Hi Tracy - Click this one first

greenspun.com : LUSENET : News Clips : One Thread


This is that experimental forum I set up a little over a year ago to see how it would work. Most of the things in here are examples I just snipped from here and there.

Initially what I was shooting for was a "News Clips" system that ANYONE and EVERYONE could contribute to: opening the "sightings" process up to everyone, trying to pry it loose from strictly "email world (so many great things are lost there), and, at the same time, taking the load off any one individual ("collaboration").

The other key idea was to try to (somehow) foster the inclusion of "high quality" y2k news, as opposed to having the thing get loaded up with every y2k reference under the sun. That, of course, is a highly subjective, hard to define criteria (who knows what high quality or "key" y2k news means?), but that was the ideal hope.

Turns out it didn't matter because I never went forward with it. I had (still have) about 50,000 other things I needed to do, and there seemed to be plenty of y2k news sources around.

But here's the key advantage of this system (this software is incredible, by the way): As its author says, "It combines the best of the web with the best of email." And, oddly enough, it turns out that's not hype; it actually does. On the most basic level it does two things:

And those are the two Big Advantages of this system, and why I always thought it would work well for news.

There are a bunch of other great things about it that I could type about all day and night, but we all know how that goes. Probably the premiere interesting feature is that this system is fully (and I mean fully) HTML friendly. As you've noticed, this thread is html-ized. The primary nice thing about that is the "referencing power." Here. Let's try this one for quick example.

"I've got an extensive archive of y2k news I set up two years ago for my family and friends that you can refer yourself and others to by pointing them to http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Lab/7404/index.htm."

That kills two birds with one stone: A live link, and the url people can copy and paste into an email to send to others.

Nuts and Bolts

If you think you'd like to "go forward" with this we could think a little more about how to approach it, and I can get you clued into the nuts and bolts of how to operate it (it's pretty simple - especially on the most basic level - which works just fine - no need to get fancy with html).

It can be set up so that just the "administrator" can create new threads, or it can be left open so that anyone can contribute. Both ways of doing it have their pluses and minuses.

I guess the primary thing I'm interested in is having a good little news system in place that can be universally accessed. It's a mighty long story I won't go into detail on, but one of the big things I'm working on is what's being called the "Preparation & Recovery System/Network." It's going to be a network of web sites/systems. I've put together a system (using this forum software as its backbone), LOCAL communities can use to deal with y2k (the Internet's phenomenal, but it's clunky when it comes to the local aspect: much easier to find out whats' going on in Timbuktu than 2 miles away). All those local sites will be networked through the "hub" of the Millennium Salons, which gives them all a global "doorway" and will facilitate easy connectedness with other local communities in the network (so folks can see what others are up to."

I'd love to build a link into every system that goes out that says, "News Clips" (or whatever) on it: Someone in Spokane goes to their community's Prep & Recovery System home page, clicks "Global News" (or "News Clips"), and presto... This forum pops up in a window. Or they simply click the "add an alert" link, and the news arives in their email.

So while it wouldn't need to be directly associated with the Millennium Salons (doesn't really matter where it is, just so it's there), it COULD be. It could be one of them there "collaborative efforts" (which is a huge part of the "theory" behind the entire salons system - another long, frustrating story).

One thing I guess I'd like is "access" to the administration section. I'd make sure you got everything figured out, got comfortable with the system, learned how the admin stuff works (pretty simple too), and all that kind of thing. But the objective would be to turn it completely over to you ASAP. In other systems I've set up for people I've said, "Once you're familiar with it and don't think you'll be needing me to bop in every once in a while, go ahead and change the password so you won't have to wonder."

But in this case, if you figure you'd like to do this, I'd like to always be able to get at the admin section. Primarily so I can do a little (occasional) shameless advertising like this:

No big deal (and for a good cause), but that's the kind of thing I'd like to be able to do every now and then. Being able to get into the admin section would let me do it.

I don't have any big ideas about setting up some kind of standard advertising scheme we see on web pages everywhere. That's not the idea (even though I suppose that could be done without too much trouble). The Millennium Salons has never been anywhere near about making money, and with the exception of these new community systems probably won't be in the near future. I'm not all that hip on how all that works, and I'm so swamped with other things I don't have time to explore it. No doubt I probably should (this whole thing is costing me an arm and a leg), but I'm pretty much anti-advertising myself, so I seem to be "stuck."

Anyway... That's the one "caveat" or "condition" or request I'd make up-front. That and the request that if you think you want to do this that you not disappear or give up on it (there's a scary thought, no?). I know no one can predict the future, but if I go ahead and build all those little links into those local systems that'll be going out, I sure don't want that wonderful news system (that everyone would enjoy immensely, I'm sure), going dead in the middle of whatever's going to be going on.

Okay. This ought to be enough for the moment. Take a look at some of the threads and you'll be able to see my conception of how this thing would've worked, had I been a "news guy." Basically, what I had in mind was a short description of what the article, report, etc., contained, and the url (or live link/both) to it. No big deal on the description; just enough to let people know something about it. (And there's nothing that says that's the way it has to work. Just one way of doing it.)

Again. Everything in here is just an example. I put the two threads following this one in to show you the two different styles. The first is the most basic, no-frills, simple cut and paste entry (takes about 10 seconds). The second is a little fancier, contains html, takes a little longer to put together (but not too much longer - maybe 5 minutes - less when a person gets proficient). Whoops. Wait. They're the other way around, I think: Fancy one first, basic model second...

Oh... And one other great little feature... No matter which way the forum gets set up (administrator creates new threads only, or "open"), people can add to the threads by clicking "Contribute an answer." That could serve two purposes: "Letters to the editor" ("You're stupid! I don't know why you're trying to scare people with all this doom and gloom crap!"); or for follow-ups on some story - maybe something like, "Whatever happened as a result of that GAO report on water?" And lo and behold, there's another story about it right underneath the original.

Okay. Gotta scoot. If any of this makes sense to you and you think you'd like to do it - or SOME of it makes sense and you think you'd like to do it, but differently - just let me know. You can do that by either dropping me a standard note or by clicking Contribute an answer. Either way works as well as the other.

Until next time,

P.S. A couple other minor (but nice) details: Every post can be automatically dated, the threads can be listed in either "Newest" or "Oldest" chronological order, and, as you'll notice here - in the lower part of the main screen, under "Older Messages (by category)," categories can be set up (a semi-tricky proposition - what should the categories be? - but another nice organizational feature that's available).

-- Bill (billdale@lakesnet.net), May 20, 1999

Moderation questions? read the FAQ