The "Yahoo" Problem

It is funny how the side you take influences your position. Dave Winer spends a great deal of time talking about the need to properly give credit to those who create solutions. When it comes to the unintended consequences of a "solution" - aka a problem - he is quite happy to pass the buck. He sites The Yahoo Problem. Wait a minute though, what product was it that started the trend towards putting a little icon on the page for each different news-reader? That's right it was Userland's Radio, which Winer was a key intellect behind.

How did this become the Yahoo problem anyway? They are amongst the latest to pile on the "add this to whatever" bandwagon. And is setting up a collection of competitive directories for people to store their RSS subscriptions in one of several centralized data vats really the answer? The solution proposed by Winer has a clause stating there should be open competition. So for a while everybody plays nice, and then when AOL and Time Warner split they setup competing services. And very soon we're back to a whole bunch of buttons that don't do much for anybody but clutter up the landscape.

In fairness, Winer has removed the Radio button from his main website, but the orgins of the problem lie in the early foundation of the idea there should be a button to subscribe to specific news readers.


I haven't found the right time yet to write about what Kevin Maney wrote a good article about in the USA Today. Blogs share a lot in common with their first-cousin pamphleteering. Over the past many centuries we've seen the advance of so many technologies making sharing information easier and cheaper. The printing press made getting a lot of copies of information out much cheaper than it had ever been before.

The argument is made that freedom of the press is only afforded to those who own one. Certainly blogging has made inroads in this area by continuing to cut the costs. The changes bear a strong resemblance to the advent of the laser printer dramatically cut the prices of sharing ideas and communicating information. Blogging makes it possible to link to other's information in ways that were previously not thought of.


The end of nofollow

Rogers Cadenhead hits the nail on the head with his post about the doomed "nofollow" attribute. My prediction is a little different. Within about nine months Google and others will quietly determine that it has done more to hurt their databases and will quietly stop using it.

The problem is that the nofollow attribute won't stop the spam bots from polluting websites aplenty. There are plenty of ways to increase search engine placement that aren't comment spam. On the other hand nofollow will provide ways to prevent your link to a site from casting a popularity "vote" for the site but it won't stop the spam.

Nofollow was put together quickly with a few bloggers and software companies being given advanced notice but there was not a vetting that allowed developers to put their heads together and hash it out. Many people are frustrated by the process because they have to deal with attitudes that really are not helpful and their frustration is understandable but closing the process to outsiders is not the answer.

iPod Shuffle an opportunity for Podcasters

Michael Singer's article on the iPod Shuffle demonstrates the bias that a handful of programmers would like to present. The article Apple's iPod Shuffle Stifles Podcasting quotes pundit Doc Searls, co-author of the Cluetrain Manifesto, citing problems moving around inside a podcast. His take is that it is a problem on the regular iPod and instead of fixing the problem Apple eliminated the functionality.

Hopefully the people have tried to set the record straight about the incorrect stories in the tech press, will not ignore this issue because they are on the other side. Here is a bit of the reality for those who stop by. Many are a reprise from my earlier article on what Podcatchers (podcast listeners) want.

Drupal 4.5.2 Upgrade

Drupal is out with its 4.5.2 upgrade. It is a very simple upgrade and I had zero problems. Checking the changelog reveals Drupal is now four years and two days old (based on the 1.0 date of January 15, 2001). Happy birthday Drupal! Those of us using it are looking forward to several more great years.

Later today I will likely write a little more about Ranchero Software's Mars Edit which I've been using the last couple of days. Great software. Drupal users have to tell it to use Movable Type settings to get all the extras to work.

Update Looking at a post on the Drupal site it seems tracker isn't working. The tracker module has two changes of significance. Lines 70 and 73 have added 'AND c.status = 0' to the SQL statement. Removing that statement restores previous tracker behavior. What does it break?


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