Quick LeWeb'10 News, and IceRocket [en]

[fr] LeWeb'10? C'est le dernier moment pour demander une accréditation blogueur officiel (lisez un peu la littérature avant de le faire, cependant, pour être au fait de nos attentes). Inscrivez-vous à la blogger boat party organisée par Frédéric et Damien, regardez le programme (en ligne aux yeux de tous), taguez vos articles "leweb10" et pinguez IceRocket. Pour les détails, lire la version anglaise de cet article!

So, what’s up with LeWeb’10?

You have until Friday to send in your application if you would like us to consider you for official blogger accreditation. A little recommended background reading before you apply, though: the kind of profile we look for in official bloggers, what bloggers do at conferences, live-blogging vs. live-tweeting (and why we prefer the former), the guidelines introducting the application form. (If you applied before yesterday, your application has already been processed and you have been sent an e-mail — in any case. Check your spam folder if you haven’t heard from us.)

Frédéric and Damien are (like last year!) organizing a cool Blogger Party (on a boat!) for official bloggers and others. Number of attendees is limited to keep the party cozy, so don’t delay signing up for it if you want to be able to come.

LeWeb’10 programme is out! The first thing I noticed when reading through the programme is that we’ll be hearing Bertrand Piccard, that I coincidentally blogged about the other day on the Ebookers.ch travel blog. I’ve heard him speak in French, and he’s a great speaker — look forward to hearing from him again. There are of course many other exciting speakers, but he’s the one that jumped out at me.

You might remember that last month, I was musing on tags and the demise of Technorati. Today, I caught myself thinking what a shame it was that there wasn’t one central place where all bloggers present at LeWeb’10 (official or otherwise) could see their posts aggregated during the conference. Well, actually, there is one: IceRocket. So, tag your posts with “leweb10” and ping IceRocket, and we’ll start building a nice collection of posts on the leweb10 tag page. Official blogger posts will be aggregated on the conference site itself in addition to that.

Now I just need to figure out why IceRocket isn’t indexing my blog.

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A Story About Tags, and Technorati, and Tags [en]

[fr] Une conversation sur Twitter au sujet des tags, de la grande époque de Technorati, et de où on en est maintenant. Ce qu'on a perdu: un "tagspace" commun pour la blogosphère (c'était ce qu'offrait Technorati...).

Yesterday I innocently answered a tweet about Technorati tags from Luis Suarez. This led to an interesting three-way conversation between Luis, Thomas Vander Wal. Ideas got tossed around, and we decided to continue the discussion through our blogs, as if it were 2003 (2001?) all over again. You know, I really miss the old blogging days, sometimes. But more about that in another post.

Now, before I get to the meat, I want to tell you a little about the history of tags and tagging. I was there, you see — and I’d like to tell you what I saw of history unfolding at the time, because it gives some background to the ideas that came up for me while chatting with Luis and Thomas.

(Note that I am absolutely not using the sacred inverted pyramid here. I’m not trying to optimize. I’m taking you for a ride, come along if you wish.)

A long long time ago, when the blogosphere was frisky and bloggers were still strange beasts, Movable Type invented the Trackback.

Trackbacks were exciting. You have to understand that at the time, comments on blogs were barely a couple of years old, and bloggers still had the good habit of carrying on conversations through their blogs, linking to each other’s articles like there was no tomorrow. Trackbacks allowed us bloggers to tell each other we were mentioning each other’s posts without having to “head over there and leave a comment” or rely on the linkee’s obsession with referrer monitoring (all our metrics and stats tools were much more primitive at the time, and we didn’t have Google Alerts).

Some people started sending trackbacks when their posts were simply related to posts on other blogs — an abusive practice, if you ask me, laying the grounds for what was to become trackback spam.

Enter TopicExchange. It doesn’t exist anymore, but I fell in love with it right away. TopicExchange was a site which hosted “channels”, keywords that you could trackback so that your post would appear in a given channel. TopicExchange was, in fact, a somewhat clumsy precursor of tagspaces. The idea was there, but it was built on trackbacks rather than microformats.

Roughly around that same period (of years), delicious started using tags to allow users to classify bookmarks. Flickr followed, and tagging started to take off.

In 2005, Technorati started tracking tags in blog posts it indexed, and the microformat for tagging was born. Days later, I’d released the first WordPress tagging plugin, Bunny’s Technorati Tags. Now, you may not care much about Technorati in 2010, but at the time, it was a Big Thing.

First of all, Technorati were the only ones indexing what they then called the “Live Web” (or was it the “Living Web”, I can’t remember). Forget Twitter, Facebook, and today’s real-time craziness: in 2005, blogs were pretty much the fastest form of publication around. Google Blogsearch didn’t exist. So, bloggers (and blogging software) would ping Technorati each time they published an article, Technorati would crawl their RSS feed and index their content. This meant you could search for stuff in blogs. Technorati indexed links between blog posts, so you could look up the “Technorati Cosmos” for any URL (ie, the collection of blog posts linking to it.)

If you were serious about blogging, you made sure you were in Technorati. And your properly tagged articles would appear on the corresponding Technorati tag page. (See where this meets TopicExchange?)

Second, and this is where in my opinion the Technorati implementation of “let’s group posts from different bloggers about a same topic on a single page somewhere” beats TopicExchange: it’s based on a microformat, technologically much simpler to implement than a trackback. Anybody who could write HTML could add tags. It also meant that other tools or companies could create their own tagspaces and index existing tags — which was not possible with a trackback-based implementation, as trackbacks are “pushed” to one specific recipient.

The blogosphere went wild with tags, and my brain started bubbling on the topic.

TopicExchange died, drowned under trackback spam.

And as far as I’m concerned, Technorati is dead (at least to me), probably drowned or crippled by splogs and tag spam.

Which leads me to express a law which I’ll call “Stephanie Booth’s Law of Death by Spam”, just in case nobody had thought of it before, and it catches on and makes me famous:

Sooner or later, all smart ideas to better connect people or ideas through technology drown in spam, unless the arms race to defeat it is taken seriously enough and given the ressources it needs.

Right, I think you have enough context now, and I can come back to the conversation that kept Luis, Thomas and I occupied for a bit last night. Luis was asking if anybody still cared about Technorati tags, and we drifted off (at least I did) on the Golden Days of Technorati (hence the slightly nostalgic storytelling that makes up the first big chunk of this post).

Clearly, Technorati is not playing the role it used to play for the blogosphere (whatever that is nowadays, the blogosphere I mean, now that every online publication is a “blog”).

There’s Icerocket, which actually does a not-too-bad job of letting you search for stuff over blog posts (check out my ego search and blog search). Actually, as I’m writing this, I’m discovering that their advanced search is pretty neat (though I’m not certain why this query returns nothing).

One issue I see with Icerocket is that you have to actively sign up and include tracking code on your blog — which means that less bloggers will go through the trouble of getting themselves indexed (and less spammers, of course, which is probably the idea, though I did spot a few splogs in my searches above). Another one is that it’s not very visible. Do you bloggers know about it? Have you registered? Does it bring you traffic? Technorati had cosmos and tag links that made it visible on the blogs it indexed (just as I tried to make TopicExchange more visible in my blog when I was using it).

Another more systemic issue is that a “blog” today and a “blog” in 2005 is not the same thing. Well, some are (I hope this one is), but nowadays we have all these big online publications that I call media-blogs: run as businesses, multi-author, revenue-stream… Their quality ranges from cheap content-factory to properly journalistic. Are they still blogs? In 2010, what is a blogger? What kind of blogs do I want to see indexed by a service like Icerocket — and is there some objective way to draw lines, or am I letting my personal bias take over? As you may know, my work around blogger accreditations for LeWeb has led me to ponder the lines between journalist, blogger, other-online-publisher. I don’t have answers yet.

But I digress.

When WordPress finally implemented proper tags, the default tagspace was not Technorati (as it had been with my plugin), but a tagspace local to the WordPress installation. This made sense in some way (probably by that time tag spam on Technorati was already taking its toll) — but we lost something precious in the process: a shared space where separate blogs and blog posts could collide over common topics.

I want that back. But maybe I don’t want a tagspace shared by the whole humungous somethingsphere of 2010. So, how about this?

Let’s imagine a tool/platform which allows a certain number of bloggers to gather together, as a group. You know all about groups, in their various incarnations: Flickr groups, Google groups, Facebook groups, new Facebook groups… What about blogger groups? I could gather a bunch of bloggers I know and like, and who know each other, and who tend to read each other, and we could decide to create a little blogosphere of our own. The group could be public, private, invitation-only, whatever.

And this group would have a shared tagspace.

If you’re starting from scratch, you’d do this with a multi-user WordPress implementation (go to WordPress.com for example: there is a shared tagspace for the blogs there). But here, imagine the bloggers in question already have blogs. Would there be no way to recreate this, independantly of which blogging tools they’re using?

This is similar but not identical to shared spaces like SxDSalon. SxDSalon slurps in all posts with a given tag from a list of bloggers. It’s nice, it works, it’s useful, but it’s not what I’m thinking of.

Planet is a cool tool too, but to my knowledge it only aggregates posts. Maybe we could add a shared tagspace to it?

I look forward to reading what Luis and Thomas will write on their blogs about our conversation. 😉 Blogs are alive! Twitter has not killed them!

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WordPress.com Still Messes Up Tags and Categories [en]

It pains me to say it, but much as I love them, they still don’t quite get the difference between tags and categories. Yes, WordPress.com now makes a difference between tags and categories (and have been doing so for quite some time), but they are still missing part of the equation.

  • Categories are big pre-defined drawers to sort your posts in. They’re local.
  • Tags are labels you stick on posts after you have written them. There are tons of them and they’re messy and they’re global.

Logically, links on tags should point to the general WordPress.com tagspace (they do) — and links on categories should point to the local category pages of that particular blog. Only they don’t always.

The “Categories” widget works the way it should. But the rest is a mess. Examples.

  • Look at the Coworking Léman site, which uses the Mistylook theme that I personally love. This article‘s category links to the general WordPress.com tagspace (wrong), whereas this one‘s category links to the local category page (right).
  • The La Muse site, which uses Ocean Mist, makes article categories link to the general tagspace (wrong) but at the bottom of the page, lists categories with the correct links to category pages.

I could find more.

In general, the problem seems to be that article category links are made to link to the tagspace just as tags do. I mean, what’s the point of having a difference between tags and categories (an important one, if you ask me) if you make them behave the same way in the templates? This is a major problem for me. I hope Automattic are listening and will do something about it. (I contacted support but was told, basically, that it was a feature.)

So, please, Automattic: make the links on category names link to local category pages, and the links on tag names take us to the global tagspace.


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Angst: My Categories are Still a Mess [en]

[fr] Mes catégories, c'est toujours le chenit. J'ai les outils qu'il faut maintenant pour faire le ménage, mais il me manque l'essentiel: quelles catégories un monstre comme CTTS devrait-il avoir?

My categories are a long-standing source of worry.

They were created in an unenlightened effort to “go ontological”, when I [switched to Movable Type](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/01/03/switch-to-movable-type/). By the time I [switched to WordPress](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/06/23/switch-to-wordpress/) over four years ago, I was already thinking about [cleaning up my categories](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/06/24/batch-category-editing-for-wordpress/) (lo and behold, the birth of Batch Categories — I didn’t waste any time, did I?)

My categories are still [a mess](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/02/18/my-categories-are-a-mess/). WordPress has had [native tagging](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/11/30/tags-and-categories-oh-my/) for a while now (I’ve happily retired the [Bunny’s Technorati Tags plugin](http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/bunny-tags/)), [Rob](http://robm.me.uk/) has taken over [Batch Categories](http://robm.me.uk/projects/plugins/wordpress/batch-categories), so it now works rather than just sit there in lists, and [Christine from the Internet](http://www.neato.co.nz/) has written a nice [Tag Managing Thing](http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/tag-managing-thing/) (which seems a bit broken in 2.5.x but might still work).

So, I could use the [category to tag converter](http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2007/10/08/category-to-tag-converter/) and get rid of all my categories. I would feel much lighter. Then I can use a combination of Tag Managing Thing and Batch Categories (which allows search by tag, and, actually, I see it now, allows not only addition of categories to selected posts, but tags, so maybe I don’t need Tag Managing Thing for this, and this sentence is a bit long so it’s going to end here, sorry) to re-create nice categories for my blog.

But as always, here is where I stall. What categories should a monster like CTTS have?

Want to listen rather than read? It’s here:

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Becoming a Professional Networker: Tags in Address Book OSX Needed! [en]

[fr] Besoin, de toute urgence: plugin Address Book.app permettant de taguer ses contacts.

For some time now, I’ve been aware that I’m becoming a professional networker. Almost all I do to promote [Going Solo](http://going-solo.net), for example, relies on my reputation and the connections I have to other people.

Now, I’ve never been somebody to collect contacts just for the sake of collecting contacts, but until [LeWeb3 last year](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/12/12/news-from-leweb3/), I had just been content with butterflying around and stacking business cards somewhere near by desk. At LeWeb3, when I started telling people about Going Solo, I also started realising that the people I met and contacts I made were going to have more importance for my business than before.

And if I’ve learnt something during these last two months, it’s the importance of getting back to people. I’ve figured out how [iGTD and GMail](http://seesmic.com/v/32zdGimgth) can play nice together to help me with that, but it’s not sufficient. I need to keep track of who I’ve asked what, of who can help me with what, who has this or that connection. And yes, I have too many people in my business network to keep everything in my head.

As I explain in the video above, the lovely [Cathy Brooks](http://www.otherthanthat.com/) put me on the right track: use Address Book.app. I don’t really need to keep all the contact details related to a person close at hand (ie, phone number, e-mail, etc.) because I have that in LinkedIn, Facebook, GMail address book, or on business cards. I’m not interested in keeping an exhaustive repository of all the contact details of all the people I’ve met. What I’m interested in, however, is keeping the names of these people somewhere I can attach meaningful information to them.

Where we met. What we talked about. Stuff that’ll help me remember who people are.

So, I started simply adding names (Firstname Lastname) into my OSX address book, along with a few words in the Notes field. The nice thing about the Notes field is that you don’t have to toggle edit mode on to add stuff in the Notes. So, of course, I started using the notes field to tag people. Not too bad (smart folders allow me to “pull out” people with a certain tag) but not great either, because tags get mixed up with notes, and it’s a bit clunky.

Somebody suggested I create a custom “Tags” field (a “Names” type field is fine). Unfortunately, though this looks like a good idea at first, it fails because you have to edit a contact each time you want to add tags. Also, you can’t create a smart folder based on the contents of that field — you need to search through the whole card. Clunky too.

I don’t know how to write Address Book plugins, but I know they exist, and I have an idea for a plugin that would save my life (and probably countless others) and which doesn’t seem very complex to build. If there’s anybody out there listening… here’s a chance to be a hero.

I want a “tag your contacts” plugin for Address Book.app. What would it do? Simple, add a “Tags” field that behaves similarly to the “Notes” field. That would allow me to separate notes and tags — they aren’t quite the same thing, don’t you agree?

In addition to that, the plugin could display a list of all contacts tagged “thisorthat” when you double-clicked the tag. That would be nice.

Does anybody else want this? Does it already exist? Would anybody be willing to build it? (If other people are interested, I’d be willing to suggest we pool some cash to donate to the kind person building this life-saving plugin.)

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Tags and Categories, Oh My! [en]

[fr] Il est temps de faire de l'ordre dans les catégories de CTTS. Je veux en garder 20-30. Vos suggestions sont les bienvenues.

The time has come. [Wordpress now has native tagging.](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/09/22/wordpress-finally-has-tags/) I’ve imported my old tags **and** my even older keywords (yeah, even though tags and keywords are slightly different… what the hell). I’ve created an [index page for my tags](/tags/) and an [index page for my categories](/categories/). Go and look, then come back.

So, what do you think?

I think the “tags” page looks pretty good (just needs a little CSS fixing so that the huge tags don’t prevent you from clicking on the smaller ones they hide). I mean, it’s a sprawling mess, but that’s what a tag collection should look like. Later, I can add fancy stuff like related tag clouds in the sidebar, or something like that.

But my, look at that listing of categories. It’s a huge sprawling mess, and it shouldn’t be. It should be a concise listing of rather widely defined areas I write in. Not easy. So, dear readers, I’m going to ask for your help.

See, I’ve installed this neat plugin, [Tag Managing Thing](http://www.neato.co.nz/wordpress-things/tag-managing-thing/), which does a lot of what I was dreaming up for a possible future version of [Batch Categories](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/07/13/batch-categories-09/). Well, one thing Tag Managing Thing doesn’t do which Batch Categories did, was to assign posts to categories and remove them. Tag Managing Thing only deals in organising tags and categories — **including** converting one into the other. **Update:** [Rob Miller has a Batch Categories plugin](http://robm.me.uk/projects/plugins/wordpress/batch-categories) which should do the trick. I can’t remember if he used any of my work or started from scratch, but in any case, it looks very much like what I had dreamed up for it 😉 **[/update]**

So, here we go. I want to keep — oh, let’s be reasonable — maximum 20-30 categories. (I’ll convert the rest to tags.) Some of the new or obvious ones will remain: Events, Youth, Social Software (maybe Social Tools?), Languages… Here’s what we’ll do. I’m going to write a list of categories at the bottom of this post, and I’ll keep modifying it until it looks reasonably good. I’ll be (heavily) relying upon your input for this. Thanks in advance. I really don’t think I can do this alone.

New categories for CTTS:

– Events
– Languages
– Youth
– Blogging
– Technology
– Social Tools
– Travels
– Livre (the book)
– …

Please leave your ideas in the comments! The [category index](/categories/) handily gives a post count for each category or subcategory.

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Physical, Digital, Categories, Tags, Experts… [en]

[fr] Le numérique révolutionne la façon dont nous organisons l'information. "Une place pour chaque chose, et chaque chose à sa place" vaut pour les objects physiques. Cette excellente petite vidéo démontre ces changements. C'est en anglais, mais il n'y a rien à écouter (sauf de la musique) -- il suffit de lire.

If you’re still a bit in a fuzz about how exactly the internet is revolutionizing the way we store and retrieve information, this great little video should help. It’s pretty fast-paced (watch it twice if necessary) and the music is very nice.

Thanks to [Euan Semple](http://theobvious.typepad.com/blog/2007/10/more-genius-fro.html) for pointing it out.

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WordPress Finally Has Tags! [en]

[fr] Après des années d'errance, WordPress implémente enfin un système de tags qui ne sont pas des catégories. Un billet un peu plus complet en français s'impose probablement. Qu'en pensez-vous?

I’ve known for some time that [version 2.3 of WordPress](http://codex.wordpress.org/Version_2.3) would support real tagging. Today, Matt has just announced the [deployment of tagging on WordPress.com](http://wordpress.com/blog/2007/09/22/tags-and-categories/).

From the start, I’ve been a very vocal supporter of the [differentiation between tags and categories](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/02/11/tags-and-categories-are-not-the-same/) — and I really appreciate Matt acknowledging this in his announcement.

When I first met Matt offline for the first time nearly a year ago, [at Blogtalk Reloaded in Vienna](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600218664445/), I jumped on the occasion to pester him about tags and categories. He listened — but I don’t think he was convinced at the time.

A few months later, I was [in San Francisco](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157594465240661/) — and one of the first things Matt told me when we met again was “you know, I finally saw the light about tags and categories”. He told me version 2.3 would have both. I was overjoyed. I’ll never know exactly what role I played in Matt’s “seeing the light”, but I like to think I contributed 🙂

Looking back in time, [Technorati started indexing tags in January 2005](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2005/01/14/technorati-tagified/). They weren’t new for me then (I’d been tagging things on del.icio.us since May 2004 and on Flickr since October of the same year) but clearly, being able to tag posts was a great thing. You know me — my brain can’t sit still — two days later, I was [rambling about some ways to combine tags in searches/sorting](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2005/01/16/thinking-about-tags/). Some of the stuff I talk about in there isn’t possible yet, but I hope it will someday.

Two days after that, I wrote my first WordPress plugin, [Bunny’s Technorati Tags](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2005/01/18/technorati-tags-plugin/) — which became quite popular and which I still use to this day.

I’m really glad to be able to retire this plugin, specially as [Peter Westwood has written an importer for it](http://blog.ftwr.co.uk/archives/2007/09/07/living-on-the-edge/). That means you should have no problems converting your bunny-tags into wp-tags. Thank you very much, Peter.

Bear with me while I dig though my archives: [weighted tags by category](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2005/01/28/plugin-idea-weighted-tags-by-category/) is something I’d forgotten I’d wanted… does anything like that exist now?

My only gripe with the implementation of tags in WordPress, for the moment, is that they will be comma-separated. No! Please! We’ve been typing space-separated tags into Flickr and del.icio.us for three years now. Three years! When I chose space-separation for the tags in my plugin, it was because the existing interfaces for tags did it like that.

Spaces, please. Or at least an option to input them space-separated. Or a simple plugin. Tags separated by spaces, and multi-word tags between quotes.

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