non-disclosure enters the public eye.

That’s why I’m very glad that the folks at 24 Hour Laundry have taken the covers off Ning.

A few months back, I got an email from Marc Andreessen (oh, how my inner geek rejoices at being able to say a sentence like that). He asked me if I’d like to be a beta tester for an app, or rather, a framework that his company was working on. I jumped at the chance.

Unfortunately, reality intruded on my plans to constructively contribute to the ongoing development. I could list out all the reasons why I just never found the time (most of them work-related), but it would just read like a list of excuses. I kicked the tires of the website and joined in a few conference calls but I never got my act together enough to actually build anything.

My lack of involvement was entirely my fault and certainly not a result of the framework itself. In a nutshell, Ning is a framework for creating social apps on the Web. You can create your own app from scratch or clone existing an app and tweak it for your own ends. The idea is that it will enable non-programmers to easily create Web 2.0 apps whilst still allowing developers to get their hands dirty under the hood.

Now that the doors have been thrown open, you can apply to be a beta developer yourself. Go forth and play… make your own photo-sharing, bookmarking or mapping application (or any combination thereof).


This is very neat: Flickrball is a Web 2.0 game. It combines the Flickr API, some nice DOM Scripting and six degrees of Kevin Bacon.

It really showcases the small-world network nature of sites like Flickr. It begins with a selection of photographs tagged with a word, say "Kevin". You then have to click through to find photographs tagged with other words until you get to one tagged with another word, like "Bacon".

I defy you to come up with faster path than this one of mine, with a total of 11 clicks:

kevin > drinking > party > kitchen > breakfast > bacon

Treehouse revised

All’s well that ends well. You can ignore my earlier rant about the editorial cruelties that had been visited upon my article in Treehouse magazine. The PDF has been updated and you can now read A Brief History Of JavaScript as it was intended.

Kudos to Kevin and the gang at Particletree: that was a fast response. As Kevin points out, this was their first issue so it was a learning experience for everyone involved. The lack of communication before publication has been redressed with this speedy post-publication edit.

Thank goodness it’s a PDF magazine and not printed on dead trees.

If you were quick off the mark and you downloaded the original version of the PDF, maybe you can flog it on eBay as a limited edition but personally, I recommend that you just thrash it and we never speak of it again.

If you haven’t downloaded your copy of Treehouse yet, what are you waiting for? It’s a thing of beauty. If, during your perusal of my article contained therein, you find any stylistic or factual mistakes, they are entirely my responsibility.

Treehouse hatchet job

There’s a new PDF magazine on the block. Treehouse, from the folks at Particletree, should help fill the void left by the demise of the PDF magazine from Design In Flight.

It’s a beautifully put-together magazine. The typography, illustrations and colour choices are top notch.

What a shame then, that they didn’t extend the same quality control to their editorial process.

I was asked to write an article for the inaugural issue. I wrote a piece entitled A Brief History Of JavaScript. There is an article by that name in the PDF but the resemblance ends there.

Just about every paragraph of my original article has been altered to reduce clarity and make the prose sound clumsy (even clumsier than it already was: no mean feat). Worse still, some of the rewrites play fast and loose with the facts. According to this article, I wrote:

"A standardized DOM had already been created by a recently formed organization calling themselves the W3C."

I can assure that the words "a recently formed organization calling themselves" were nowhere to be found in my original text.

Now, I have nothing against ruthless editing but this is bad, bad, bad. None of the changes were run past me so the first time I saw them was reading the finished magazine.

In attempt to clear this stain on my public record, I’ll be publishing the original, unsullied version of the article in nice pristine XHTML. I’ll probably post it over on the DOM Scripting website.

Sorry, Particletree. Treehouse gets top marks for style but please, either get a qualified editor or put down the hatchet.