Blog These

Mark Pilgrim: Auto-content. "Why does this cite-link-quote ('hit-and-run') style of weblogging need to be a manual process at all? Why can't I just click an 'auto-content' button and have my software automatically generate a list of, say, a dozen interesting links and quotes culled from my aggregator subscriptions, 'neighboring' sites, sites discussing the hot topics of the day, and mainstream articles reporting on a small hard-coded list of additional topics?"

Neat idea -- but instead of being completely automated, I would still want to be the one in charge of picking and choosing the items themselves. But it should be easier and it can be. Which is why I asked for Syndirella to support weblog APIs so you could blog from the newsreader.

Here's how I picture it: as you read along you click a button (we'll call it the 'Add' button since we're adding it to a list that will be processed later) for items that you want to blog about. Once they're all selected, you click a 'Blog These' button/menu option (as opposed to the singular 'Blog This' available in some blogger tools). The newsreader gives you a compose dialog, prefilled with elements from the items you selected: source URL, description (or even a portion of the description that was selected when you clicked the 'Add' button), author name, etc. The format used to prefill the composition field might even be templatized to be consistent with the user's presentation style.

Reading and writing go hand-in-hand, so why not put the two capabilities together in a single client?

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5 Comments

Mark said:

Nah, Radio already does all that, has for over a year now. I want to cut out the drudgery of actually going out and finding new content.

Then again, if I'd already written such a script, would you be able to tell the difference?

Mark said:

MT bookmarklets and MozBlog do it too, separate from an aggregator. But they only work on stuff you've already found, which means that weblogs tend to get stuck in a rut, quoting the same people over and over (because the software makes it easy to quote people in your subscription list, but difficult to quote anyone else).

Why can't it auto-find other people talking about the same link (via "track this" and "citations" links at Blogdex and Daypop, or similar things at Technorati), auto-download them, and do a diff to see if they're adding anything original to the conversation.

Plus, all of the current tools suck at excerpting quotes. At best they just regurgitate the excerpt posted by the author, which itself may have been auto-generated (exceedingly poorly) by their publishing software. The rest don't even do that.

Brad Author Profile Page said:

Those tools can do it 'one at a time', but not as I have described. Being able to cull multiple quotations together from multiple sources. And I realize current tools suck at excerpting quotes. That's what a human editor is for. So you highlight the portion you wish to quote, click 'Add' and repeat. Then click 'Blog These' to create a post that uses all the selections you made. The pre-composed entry would be edited further to annotate as desired.

And yes, I think I would notice if a fully automated script were being used to do this kind of thing. It would also make for dull reading. When someone cites a source, the purpose should be for further discussion. So a citation should usually be followed with a response. Simple regurgitation -- even through complex means -- doesn't interest me.

Mike Krus said:

NewsIsFree does that. You can register any number of blogs which support the Blogger API, and post any number of items directly to one or more of them.

Brad Author Profile Page said:

That's cool, Mike -- and while I use and appreciate NewsIsFree, I prefer it as a syndication service. I read a number of sites now through RSS that I couldn't before. But my client is Syndirella. Using the web to read RSS is a little clumsy and slow, even over broadband. The speed at which I can scan through headlines in Syndirella is dizzying by comparison.

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