Tags in feeds

November 11, 2009

Since I spend a little bit of time picking tags for my posts, I spent the time recently to hack WordPress a little bit, so that it displays tags in the content of RSS2/Atom feeds. The code is available on github.

I’m curious what you think: are the tags humorous/interesting? Are they superfluous because you use an RSS reader that supports atom:category? Do they get in the way? Feel free to let me know.

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Welcome to the Travelogue!

October 12, 2009


This is where I’m going to dump the things I’ve found interesting in my wanderings. I’ve already migrated the posts I’ve shared in Google Reader, and going forward, I intend to use this blog to much the same effect. Stylistically, you can tell I’m borrowing a lot from JWZ.


This is part of a long-term effort to get off of Google Reader and onto a less CPU-intensive RSS reader. This blog will replace the functionality offered by Google Reader’s "Share This".

I am going to mark this post as shared, but it will be the last. If anyone wants to follow me going forward, they should add my RSS feed to their reader: Atom, RSS.


I’ve decided to use a blog for the following reasons: – public instead of the limited-access Google Reader "Share This" option – permanent and searchable

In particular I settled on a full-fledged WordPress blog, instead of a microblogging site or tumblelog, because:

  • categories are useful for long-term tracking of what I’m thinking about and how I’m thinking about it
  • I often like to elaborate on why I found a post interesting, excerpt it, etc. A blog gives me creative control over how an item looks in a way that Twitter, Tumblr, etc. don’t really.

WordPress’s user interface is pretty CPU-intensive itself, so I’ve built a little tool called rst2wp. Now I can author posts using emacs and post them using the WordPress XML-RPC interface.

I migrated the "Share This" posts over by hand, which took about 5 hours, 30 minutes for 120 posts. Writing rst2wp took about 13 hours, and was informed by the suffering I went through when posting my "Share This" items.

I decided to make this blog separate from the rest of my web presence because:

  • this kind of thing has a short shelf life, whereas other things may not
  • the set of people who care what I think or write is probably distinct from the set of people who care what I’m looking at, browsing, etc.

For the time being I’m following a mixed practice with regard to format:

  • I’m often copying text from RSS feeds instead of actual web pages
  • I’m hosting images instead of hotlinking them

These choices represent a compromise between attempting to be considerate and actually sharing what I find.

Comments are disabled on all posts because I don’t care about fostering discussion and I don’t have time to defend against spam. If you want to talk about something I posted, send me an email.

Some selected categories and what they mean:

  • nerd pride: things that make you proud to be unusual
  • wow: things that are just beautiful or make you think "I wish I could do that"
  • crazy: things that reflect an unwillingness to accept reality on its own terms
  • the sky is falling: things that reflect the truth of changing times but tend to arouse an irrational panic or knee-jerk reaction
  • science fiction without the future: with regard to the essay by Judith Berman: things that are nominally science fictional but tend to embrace nostalgia or the past, give off an air of alienation from technology, or "the experience of change as disorienting and bad"
  • nostalgia harvesting: similarly, the tendency of Mass Media to avoid cultural innovation and fall back on self-reference, sequels and rehashes of existing "properties", and zero-content "filler"
  • computer science slash cultural anthropology: changes in technology and the corresponding changes in society or social groups; similarly, the use of technology to reflect or enable existing patterns in society; lastly, the anthropology of technologists as a group
  • defying parody: things that are "so baroque as to defy parody".
  • culture: things you should look at because I’m liable to bring them up in conversation
  • memetics: the rise of certain memes, changes in memes, discussion of memes
  • spendthrift: the topic of how I spend money all the time on everything
  • fuck the RIAA: self-explanatory. "Home Taping Is Killing the Record Industry: And It’s Fun Too".
  • old arts die out: the opposite of "get off of my lawn"; things with regard to the way changing technology renders old forms obsolete, often while introducing new forms. "And nobody makes pyramids any more either." See also: "the sky is falling".
  • oh, Japan!: self-explanatory

Other categories are listed on the right of the main page; there may also be an "all categories" page but I haven’t found it yet.

Please be aware that the RSS 2.0 and Atom feeds DO export full posts, but the RSS 0.92 does feed does not.

I think that just about covers it. Happy travels!


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