aku-aku: v.. To move a tall, flat bottomed object (such as a bookshelf) by swiveling it alternatively on its corners in a "walking" fashion. [After the book by Thor Heyerdahl theorising the statues of Easter Island were moved in this fashion.] source: LangMaker.com. Aku Aku also has another meaning to the islanders: a spiritual guide.
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tracking blog threads
Posted by dav at 2004 March 3 11:20 PM
File under: Geek

Danah's "apophenia: what i want in an RSS tool" post reminded me of a system I was thinking about a few months ago. In particular, Danah says:

Following an entry is a bit more fun. Say that i find an entry that i think is of interest - either in my feed or out there on the web. I should be able to add/mark the entry so that the entry tells me when there are new comments and all new trackbacks get inserted into my feed as single entries too.

At one of the San Francisco Sunday Hacker Dim Sum brunches I had a conversation with a woman (I forget her name; I think she's Brad's ladyfriend). She was getting all religious, damning blogs and canonizing usenet because what she wants from online discussions is thoughtful discourse and blogs are less capable of providing that. Her argument was that on usenet, you can easily follow a thread that has significant temporal gaps between postings because all/most of the discussion takes place in a single newsgroup and threads are easily tracked by NNTP clients. On a blog, person A makes a thoughtful posting, gets some comments and also some trackbacks from person B and C. Now the discussion thread is fragmented (as Danah noted in her post): there are comments on blogs A, B, and C and there's no easy way to view the thread as a whole.

Also, since blog postings are quickly replaced by new blog postings, taking two or three days to ruminate on an issue before posting is discouraged. Take too long to throw in your two cents, and no one is around to pay attention anymore. In fact I want to be in bed right now, but I figured if I wanted to participate in this discussion I better stay up and enter my thoughts now.

She had some valid points, so I started thinking about how to address this. I'm a big fan of re-using software, so why not let NNTP track blog discussions, since it's good at tracking threads?

Imagine that Alice makes a post called 'RSS stuff' on her blog called 'AppleJax'. Then Brad makes a comment or trackback ping and a new newsgroup is created called blog.applejax.rss_stuff (or maybe just a new topic in blog.applejax called 'RSS Stuff'?). The first post in the newsgroup is the text of Alice's post along with a link to it. The second post in the newsgroup is the comment or trackback post (also with a URL to the orginal blog post if it was a trackback ping). Now Cheryl leaves a comment on Brad's blog (that trackbacked to Alice's) and so Cheryl's comment is added to the newsgroup as a reply to Brad's post. And so on. Now Jane, who likes dim sum but hates blogs, can spend her time using a nice threaded NNTP client to follow and participate in the discussion -without even opening her web browser-. The system can take her NNTP postings and place them in the appropriate blog. Everyone stays in the modality they prefer.

Anyhow, it was just an idea. I thought about implementing it but then it just got pushed into the corner with the dozens of other half-baked projects I'll never finish.


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