Archive for the ‘Housekeeping’ category
How I Do Via Links
After I spent nearly 20 minutes looking for where I’d gotten the story I linked yesterday, I got to thinking about the somewhat arbitrary need I feel to attribute my sources. I thought some readers might be interested in it, so this is a brief exegesis of that need and an explanation of how to facilitate it.
The primary reason I care is ego. I don’t want someone coming here, stealing all my links and acting as though my time spent in curation was valueless. And so similarly, I refuse to do this to others. Even when more than half my links seem to have come from one site (today it’s The Browser, there was a time it was kottke, a time it was brijit (what was that?), and time’s it’s been other stuff I don’t remember), I’d rather you know how awesome that site is in deciding what’s valuable on the internet than that you think I’m really hardworking and great at finding stuff. (While I might like for that to be true, it’s not.)
Secondarily, I want to facilitate your finding good things on the internet, not impede it. And the single best thing I can do to help you find cool things is to disclose where I find cool things. If you want more stuff like the stuff I post here, you could do a lot worse than following along a five of the sites I attribute links to.
Now, more important than why I do it is how to do it. For me, 99% of what I read comes from four streams, so if I forget where I got something — which is true about half the time — I look at those four places. Google Reader, Twitter, Hacker News, and reddit all have serviceable search functions, so anytime I forget I just need to do 10ish searches I should be able to attribute where I got something. (Google Reader searches for URLs rarely work, so one must account for the various ways an article may have been described. The reason yesterday took 20 minutes is that I was incorrectly confident about where it came from.)
Because it’s funny, and popped into my head while typing this, I’ll wrap up with part of an old tweet from the ur-link-blogger, Jason Kottke:
As Woodsy Owl would say: give a shit, via it.
PS: If you haven’t been to an single-entry page on this site in a while, they’ve got a better looking box of recommended actions for what to do beyond a single entry. More articles, a better looking tag list, and more accurate recommendations (though I’m still not fully satisfied with those). I made the box myself, it’s also on Frozen Toothpaste.
On the Ethics of Linking to Stolen Photos
Fair warning: this is a useless rant about petty theft of novelty art by people who may not see their actions as such. It will not change any opinions and offers no solutions.
I like these dead fly drawings. They’re clever and fun and if I had reams of disposable income I’d maybe even spend money buying one. And I’d love if you saw them and had those 45 seconds of “wow, that’s pretty clever.”
But here’s the thing: I can’t find a single website posting them that doesn’t feel seedy. Not a single page I’ve found that displays these pictures gives any mention to who created them. Not a single one even offers a perfunctory “If you know where these came from, please tell us so that we can give credit.” None even offer that the original artist was probably Swedish. And clearly none of them are stretching what they’re comfortable with ethically to accommodate these uncredited pictures.
Almost all of them are clearly pageview-whores, who are desperately seeking a pittance of advertising revenue by stealing as much content as they can without receiving a cease-and-desist. Linking to them feels at best like shirking my responsibilities to anyone who reads this.
But sometimes the content of such photos seems novel or interesting enough to merit display. Stealing it again it hardly a solution. And pointing to it is merely a lesser sin. So I sometimes do but mostly don’t.
All that said — this is a linkblog after all — and to illustrate that point, all the places I found at least five of these images without any hint of a faint desire for attribution in under five minutes of looking:
- Australia’s Courier Mail (In their defense, they cite another obvious thief.)
- On Blogger: 1 (this is the one cited by the above, God knows why), 2
- One Large Prawn
- The Chive
I’ve been fiddling with the site recently. You may have noticed. Mostly it means that I’ve made most things a tad smaller and thus more compact. Thanks to that, I’ve taken the opportunity to increase the number of posts visible on the front page. Currently, that only means there are 15 (up from 10) but I may increase it more.
The other thing is that now when I forget the link on a post — something I do far too often — the title text will be visibly different (as is intentionally the case with this one). Hopefully this means that such errors will be corrected much faster, but I can make no guarantees.
If you ever notice anything that’s broken or wrong or just requires commentary, please use this form.
Help Finding Related Content
In addition to upgrading to WordPress 2.5 yesterday, I also added related content links to the site’s entries. It’s done using the Similar Posts plugin by Rob Marsh — who happens to be a Jesuit, a fact I find fascinating.
For now they’re only visible on the single-entry view, but if you’re ever bored you can click around and find a cornucopia of things you either missed or forgot. I, the sole writer and editor of this site, have spent a few hours finding stuff I’d already forgotten about. For a site that turns three months old tomorrow, my mind should be thoroughly embarrassed about that fact.
Also of note: I made a single massive list of every single post available as a way to view the archives. I should tell you that the sight is not for the faint of heart.
I finally got around to making this site’s feed (it’s this post’s title link) work a little better. I’ve configured it so that you don’t have to click through to this site to visit the pages I’m linking to. They’re now in your feed reader right under the title
— right now the link has the clever text of “Title Link.”(see below). This doesn’t work exactly as I’d like, but it works significantly better than it did, which is certainly a good thing. I also have to thank Justin Tadlock for providing the impetus for finally making this work.
EDIT: I’ve changed it so that the title link has the same text as the title (though it obviously links to a different place). Though this still isn’t quite what I want, it’s the same result as one gets with Tumblr, which makes it at least a little more acceptable to me.
This might be interesting to some people, but probably not many. When choosing how Link Banana would work, I thought hard about using the popular Tumblr. The post I’ve made over at Ikiru Design gives a quick-and-dirty rundown of the major differences between Tumblr and WordPress, as well as a brief discussion of why I chose WordPress.
What is a Link Banana?
A perfectly good question. And the answer is: I don’t know.
But I do know that Link Banana is my just-born link blog. I also know that the name was chosen because I have a penchant for odd and off-the-wall names for otherwise serious thing. Probably the clearest — though certainly not only — example of this is that my longer-form blog which is called “Frozen Toothpaste.”
And as that name came like a random shot of lightning at sometime in the past (I don’t remember the moment or day), this one did too. Though I would say that this time I was holding the longest metal rod I could get my hands on. If I had to guess I would say the name came while I made banana bread on this first day of 2008. And it’s coming saved my from naming this “Worth a Link” — an accurate but boring title for this link blog.
I should probably explain what I mean by “link blog,” as the term has little pedigree or precedent. To me, a link blog is not unlike a “tumblelog,” but it is less varied in look and content. The chief content of a “link blog” is, well, the links. Hence, they’re in the title of each “entry.” Probably the purest example of what aesthetic and content you’ll see here is a look at Daring Fireball’s Linked List, though the content will be rather different than that. After all, we’ll be playing with my preferences and sensitivities, not John Gruber’s.
In any case, because Link Banana is a nascent and untraditional blog, some things don’t work quite right yet. This site’s RSS feed is still formatted like the WordPress default, which mean you’ll have to click through to follow any link I proffer. So too is the archive and commenting system not quite as I’d like. And the look will probably be see revision sometime soon.
But if you can accept all those flaws (and I hope you will) please enjoy the content that will soon be on offer from Link Banana. And I wish you a beautiful 2008.