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Re: [webdesign-396] Working Blog Aggregater ready for comments.

From: Vince F.
Sent on: Tuesday, September 18, 2007 2:56 PM
Nate, (et al)

I intended on raising these issues at the meeting as it would be too  
much to put in an email ; )

I was hoping we could put this project in the proper context but I  
was just waiting for the meeting. Your points are all salient and I  
think that you could bring some good real-world planning experience  
to this project.

Anyway - interested folks should take note of Nate's email and come  
to the planning meeting with these concepts in mind. I think  the  
organizational direction is evolving as fast as the feature set.  
We're on to something good here and I am down to support it!

Back to work,

On Sep 18, 2007, at 2:24 PM, Nate Klaiber wrote:

> Greetings Everyone!
> Let me, for a minute, play the role of the devils advocate - or,  
> just the mean guy in the room - whichever you choose.
> "We now have a basic plan for the initial website. Rather than  
> waiting until everything is perfect (CMS, Forum, Mysql Backend  
> etc), we are just going to push ahead with something simple."
> What is our rush?
> Why would we put something out now, that we would ultimately want  
> to change in the long run? Why double our efforts? Why not build  
> what we need from the ground up, giving ourselves a solid  
> foundation to build and expand?
> We are a group of web professionals. We all come from a broad array  
> of different backgrounds. All of us are here to teach, learn, and  
> engage. Why not take this time to build something solid that we can  
> all be proud of, and that is a cohesive whole - something that  
> truly defines us. Yes, there are many technology options and open  
> source packages out there, but we are web professionals - why  
> couldn't we build what we need? If anything it can be a learning  
> process to those who want to know how to build a forum, or  
> understand how one should function. Even for those seeking out Open  
> Source options, they would be better educated when picking out  
> their options, as they know what to look for in a good forum (or  
> other functional piece of the website).
> We have programmers, designers, interface designers, illustrators,  
> copywriters...and the list goes on. Why can't we collaborate as a  
> group and build something that defines us? I know not everyone has  
> the time to devote to something like this, but personally I feel  
> blessed to be a part of a group like this and would love to help in  
> whatever way I could.
> What are our goals?
> I don't think we ever established real goals with our own  
> association website. What is the purpose of our website going to  
> be? Is our goal to be a forum? Is our goal to be a chat room? Is  
> our goal to be a social networking site? Interconnected pieces of  
> each?
> We could have short term goals like:
> - To promote web standards
> - To learn
> - To educate
> - To engage
> - To employ (some are looking to go freelance...?)
> Maybe even some long term goals like:
> - We become the central hub for cleveland and host events that  
> would help educate the community
> - We become the strong voice of web standards/developmen­t in the  
> cleveland area
> - World domination
> Who is our audience?
> Is this site simply a sounding board for our current members, or is  
> it also an invitation for others to get involved? Are we an elitist  
> club, or an open community of web professionals?
> What is our message?
> When someone comes to our site - what is our message going to be to  
> them? Is our site one that will answer the 'Who, what, when, where,  
> and why' to a visitor who has never heard of the Cleveland Web  
> Standards Association? What about our 'calls to action'? Join?  
> Learn? Engage?
> What are our needs?
> Do we really need a full blown CMS? Why? Couldn't we create  
> something that fits our needs specifically. Do we need WYSIWYG  
> editors as professionals in the field? Do we need smileys and  
> emoticons all over the place? Do we need to shoehorn our specific  
> content into a CMS? I am not against CMS's, I just think we could  
> get away without some of the bloat that most of them bring. Again,  
> we are web professionals. We know what we need and how to achieve  
> it. This isn't about re-inventing the wheel - it is about building  
> to our needs, not forcing our needs into someone else's application.
> What are the building blocks?
> When it comes down to it - it is about using the right tools for  
> the job, not just using technology for technologies sake - so lets  
> thing about the tools, and why we are using them.
> We have the data heads and MySQL seems to be the choice for a data  
> backend. An excellent choice, at that. Joseph, as a data head -  
> wouldn't you like to sit down, plan out an overall schema for our  
> website, and watch as it gets deployed to a front-end interface? No  
> offense, but any monkey could install a CMS or a Forum, why can't  
> we build one to suite our needs and goals? Why not let this be a  
> learning experience for those who are up-and-coming data heads who  
> want to learn from the ways of a professional?
> PHP seems to be the language of choice, but are we opposed to other  
> options? I know there are some interested in Ruby and the Ruby on  
> Rails framework, is this an option? I would be satisfied with  
> either, PHP seems to be more widely used - so the majority of us  
> would probably encounter more PHP than Ruby.
> We have those who are extremely fluent in semantic HTML as well as  
> CSS - why not give them an opportunity to build, and to teach those  
> who are just starting their journey with HTML/CSS. Many people have  
> expressed they learn with hands-on experience. Implementing things  
> that are beneficial to use as developers, like Microformats, that  
> are topics of discussion in our group.
> We have others still who love to make things happen with  
> unobtrusive JavaScript. To others, this is a foreign language that  
> is tough to grasp - why not build this together?
> What comprises our content?
> I think the forum is necessary as it gives us a place to continue  
> our discussion - but lets think about the interconnected pieces  
> here. If we didn't use Vanilla forum, and created our own - then we  
> would have full control over our schema and the data behind it.  
> There won't be data islands, but one cohesive whole. We could have  
> a content section that re-caps presentations from our previous  
> meetups. I, for one, and thankful for David Mead posting the  
> Microformats video for me to view since I was unable to attend. So,  
> we have an archive of our discussions and the content discussed.  
> From there, we could have a link like 'discuss this in its own  
> forum' type of thing, which then creates the topic automatically  
> and that data is connected to our individual presentations. It  
> eliminates the clutter of comments on the main page - and allows us  
> to dissect what we all just learned.
> Do we need a blog aggregator as a main piece of content? There are  
> many aggregation services out there. There are aggregators for  
> aggregators. CSS galleries for CSS galleries. Do we really need to  
> duplicate this with a main piece of content - or can it be  
> integrated in a much better fashion than the basic SimplePie (Again  
> - giving us control of our data and its connections, not creating  
> data islands). My main question is - does it need to be a main  
> piece of content? Would it really be used? I know the majority of  
> us have feedreaders anyway, would this be beneficial to our goals,  
> purposes, and audiences of our site? It may be - just a question I  
> am posing.....
> Member sites links: This could get unwieldy if we get larger - why  
> not let this stuff be managed with a user profile? Maybe every now  
> and then we have a 'featured profile' that gives someone a little  
> more exposure and talks about how they are making the web standards  
> community stronger in cleveland - or highlighting their activity on  
> a specific project.
> Online venues: why just create links, why not integrate with these  
> services where possible?
> What if we posted all of our events to, then pulled in  
> our events via their API to our website and stored them locally?  
> Then, when people post pictures to Flickr and tag them with an  
> upcoming machine tag, we can automatically pull in all of those  
> photos as well. So - for one meetup presentation we could have a  
> central hub to view the contents, actions to get involved in the  
> discussion, and multimedia such as videos and pictures for those  
> who were unable to attend. All of this to be organized by date  
> (archive), tags, and categories. For member sections, they could  
> approve their flickr username and have their photos automatically  
> pulled into their profile according to machine tags that we could  
> create. This eliminates the task of having to get all of the photos  
> together and only keeping them on our website, and allows us to  
> continue to use the tools we already use. Our system simply knows  
> what to look for and pulls things in accordingly. This also has the  
> added benefit of hitting a wider audience at both and  
> We would avoid duplicating the content and efforts and  
> let our website be a hub to display just the things we need to  
> display. These are just some of my hair-brained ideas...but I want  
> us to think about these options, so I will stop there......
> OK -so this is long enough. I have more to discuss, but I would  
> like to get some brainstorming going and get us really thinking  
> about our goals and purposes......someth­ing to get the mind moving.
> Sincerely,
> 'The Mean Guy'
> Nate Klaiber
> Quoting Joseph James Frantz <[address removed]>:
>> Thanks again to Brendan for his helpful suggestions (to use  
>> simplepie)
>> I've finally got a sample of an aggregater up for consideration.  
>> Right
>> now I've used the blogs for both Brads, Brendan and Eric Wiley simply
>> for testing purposes, hope their all cool with that. If not, I'll
>> pull them when yall let me know.
>> For the Brads, and Eric's blogs, we get just a snippet preview. For
>> Brendan's we get the entire blog. This is something that I am
>> guessing is set up in each blog, because simplepie is set with the
>> default settings. In addition I used just their sample code,
>> including inline (ugh) CSS. Again though this is just for testing
>> purposes.
>> I've noticed a lot, that these aggregaters have names like
>> planet.whatever. We could go with that kind of name, though since we
>> are Cleveland area centric, I was thinking maybe
>> city.clevelandwebsta­ Just one of my ideas, ultimately how
>> we do this will be up to yall. Brendan pointed out we might want to
>> not use subdomains for ranking purposes. So we'll all discuss that on
>> Saturday.
>> Here's the link, comments and ideas welcome:
>> http://www.clevel...­]
>> As always kind regards,
>> Joseph James Frantz
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> --
> Please Note: If you hit "REPLY", your message will be sent to  
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