Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,
Insomnia
insomnia

Entirely too geeky for most people...

Lots of geeking on the computer amidst power outages today, alternately playing with and swearing at the Handspring. It's a truly impressive device --- when it works. Having it crash on me repeatedly and having the sync app on my computer do the same, well... it makes me feel like I didn't miss out much on the early days of using Palm Pilots.

The PocketLJ client has made me fall hard and deeply for AvantGo... largely because I don't care much for the "special content" that so many PDA services want to shove down your throat. Feh. It's like being teased for not having a permanent net connection. While a permanent connection is nice, it should in no ways be necessary.

To me, the content that matters most is that which is updated regularly on the web. Being able to drive around the Bay Area and knowing where to catch a movie or find a vegetarian restaurant or a club to go to... that is what matters. The problem is that most of this information, although out there, is not well formatted for access via PDAs, especially those that do not have a permanent Internet connection. I showed you the good examples that I use with my own custom AvantGo channels, actually. I don't think people should have to do special channels for PDAs (although some do) but I do think that retooling of content is only bound to be a bigger and bigger part of the Internet and is a good argument for separating content from design in the same way that LiveJournal separates journal entries from styles, giving people the choice of how they would like to cope with information overload.

In this sense, weblogs are a lot worse for PDAs than you'd expect. Imagine wanting to read, say, Dan Gillmor's weblog on a PDA... you would want to read the text and maybe the articles that the text link to. Instead, your precious PDA memory is chewed up on graphics and flashy ads, and you can't really get at just the weblinks you'd like to save to your PDA. Instead, you'd have to also save all the navigation links, the ad links, and all the links at the bottom of the page to seemingly every weblogger that Dan Gillmor knows AND all their graphics too. Ouch. Kiss those 8 MB goodbye. LiveJournal friends lists are friendlier on PDAs... but only in the sense that an attack trained Doberman is friendlier than a pit bull.

Why does this matter?! Well, it would be nice to read your friend's LJ posts on PDAs. Real nice... and it will apparently be a feature of PocketLJ in the future. The problem is, how will it be made easy and powerful?

Dealing with this on a PDA isn't easy... but I suspect that dealing with something like this is. In the same way that RSS .92 could spit out my last 50 posts and their links, RSS 1.x could spit out the last 50 posts to my friends list, the entire text of the posts, who posted them, etc. What's better, it would be so damn standard... any weblog service could add RSS support (some already have it). Their users could read (and maybe even reply to) us and we could do the same with them. In the same way that phones weren't really of full value until long distance service and networks weren't of full value until the Internet, weblogs won't be of full value until this kind of cross-site syndication becomes a reality. Once that happens, weblogs will finally be free to achieve their ultimate destiny as a media source that, unlike television and radio, is truly controlled by the people.

Until that point, weblogs are really in their infancy, and we are the modern day equivalent of wealthy Manhattanites from the 1880s, talking together about nothing in particular on a party line using that new-fangled telephone machine that the Bell company installed. One day, we will probably be proud that we were so quick on the uptake, with fond memories of how it used to be... overlooking the problems and the difficulties we faced just trying to get things to work right. One day, all this will seem rather quaint.

If you thought this was all too geeky for my personal journal, well... you're probably right. (And if you think the harmony is a little dark and out of key... you're correct. There's nobody there.) If, however, you are curious about RSS and how it could effect LiveJournal, you might want to read this too.
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