OMG OMG OMG , it’s actually them!

Back in 1998 or so, I used to totally idolize people that published stuff online. I’d check their sites everyday for updates and vociferously read every word they published and every once in a while I might exchange some email with them. I was entirely too excited to see those names in my from: list. I remember the first time I actually saw these people in person, and I say “saw” instead of “met” because I was too awestruck to even approach them. By the summer of 2000 I moved to San Francisco, and so I got to meet almost everyone I read and I’m sure I was an annoying person around them, quizzing them on their lives and constantly bringing up obscure facts they mentioned online years before. It’s hard not to when you know almost everything about a stranger’s life.

About three years ago, I started meeting lots of people that were just like me, except the tables were turned. They’d meet me at a conference or a party and ask how my grandmother was doing, if the camera I was holding was the one someone sent me off my wishlist, and if I was still living next to noisy neighbors. I got to learn how awkward it is to meet someone that knows almost every detail of your life, but at the same time they’re a complete stranger to you. A lot of these conversations are unfortunately one-sided.

I’ve gotten used to being on both sides of those situations and I still get a small thrill when I meet someone whose site I’ve read and I’ve emailed before.

Yesterday, I got one of those awestruck, early era feelings for the first time in years. I walked into a hotel lobby, someone said my name, then handshakes and I heard “I’m Jon Armstrong and this is Heather.”

Hmm. Why does that sound familiar? Heather Armstrong? Hmm.


Dooce! I fought the urge to hit them with shotgun questions about Leta, the Kitchen Makeover, and their dog Chuck. I’m sure my eyes widened when I realized it was them but I remained calm. I dropped my things off, got dinner down the road, and returned to a nice conversation with Jon and Heather and I did indeed eventually get to hear about Leta, the Kitchen and everything else I’ve ever enjoyed them both writing about over the years.

Splicing gone wild

The recent Flickr announcement of combined photo/blog feeds at Feedburner brings up a feature I’ve been meaning to build for ages. For no other reason than to see if it could be done, I’ve been looking into a way to create a combined feed for this site, featuring two entries above the typical archive of the last x weblog entries. The first entry would be the photo of the day, taken from my site. The second was going to be an extra special feed-only post that was basically “my current favorite word” or “thought of the day” that I’m too lazy to make a full entry on this site or a sidebar feature.

I never got around to doing it because the ten years site is on another server and the feed would have to be sucked in somehow, then two onsite feeds would need to be combined. It seems like a perfect fit for someone like Feedburner though, since they’re pulling in all sorts of stuff.

There’s an obvious endpoint I could see quickly moving my feed to. I’ve often joked that among all my websites, this blog is sort of my own personal “temple of ego,” since it’s fairly self-indulgent and I pretty much link to everything I’m posting somewhere else, from here. I could see basically creating an “ego feed” that is the ultimate representation of me. Here’s what I would put in my ultimate combined feed:

– last x posts from this site
– most recent photo from my Ten Years site
– feed of my recent posts to MetaFilter, MetaTalk, and Ask MetaFilter
– x most recent Flickr photos
– last x bookmarks posted to my space
my upcoming events, on the days they happen I suppose
– last x posts I’ve made to the Creative Commons weblog
– my last x posts to PVRblog
– link to the last feature I wrote
– Any new story I write at Ticketstubs
– Any significant comments I make on any other blog, if I could optionally click something to “send to my feed” as I post it.

Ideally, all the last x posts/photos from other sites would be intermixed into the feed, as they happen. So the feed wouldn’t be always in the same order, but ordered by posting date, and may include content from any website or service I’m posting to.

Basically, it’d be the cult of me, all in a single feed, and you wouldn’t have to scour a dozen sites looking for my contributions if you really wanted to follow my writing. I suspect we’re not a long way off from Feedburner allowing you to do something like that.

Wishlist: the million monkeys at a million typewriters plugin

Today as I sent an IM to a friend correcting a their/there/they’re use in a blog post, it reminded me that I should post a lazyweb request for an MT plugin I’ve always wanted.

I want a MT plugin that will let a select group of my closest, most trusted friends correct typos in text and URLs on my blog posts and republish their changes without my intervention. If I’m gone for a couple days and improperly used your when I meant you’re, I’d love it if a friend fixed that while I was away. I first got the idea when I was trying to think of ways to make Orkut or Friendster useful. If there was some API to those apps that let MT know if someone was a best friend or life partner-level connection, they could be granted temporary edit rights on my blog (maybe Flickr’s API could let this work for people I designate as a friend and family member, which seems to be the closest form of relationship there).

Ideally, I’d like an easy way to say that 4 or 5 people I trust could make edits. And I suppose the edits should be checked before and after, with a certain byte count limit, lest you allow your friends to completely rewrite your post. An email telling me what took place would be nice, but I’d like my friends to go ahead and save their changes, with a way for me to rescue the earlier pre-edit entry just in case.

Actually, maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to allow anyone to suggest an edit on the post, sending me an email, with a one-click way to approve or disapprove it. Maybe after a random stranger has properly corrected me half a dozen times, I could elevate their status to having republish rights on the edits so I wouldn’t have to approve them anymore.

A plugin like this would basically wiki-ize the weblog world, allowing readers to participate and correct small mistakes. I often write in margins of books and email authors all the little typos I found while reading their novel, but this would put that kind of power right into anyone’s hands. In the world of programming they say “given a million eyeballs, all bugs are shallow” and maybe in this case, given a million editors, all typos will be fixed.

It can’t be impossible to make this happen, right?

Life imitates Art

Back in 1992, I remember watching the film Bob Roberts in a theather and thinking it was so far over the top that it was stupid. Tim Robbins was going for a political Spinal Tap, but I remember at the time I thought the satire sailed clear past funny and landed somewhere in the depths of self-mockery.

About a month ago I was sifting through some shows my TiVo recorded and Bob Roberts was there, playing on some cable channel. I watched about 30 minutes of it, and after the last few years of post-war politics and overal coarsening of debate, it no longer seemed outlandish and I wondered if I should reconsider my original take on the piece.

Today a friend IMed me a link to an over-the-top conservative singer, and when sampling his tracks I heard the lyric “when in doubt, wipe them out” which crystallized the singer’s brilliant Mid-East peace plan.

So Bob Roberts. Turns out it’s not much of a satire anymore.

How many links from Google to your site?

Last summer, I setup a dual platform system, and it uses a single keyboard and mouse linked to a PC for control, but I have to keep an extra mouse on the mac to wake it up.

During a reboot of my PC today, I had five minutes of keyboardless control of my mac, using its own mouse. With as my browser start page, I figured I’d surf around as I waited for the PC and its keyboard to come back to life. In a matter of seconds, I clicked around Google, ended up at Blogger, a few clicks later I was at Evhead, and from there I was at my own site. Whoa! How’d that happen?

I went back and counted the steps:

1. From Google to the “more »” link
2. From the more page to Blogger
3. From Blogger to their about page
4. From the about page to the “buy us” link to Dan Gillmor’s story on the Blogger/Pyra deal
5. The story links to Evhead
6. Ev’s site links to an entry on my blog

Six links from to my blog. Actually, a few hours later, that post has scrolled off Evhead so I guess it’s not such a short path anymore.

A minute of more clicking and I found a second path from Google to my site that used 7 links. From Blogger, to their Knowledge Base, is a link to a Wired story on Blogger Burnout, which links to which has a sidebar link to my site. While the KB link to Wired is also time-sensitive and will scroll off, I suspect from the Evhead path, you can get to almost any blog online. Actually, Ev used to have a long blogroll, so it’s probably tougher now.

I’m kind of amazed I can get from Google to my site, but I’m more amazed it only took a handful of clicks (remember, since I didn’t have a keyboard entry for a few minutes, this is how I discovered it). I wonder if someone could write a simple script to determine the most direct path from Google to your site.

I think I stumbled upon a new web game. How many links does it take to get to your site from (update: Kottke has an open thread here for answers)

At the tone leave a message

I don’t know how much I’ll be posting here this month as I’ll be glued to the Tour de France blog and TiVo’d race day episodes from OLN for the next three weeks.

It looks like the changes in the tour this year are going to make things tough for everyone involved, leveling the playing field and maybe even favoring the mountain climbers. I would love to see Lance win this year, I believe unless something drastic happens, even though he may not be the strongest physically, he’s the strongest mentally and will push himself on top. At 32, it’s likely this is Lance’s last year or two that he’ll even have a chance at winning, and I hope he does it.

I think Hamilton, Ullrich, and Mayo are going to give him a run for his money though.