Public Replies to the Email I Received About the Twit-Out and Disqus

I received a few emails about my twit-out post and I figured while I don't won't post the address of the posters I would answer them publicly. If you want to comment on my blog, please use comments and not email. Thanks!

Subject: This is why!
Twitter is down right now. This is why we need to have a boycott. Get it now?
<name redacted>
Subject: It's not hard why don't you get it
We're protesting to get twitter fix their *%^!.
<name redacted>

Still, I don't get it, not really. If you think that a day of staying off of twitter is sending a message, go for it, but I think that Biz and Co are already passionate about getting this fixed and all a boycott is going to do is make you feel better. If you're really annoyed about it you should be considering leaving for another service not a one day boycott.

Subject: Comments
I'd leave you a comment about the Twit-out but I have javascript turned off and can't use Disqus. You're an idiot for using Disqus! You;'re missing out on comment because of it! I'll never turn on Javascript because it's a way to infect my machine with viruses!
<name redacted>

OK let's break this down:

  1. I'm sorry you're missing out on web 2.0, javascript is such a big part of most of the sites being developed to day. You should consider using a browser that allows you to selectively enable javascript on trusted sites.
  2. Believe me, for every comment I'm out, I gain 2. If nothing else the fact that folk's comments show up an friendfeed brings me traffic that I wasn't getting before.
  3. The comments that disqus users leave are, on average, of a higher quality then comments in general. I could feel that way because of the lack of spam.
  4. I tend to prefer comments with a lower exclamation point to period ratio.
    Posted: May 16, 2008

The Great Internet Twit-Out. I don't get it.

Some posts this evening about a twitter boycott scheduled for 5/21 to protest the outages at twitter. Where I'm all for protests that have some meaning, I really don't understand this one. As far as I'm concerned a protest makes sense when a company's customers feel that the company is willfully mistreating them. A perfect example of this is the livejournal protest from last month. LJ users felt that adding adverting without notifying them was unfair and protested. Whether the protest was successful or not, is another question, not for this post.
In the case of twitter, there is not willfulness behind their mistreatment, just incompetence. The last thing the folks at twitter want is this negative publicity. If it were in their power, I believe these issues would've been fixed, so once must believe that twitter's issues are not easily fixed. Whether it's Ruby on Rails, the server infrastructure, database scalability or some issue that we haven't discussed these problems are large. I suspect some of the more public staff changes as of late are attempt to get these problems under control.
From this post:

Taking place on Wednesday, May 21st (or a week from today if you’re too tired or too lazy to look that far ahead,) Twit-Out is our chance to show Twitter that WE ARE TWITTER. Without us, there is no community.

I haven't seen any indication that the folks at twitter think otherwise, have you? I believe that they built a platform that grew out of control and have been unsuccessfully playing catchup ever since. Whatever they do to increase capacity, isn't matching the growth in their client base. To quote the great Yogi (Berra) "It's so crowded nobody goes there anymore".

And further more, it provides a chance to show that Twitter is no longer the only way for us to communicate with a similar platform, whether it be via FriendFeed (the preferred method for communicating on Twit-Out) or your microblogging stream of choice.

This brings up the real question. Why give them a chance? Over the past year a number of microblogging platforms have been introduced pounce, and jaiku are some examples. Why do we still come back to twitter like a battered spouse? In a related question .. what will make this protest successful? I refuse to believe that even if no one tweets on 5/21 that on 5/22 twitter will become stable for all time (and if it does it won't be related to the boycott). That's not how software works.
So, if you're boycotting, what do you expect from it?

    Posted: May 15, 2008

.... On the other Hand... Heading back to Disqus

So, I might seem to be the most fickle blogger on the planet but I am turning Disqus back on. There are a few things driving this:

  1. Comment Spam. I'm back to deleting a couple of comments a day because of spam. I assume that Disqus doesn't generate spam for 3 reasons
    1. There's no SEO benefit to spamming a blog with Disqus since the comments aren't indexed (which I believe is a plus)
    2. It's easy for Disqus to ban spammers because it is centralized
    3. Disqus is new and the spammers haven't caught up.
  2. I was receiving considerably more traffic with discqus turned on (I assume because people's comments showed up in friendfeed).
  3. Seesmic integration with video comments is a major enticement.
  4. I know Disqus is working on integrating with friendfeed so comment there will appear in my blog which is part of the grand design of my blog
  5. I really don't have the time I think I have to code the LJ integration today.

So, for today, I am turning on Disqus again. I have a script that will import LJ comments directly into the old comment system which I'll use for now. When I'm happy that it's working I'll publish it.

    Posted: May 14, 2008

There May be More of a Social Networking Echo Chamber Then I Thought

Although this mentions Religion, it is really a Tech / soc networking post.
The other day I had a "conversion class" at Church with a group of people who are looking to either be received into the Church or for Adult Confirmation. As we were leaving I mentioned to a couple of folks that someone reached my blog by goggleing "tom synan conversion" (Tom Synan was the Priest running the class), and I was curious if it was one of them. Their answer baffled me, "I've never really understood, what's a blog"? I resisted the urge to say "google it" and I did my best to explain blogging and the basics of social media.

But this makes me wonder, are we failing in our mission to educate folks in what we're doing? As early adopters we often say we are here to shake out these technologies so when the late adopters come along, the tech is usable for them. Isn't it also our responsibility to shepherd these folks into social media, and are we failing in our task?
There has been talk about the widening gap between early adopters and everyday users as of late. Where there are services that aren't ready for the average user, it surprised me that more mature services such as flickr aren't more universally being used. Up until now I assumed that was people not understanding it. I now believe we're just not doing a good job of selling it. A lot of folks in this community call themselves "social media evangelists" but looking around, most of them are only preaching to the converted. Talking about how great these services are on twitter and friendfeed doesn't help adoption.
I'm curious to hear how folks feel we should go about educating everyday users.

    Posted: May 12, 2008

Moving The Feeds I'm Hosting over to Feed Burner

There are currently 3 feeds that I'm building and hosting here that I'm moving over to feedburner (mostly to preserve bandwidth). I'll be setting up redirects but for now they are just being replicated. The new links are as follows (I've updated the original posts as well):
Church of the Heavenly Rest Unofficial Podcast -
Astronomy Photo of the Day -
Flickr Interestingness Feed -
Feel free to move over manually, I'll set up the redirects in the not to distant future.

    Posted: May 11, 2008

Removing Disqus because sometimes I go backwards to go forwards.

So in the last few weeks I've taken on a few projects involving comments on and it seems that they are conflicting with each other, and I've come to the decision that where I like disqus, I have to go back to the default Drupal comment module.
First off let me say that disqus is great, I'm getting less (as in no) spam since installing it. The social aspects of it has increased traffic to my site. As the person who wrote the howto for Drupal + Disqus I feel it's important for me to say I really have enjoyed using it and suspect I'll be back when the one thing I need from them is resolved.
The project that's a problem is my comment aggregation project. The more I look at this project the more I realize I want to have these comments imported into whatever comment system that's running on my blog (with links back to the original comment) and in it's current form, disqus can't import comments. I have spoken to Daniel Ha on the subject and where they are working on it, there is no time table he can give me for when they will have this in place.
I've spent the last few days playing in a sandbox trying to have both disqus and external comments, but I haven't found a solution that didn't feed forced, so I have decided to stop trying and take the step back in the short term. I will be importing the 30 or so comments into the natve comment system and hacking that system in the next few days (expect some instability). When disqus adds the functionality I'm looking for I'll reevaluate my options.
EDIT: I have reenabled Disqus. See this for more information

    Posted: May 11, 2008

QSL Cards for Internet Contact

One of my tweeps @AnnOhio sent me a post card from her travels and while I was looking at it a flashed back to the QSL cards that HAM radio operators use.

For those who don't know what a QSL card is (stolen from wikipedia):

In radiocommunication and radio broadcasting, QSL is one of the Q codes used in radiocommunication. A Q code message can stand for a statement or a question. In this case, QSL means either "do you confirm receipt of my transmission" or "I confirm receipt of your transmission". A QSL card is a written confirmation.
Amateur radio operators exchange QSL cards to confirm two-way communications between stations. A QSL card sent from one amateur radio operator to another contains details about the contact and the station. At a minimum, this includes the call sign of both stations participating in the communications, the time and date of the contact (usually specified in UTC), the radio frequency used, the mode of transmission used, and a signal report. One national association of amateur radio operators, the ARRL, recommends a size of 3½ by 5½ inches (89 mm by 140 mm)QSL cards are a ham radio operator's calling card and are frequently an expression of individual creativity—from a photo of the operator at his radio rig to original artwork, images of the operator's home town or surrounding countryside, etc. They are frequently taken with a good dose of individual pride. Consequently, the collecting of QSL cards of especially unique designs has become an add-on hobby to the simple gathering of printed documentation of a ham's communications over the course of his or her radio career. Some QSL cards contain an image, often something associated with the station or the operator.

Where QSL cards originally had a technical purpose (to confirm that a signal is being received), as I understand it, today it has 2 purposes:

  1. Proof of contact for certain level / awards in the amateur radio associations.
  2. A memento of the conversation.

It is the second part that brings me to this post. I had a relative once who had a wall in his home office covered with QSL cards from all over the world from the years he spent in front of his HAM rig. I'm looking at a blank spot on the wall and am thinking that I wish that the interweb community had something similar. So, I'm starting this up. If you and I have chatted anywhere, and you'd like a contact card, drop an email ( let me know the service where we've chatted, your ID on that service, your address and I'll start sending out cards in the next couple of weeks. If you're thinking of doing something similar, link below.

    Posted: May 10, 2008

Dr Who: *Spoilers* 4x05 The Poison Sky Liveblogging *Spoilers*

For those who are interested, all my Dr Who Content is available here.
Spoilers, you have been warned
Third time we've heard the "I'm bringing you back to Earth Line" it's not getting ay better.
Hot, Wet, Naked Evil Martha still having an affect, I must say. I'll be in my bunk.
Ever since my friend shot me this the Sontar-Ha! thing has never been the same
Sonic Screwdriver setting number 83: Uselessness
Axes beat dead lock seals.. check
It's the American in me, I know but with "Atmos is running wild" I hear, "Wha cha Gonna do, Brothah, when Atmos runs wild on you?"
I am so ashamed that I just quoted the Hulkster in a Dr Who Review.
Is it me or is Evil Martha.. just hotter the good Martha? In a "she'll kill me when she's done but I don't mind" kinda way.
Sergey looks excited... like he just heard that Microsoft and Yahoo aren't merging
Wow... when you transmat the TARDIS the light on top lights up
"None of the Humans can guess our true purpose" ... I thought you were just making this up as you went along... I was pretty sure this was a RTD Script.
Stuck on Earth... like an ordinary person... Dr, you have been there before!
Do google employees where matching red sweatsuits?
Sonic Screwdriver Setting number 105: Transmitting Audio / Visual signals
Rose! Again... No... I want Jo Grant Back, not Rose!
Trolls... Now I'll picture Sontarans living under a bridge.
"wha are you lot up to" Is it me or did DT have problems reigning in his Scottishness there?
Sonic Screwdriver Setting number 55: TV Remote Control
Am I the only one who wants to marry a Sonic Screwdriver and a TV remote control
Was he speaking Celtic?
Oompa, Loompa Loompaty DoI'm gonna move a TARDIS from youOompa, Loompa, LoompatyNaInside this big box is a Donna
I think moving from the earth might be Sergey's real plan... Sergey's World?
"I've designed a mating program... I'm more cleaver then you!" ... more Gates then Sergey
Worldwide nuclear grid? What about Israel ... we know they have Nukes... and Nor Korea... they don't have missles that could hit a ship in space... oh well...
Again... wouldn't clones be all the same Height. That's something even Lucas gets right!
The Brig's Alive and in Peru!
Wait... I know Donna and the Doctor understand the Sontarans because of the TARDIS's translation circuit. Why does Sergey (or why did he before the Dr showed up)? Are the Sontarans speaking English?
TARDIS Hammer Setting No 2: Wack A Sontaran!
Live Long and Prosper
Gas Mask... are you my mummy!
He stole my joke!
Now, if you were The Sontarans and the Humans had 1... just 1 flying aircraft carrier, wouldn't you take it out first?
But it is nice to see the Valiant
and Sontaran Armor is so week that bullets go right through it?
Sonic Screw Driver Setting No 762: Tracking Device
Sonic Screw Driver Setting No 2: Opening Locks
OK... next con... I expect lots of people in tshirts that say "Clone"
Dr, even if you're not going to use it... Pick UP the Gun!
I was hoping the head would deflate when he died... oh well
Sonic Screwdriver Setting No... I don't know what he's doing with it
"Behold, the clone world is born" ... "begun the clone wars have"
So... any buildings taller then the Chrysler Building should be in Flames?
UNIT Lovin!
OK.. can't be snarky with the "I've got to give them a choice thing"
Chicken Dance Time!
Sontar... HA!
Next Week.... Susan's Mom!

    Posted: May 7, 2008

LJ Test Post

Testing new heading message on LJ.

    Posted: May 5, 2008

Next Blog Integration Project: Reclaiming my Post's Conversations

I stared making these inside "inside baseball" kind of posts more for myself then for anyone else. As some people find these posts interesting I'll keep posting them. They do seem rather meta to me but the feedback is good as I plan on making this code available when all is said and done. if you don't find this all interesting but are an LJ user please read the last paragraph of this post. There is a question I'd love to hear your opinion on.

There are 3 places where conversations happen around my blog posts, friendfeed, and livejournal (I write off the conversation on twitter as a lost cause as there's no way to tie a tweet back to a post). We won't get into the reasons why I'm crossposting onto LJ and in this post. As is intended to be the hub of my online presence, I'd like to import the comments from into it. Luckily there is an answer.

Friendfeed's new API will allow me to import comments and who likes my posts. I suspect someone will write a Drupal Module for this, if not I'll handle it second. My first project is to enhance Drupal's LiveJournal Crossposter, to backport the comments from LJ into Drupal. I've had a number of friends tell me this was impossible but I have found an LJ sponsored API, which I hope to have up and running sometime this week or next week. Of course the code will be posted in The Lab, when it's ready.

If you're one of my LJ readers I do have a question for you. I don't think the folks on FF won't mind pulling their comments onto Social media folks are used to having their content spread across the web. LJ, however is more of an insulated community. I do wonder if folks on LJ would be upset to have their comments imported elsewhere (I will change the crosspost header to indicate that it comments are being imported elsewhere). So, if you are an LJ user, do you think it's a problem?

    Posted: May 5, 2008