this is aaronland

Area Code of the Beast

Every day is Hack Day

In no particular order :

But I am lazy and do not like reloading web pages

I like The Guardian, in part because they've always been so quick to grok what the interweb could do for them. For example, during the 2002 World Cup they added live-blogging of the matches which, despite being so brain-dead obvious, no one else was doing at the time. I am a fair-weather tball fan so I couldn't tell you whether the people they've gotten to do the job are qualified but they are about four million times more fun than anything else out there.

Four years ago I was hanging out in IRC channels and made an idle threat to write a scaper-bot to suck down the commentary and post new bits as they arrived. So the other morning I wrote something just like that which I can run from the command-line. Like this :

# As best I can tell there is no getting around the Guardian's insane URL
# conventions so if there's a way to automagically guess the link for a
# given match I haven't bothered to find out how...

$> sh ./wcblog ',,1788159,00.html'

28 mins GOAL! Bravo gets a tap-in at the back post for Mexico after
Franco nods down a well worked free kick. Cue lavish celebrations, much
bouncing in the stands, etc. Iran might feel a little unfortunate, but
Mexico had been coming into the game since their shaky start. Can Iran
regain their composure?

31 mins More commentary news - Jim Denvir writes to relate a messy tale:
"The entire Univision commentary team just spontaneously combusted." I
thought they liked to keep commentary a low-key affair in Mexico, Jim?

36 mins GOAL! Hashemian's play down the right - they're making some
inroads down there - wins a corner. It's whipped in and, amid some
confusion and a brilliant save from Sanchez from the first header -
Golmohammadi applies a boot to crash the ball into the roof of the net.
Iran are level! Much tooting of horns, etc.

42 mins Iran are back to the kind of pressure they were enjoying earlier
in the match, and the Mexican fans are going a bit quiet. "Univision,"
points out Luis Rosas, "is not Mexican television. It is Spanish
language TV in the States. Televisa is the official Mexican station from
Mexico." I stand corrected, Luis. I'll stick to the tball, instead of
offering asides about foreign telly. 

Ideally, I'd like to have each new post sent out as an instant message. I toodled around a bit trying to do this with Log::Dispatch::Jabber (and then sendxmmp) but stopped when it became clear I would need to spend more time than I was willing figuring out whether my problems were with Net::XMPP's dependencies or just connecting to the gtalk servers at all.

Text messaging might be nice too but then you get bogged down in details like message length, data fees, the part where it's no fun to read anything on a cell phone and the roar of alert tones telling you that something has happened at various inopportune moments.

IM is just better since it doesn't have any of those problems and every client, worth its salt, has some sort of system tray or dock integration so that you can plug away at whatever you're doing and be notified when there are updates.

To the extent that any sort of sane RSS, or Atom, feed would make it easier to reprocess the data and do clever things, saving me from having to deal with tag soup, I am all for it. It is true that you could also do something similar to the IM thingy with syndication feeds and a newsreader (or even email) but I've never been able to find them anything but annoying.

There is also the part where I've never seen anyone use the current crop of weblogging applications to chunk out individual updates as separate posts. So far, all writers do is keep a running commentary in a glorified text file (or single post). This is not an insurmountable problem technically and I will go out on a limb and predict that within a year someone will draft a spec for µblogging to address this issue.

It's pretty obvious that there's a demand for live-blogging; as in any event that people want to follow, in real-time, with a story and a little more personality than a text message containing canned highlights. I'm not saying that the Guardian should charge money to deliver live-blogging outside their website, only that I might actually pay for it if they did. I would not pay for plain-old access to their website. This has also been my problem with the subscription model going back to Salon's initial pay-wall. Just give me the fucking data to either play with myself or to plug in to a clever third party application.

Like an IM thingy.