APML as a lightweight Microformat?

My Ubuntu install is working again thanks to Jon Callas from PGP. So I can finally bring you this entry from the Airplane trip 2 days ago.

I've not blogged much of BarCampBrighton, but sitting on this flight to Boston with 2.5 hours of battery life left (54%) I'm now reflecting on a couple of my sessions

The first one was titled as Facebook is Dead, which I later changed to social network killer – reclaim your attention. The whole thing presentation went through reasons and technologies which mean the dead end, locked in social networks no needed to exist. However Jeremy Keith and Tantek had covered most of my points about Microformats and OpenID in a previous session so I skipped most of that stuff and got on to the juicy part about lifestreams and attention profiles. In a quick look, I showed off APML and suggested ways you could do FOAF+APML together to build up everything you needed for open social networking (as aposed to locked in like Linkedin and Facebook style). Oh also while on the differences I made it clear that social media sites like Flickr, Delicious, Bliptv, etc were not included in the locked in category and then started to rip the living piss out of Quechup.com (no link for this nasty social network). I think I put the slide up and asked How dumb do you have to be?. Anyway I'm going off topic here.

So many people are throwing APML around but as Jeremy Keith would say, it looks like a technology looking for a solution. So I came up with some perfect examples of APML including my killer which I thought would also attract the bigger audience who don't care about the technology of it.

First example : Tape it off the internet.com. If you join tape it off the internet.com or tioti it will ask you again and again and again… what shows you like and do you also like these shows? Now this is fine but its tiresome although you can type in your shows and hope it finds them. But what you can't do very well is give shows a certain weighting. So for example I love lost and heroes but have also started watching the new prision break 3rd season although yes its jumped the shark years ago. Now I would like to indicate that although I watch it, I'm not really that much into it. Then I also want to be able to show my friends and maybe get less matches based on this preference. Whats evern better is if I can say I really dislike something. Right now you can give it one star or not add it but what incase I want to say, I watched that show and I bloody hate it? In APML you can set a negative value to things as you'll see later. In actual fact Tioti is going to support APML in the future so that battle is done already.

Second example : Dating sites. This I thought was my killer one but maybe not? So if you join a dating site you build this profile of you and sometimes that involves answering questions and filling in a profile of who yougr looking for as such. This is usually quite detailed stuff and time sucking stuff. So imagine what happens when your friend invites you to a new dating site where he or she have previously had a positive experience. Yep fill in the forms again and indicate your preferences again. Now with APML its robust enough to maybe describe a lot of what your saying in your description and profile. You should be able to log in with your Open ID which could link to your FOAF and APML too. And because you have the concept of personas in Open ID, you could select different FOAF and APML files for those who like to have different profile. Tantek who was in the room when this was announced pretty much slammed APML but liked my example and so suggested I check out some of things people have been doing with tagging their preferences. So I did and although quite robust I had that problem of setting amounts.

So for example if I tagged this quote below you will see I've choosen to tag certain words. But there's no indication of first, if there just tags (yes some class could be added to make it clear that these tags apply to me but in what way?) and secondly what in case I tag flying and writing? How would you know I much prefer the later?

Facebook hopes to expand on the service, one person says, using algorithms to learn how receptive a person might be to an ad based on readily available information about activities and interests of not just a user but also his friends.

In APML you can add values and that makes a huge difference. But maybe there is a way to have a lighter version of APML which is a microformat, so people can play with it right now.

third example : Targeted advertising So as you read before, Facebook are using your data to advertise at you. Here's the full thing.

Next year, Facebook hopes to expand on the service, one person says, using algorithms to learn how receptive a person might be to an ad based on readily available information about activities and interests of not just a user but also his friends — even if the user hasn't explicitly expressed interest in a given topic. Facebook could then target ads accordingly.

While Facebook plans to protect its users' privacy and possibly give them an option to keep certain information completely private, some Facebook users might rebel against the use of their personal information for the company's gain.

And the perceptions that targeted ads create can be as much of a problem as the reality. “Most people don't realize how targeting works; it becomes so good that even though it's anonymous, you feel like they know you,” says Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO of Publicis Groupe-owned consulting firm Denuo Group. However, he says Facebook needs to be careful in implementing any targeted ad system, lest loyal users “find it creepy.”

Chris Saad, is right to ask the question if users will put up with it. Also just making things private isn't the answer. What in case I had kids but didn't want to see adverts for nappies and babyware? I could hide that stuff but actually don't mind telling the world that I had kids, I just don't want the adverts. In APML i could specify my distaste and give it a nasty negative value which would indicate that I never want to see Nappies or Babyware ever. Of course Facebook or Google could over ride my APML but I wouldn't be happy, and they should be looking at my positive APML stuff anyway. I mean there's more chance I'll click a link saying latest Orange SPV phone here that latest Babyware or even in reality Latest iPhone offer for O2. And this is the killer thing, anyone who knows me will know that, even a browse of my blog will tell you this but to have it in machine readable form in APML has got be final straw. On my blog my APML is linked and its public. I'm saying advertise to me if your high on my interest list. Orange should be banging my door down every time I say I'm looking for a new phone but there not wise to all this yet. Google and Facebook are.

Forth and Fifth examples : LastFM and Preferences. By now you should have got the main points and can see how having a APML output of your favorate tunes in Lastfm could be useful. One example I didn't think about at the time was moving between media players. I moved from iTunes to Winamp to Madman to Amarok. There was no way to take the ratings I had build up for my music collection but now I should be able to look at lastfm and pull out decent enough scores. On the preference front, APML could be used for more that just internet applications. So yes if Amarok supported APML that would be amazing. I'm actually looking into this because Amarok keeps a rating of all music based on how many times you heard it and how much you scored it. It also keeps this information is a SQLlite DB and the rating range is between 0 and 100 which makes it easy to put into APML. Yep I might need some help from some Perl or Python people soon. Although I've learned Gnome has its own scripting language like how Applescript works for OSX. So I might be able to pull something off that way.

Right so what happens next? First up, I'm going to standardise some way of linking FOAF, OPML, OpenID and APML together. I expect I'll keep this very simple using the link element in (x)HTML or somehow combine this into a Hcard profile. Next up a APML microformat or APML lite for sure. I'll try it as I've been studying the others and the general methology of Microformats and I think it could be done. So I'll suggest it and draw up how it works and submit it for lots of review. I'm now exploring how to get APML out of Amarok and RSS Owl. If anyone wants to help with these, give me a shout. APML is awesome and I know everyones waiting for a 1.0 release (including Tioti, Google, Bloglines) but honestly give it a try now you won't regret it.

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My Media Consumption Diet

So Improbulus tagged me for this social meme a while back but I didn't actually notice. The meme was started by Jeremiah Owyang who is also in the Media 2.0 group along with myself. Anyway from the man himself…

I’m hoping to start this meme, that others will join in and share their media consumption diet, in hopes, that we’ll start to learn how they get information or be entertained. I’ve sort of mixed up mediums, and media types, but after some thought, that’s the best way to organize it.


Improbulus also asks the tricky question about what is media anyway which I may get into later in this post.

Web: I get all my news from the web, mainly I read news via Greatnews my personal RSS reader, anything I miss tends to get come via email links from friends. I am currently subscribed to over 300 feeds you can check them all out here because I sync with Bloglines. Obviously I keep my private RSS feeds to my personal RSS reader. I did consider switching over to Google Reader with its offline ability but what tends to happen is when I'm offline and looking at my RSS feeds I can read through 1000's of items in a couple of hours. Google Reader with Gears only stores about 1000 max and isn't as flexable as GreatNews.

As you can see in my subscriptions I have many different folders.

  • Cubicgarden – feeds related to myself, this includes my personal lifestream.
  • Design – is a mixture of inspirational feeds with design feeds
  • Development – use to be development blogs but this got a little strained with the design and xml development folders
  • Education – feeds related to educational blogging, I use to have lots more in this about 3 years ago
  • Events – this was my way of keeping a track of what was going on socially but this has been replaced with ical feeds in Outlook 2007, soon to be Plaxo 3.0
  • Friends – Feeds from my friends, I'm trying to update this one regularly but I don't add everyone unless I think there blog is useful
  • Fun – Uhhhhh what do you think?
  • Gaming – This isn't just gaming, but ARG and hardware type stuff
  • General News – This is where stuff like Boingboing, Slashdot, Digg, techmem, etc go.
  • Interest – bit of a misc folder, which I hope to move in the future
  • Internet Law – This is where my copyright, DRM, Creative Commons, type feeds go
  • Lifehacks – This is one is useful but I tend to review it once every month
  • Media – This is where all my lost feeds go, in the future I'll start adding Bit Torrent feeds and other media related feeds
  • Podcasts – I'm planning to move all these feeds out of here in the future but the idea was to have all my podcast feeds in one folder. This is simply not practical because many people attach enclosures willy nilly now.
  • SmartComms – This was going to be a mix of mobile phone type stuff and human social networking type feeds.
  • Tracking – This was always going to be a place for temporary feeds like ebay searches and offers, etc
  • Watched projects – These are feeds for projects, startups, etc. This folder is very useful for keeping an eye on projects which I may have forgotten over some time
  • XML development – this is where my xml and semantic web type feeds go, in the future I'll start mixing regular development with this folder

You will notice in my feeds I don't subscribe to feeds from mainstream media including believe it or not the BBC. I tend read BBC news in Twitter right now but don't follow any other except sometimes the Guardian's technology and game blogs.

Another different thing about my media consumption when it comes to news is Particls. Particls is a personal desktop attention engine. Its seriously amazing and changed the way I read my news. I tend to use it at work a lot just to keep an eye on whats going on during the day. Its alerted me to many things which were related. Its also been useful for sending people upto the minute information.Its a couple of steps beyond a RSS reader and I'm honestly very impressed with it. I would like to see it on Linux but I'm going to try virtualising it with VMware or Xen in the near future.

Right backing out of news. I use Firefox for everything except really really dodgy sites. Opera is reserved for those sites because of the ability to turn off Java, Javascript, etc in a second. However I do tend to browse the web with Javascript and Flash turned off using a combination of Flashblock and No-Script extensions. I use Tabs a lot and once in a while will del.icio.us my spare tabs. I don't use startpages because I use load previous tabs. I use a Dell PC laptop for most of my browsing. I never use IE7 unless its for Automatic updates and will unlikely install any other browser except Opera (yeah forget about it Safari).

Communication – I own a cracking little phone, Orange SPV M700. It has everything including Wifi, Bluetooth 2.0, GPS and 3G. I use it a lot for mapping now I have GPS and iGo. I wish I could mount the phone to my scooter so I could use it even more but generally I do walk around new cities with my phone in my hand. Yes its a Windows Mobile 5 phone but honestly I like it. I choose the phone with no keyboard because I own a Bluetooth keyboard and I can type very fast on the on-screen keyboard.

I hate using my phone for making calls but I do mainly using my new Stereo Bluetooth headphones from itech. I don't own a Mpeg3 player, I did in the past but saw earlier on that I could use my phone for music and more often podcasts.

I email a lot and use Thunderbird 2.0 as my main mail client of choice. I have to use Outlook 2003 at work because the BBC uses exchange mail servers. I hate outlook 2003 for email, specially when I've got Outlook 2007 on my laptop. I own a ton of email accounts which I've setup on cubicgarden.com as my way of dealing with spam. I also own about 3 gmail accounts as backup and one hotpop account for unsecure mails. Yes I've setup the others with SSL and TLS using Thunderbird, so no one can snoop on my mail while on a shared wireless point.

To combat spam, like mentioned before I use multiple accounts with different levels of use. I do have a spam system on the mail server and did have a greylisting system a while ago thanks to Miles and Mark. But generally I find the multiple accounts work well and Thunderbird''s spam filter works enough for me to work on email without too many problems,

I do use instant messenging a lot and use Twitter via IM a lot. I use Pigeon (previously called Gaim) and then connect to 4 different networks (Jabber, AIM, Yahoo, MSN). More and more I'm dropping MSN and would like to drop the others except Jabber. This is becoming easier thanks to Google. I also love the idea of im on the phone but recently its been hard to find a im client for the windows mobile platform which doesn't charge a stupid a mount of money. So in the mid term I'm using tinytwitter a java application with twitter as my substute for mobile im.

I do have email on my phone too but just plain old IMAP and POP. No Push email for me. I do however have a work phone (nokia N80) which really sucks and makes for a bad 3G modem for my laptop.

Music and Podcasts : My phone currently syncs with Winamp and I have 2gig of space to fill up every day. I tend to fill up my phone with new podcasts once a week. I do listen to music, but generally its mixed together already. I simply don't buy music because the music I listen to is so expensive and tends to be hard to find. So instead I use a bit torrent site called Trancetraffic.com to get mixes from the likes of Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, etc. I do download singles too for my own remixes but if I was to take up djing a little more seriously would start buying the tunes from somewhere. What Trancetraffic does which all the online stores miss is have a community of active users who you can see what they have downloaded. So I can see how many people have downloaded a tune or through the seeds, etc how  Also if your in any douht the trancetraffic community upload trance packs and uses the forums. So you can really get a clue about which tunes are hot and which

ones are not.

I do have a Last.FM account which was adopted from audioscobbler before it. I tend to only use it to track what I'm listening to and maybe sometimes for a couple of recommendations but generally Trancetraffic does a better job. I don't use Pandora and only listen to streaming radio statio

ns ckground music. I love soma.fm and di.fm for streaming radio.


I use Azureus for downloading all bit torrent stuff, which will make sense when you check out the TV section.

On the podcast front I use Juice to download all my podcasts. Thankfully juice supports remote opml files, so I point it at the same opml file as my bloglines account. Juice then downloads any enclosures from any of my 300+ feeds. This might sound over kill but it means I never miss any enclosures ever.Both Azureus and Juice are running on a ubuntu desktop machine under my desk, whcih I treat like a home server. I then use Synctoy on my laptop to sync my music and podcasts across to my laptop everyday.

TV : I don't watch tradional tv but I watch lots of TV shows. What does this mean? Well I don't actually turn on the TV and watch whatever is on. I also don't own a PVR or DVR device so don't actually record anything. I don't watch live TV because I have no reason to do so. Yes I download every single TV show I watch.

I use TV RSS in Azureus to do all my bit torrent downloading. Currently I use a combination of  ShareTV.org, NewTorrents, UKNova and Mininova for all my TV downloading. Some would say my TV viewing is strange at best and are quick to point out the off the schedule nature my activities. Personally being off the schedule is a good thing and this is really on demand. I tend to watch a combination of UK stuff like Doctor Who, Jekyll, etc with American stuff like Lost, Heroes, etc.

The way I actually watch most of the shows is via a 32 inch wide screen TV set and a hacked xbox. The Xbox is running unsigned code by a community project called Xbox Media Centre. The purpose of the hacked xbox running xbox media centre means I can play anything I download on my large screen. In the past I have hooked up my computer to the TV but generally having a computer in the same room as the TV kinda sucks unless you live in a small apartment of course. The xbox isn't exactly beautiful but its small and quiet. It means I can access all the media on my network including podcasts, music, pictures, etc.

I do own a Freeview box (free to air digital tv) and a Ondigital box (same but much older) but they rarely get turned on. And they certainly get no action since the ariel fell down off our roof.

Pictures : So we currently own 2 cameras, not including our mobile phones. One is a Canon 6 megapixal point and shoot (like DLR style) and the other is the Sanyo HD1. Me and Sarah over time have built up quite a few gigabytes of pictures. Every trip or event adds a little more. I tend to store everything and only upload the best ones to Flickr.com.

Recently I've been very slack with Flickr because I'm not naming or adding lots of meta-data to my pictures. This also applied to the files on the server. I hope one day to sort out my collections, sets and geodata. Getting that data back on to the server is another question.

Movies : I sometimes watch films in the cinema, sometimes I download the film and watch it while working away doing something else. It really depends on what film and what mood i'm in. For example just recently I watched Sicko in a cinema after deciding to help micheal moore in his efforts to wake up america to the joys of universial health care. I'll maybe go home (i'm on a plane flying between Exeter and London right now) and download it for my friends who maybe won't watch it otherwise. Being July 4th now too, I did promise to go watch Die Hard 4.0 tonight with a friend but we shall see how jet lagged I am. Generally Die Hard would be a film I would normally download.

DVD rentals I use to do via Amazon a long time ago and before that Blockbusters. I've not rented a DVD in about 2-3 years now.

Gaming : My only contract with gaming right now is the 1up Show podcast which is excellent because it focuses on gaming culture instead of doing long boring reviews. I always feel energized after watching it but I can't afford a next generation console, plus. I'm also not interested in the Xbox 360 because it can't play unsigned code – aka no xbmc! The playstation 3 looks good but at 480 pounds much for me plus I don't see where a Blu-Ray or even HD DVD player would fit into my media consumption diet? The Wii is my next choice but I'm not going to order one quite yet, although I have a wiimote for something else already.

Books : I tend to buy quite a few books because I like to lend them to people who maybe don't like to read on screen. For example I bought the Cluetrain Manifesto in book form so I could lend it to my friend Carl. He still has it but hey it was worth it becuase he wouldn't have read it online. I tried to read at night but it doesn't work for me because I fall a sleep quickly and am usually near a machine I can read the RSS off. I also have a hard time reading a book because of the line lengths and size of the text. It just doesn't quite gel with me. So I could easily sit down and read a PDF on my phone quicker that a actual book. I would love to have a real ebook reader but I can't afford such luxuaries, although I was considering using my old tabletpc as one. I'm a odd guy, I don't really read fiction that much any more, I tend to prefer the visual feedback of TV and Film.

Magazines : I only buy magazines .net and wired when I'm getting on a plane where I can't open my laptop till I'm all the way up in the air.

More to come….

Right my turn to tag some people.

Tom Morris, Miles Metcalfe, Duncan Barnes, Black belt jones and Phil Windley

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Particls – now you can all pay attention…

Particls on my desktop

The private alpha ends today. Yep the guys from Faraday Media have made Particls available to anyone who wants it. Go get it now.

For those who don't know Particls is an extensible attention platform. It learns what you like to consume and gives you more of that. I have been using it for quite some time now and have found it very useful.

  • For users: Particls is a filtered news reader or widget that learns what you care about and alerts you to important news and information while you work. More at www.particls.com
  • For bloggers and site owners: Particls allows bloggers and site owners to create a custom version of the application. Particls will share revenue with partners. More at www.particls.com/intouch
  • For developers: Particls is freely extensible by developers. Reach into corporate databases and web APIs to grab and display data in new and interesting ways. More at http://www.particls.com/extensions/
  • How much is it: Particls is a free download with some ads. Later, an ad-free Pro version will be available for a small subscription fee. It is free for Partners to create custom versions.

So Particls is the biggest step forward in the debate over attention. Some of the scenarios people have talked about can be played out in Particls. For example if Particls knows what your browsing about, it can throw up an alert from a site owner suggesting a 20% discount if the person buys that item they were searching for on ebay.co.uk right now. And thats just the start of things.

I once outlined a scenario where Particls is looking at your Microsoft Money account and whats in your Amazon wishlist. It notices you always get paid on the 28th of the month. So through clever logic pops up alerts with discounts for some of your items on your wishlist when you have enough money to pay for it.

This is quite scary but possible. And raises the issue of people taking control of their attention data. Which is where APML fits in perfectly. One of the things which always impressed me with Particls was the ability to look at the result of their I-AM/U-AR engine in XML and adjust it accordingly. This means you can just erase a large section of your personal attention data without too much hassle. It also means you can import from something else like another attention engine or your keywords from your lifestream for example.

So enough chatter, you can download it for the PC here or check out options for the Mac while they develop their native mac version.

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