Missing Stories

My only real disappointment so far with TypePad has been the lack of “stories” — what Dave Winer and the Userland folks provided in Radio Userland for creating static web pages off to the side of the primary weblog pages.

As it turns out, I had a bunch of stories pages on my Radio site — none of which made it across in my port to TypePad.

Over on Movalog, Arvind Satyanarayan describes his approach to publishing static pages with Movable Type — close, but no cigar, for us TypePad folk! You can actually apply Arvind’s techniques to TypePad blogs — but only after converting to using Advanced Templates. Here’s hoping static pages ala “stories” come to TypePad sometime soon!

Idea Swaps

Dave Taylor’s challenging us to think beyond the weblog with his post titled “Are you ready for “idea swap” business Web sites?

The next time you’re thinking about how your company is going to communicate its latest message to your customer and potential customer base, think about this: what are you sharing that’s sufficiently compelling that they will want to keep the ideas moving in the community? For that matter, what kind of venue are you giving your customer for leaving their own virtual paperback on the shelf, their own ideas and thoughts on the subject?

Another call for community!


Barry Diller’s spending almost $2 billion of his shareholders’ money to acquire Ask Jeeves, an online service that, quite frankly, I’ve NEVER EVER used. I consider myself pretty much an online addict — and I’ve simply never found any reason to use Ask Jeeves.

For the same reason, I was a bit surprised a few weeks back when Mark Fletcher sold his Bloglines to Ask Jeeves. It certainly doesn’t seem to me like I’m missing anything — but an awful lot of money is being thrown around for a service that I’ve never used — or, even missed!


Seems to me that Don Park’s mostly right about identity:

Control over identity mean nothing to the users.  It’s control they are not even aware they need to have.  Giving users full control over their identity amounts to giving them full control over new chores they have to do.

Replace his term “users” with “consumers” and it seems right to me.

Enterprise, on the other hand, is a related but different enough space and opportunity.

Elsewhere, Johannes Ernst has been describing his new Light-Weight Identity scheme (LID). Being URL-based, LID reminds me of Dan Bricklin’s earlier SMBmeta scheme — designed to allow a distributed directory of small company metadata to be created. We’ve had an SMBmeta XML file up on our Glenbrook Partners website for two years — but Dan’s whole initiative never seemed to get any kind of critical mass of adopters.

Johannes idea takes the notion of storing static XML data at a URL a bit further — through the use of a script that actually handles a number of potential queries to the identity URL (see the white paper (PDF)). In the process, he’s created what might be thought of as a mini-web service capable of serving up a number of different identity-related responses on the user’s behalf.

An initial use he suggests is using your LID URL to identify yourself at a new web site requiring registration — saving you the time and hassle of having to re-enter your personal information each time. You provide the site with your LID URL and it retrieves the appropriate information required for registration.

Another advantage he’s claiming is that since the personal data is maintained and updated by each individual, relying parties can simply re-query the LID URL to get current information. Similarly, I could distribute my public key in this manner. This could also, for example, eliminate the seemingly endless Plaxo requests I get from correspondents seeking to update their address books (I refuse to signup for Plaxo!).

Anyway, that’s the basic idea. Store some XML data and a script at a unique URL that becomes your ‘digital identity’. Using different queries to the URL, the script can selectively return, in a web services-like way (either text, HTML, XML, etc), a variety of different elements of personal (or business) information.

LID currently has a crude access control mechanism that controls what information the script serves up depending upon who’s asking — more work seems likely to be required in this area as it has to be bulletproof with response to only serving appropriate information to various (legitimate and illegitimate) requesters. LID supports also pseudonyms allowing users to create (although in a relatively cumbersome manner currently) unique LID’s to use at various places.

Interesting stuff and a fun synthesis of many different ideas. If this is going to go anywhere, there’s a lot more work required to bury its complexity into a simple user management interface. Too bad that it’s just a bit too complicated to be incorporated into DNS itself.

On the Mac, for example, this might get bundled into a combination of the Address Book (my card) and my .Mac online subscription. Similar to iDisk, a Mac-based identity service would allow me to easily control the personal information available and the associated access control requirements to release it from my PowerBook. .Mac would host the data and the associated script and respond to requests from everywhere to serve up my identity data.

Brent Simmons

Here’s a great interview by Jeff Harrell of Brent Simmons of Ranchero Software.

I think syndication in general has been nothing short of wonderful. It has made a major change in how so many people use the web — it’s made us better informed with less effort.

My personal site is powered in many ways by Brent’s excellent products: MarsEdit (the best weblog editor on the planet) and NetNewsWire (my secret information weapon).

Grace Chow

Steve Adelman points to the late Grace Chow’s amazing blog. Steve says:

A friend pointed me to a blog that I found to be very much worth reading.
It’ll only take 10 minutes or so to read the entire blog – it was the work
of a woman named Grace Chow who recently died of an extremely rare type of
tumor. She started the blog late in November and died ten days later.