Scripting News Awards: Dave fesses up

Dave is going to do the Scripting News Awards again. In the process, he fesses up about something that’s puzzled me: how I got in the running last year:

“It’s quite interesting to look at the lists a year later. For example, the scripting category has boomed. Last year it was hard to find any weblogs about scripting.”

Which explains both why I was one of the four and why I didn’t get that many votes. It was just a small pool.

Playing with CSS again

It’s always driven me nuts that the month links didn’t line up properly underneath my site calendar. I figured it had something to do with the way I had defined the div around the calendar, but I didn’t have time to look at it until this afternoon.

The problem was that the div was defined to start at 70% of the page width and take the rest of the space on the page, but the content was centered in the div. For some reason, the table had a different center than the line following it, which caused the month links to show up askew.

Easy fix, right? Just recode the width of the calendar div. Except that it turns out not to be simple with CSS. Basically, what I want the calendar to do is this:

  • Hug the right hand side of the page, most of the time
  • If the window is too narrow to put the calendar to the right of the logo and still be visible, either:
    • wrap the calendar to the next line, or
    • scroll the calendar off the page to the right.

I don’t know a way to manage all of those things at once. I currently have changed it so that the calendar hugs the right hand side (for what it’s worth, I changed the width to 190px, the same as the min-width; eliminated the left attribute; and set the right attribute to 0). But if you shrink the browser window too far, the calendar overprints the site logo.

Actually, this isn’t the biggest problem, since the content starts to run into the nav bar before this happens… This is all because there’s no concept of “min-left,” the minimum left distance from the left hand bounding box that an element needs to respect.


Pilgrim: XHTML no replacement for RSS

Mark Pilgrim surveys a crop of new postings that contrast RSS for syndication vs. semantic coding in the first place and sez they’re all wet. In doing so, he draws a useful line between XHTML theory and blogging practice:

…this latest XHTML-as-syndication movement seems to be based on the principle that “syndication is so incredibly important that you must immediately stop whatever you’re doing with your web pages, upgrade to XHTML, validate your markup, restructure your home page to include all and only the content you’re willing to syndicate, and by the way, would you please unlearn that ugly nasty presentational page layout language you’ve been using for years and learn this wonderful happy structured semantic markup language instead?”

It should be obvious to any rational observer that this will go nowhere fast. A syndication format that requires valid semantic XHTML markup? Spare me. 9 out of 10 bloggers can’t even spell XHTML.

Between user resistance, bandwidth issues, sites that don’t want to syndicate their entire content, Pilgrim goes on to coin an important principle: “Syndication is not publication….It’s something else, a different medium.” Right on. The iCal to RSS experiments alone should tip off most intelligent observers that there’s value in a standalone syndication format, and real power in separating syndication from publication.

Catching up with the keiretsu

Greg has started calling our group of connected blogs a keiretsu, after the Japanese cross-industrial conglomerate. I guess that’s the only way to describe that circle: a programming MBA deep in the software world (me), two Southern Democratic political bloggers, and a financial analyst and poet. It’s too bad the era of corporate megamergers gave “synergy” a bad name, because you’d hope there would be some in that random combination of assets.

Anyway, looking out over my keiretsu to catch up:

Me? I still have a cold and I need sleep. I was at work until 9:30 tonight and I have a long day tomorrow. Talk amongst yourselves. 🙂

Remedying: Happy b-day, Tony

Correcting a long-standing omission, I’m adding Tony Pierce’s Busblog to my blogroll. This is not only in recognition of Tony’s coolness but also in honor of his birthday.

Tony is not only funnier than I am, he’s also more likely to be seen in the company of hot, barely legal women. So he says. Here’s hoping he gets his birthday wish:

…that’s one thing i’d like for my birthday. i’d like everyone to put aside all their bullshit fears surrounding good for just one day. real good. like everyone, if they want to eat cake that day, say the hell with the damn diet that theyve been on for half their life. eat a piece of damn cake.

right on!

and if you want to say hi to that pretty girl on the third floor, march up there and say hi. get her number even. quit listening to that same old stale voice that tells us that the things that we want somehow are either wrong, impossible, or in someway threats to our stable, miserable lives.

preach, preacha!

i have a dream, holiday gourds.

that we can all live together in peace?

no. that people can kiss each other at bars and in night clubs and their hearts flutter and their blood pressure goes up and they don’t need so much booze any more. i have a dream, my friends.


“A common misconception”

Doing a comic strip about blogging is like daring bloggers to write about you. I recognize that. But I can’t resist bait like today’s Doonesbury.

I’m with Zipper. It is a common misconception, for better or worse, that there are any barriers to entry for blogging. God knows I’ve read a few blogs that prove that (what, you think I was going to link to one of them?). But the more important misconception is that only a few people have something to say. My experience with blogging is that everyone–from school kids to right wing Texans to newly minted MBAs to lawyers–has something to say. And space on the Internet isn’t a scarce resource. As a blogger, you can afford to keep writing until you find the perfect audience.

How many weblogs are there?

I’ve been digging for stats on the weblog phenomenon. It’s harder than I thought. There are no directories at of all the Blogger sites. Even if there were, there’s no guarantee that they update regularly, or at all, or that they haven’t moved on to greener pastures elsewhere. I think trying to count blogs is like trying to take a census, with all the potential statistical irregularity that is implied.

There is, though, one good source of data for weblog activity: I decided to look at the historical record of high water marks that Dave has kept and see what it looked like.

Here’s the graph: high water mark growth is linear at abt 2.8 weblogs a day

If you peeked at the alt text on the image, you got the punch line: according to the data, overall weblog update activity has been increasing since last December at a rate of about 2.8 weblogs a day. And that’s not taking into account the blogging systems that don’t ping, or that require a manual update and the blog authors don’t do it.

Next question: what’s the driver? And what does this picture look like in the long term? If there’s a network effect created by content syndication and RSS, shouldn’t the curve be exponential? Or is it too early to see that yet?

I’d love to have a better dataset to try to answer those questions. If anyone has any ideas on how to get it, let me know.