Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Want to buy single magazines through iTunes or Amazon

I stopped my Fortune subscription several weeks ago due to time constraints, but I'd love to buy just the issue with Steve Jobs on the cover (see Gruber and FSJ for details). Fortune's publisher Time Inc. should make buying a magazine as easy as buying a song on iTunes. Better yet, actually sell magazines through iTunes since I already have an account there. Or Amazon.

And yes I'm talking about a physical paper magazine, not a stupid PDF or whatever. Mail it to my house, bill my credit card. This would be much preferable to trying to hunt the specific issue down in stores or signing up for an unneeded subscription that clutters my house, adds a little stress to my life and hurts the environment.

Over the course of a year I may very well end up spending as much as or more than I would have on a subscription. I'm fine with that.

As I've said before, the print media business will recover only once publications start paying attention the basics, like how they are sold and distributed.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Improved ecto support for Blogger

Picture 3.pngThough all indications are that Blogger's API still sucks because it does not allow image uploading, the blogging application I use, ecto, has worked around this by uploading my images to Flickr automatically when I drag them into my posts. This is not ideal, since it pollutes my Flickr feed with random images for my blog, but it's better than no images.

I'm going to stick with Blogger for this blog because I don't have the energy to move it and ecto in version 3 is now much more smooth about working around Blogger's image limitations. It also now supports tagging in Blogger.

If/when Tumblr supports apps like ecto, I will move the blog off Blogger.

(UPDATE: Another way Blogger sucks with ecto and other third-party tools: If you have Blogger set to "convert linebreaks" in the standard online Blogger posting form, that setting will *also* apply to posts from ecto, even though they are sent in HTML via the API. When you change this setting to work properly with ecto, it makes all your prior posts screwy. Dumb dumb dumb. If your blog is short, just republish all your old posts via ecto and you are golden.)

How to get rich with OPML in three easy steps

opml-icon-64x64.pngI continue to be fascinated by OPML thanks to my new job, where I deal with OPML files a lot. Late last night I couldn't stop thinking about OPML-related products. I am now convinced this format will revolutionize search and social media.

Here is how I would beat Google (at search) and get rich using OPML, had I the time:

  1. Build an RSS reader that supports "live" OPML subscriptions using OPML URLs, as discussed here, with the ability to pull in arbitrary sections of the outline. It should similarly support "live" OPML export.

  2. Figure out who people's friends are and where their friends' OPML files live. We care about these files even if they are not being viewed in the reader in any way. One way to find these files by allowing people to specify their friends ala social networking. If their friend uses your reader, you already have an OPML file for the person.

  3. Build a search engine off of this reader that is personalized for each user. It searches all your feeds, of course, but it also searches your imported OPML feeds, then your non-imported friend OMPL feeds, then the cosmos of sites/URLs closely related to all these feeds, then the Internet at large.

The key idea here is to augment Google's PageRank with something I'll call FeedRank.

PageRank ranks pages based on the number of links to each page. FeedRank ranks pages based on how close they are to your feed reader.

FeedRank gives heaviest priority to your feeds, next-highest to feeds of others (OPML) you subscribe to (live OPML folders), then the feeds of others who are like you (OPML of your friends). Only then does it look at links on the Internet.

FeedRank is more resistant to tampering than PageRank, because while PageRank ranks baded on links culled from the entire Web, including tons of sites placed there with the intention of gaming PageRank, FeedRank would contain the crucial added information of who you personally have chosen to trust OPML is key to the concept because it it allows you to increase the number of feeds in your cosmos by an order of magnitude thus providing fuel for FeedRanking. Note that while you'll want to read some of the OPML feeds (ala Dave Winer's Reading Lists idea, which I call "live OPML folders"), others will just be in your account for purposes of building your personal search engine.