Feb 7, 2008
“Nice– now I don’t ever have to talk to you to see what you are doing.”
This was the comment from my (otherwise) dear, sweet girlfriend, upon seeing my new “Web Log.” I think she was joking. (She does, at least, still talk to me despite the website, so I guess it hasn’t worked out too badly on that front.)
Anyway, after my last post, I did go ahead and set up an entirely new front page for USSJoin.com, based on the Action Streams plugin for Movable Type.
As a side note– this was the first time I’ve used Movable Type, and it’s quite well-done. In general, it’s set up to do the opposite of WordPress’ code style; where WordPress, by default, dynamically generates your whole website as needed, Movable Type regenerates the static pages of your website when you change them. While I fought for awhile with Movable Type’s templating system (as it turns out, it only generates pages for which it has templates– so if you apply an incomplete template set, some pages might not exist that you’ve created. For instance, the example Action Streams template set doesn’t include a “Post” template, so the static pages I usually have, for things like my GPG key and Resume, weren’t being generated no matter how hard I tried; an error message when I created them would have saved me a few hours), the whole thing works quite well, I find, and I’m very impressed with the speed– not just of the static pages (being static, they’re fast to load), but of the whole system.
So then, some first thoughts on Action Streams. AS has a list of services that it’s configured to accept; at the moment, I haven’t explored adding ones not on its list, but I’m told it is possible. In any case, one hardly needs to; the list is a survey of the Web 2.0 universe, complete with far fewer vowels than really make sense. Not all the profiles AS accepts actually have streams of data coming from them– for instance, my LinkedIn profile doesn’t broadcast information for AS to take. However, all the services are linked with XFN data, so people crawling the web looking for sites that are also me have much more data to work with (for instance, Google’s Social Graph API, which Six Apart has some privacy qualms about).
Something I realized, as I looked through this list, is that I have a lot of accounts everywhere that claim to be me. This is something I expected, but it’s pretty shocking to see 12 websites all of which have some claim on “me” as the Internet perceives me. I’d forgotten about several of them– leaving them with data I a) no longer wanted public, b) filled with holes that I would have rather filled with public data, or c) that was out of date– not to mention option D, the empty profile that seems a waste of web space. Even setting this thing up has led me to update my profiles at a lot of places, which is a good thing, and one kind of the control over my Internet persona I was looking for.
So then, what’s the next step? Well, one thing that several of my friends have pointed out is that this is only actions on Internet web sites– it doesn’t, for instance, aggregate my network locations to see if I’m hanging out at Starbucks, sitting in class, or working at my Star Trek-sized console in my apartment. (At the moment, actually, I’m in my apartment– which is interesting only in that this is the first blog in a while I haven’t written from my OLPC, which is currently finishing being charged for class.) If I really wanted to toss my privacy out the window, that’s probably where I’d start (as it’s easier than buying a GPS unit to do the same thing).
Several more sane options present themselves, of course, but I think what I’ll actually do now is learn about how to mine all this XFN data (through Google’s API, or otherwise)– something that’s likely to come up soon in my Information Retrieval class as well.
Oh, and at some point in there, I need to do homework. Actually, I should probably do that first.
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