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Computing Thoughts
Switching to Artima
by Bruce Eckel
May 31, 2005
Summary
I've been posting articles to the web for a number of years now, but only in the last couple of years have I been adapting to the phenomenon called "Blogging." This introduction will point to my previous posts, explain why I'm switching to Artima, and describe my hopes for the future of blogging.

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I seem to have come at this thing backwards. I started by posting entire books (Eric Raymond tells me that I am the second person to post an unpublished book on the net, he seems to have been the first), then long articles and finally caught up with people writing short posts (My book writing seems to be following this as well; at some point soon I hope to start writing small books).

The "articles" can still be found on my web site: http://www.mindview.net/WebLog, and I suspect I will still post there from time. I've had a weblog on blogger.com: http://onthethought.blogspot.com for awhile, and in general it was fine. The problem is with feedback. If you set a blogger weblog for "anyone can comment," you get blog spam. If you restrict it, people complain and/or don't comment because the hurdle is too high. And with restricted commenting, you can still get trolls, which are a bothersome time-waster.

On Artima, Bill has implemented a number of anti-trolling devices; he wants to keep the discussions civilized which is exactly what I'd like. That, and the fact that Artima focuses on the developer community, is what finally drew me here.

The articles and the blogger items will remain up in perpetuity, so you can read through those if you'd like to get more context. If I publish new articles, I will announce them here, so you can stick to a single RSS feed. I'll also announce things like seminars and travel plans on this blog, in case you have a user group where I'm traveling that you'd like me to speak to, or you need consulting, etc. This blog will continue to focus on programming and computing-related issues; my assumption is that this is what you are interested in so I will try not to wax poetic about the cat, the snow, etc.

I also send out a newsletter about once a quarter. This announces significant changes (the publication of a new book, for example), upcoming seminars, and the like. If you're interested, you can sign up for that at http://www.mindview.net/Newsletter.

Blogging improvements

For a long time, I tried to get Bill to implement a through-email weblog posting system, and that's what drew me to blogger, since they have that already. This is one of the reasons it's very important to run experiments rather than just imagining how something will work: when I finally tried it, I discovered that I didn't end up using it.

Bill and I have also talked about creating a "blogalog" where a blog is created as a conversation between one or more people. Sort of a panel discussion. I still think that's worth a try, but it would be interesting to try something experimental first to see how well it works. Bill told me that the current blogging system only took him 3 days to put together (!) so it seems like adding blogalogs, or at least a quick-and-dirty experiment, would be a feasible thing to do (of course, it's easy enough for me to say what ought to be easy for Bill to do).

As time passes, the issue of "keeping things civilized" will continue to be a problem. As more weblogs are added, having only a few designated people watching over this will not scale. I think the best solution is for comments to automatically go to the blogger as specially-tagged email. If the blogger hits the "reply" button, the comment gets posted. If they don't reply, the comment is discarded. This way the blogger controls the quality of the conversation directly, but in a very simple fashion. And uncivilized comments never get posted in the first place, so trolls will never get the satisfaction of having their comments up even briefly, so they won't waste their time.

Even better would be a system that allowed the blogger to add a reply, which would be posted next to the original comment. That is, if you simply hit "reply" in your emailer, the original comment would be posted, but if you hit "reply" and then included a reply of your own, the original comment would be posted followed by your reply.

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About the Blogger

Bruce Eckel (www.BruceEckel.com) provides development assistance in Python with user interfaces in Flex. He is the author of Thinking in Java (Prentice-Hall, 1998, 2nd Edition, 2000, 3rd Edition, 2003, 4th Edition, 2005), the Hands-On Java Seminar CD ROM (available on the Web site), Thinking in C++ (PH 1995; 2nd edition 2000, Volume 2 with Chuck Allison, 2003), C++ Inside & Out (Osborne/McGraw-Hill 1993), among others. He's given hundreds of presentations throughout the world, published over 150 articles in numerous magazines, was a founding member of the ANSI/ISO C++ committee and speaks regularly at conferences.

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2005 Bruce Eckel. All rights reserved.

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