Archived entries for Info Mgmt

Yahoo! Desktop Search Launched

Yahoo! Desktop Search launched this morning (via). YDS is based on X1, which until now has been an $80 to $100 piece of software. I’ve been using X1 since January or February 2004, and it’s great. As I wrote in a testimonial last March 5th,:

It’s wonderful, and will change how you think about your information. … It doesn’t matter where the message is, you can always find what you want in … 2 seconds. … I’ve recommended it to everybody I know and work with. Find any email in about 2 seconds.

This product is terrific, and only has competition from Copernic as far as I’m concerned. Once YDS is extended to search the all the user’s content on the Yahoo! network, in addition to the desktop and web, then it will have no peers. (Yes yes, those are famous last words.)

Why is it so good?

Unlike some of the other desktop search tools out there, YDS indexes over 200 file types. Uniquely, it provides instant previews of all of them — with your search terms highlighted — right within the program. It does this for .doc, .mp3, .pdf, .gif, .ppt, .xls and many more.

Beyond those “technical specs”, the interface and overall experience set it above the crowd. YDS does not use the Web Search model (single search box) for the desktop like several other products on the market. Instead, it provides many search boxes so you can narrow by date, file size, sender, folder, or any other contextually-relevant field with blazing speed. Also, unlike web queries that don’t return results until you submit a search, YDS returns and updates the result set after each letter you type. Believe me, it makes a big difference.

Go download your free copy and let me know what you think. Read more at the Yahoo! Search Blog, or explore the blogosphere.

2014 EPIC – The Future of Online [Media]

Go watch this flash movie right now. (Or the first time you have 8 free, it doesn’t have a pause button.).

It’s the history of the media wars, with a dateline of 2014. What happens with Google, Amazon, Blogger, Microsoft, Friendster and TiVo play together? What happens when search, news, shopping, social networks, blogging, camera phones, recommendations, filtering, archiving, the long tail, and everything else that’s ALREADY in motion congeals?

Remember that feeling you got when you “got it” in the first Matrix movie? I got that feeling watching this. Remember that feeling you got when you actually realized that scale of the Internet, and what it will eventually enable?

Go watch it.

It’s not clear how you’re supposed to feel when it’s over. Sounds pretty cool. Sounds pretty scary. Come back here and leave some comments after you’ve watched it. Technorati lets you monitor it as it spreads across the Web.

(I guess this was on metafilter in mid November, but it’s new to me today.)

Looking for Music?

Enter an artist you like here, then explore:


“RSS readers collect updates, but with so many unread items, how do you know which to read first?”

That quote is from the problem statement of Attention.xml. I can certainly relate, and I suppose many of you can. Personalization of website fonts and colors is one thing, but personalized importance-ranking of content is an entirely other thing!

In order to make these value judgments about a piece of content, the judge must know things about the content and it’s source. This information about information is metadata.

So what type of information about information is necessary to make these determinations? The Format Summary of Attention.xml gives some clues:

Attention.XML is an XML file that contains an outline of feeds/blogs, where each feed itself is an outline, and each post is also an outline under the feed. This hierarchical outline structure is then annotated with per-feed and per-post information which captures such information as, the last time the feed/post was accessed, the duration of time spent on the feed/post, recent times of feed/post access, user set (dis)approval of posts, etc.

While you can play with the prototype, it’s more fun to just imagine the possibilities. Good things are coming folks.

Wikis, RSS and Wikipedia history visualization by the Media Lab

Jeremy Zawodny writes Why do Wiki RSS Feeds Suck?. I’m a big fan of Wikis. Jeremy writes that he’s not. His two reasons are 1) he “find[s] the markup annoying”; 2) Change notification, especially when offered by RSS, “all suck”.

The first is quickly disposed of: Wikis generally allow HTML or XHTML markup in addition to their own markup. If you don’t like Wiki markup, don’t use it. (The system is converting it to XHTML anyways, so you can view-source grab it.) Wiki markup is there for people who prefer it.

His second issue is that Wiki change notification (RSS or other) is often nearly useless. I generally agree: either it’s too technical, or it’s too vague. Too specific, or too broad. My work Wiki, for example, only allows you to subscribe to changes in general — the entire Wiki — not to a particular page.

While the notification could be better, perhaps the information is of a type not suited to per-instance notification. RSS is a natural medium for “change notifications”, but not necessarily for “change visualization”. The MIT Media Lab’s Fernanda B. ViĆ©gas, in collaboration with IMB’s Martin Wattenberg, have done some beautiful, insightful and important work visualizing dynamic, evolving documents and the interactions of multiple collaborating authors. That have mainly focused on the interactions on Wikipedia, which are massive, controversial at times, and exceedingly active. Check out their gallery, it’s pretty sweet. It’s amazing that in some cases, 20-word sentences have each word contributed by a different author. Also, that files that have been exited tens of thousands of times will still retain unchanged content from initial authors. (I saw them present this work at CHI2004 in Vienna.)

How To: Subscribing to Blogs / Feeds

Note: I sent this email to my dad this morning. It’s republished here for two reasons: 1) Hopefully it will be of interest or assistance to somebody else. 2) This is, I guess, the first installment of “how to actually integrate feed reading into your daily online life” series. This one is rough, but I wanted to throw it up as-is to help me bust through my writers block on this subject.

Hey Dad,

I have a blog to recommend (many actually, but we’ll start with this one). John Battelle writes about the search industry, and is very well connected to its pulse. I try to read five or six others that cover the same topic, but when I have to pick just one, it’s his. As with many blogs, it serves as a proxy for it’s like-minded blogs. If something interesting pops up on one, it’s usually echoed or references on the others. Plus, he’s a professional writer and generates lots of unique, insightful content:

The process I use to subscribe to blogs follows:

  1. Have a account
  2. Browse to an interesting site (like or
  3. Click your “Easy Subscribe” bookmarklet from either your Bookmarks Folder or, more commonly, your browsers Links Toolbar.

    (“Bookmarklets” or “favelets” are special links that — generally containing a small bit of Javascript instead of a URL — perform little tasks. As with any bookmark, you simply drag a link to your Bookmarks Folder or Links Bar.) This page has the Easy Subscribe links to drag to your toolbar (depending on browser) and more of a description:

  4. Choose which of the available feeds to subscribe to.
    • Sometimes there will be a “full articles” feed, a “summary” feed and sometimes a “comments” feed. (I always go for the full feed.). Of all the options you’re presented with, this is the only one that really matters since it actually represents different blocks of content.
    • Other times, as seems to be the case with the first two options on, they’re just different technical formats (.xml, .rss, .atom, .rdf). If this is the case then it’s pretty trivial — they’re all basically the same — and you’re safe picking ANY of them.
    • Other times (this is the case with the 3rd and 4th battellemedia options) they are third-party-generated feeds. In this case, these are provided by Technorati and Feedburner. If given a choice, I try to get the official feed from the site itself. But it’s pretty trivial again, and any of the four options will get you the same content.
  5. Enter your preferences (like which folder to store the blog in, notification preferences, descriptions, etc)

That’s it. Pretty soon you’ll be reading scores of feeds like me. (view my blogroll — a blogroll is the term for the list of blogs somebody subscribes to.

Other Ways to Subscribe

If you’re using bloglines but not the Easy Subscribe Bookmarklet you can go directly go to and enter the URL of the site or feed. This is less efficient for me, because I have to leave the interesting site to subscribe to it… On the other hand, if you have the bookmarklet on your toolbar you just click-subscribe immediately from any cool site.

Part of the thing with reading blogs is that I’m always discovering interesting new feeds to subscribe to. The easier it is to subscribe the better! The downside is that I sometimes end up with tons and tons of blogs. To combat this, I keep a special folder that new feeds go into as a form of initial probation: “Blogs I’m Considering”. If I continue to be interested in that feed on the next weeks, it gets upgraded to it’s rightful place in my personal hierarchy of feeds.

OR, If you prefer to read your feeds on you can go to and enter the URL of the feed or site. After adding it, it’ll show up on your personal My Yahoo page.

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