Tags: technorati



South Parking

It’s the day before @media America and I’ve been making the most of what San Francisco has to offer. That doesn’t mean I’ve been a culture vulture, exploring museums and sits of historical interest. Instead I’ve been meeting up with fellow geeks and observing them in their natural habitat.

I went by the Flickr offices yesterday. It was somewhat, um, whacky. Within five minutes of my being there, a full-blown rubber rocket fight erupted. This sort of thing is, apparently, a perfectly normal occurence.

I liberated Paul, Cal and Dunstan (yes, he’s alive and well, honest) for a short break in the sunshine. They spent the entire time reminiscing about crappy English things that are hard to come by in San Francisco—like fried breakfasts and maltesers (that’s not a serving suggestion). What a bunch of sad bastards!

After a late night of microformat geekiness with Tantek, I went over to the offices of Six Apart. They had very kindly invited me to come by and see what they’ve been working on for the next (imminent) release of Movable Type. I had a lot of fun talking with them about code, user testing and community. I wish I could tell you everything they told me but my lips are sealed on a big announcement that’s coming. All will be revealed on June 5th.

From there, it was a short stroll to the Technorati offices to regroup with Tantek and continue the microformats mission together with Erin Caton, flown in fresh from Vancouver. We left the Technorati hub (which was, as might be expected, buzzing on the day of its freshly-launched redesign) and set up camp at Caffe Centro in South Park.

After a productive afternoon of coffee and wiki-editing, the coup de grace was visiting the offices of Twitter. I’m such a fanboy that I was practically squealing with delight at the mere thought seeing the home of ambient intimacy. The fact that all the people there were absolutely lovely was the icing on the cake.

After a day like that, I feel like a kid that’s been let loose in a toy shop.


Ever since I switched over to a new CMS back in February, I’ve been tagging all my journal entries. Until now, I haven’t been doing anything with those tags apart from exposing them in category elements in my RSS feed. Now that I’ve got a good head of steam going with my tags, I’ve decided to play around with them a bit.

Each journal entry page now shows the tags at the end of the post. These are linked (using rel-tag of course) to an aggregate tag page that shows any other posts with the same tag. Pretty standard stuff.

But then I thought it would be fun to tie the post in with other things I’ve tagged, not on this site but on Del.icio.us. Under the heading “Related”, you’ll find links to the same tags for my del.icio.us links.

Rather then sending you off to Del.icio.us, I’m using the Del.icio.us API to bring the results back to this site. Using a bit of Ajax, these results are displayed without a page refresh. I’m using Hijax so if JavaScript is disabled, the links will still work.

I’ve got a nice little progress bar going while the request is being sent, and a bit of a colour fade happening when the response comes back. The results themselves could probably do with some more styling. Right now I’m just displaying them in a regular unordered list of x-folk entries but I think they might look nice if they were more comment-like in appearance.

After the Del.icio.us links, I’ve got the same tags pointing off to Technorati. Again, instead of sending you away, I’m pulling in the results with the Technorati API. In some ways, these results are more interesting than the del.icio.us links because, instead of just showing things that I have tagged, this shows results from everywhere. The results are constantly changing. Right now I’m using the search query, but I must look into the experimental tag query.

I’m also using the Technorati API to find any blogs that are linking to the current post. This works like Trackback. If you want to respond to a post I’ve written, just blog about it. As long as you include a link back to the post, your entry will now show up in the results. It won’t be instantaneous, but if your blogging software is set up to ping Technorati when you post, it should show up pretty fast. I’d be interested in finding out just how long it takes for the API to reflect recent pings. If you blog about this post (with a link), try coming back to it and using the Technorati link to see how long your post takes to show up.

The Technorati API isn’t the most full-featured and sometimes it just seems to not respond. The Del.icio.us API allows me to do quite a bit with my own links, but doesn’t offer any access to other peoples’. Still, by combining the two with the tags for any particular journal entry, an interesting picture emerges.

I have some other ideas for making individual journal entry pages more interesting. None of them involve the addition of buttons that invite the reader to add the page to Digg, Newsvine, Del.icio.us, Reddit, Furl, Magnolia, Blinklist, or any other others I may be forgetting.


Technorati has been redesigned, or realigned if you prefer. It’s gone a bit gradient happy but overall, it’s quite a pleasing visual aesthetic.

For some reason though, they’ve chosen to lock the pages into a fixed width of 1024 pixels.

Now, I understand the reasoning behind fixed-width layouts. I can see the justification for wide fixed-width layouts on content-heavy sites like A List Apart (even if I disagree with it). But forcing users of what is fundamentally a web app to set their browser to a certain width seems counterproductive to me.

The content on Technorati is user-generated. Usually, that user is me. It has my favourites, my watchlist, and my search terms. I should be able to interact with that content in my way.

This is something that, as with so many things, del.icio.us gets just right. Upcoming is on the right track too. These sites allow me to interact with my data without putting me in a straitjacket.

Flickr is still avowedly fixed but the image-based, rather than text-based, nature of the data I store there makes this somewhat understandable.

Now, don’t misconstrue this as a tirade against 1024 pixel wide layouts. The problem would still exist in an 800 pixel wide design. Choosing an arbitrary number of pixels in which to serve up user-generated content is the issue here. On the one hand, Technorati is a very Web 2.0 sort of site, based on user-generated distributed content and collective wisdom. On the other hand, its visual design is grounded in a very Web 1.0 idea of top-down control and inflexibility.

I like Technorati a lot. It’s come on in leaps and bounds in the past couple of years. I’d like to use it every day. I’m even willing to put up with the oversize ads. But I resent the feeling that I should adjust my browsing environment to the needs of the site, rather than the other way around.

A tipping point for microformats

My spidey senses are tingling. Something has been happening in the last week or so. Microformats are getting noticed.

Until now, microformats were trapped in a chicken and egg situation. Few people wanted to publish microformatted content unless there were tools that would then make use of those formats. Meanwhile, the tool makers didn’t want to make applications to harness microformats until a critical mass of people were already publishing with those formats.

Technorati have broken that circular argument with the introduction of microformats search. It’s still in beta but already it’s started a new wave of interest in microformats. This is the killer app we’ve been waiting for.

I’ve been contacted by quite a few different people lately with questions about implementing hCard or hCalendar on their sites. The reason is pretty straightforward.

What’s the first thing you do when you’re presented with any new kind of search engine? That’s right… you ego surf. If your name isn’t returning any results from the Technorati kitchen then you’re going to want to do something about it.

So it may be ego, not altruism, that is driving the current push of increased microformat usage. Whatever the reason, I’m just glad to see more and more data being published in a format that I can take with me as part of my local infocloud.

It’s also a real time saver for the people providing the data. Publishing the same data in more than one format is a pain.

Michael Heilemann created an iCal schedule for Reboot 8. Jon Hicks has done the same for @media. All that effort wouldn’t have been necessary at all if the original schedules on the conference websites were marked up with a few extra class names.

Mind you, the @media site does have all the speakers marked up in hCard. You can use the wonderful Tails extension for Firefox to isolate the contact information or just point that page to Brian Suda’s vCard extractor on Technorati and you can instantly add all of those people to your address book.

I’ve been doing my bit for the microformats revolution over on The Session. There are hReviews in the Amazon-powered shop and there’s a brand new section that I launched a few days ago. The events page lists user-contributed details of upcoming concerts, festivals and workshops, all marked up in hCalendar. Right now it’s a handy way for someone to discover places to go for some fun in Ireland this Summer. In the future, I hope to build on the microformatted content to provide personalised information tailored to people’s location and schedule.

Like I said in my talk at Reboot:

Microformats are the nanotechnology for building a semantic web.

(By the way, there are a few microformats hidden in that article: I took a perverse pleasure in marking up the Renaissance with class="vevent").

Remember, the microformats community isn’t even a year old yet. This is just the beginning. I’m quite certain that we’ll see many more cool tools that harness microformats in the coming months.

Of course, we’ll probably also see the introduction of microformatted spam (hSpam? Ham?). That will be surest indication that a technology has really hit the big time: just look at what happened to email, blogs, comments and trackbacks.