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Jive Talks

2 Posts authored by: ajohnson1200

Early on, during one of our Clearspace product development meetings, we (the Clearspace development team) discussed the importance of 'hackable' or 'meaningful' URL's. In other words, if someone sent you a link to a Clearspace blog via IM or email[1|#urls-1], you should be able to figure out a lot about the blog post without viewing it in your browser. So, for example, if my boss Bill sent me an IM that looked like this:

Hey Aaron, check out this blog entry:
http://mysite.com/do/entry?publicid=4B4C0B46DC743154ECB68300531D6A04&token=

I'd probably click on it, but I sure as heck wouldn't know what Bill was sending me too. Is he sending me another link to a blog that discusses the virtues of living in Iowa[2|#urls-2] or is it something work related? I can't tell. If however, he blogged about the link in Clearspace, his IM would look like this:

Hey Aaron, check out this blog entry:
http://mysite.com/blogs/bill/2006/12/19/iowa-jokes/

With only a cursory glance, it should be immediately obvious what this blog post is about (another Iowa joke), when it was posted (December 19th, 2006) and who posted it (Bill).  We can all agree this is 'a good thing', right? Hold on though to your corn husks though, it gets better.

 

Most blog software products in the wild give up at this point: they answer the question of who, what and why by looking at the URL of a single blog post and that's it. Clearspace, on the other hand, goes the extra mile for you.  Wouldn't it be nice to see a list of all of Bill's posts on the 19th of December?

http://mysite.com/blogs/bill/2006/12/19/

or how about all the posts in December?

http://mysite.com/blogs/bill/2006/12/

or 2006[3|#urls-3]?

http://mysite.com/blogs/bill/2006/

What about all his posts that are tagged with 'iowa'?

http://mysite.com/blogs/bill/tags/iowa

Bill's a smart guy, I should subscribe to his blog, I wonder what feeds he has available?

http://mysite.com/blogs/bill/feeds

Great, I can subscribe to all of his posts:

http://mysite.com/blogs/bill/feeds/posts

and a feed of all of his posts that are tagged with 'iowa':

http://mysite.com/blogs/bill/feeds/tags/iowa

but I'd really like those in Atom format rather than the default[4|#urls-4] RSS 2.0 format:

http://mysite.com/blogs/bill/feeds/posts/atom

and it would be nice to easily be able to include a list of his posts on the homepage of our intranet:

http://mysite.com/blogs/bill/feeds/posts/json

So there you have it: hackable and meaningful URL's galore.  If you're interested in learning about how we did it, you can read about the gory details over on my blog.

Now if I could just get Bill to stop sending me links about Iowa.

 

1You're not using still using email are you?

 

2If you consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through 18 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping that the food will swim by, you might live in Iowa. (source)

 

3Hat tip to Tim Bray for nice way he implemented URL's on his blog.

 

4Yes, you can switch the default to be Atom.

 

Over the last couple months, we've had a number of people[#1] come into the office to give Clearspace a test drive.  We watched while they explored the application  and asked questions. When asked what they thought of just the blogging[#2] part of the application, almost every person said that they liked the individual and team blogs but then said something like, "but blogs are just opinions," insinuating (and sometimes explicitly saying) that white papers, knowledge base articles, wiki documents and forum posts are more valuable and authoritative in a corporate environment than blogs are.

 

I'll be honest: I took it personally every time someone equated blogging with being nothing more than opinions and navel gazing because I think blogs are more valuable and more authoritative than all the white papers, knowledge base articles, wiki documents and forum posts in the world combined[#3]. Am I exaggerating to get your attention?  Yeah. But if you're one of those people who falls into the "blogs = just opinions" camp, consider these broad brush strokes:

 

  • Blogs are authoritative +because +they're transparent. Blogs are generally written by a single person or a small group of people, all of whom you can read about by going to the "about me" or "about us" page on the blog. If the "about us" page doesn't cut it, you can go and read the other blog posts to get a sense of the blogger's background and interests.  Finally, you can use a tool like technorati[4|#3] to see what other people think about the blog. So when you read a blog post, you know who's standing behind it. Conversely, white papers and knowledge base article are faceless and opaque: no one person is standing behind the document saying "this is true."

 

  • Blogs are valuable because they are written by people for people.  White papers, powerpoint presentations, knowledge base articles and wiki documents are written by companies for companies.

  • Blogs are valuable because they're about subjects people care about and take seriously. It's an environment that allows for self-expressionnot like the rest of the applications you'd find in Microsoft Office orack!--things that they have to write about to complete their monthly knowledge base quota.

  • Blogs are widely read because they're not white-washed, corporate-speak. People prefer the truth, it's why a lot of them have stopped watching mainstream news. There's more truth in The Daily Show.

 

What does all this have to do with Clearspace?  Tune in next week for some hot blogging screenshots.

 

By the way, my name is Aaron. I'm an engineer on the Clearspace team and I have a blog.

 

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