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Turning Up the Heat on Standards

17 Oct 2003

I’ve made a few changes to the sidebar on this side over the last couple of weeks. I’ve done some editorial work by selecting “Popular Posts” and condensing all the text I had over there to a concise “About Me” section. But more interestingly are the Web services I’ve leveraged to pull dynamic content.

The “Recent Photos” section is done through a javascript include that pulls in a syndicated feed from BuzzNet of images I’ve snapped and uploaded with my phone. If you’ve not seen that service yet, I heartily recommend checking it out. They are a photoblogging service that has effectively routed around the inane policies and limitations of Sprint’s PictureMail service. Now, all I do is shoot a picture, click a couple of times on my phone, and it shows up nearly instantaneously here on my site.

Below that, “Heavy IPod Rotation” gives you an idea of the things I’m listening to. I installed the MT-Amazon plugin for MovableType (a 5 minute process), found a few ASINs at amazon.com (2 min), wrote a template (1 min), and rebuilt the site (22 sec). Just like that, I’m using and XML-based Web service to dynamically query a remote data repository and generate a new content feature. All without writing a single line of code. A next interesting step would be to use an Applescript on my Mac that queries ITunes for the highest listen count every time I sync my IPod, then RPC that to veen.com to update that album listing. Anyone?

RDF, FOAF, RSS, SOAP… These acronyms seem to have the same effect on many technologists: eyes rolling, head shaking, and murmurs of “Ah, yes, the utopian Semantic Web. Isn’t that a cute idea.” Most think the notion of standardized, shared metadata being embraced by the masses is a pipe dream. My feeling is that it’s more akin to boiling a frog. You can’t toss the poor beast in hot water – he’ll jump right out. But put him in water at room temperature and slowly increase the heat, and he’ll never see it coming. It’s standards-based services like the ones I’m playing with here that will slowly turn up the metadata heat, until the Semantic Web is boiling around us before we have a chance to scoff again. ​

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