The week before JavaOne I quietly unleashed a new feature on Artima.com called Artima Developer Buzz. People with tech-oriented weblogs can register their RSS feeds in any of 16 communities (Java, Python, Open Source, etc.). Readers can quickly scan through Google-like summaries of posts to find what interests them.
If you have a tech-oriented weblog, take a look at Artima Developer Buzz. You can register your weblog's RSS feed in any of 16 Buzz communities, each of which are focused on a different topic, such as Java, Python, Design, XML, etc. You can see all the topics here:
Once you register, it may take up to two hours for your first posts to start appearing. I only post at most one entry an hour for each feed, so if like most people your feed contains 15 items, it will take up to 17 hours for all of those items to appear. Patience is a virtue.
But I Blog About Several Buzz Topics
Each user can register as many RSS feeds as they wish, but I allow each feed URL to be registered in only one community. If you post on several Buzz community topics in a particular feed, please join the community on whose topic you post about most in your feed. Or simply join the community that you feel fits you and your feed the best.
I call them Buzz communities, because I want to emphasize that they are not just groups of weblog posts about a topicthey are groups of people. These people are working with and blogging about the Buzz topic (Java, Python, Linux, etc...), but they aren't necessarily working with or blogging about that topic exclusively. Think of the Buzz communities as water coolers in an office. People interested in Design may gather around the Design Buzz water cooler, where they will talk about design but also other technology topics that interest them.
Don't worry if you feel you'll be writing some posts off-topic from the community you join. I expect Buzz communities to have a low signal to noise ratio. They are generated automatically by reading RSS feeds. They are not edited. The reader, therefore, must spend time sorting through and separating the signal from the noise themselves, but in return they get signal that would otherwise be blocked by an editor. That's the quid pro quo for the reader. What I've tried to do is make it as easy as possible for the reader to zero in on the signal among the noise.
Inspired by JavaBlogs
I was initially inspired to create Developer Buzz by the success of JavaBlogs:
I found myself going to JavaBlogs several times a day. Even though the signal to noise ratio was rather low on JavaBlogs, I kept finding interesting tidbits of information. This is where I realized the value of weblogs. Yes, they have spelling errors, awkward constructions, and poor grammar. Yes, many posts say very little of value. But buried in the posts flowing through JavaBlogs every day were little nuggets of information that I just never heard about from the edited sites. This is where I realized that by spending a bit of time doing the editing myself as the reader, i.e., sorting though many valueless posts, I got in return information that may not have made it past an editor at an edited site.
JavaBlogs had what I considered several usability deficiencies that frustrated me, so I set out to fix those. The main frustration I had with JavaBlogs was that they only showed the title of the weblog post, which usually didn't give me enough information to know whether I cared to read the post or not. So I had to click and wait for the entire page to load before finding out I didn't care. When you look at a community page for a Buzz community, you get a title plus a Google-like excerpt that will usually give you enough information to know whether you want to read further. Here's an example:
The other main difference is that each item posted to a Buzz community is actually a discussion forum topic. Just click on (Discuss). So each Buzz community is not only a place to find out what people are talking about in their weblogs, but a central place to discuss the weblog posts.
Also, JavaBlogs doesn't post more than two entries from a feed on the home page. I found that awkward. What I did in Buzz was only post one entry per hour from any one feed. I figured this would help mix up the posts in a natural way.
I list the bloggers names on the left hand column, because as I mentioned previously, I want to emphasize that these are communities of people who blog. You can click on a name to see posts in that Buzz community by that person, along with a list of the names of the blogs that person has registered. You can click on a blog name to see entries just from that blog. And you can subscribe to RSS feeds for all those views.
I created a very forgiving RSS parser. I do however, require a description element for every item I post in a Buzz community, because I extract the summary from the description. I require a summary because that's helpful to the reader.
Join the Buzz
Check it out. Click around. Join a Buzz community if you like, and post any feedback to the Buzz Users Forum:
Um, maybe I'm slow, but I don't understand the requirement of one user, one feed. In addition to my personal web log, I run two Ruby blogs that I would like to see under the Ruby section. Sadly, I must pick but one.
Who does this benefit? Should I go and create additional user profiles? I'm pretty sure that's not what you had in mind, but certainly anybody determined to have numerous blogs listed can do just that. I think, though, that such a move would be detrimental to any "community feel"; better to know who really is running assorted blogs rather than have to wade through bogus personas.
Please find a way to allow each user to list more than one site.
> Um, maybe I'm slow, but I don't understand the requirement > of one user, one feed. In addition to my personal web > log, I run two Ruby blogs that I would like to see under > the Ruby section. Sadly, I must pick but one. > It's not one user, one feed. It's one feed, one community. So you can register all three of your feeds, but you have to pick one community for each of those feeds. You can, for example, put both Ruby feeds into the Ruby community.
> Who does this benefit? Should I go and create additional > user profiles? I'm pretty sure that's not what you had in > mind, but certainly anybody determined to have numerous > blogs listed can do just that. I think, though, that such > a move would be detrimental to any "community feel"; > better to know who really is running assorted blogs rather > than have to wade through bogus personas. > > Please find a way to allow each user to list more than one > site.
What I'm aiming for is having each communty's posts be unique. I may someday relax the restriction based on user feedback, but I'm starting out strict to see how it goes. If I start out relaxed, I can't later change to strict. But if I start out strict, I can later relax the rules.
I've added some category feeds from my weblog to a few of the communities. It's a really neat system, but I just spotted a small problem: it takes no notice of date information provided in the feed (in my case the dc:date element). Since some of my categories have entries in the last 15 that date back to late last year it's pulling some quite old material out and posting it as "new" marked with today's date - see the XML page to see what I mean: http://www.artima.com/buzz/community.jsp?forum=145
One thing I like about java.blogs though is that it wraps the link to a blog post with a simple counter script, so that we can view the most popular posts of the day. This greatly helps reduce information overload.
Any plans to share the script? I'd like something to see something like this but for educational bloggers.
> I've added some category feeds from my weblog to a few of > the communities. It's a really neat system, but I just > spotted a small problem: it takes no notice of date > information provided in the feed (in my case the dc:date > element). Since some of my categories have entries in the > last 15 that date back to late last year it's pulling some > quite old material out and posting it as "new" marked with > today's date - see the XML page to see what I mean: > http://www.artima.com/buzz/community.jsp?forum=145 > So that's where this was. I thought I got this in an email, then I was looking all over for the email.
Thanks for the idea. I've been thinking about this, but am not sure what the best solution is as yet.