The Comforting Web

When you suddenly wake saying "Oh my god. Pableaux." wondering if a friend from New Orleans is safe, and it’s late at night, you can flip on the bedside light, grab the laptop and visit his blog to find out what’s happening.

And when the news is good (he’s okay) but also sad and bad (his city is gone), your uncle will send you a link to a page full of pictures of cats sleeping in ridiculous positions and you’ll find something that will make you laugh (Junior returns with the Sideways Sofa Snorkle Relax-0-Matic) and you’ll be able to get back to sleep.

Thank you, Internet.

Authority, Authorship and Why You Need A Librarian: Accuracy in Wikis

[Incomplete post rediscovered during site maintenance in September 2010]

This morning in my email I found a letter from the webmaster of a site called Wikiverse. The site is a wiki, a collaboratively-edited, constantly evolving set of interlinked pages. (more about wikis) (more about Wikiverse) This letter read a little bit like some junk mail I receive:“We have a link to your site…I would appreciate it if you returned the favor and linked back to”

Often these letters are annoying and presume that I will, in fact, have any interest or reason to link to that site. They will, as this one did, imply that my site would be enhanced by linking to them, without giving much argument as to how. “Linking back to us will also help maintain your link with us in the future. For your convenience I have attached Wikiverse graphic link which you may apply to your website as an alternative to a bland text link.”

In this case, because the page on Wikiverse where they link to my site does relate to the topic of a particular post, it is conceivable that a link from that post to their site would be appropriate. The best way to suggest that would have been to write a comment on that post containing the appropriate link and, this is the crucial part, clearly conveying to me and to future readers of that post & its comments what the link leads to and why it is pertinent. That it was supplemental information, provided by someone other than me, would have been clear in that context. No special action on my part would be required. These are some of the biggest benefits of comments: easy transition from monologue to conversation and clear sense of authorship (though it should be noted that the latter can be faked in many current comment features).

However, since not all sites offer visitors the ability to add comments, I can understand how the webmaster at Wikiverse may have a different process for alerting sites that they have been linked to. Let me be clear about this: the practice of informing someone that you have linked to them is a good one and there are a growing number of automated methods to do so. (more about TrackBack) (more about Technorati)

Good Practice: Do alert sites that you’ve linked to.

When I followed the link in the letter to see the page referring to my site I got a surprise. Not only was I linked to, I was quoted. It would have been good for the letter to make this clear, but I am glad to have received something drawing my attention to the page.

Good Practice: Do alert people who you’ve quoted.

Particularly glad because the quote was taken out of context and the page gave

Bad Practice: Don’t use a quote out of context to imply something it is clear was not intended.

Good Practice: Do, when possible, link to context.

Fun beta toys

I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned that I’ve been playing with the new thingy from my friends at Ludicorp. Flickr is, well, it’s, um, it’s kind of a social network, but really it’s more of a chat tool, except it’s all about sharing pictures, but you don’t have to do that at all if you’re more interested in conversation, and you don’t have to go into any of the public rooms if you just want to use it, say, to chat with some friends or family. It’s a bit hard to describe and it’s quite fun, like most thinks from Ludicorp. Give it a try!

Congratulations, Justin!

He’s celebrating 10 Years of which I linked to back in the very first piece of MetaGrrrl content. (I don’t call it the first post because it appeared on its own page as an essay. The first “reverse-chronologically-laid-out-writing-with-expectations-of-subsequent-similarly-formatted-entries” was a week later).

10 years since he started, 5 years 4 months since I first wrote about the connection I feel with him just from reading his site, and he still inspires me.

This weblog wouldn’t have started when it did without the bold risks he takes and blazing love he gives out to the universe. Keep shining, Justin!

Lower than low

Now you’ve probably all received spam like this before, but I found this one exceptionally clear in their obvious cluelessness about the Web (and therefore either representing an excitingly stupid company or just another tedious address harvesting effort by copraphagic spammers):

From: Kim Summers
Date: Wed Sep 10, 2003 7:52:16 AM US/Pacific
To: webmaster@[domain name]
Subject: [domain name]

I am contacting you about cross linking. I am interested in [domain name] because it looks like it’s relevant to a site that I am the link manager for. The site is about services for attaining high search engine rankings through website promotion and optimization.

I keep the web address confidential and will send it to you only if you give me permission to do so. Just let me know if it’s OK, and I’ll send you the web address for your review. If you approve of the site, then we’ll exchange links.

Looking forward to your reply.

Kim Summers
Experts in Quality Link Building

P.S. If for any reason you don’t want me to contact you again, just email me and let me know that.

Okay, so let me get this straight; you’re trying to use linking to build traffic to sites, so you’re going to randomly mail millions of people (my ass I’m the only one who got this!) and then “keep the web address confidential”. Uh-huh.

Such a shame that Kim’s email address will get scraped from the page by spambots, huh?

Bad Use of Astounding Coincidence

How bad has spam gotten? Well, you know how they sometimes fake the from address with a random address from the thousands they send to? I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later, and given my webbishness extra likely to happen to me, but I got a piece of spam which claimed to be from someone I know, but which I know she’d never send.

So I wrote to her:

Hi Evany,

I guess sooner or later two people who know each other – albeit vaguely –
would be chosen as recipient and faked sender of a piece of spam. Either
that or you’re really sending me applications from Wired.

Hope all is well otherwise.


To which she replied:

Wow! But so sad that the laws of outstanding probability are being wasted on something like this. I want my fucking lottery cash!


Very interesting developments

Macromedia is breaking new ground. This presentation on Macromedia Central is intriguing.

The concept of the occasionally-connected user feels much more realistic than the “everyone continually wired into a broadband connection” dream of recent years.

I also congratulate Macromedia on not wasting time and money on a slick and impersonal press release, but instead using Flash to let a team member give a personal presentation. It makes me think that more business meetings and conferences should be a combination of this sort of “now I’ll show you slides and tell you what they mean” presentation in advance with the face-to-face time being used for roundtable discussion and in depth questions. (Though I confess that approach would take away most of the learning experience of watching an audience react to a presentation).