The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Syndicate this!

Rob and I were talking the other day about a feature of LiveJournal—the friend's page. If you have an account on LiveJournal, you can list other users of LiveJournal as “friends” and then read their new entries on your “friends” page. It basically collects the X most recent posts from all your friends (who have to have LiveJournal accounts themselves) and presents them on a single page, only with a style you choose.

I have a LiveJournal account, if only to read the journals of my friends who are hosted there. If you check my friends page, you'll see that I picked a rather conservative style. Yet visit the actual site of any of my friends and you'll see their words in a different style.

Which leads me to yesterday's post about styles, only coming in from a different perspective. This time it's not about historic perspective (although Michelle has changed the default template of her site since I started reading it; I'm not sure when she made the change since I mostly read her through my friends page, which is a different style altogether) but about current presentation through a form of syndication.

Ah, syndication. Most blogging software supports syndication via one of the several flavors of RSS (in order, 0.9, 0.91, 0.92, 1.0, 0.93 or 0.94—yes, that is the correct order and no, I'm not about to get into the why of it right now), an XML based file that contains the interesting bits from a weblog—author, last date updated, and the last few entries. So in theory, it is possible to make a “friends” page reguardless if you have a LiveJournal account or not, and to include more than just friends on LiveJournal.

While I like the “friends page” feature of LiveJournal (as I use it) I'm not so sure how I feel about it though. I only include the links and titles to each of my entries, although I could include the actual entry itself in the RSS file. I didn't though, since I was uneasy with the idea that someone could reformat my content to suit themselves. Which is odd, since browsers will do that anyway (like under Lynx, or Netscape 4x or IE or Mozilla) and I'm much less concerned about that.

For instance, the feed for Marcus' site does contain the entries themselves, so it's possible I could pull that down and format his content to my liking, even though he spent over a month working the style of his website to his liking. I wonder how he would feel knowing someone was reading his stuff if it looked different? Yet a “friends page” is exactly what he wants though (since he was one (out of several) that pestered me to get email notification going for my site). And how would I feel if someone was formatting my stuff differently?

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[The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades]

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Obligatory Feeds

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You have my permission to link freely to any entry here. Go ahead, I won't bite. I promise.

The dates are the permanent links to that day's entries (or entry, if there is only one entry). The titles are the permanent links to that entry only. The format for the links are simple: Start with the base link for this site:, then add the date you are interested in, say 2000/08/01, so that would make the final URL:

You can also specify the entire month by leaving off the day portion. You can even select an arbitrary portion of time.

You may also note subtle shading of the links and that's intentional: the “closer” the link is (relative to the page) the “brighter” it appears. It's an experiment in using color shading to denote the distance a link is from here. If you don't notice it, don't worry; it's not all that important.

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