Skip to main content

Forums, Feeds, and Foundations for Answers

The web forum. Mailing lists. Newsgroups. They all boil down to the same thing: digital forums of discussion. We have relied on these mediums to carry the Internet from prototype to fad to craze to necessary base of our culture. The discussions we enable through the web (and its friends) drive everything we do in the digital world. How can we pay tribute to this with an upgrade?

We have migrated from discussing to just broadcasting our opinions. Maybe we'll tune in to some other opinions on similar topics. Maybe some of them will have read ours, who knows. We are deviating from the formula that has driven us to everything we think models the technology we desire. We need to move back to real discussions, bringing what we've learned from feeds, blogging, and content subscriptions.

Forums, beloved as they are, have lost their way. Unfortunately the number of Internet users has risen so high that no forum can carry nearly the percentage of knowledgeable users they once could. This leaves all forums at a loss for intelligent information and leads to a loss for anyone using them. Either we must spend eternity locating the perfect forum for each exact question, or we cross post dozens of forums and monitor them all for updates. This simply does not cut it.

Everyone has at least one feed these days, and what we feed the world with is still pretty limited. We write little posts, usually barely enough to call an article. We can post anything. We can feed the Internet our pictures, voices, or our minds. We can send out our questions, formatted for consumption, and allow everyone subscribing to our feed or receiving the questions through aggregation and search engines to get a full range of questions from the curious and in need. Instead of browsing to a forum page, we can find those in need through the same feed readers we already enjoy.

For the responses to the questions, the same feeds can be used to broadcast responses with meta-data attaching them to the right questions from the current feeds. The questions can even be posed with information on HTTP requests the responder can make to inform the original poster of a feed with a response.

No, this isn't even a draft of any idea for a technical spec. It is just a few ideas, and maybe even just enough for a micro-format. It would not be a lot to put together, would be less to pose the questions like this, and most of the work would be in informing those asking of the answers, but not much work.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

CARDIAC: The Cardboard Computer

I am just so excited about this.


CARDIAC. The Cardboard Computer. How cool is that? This piece of history is amazing and better than that: it is extremely accessible. This fantastic design was built in 1969 by David Hagelbarger at Bell Labs to explain what computers were to those who would otherwise have no exposure to them. Miraculously, the CARDIAC (CARDboard Interactive Aid to Computation) was able to actually function as a slow and rudimentary computer. 
One of the most fascinating aspects of this gem is that at the time of its publication the scope it was able to demonstrate was actually useful in explaining what a computer was. Could you imagine trying to explain computers today with anything close to the CARDIAC?

It had 100 memory locations and only ten instructions. The memory held signed 3-digit numbers (-999 through 999) and instructions could be encoded such that the first digit was the instruction and the second two digits were the address of memory to operate on. The only re…

Interrupting Coders Isn’t So Bad

Here’s a hot take: disrupting coders isn’t all that bad.

Some disruptions are certainly bad but they usually aren’t. The coder community has overblown the impact. A disruption can be a good thing. How harmful disruption might be a symptom of other problems.

There are different kinds of disruptions. They are caused by other coders on your team, managers and other non-coders, or meetings throughout the day.

The easiest example to debunk is a question from a fellow developer. Imagine someone walks over to your desk or they ping you on Slack, because they have “one quick question.” Do you get annoyed at the interruption when you were in the middle of something important? You help out your teammate quickly and get back to work, trying to pick up where you left off. That’s a kind of interruption we complain about frequently, but I’m not convinced this is all that bad.

You are being disrupted but your team, of which you are only one member of the whole unit, is working smoothly. You unstuck …

How To Care If BSD, MIT, or GPL Licenses Are Used

The two recent posts about some individuals' choice of GPL versus others' preference for BSD and MIT style licensing has caused a lot of debate and response. I've seen everything as an interesting combination of very important topics being taken far too seriously and far too personally. All involved need to take a few steps back.

For the uninitiated and as a clarifier for the initiated, we're dealing with (basically) three categories of licensing when someone releases software (and/or its code):
Closed Source. Easiest to explain, because you just get nothing.GPL. If you get the software, you get the source code, you get to change it, and anything you combine it with must be under the same terms.MIT and BSD. If you get the software, you might get the source code, you get to change it, and you have no obligations about anything else you combine it with.The situation gets stickier when we look at those combinations and the transitions between them.

Use GPL code with Closed S…