[Phoenix-pm] phoenix.pm.org wants to aggregate your reddit, del.icio.us, twitter, LJ, myspace

Scott Walters scott at illogics.org
Thu Aug 2 11:08:25 PDT 2007

> This still fits with my "internet homeless" thoughts. Dozens, no,
> hundreds of sites all aiming to be a hangout so that people can connect
> with their closest friends? Bah! They offer essentially *nothing* that
> we can't do on our own with a simple hosting account. Or just go hang
> out with your friends in real life. RSS feeds? Why?  Who would read my
> RSS feeds? Everyone has a blog, and most are unread.

Hmm.  This was a discussion topic in RL, face to face, and I strongly
agreed with you then.  But I have some caveats now.  RSS is 
fantastic.  If makes it not matter whether a blog is on myspace,
livejournal, or slowass.net (my machine).  You can monitor your
friends (as geeks and teenagers across the country enjoy doing, but
apparently not Phoenix.PM) without having to be "homeless" or 
having to move into the same homeless shelter as your homeless

There are some "homeless" things I do.  My sticky notes... I 
looked at a bunch of desktop applications that did sticky notes
and I had major problems with all of them.  And in order to get
a large enough area to put them all, I'd have to run Xvncserver
and attach to that.  Having a real server to run your 
networkable stuff on, or a real workstation to run your
productivity apps on, is nice.  Having apps that run on X
rather than kludgy, ugly HTTP/JS/HTML is extremely nice.   
I wouldn't have let myself get hooked on it except that the
code is available and I just haven't gotten around to migrating
it over to my machine yet.  But even then, I like being able
to wire applications up through RSS.

Re: hanging out with friends in real life, what seems to happen
a lot now days is someone announces some minor get together or
outting on their LiveJournal page, or they tell the world where
they are currently via Twitter, and their friends just magically
show up.  No calling everyone trying to set a date, much less
trying to pick a subset of friends to invite.

Maybe Brock is right that a meeting once a month is the way to
go.  Maybe I got it exactly backwards and trying to automate
more of the group is the exact wrong approach.  Maybe people
need a routine, formal invites, etc rather than digital

> > Consider http://twittermap.com/maps?mapstring=phoenix,+az ...
> > there are hundreds of Twitter users in Phoenix who have 
> > posted recently.  Yet no one in this group users Twitter?
> > 
> > Are we not geeks?  Are we just working stiffs?
> > 
> > Do you guys actually avoid technology because you work with it
> > all day?  Is this stuff disinteresting because it's computer
> > related?
> No, I just don't have enough time to social network, constantly ping my
> friends, and then blog about it. And if I had more time I'd do something

No, no, the ping is the blog.  And they choose whether they get pinged
or view it on demand.

I hate the telephone.  People call me while I'm sleeping and leave
the same standard message: "call me back".  I don't know what they
want or whether it's important.  I call them.  They aren't in.  Or
they are, and they just want to gab, but I'd rather be coding.  Or
the occasion or need passed and if they'd sent a text message to my
pager instead I might have reacted to their flat tire emergency 
rather than decide to finish sleeping first then call them back.
Then when they have a party, they have to call everyone, find out
what times are good, then call everyone back again and tell them
what time they settled on.  They have to call even those friends
that they're not in close touch with from time to time in attempt
to not get too much further out of touch, but not call them 
every time or else it's nagging.  Then if you invite someone
to something three times and they can't make it to any of them,
manners dictate that you leave it to them to invite you to
something next time.

Analog sucks.  The kids have the right idea.  "Hey, I'm at Mill's
End Coffee" on Twitter implies that if people want to hang out
with you, they're welcome to, but no awkward coordination.
It just kind of happens.  On LiveJournal, you declare a party,
and all of your friends see it.  Since everyone sees it 
every time, people don't feel like they have to go out of
politeness or they won't be invited next time, so you're
less likely to have too many guests.  Again, it keeps it casual.

Similar for email.  I have a friend, bless her, who writes
emails now and then and cc's everyone.  She tells them about
what's going on in her life.  It's like writing a real letter
almost -- I want to keep in touch with her and she's doing
the work of it.  I try to write back, so I wind up repeating
myself when I tell her what I've been up, because my mother
also emails me like that.  If everyone just read my blog,
then I could put it all out there for whoever is interested.
A blog lets me keep in touch with a lot more people with a
lot less effort.

And there's the community aspect of it.  There are Perl people
out there doing intersting things with and to Perl.  You can
learn a lot reading what they have to say.  Some people consistently
publish very good stuff.  And then you people with shared interests
you can discuss stuff with.  It lets you interact with a remote
community that you'd otherwise be alien to.

I wouldn't subscribe to your blog if it were boring.  As for the
Planet thing, no one is going to read through the whole thing.
If anything, they'll just get a flavor of the local scene from
time to time, and use it to discover people that they find
interesting that live here.  If all you have to publish is
"I went to work today.  I came home.  My wife yelled at me", then
you're right, I wouldn't read your blog.

As for meeting people and talking to them in RL face to face,
I guess that's what Phoenix.PM is for, even though turnouts
can be poor and it's a lot of work to entice them out with
a good presentation.  I assume it's a lot of driving for
people.  So by moving more to blogs, I was, apparently wrongly,
trying to move away from the difficult for me and for them
prospect of real life meeting and move to the much easier
blog format.

> else instead, like write more code. It's not the geeks who are
> cluttering up MySpace, et al; it's the "normal" people. You know, the
> ones who are delighted that Twitter gives them a way to let all their
> friends know that they are rotflmao watching Scrubs, or whatever.

Hey, I post Perl in my Twitter.  And all of my blogs aggregated 
together collectively record what I should be billing each client,
so that "At Inza writing Perl.  NG." serves a dual purpose.  And
I've Twittered myself at being a locations and had friends drop in
not once but twice now!  Keeping a journal gives me insights
into my time usage.

> Don't forget that Donald Knuth (pretty geeky!) chose to eschew email.
> Come to think of it, my productivity has never recovered fully since the
> days when I first got on CompuServe.

Heh.  Yeah, and I'm not making a very good case for saving time
by sitting here writing verbose emails.  But there is a purpose --
I feel some obligation to this group and to Brock and I want to
figure out same way to make it go, even if I seriously lack
people skills and don't think I can muster the time to put
presentations together.  When I program, I try to figure out how
to "cheat"... not cut corners or anything like that, but I've
decided that some thought into identifying unnecessary
("accidental") complexity can save lots of time coding unnecessary
complexity.  And sometimes a small amount of evil in Perl can
save large amounts of time doing it "the right way".  Cuz, hey,
if we're only ever going to do it the right away, why not write
Java?  So I'm doing the same thing here.  I'm trying to find some
assumptions that I can safely dispense with -- such as that we
need presentations to continue the main purpose of the group,
specifically keeping Pheonix area Perl programmers connected and
talking about whatever the hell they talk about (which tends to
be exactly what is in blogs -- life, the wife, the job, what
evil thing Microsoft is doing this week, what cool thing
Apple is doing this month, what distros just has a release,
what major Free Software icons just had opposing viewpoints, 
which manufacturers in some way acknowledged Free Software, 
which software is as of recently vulnerable, whatever else
gets posted to Slashdot).  

So, sounding this out with you and others on the list, while
somewhat indulgant, has been extremely helpful to me.  We do
need RL face to face time.  But I maintain that if people did
have blogs, the content wouldn't be much different than the
content of meetings ;)

> It's not that being connected is bad. It's not. I'm on quite a few
> mailing lists, irc, and silc. It eats more of my time than I like, but
> it's a price I'm paying to stay in the loop, so to speak. But I'm not
> willing to sacrifice more time for things like Twitter, where I can be
> interrupted in real time, constantly.

Heh.  Well, I don't own a cell phone.  I detest the bastards.  
So I pull for other people's updates there.  I'm not keen to real-time
interruption either.  I have a pager, but I have the voice answering
service, where a real human answers the phone and transcribes the
message.  You'd think it would be the same thing as voice mail but
it's entirely different -- I get *no* friviliously crap.  People
just aren't willing to have a real live human being relay messages about 
their cat vomiting.  So it goes off infrequently and when it does,
I know it's important.  And the "call me" crap doesn't work -- the
operator wants to know what it's concerning so they can tell me.
And it's still cheaper than a cell phone.

If I Twitter and a friend drops by, then I get to catch up
in real time, face to face, something that I'd have to tediously
coordinate otherwise.

> You might as well ask why we're not hanging out at the mall with all the
> cool kids. ;-P

That's a good metaphore except that I'd thought for some reason that
the list is full of geeks and geeks would be interested in replacing
tedious analog processes with streamlined digital ones.

As it is, I'm wondering if I wouldn't rather hang out with the kids
on MySpace than you sorry lot =P  But seriously, it looks like
real life meetings is where it's at.  I don't know why.  We're
older and more traditional.  I think a lot of us might enjoy the
formalities -- that wouldn't surprise me as the more formal
meetings draw larger crowds.  And there's the whole art of
conversation, where you speak concisely and detect when you're
not entertaining the crowd so you can shut up and let someone
else speak -- exactly what I'm not doing here.

Planet could prove to be amusing so I won't kill it just yet.
but I won't try to lean on it any more either.

My next wonder is whether the virtual people out there (this list
has far more lurkers than people who have ever made a meeting)
would enjoy seeing digital versions of the analog meetings --
should we try to film presentations and post them online?

And I'm still wondering if we benefit from having Perl 
specific meetings with fewer people rather than larger
meetings that aren't Perl specific -- more like Brock's
DCFringe group, where all of the users of fringe langauges
meet and hang out.  I'm thinking yes, but I'm capable of
being wrong ;)


> -- 
> Darrin Chandler            |  Phoenix BSD User Group  |  MetaBUG
> dwchandler at stilyagin.com   |  http://phxbug.org/      |  http://metabug.org/
> http://www.stilyagin.com/  |  Daemons in the Desert   |  Global BUG Federation
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