Reading blogs, and staying home. Sort of.

Rebecca asked me to cover the Global Voices daily blog roundup yesterday. It was a good chance to discover just how powerful the Global Voices aggregator has gotten… and how much work it is to sort a coherent post out of the hundreds of voices we’re trying to pay attention to.

Our tools, at this point, are pretty primitive. We’re soliciting suggestions for new feeds to watch via the Media Wiki-based Bridge Blog Index, and tracking the feeds via Bloglines. (I managed to crash Firefox on my Mac several dozen times before realizing that I simply can’t load all the posts from the 439 feeds we’re currently trying to track – Firefox grabs multiple megs of memory for each Flickr picture involved, then slows to a crawl… So now I view the site country by country, region by region.)

Brief geeky digression. Non-geeks may skip the next two paragraphs, if you wish.

At some point this summer, I’d like to glue together a good, server-based aggregator (so that other folks can see our feeds) with a del.icio.us – like ability to tag and categorize feeds and the wiki-like ability of multiple users to suggest feeds for inclusion in the catalog. I’ve talked briefly with some wikifolks about an API for mediawiki… though increasingly I’m thinking I could get the functionality just from del.icio.us and a server-side aggregator.

I’m likely to try this based around the del.irio.us codebase, trying to get it integrated with an aggregator, either by writing that functionality or duct-taping it to an existing web-based aggregator. I’m looking at rnews and feed on feeds – anyone have experience with either, or suggestions for something else I should be looking at? (I’m more comfortable with Perl/PHP/Python than Java, so Java suggestions aren’t that helpful to me. And yes, I’ve thought about integrating with a client-side aggregator and rejected it for the simple reason that this tool needs to be used simultaneously by people on five different continents.)

In the process of surfing these global feeds, I’m finding that there are few corners of the globe where there isn’t at least one blogger. I’m surprised – and delighted – to find Avaiki blogging from the Cook Islands, a group of 15 islands in the South Pacific which is self-governing “in free association” with New Zealand. (In other words, Cook Islanders handle internal affairs, while New Zealand is responsible for external affairs, in consultation with the Islands goverment.) And Yvette Lopez, living and working in Somaliland, is helping me learn about this country emerging from the chaos of Somalia…

And while we initially had a tough time finding people reporting the events first-hand in Andijan, a number of Peace Corps volunteers are blogging regularly from Uzbekistan, providing key information on the situation. (Dee Warren of Noughsaid has just been ordered to leave her village in the Fergana Valley.) And Lyndon at Scraps of Moscow has been doing an incredible job of translating every single snippet he can find about Andijan in the Russian-language blogosphere.

Following links to the blog is also turning up amazing blogs to watch, like Blog Nnegh, a blog apparently in Tamazeight, a Berber language.

All these blogs make me want to get on a plane and meet more bloggers out there. All of which makes me sad that I’ve had to cancel my trip to South Africa later this month. I’d planned to speak at Commons-Sense, a conference associated with the launch of Creative Commons South Africa, but some personal issues have meant that I need to spend a bit more time at home, and I couldn’t make the travel work out for a shorter trip. I’ll be sorry to miss all the friends who are attending the conference and all the South Africa bloggers I’d hoped to meet, but hope we can do some blogger dinners when I’m in town in September.

Okay, off to Amman now…

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One Response to Reading blogs, and staying home. Sort of.

  1. jason brown says:

    kia orana,

    just catching up with your reference in may. the cook islands is self-governing in free association with new zealand, as you note. it was also correct to say new zealand handled external relations but not anymore. the cook islands handles all its own international relations, has a foreign affairs and immigration ministry and signs international treaties and agreements on its own. cook islanders remain new zealand citizenship, with the association being about as free as it can be. at least on the surface …

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