Python Programming, news on the Voidspace Python Projects and all things techie.
Updates to rest2web
I've checked in another set of updates to rest2web, and I'm working towards a new release.
- I've removed some image files
- I've also cleaned up the gallery files
- More work on the gallery/plugin system
- py2exe-setup.py now works (builds rest2web as a windoze executable)
- make_dist.py now works - builds a distribution from the SVN repository files
The gallery is nearly ready, but I have some thorny questions about encodings and the plugin system to resolve before I can make it public.
Things to do before a new release :
- finish gallery todo list
- finish plugin system
- finish gallery and plugins docs
- implement 'file' keyword
- make 'section' an ordered dictionary
- add keyword to specify ordering of pages in section
This isn't actually that much .
The latest updates to ConfigObj 4 have brought it up to beta quality (thanks to a lot of work from me and Nicola Larosa). I just need to finish the docs and we can do a release. We've added a way to specify default values in the configspec - and I'm very pleased with it.
Social Bookmarking as Structure
Finding information on the web is difficult. This is because the web is an unstructured haystack of information. Some parts of the web might be nicely structured - like, say the wikipedia  - but in general, it's a mess.
This makes tools like google very important. As Bruce Eckel describes in his blog entry We need a new model for sharing information : usually it's easier to search than it is to browse (follow links - which is the way information is structured on the internet).
Unfortunately, search works best if you already know what you are looking for. It makes it much harder when you are learning about a new subject and don't know what to search for. In in these circumstances you really need structured information. Maybe books aren't dead yet .
Tagging is a reasonably new internet phenomenon that lets people categorise information in a semi-lattice (a non tree like structure of inter-connections) . It basically allows you to put information (like a blog entry) in more than one category.
Categorising information gives it structure - it relates information together. Allowing multiple categories lets you relate information in several ways (unlike a tree which requires that you decide which one branch the information belongs on). It's like a location on a map - where there's more than one route to get somewhere; and roads from each location to lots more interesting places (via different types of relationships).
So what if we could get a large community to categorise the whole internet ? Then having found one web page, you could see which tags people assigned to this page - and be presented with a list of pages with the same (or similar) set of tags. Well.... this is exactly what social bookmarking tools like del.icio.us do. They get a large user-base to categorise internet pages.
By seeing what categories are applied to pages - and what pages are in the same categories - we can leverage social bookmarking as a way of structuring the internet. I've just discovered the (a?) Python Interface to the del.icio.us API. I'm going to use this to create a tool that allows you to dynamically query tag information about a URL - and return a list of pages with the same tags. I'll probably implement it (initially) as a small server that runs locally, and a bookmarklet; that way it can be used seamlessly within the browser.
Obviously not all the internet is categorised yet, and some pages are in too few categories for it to be meaningful. If we combine the straight application with easy ways of adding/removing tags (list of related tags ?) or otherwise modifying the search it could be quite useful.
If it does prove useful I could recode it as a proper web application - maybe drawing information from other tagging services .
The net result, is that this technique uses categorisation (on individual URLs) to structure the web - to relate pages to one another. It is an example of the hive mind - from individual users making small, semi-arbitrary decisions - structured routes through the haystack will start to appear.
There are all sorts of ways it could develop (comparing tag weights for heavily tagged pages, combining this information with google web services, even indexing pages and dynamically deciding what tags to look for) - but I'll try and get it working first.
|||The wiki style links allow it to semi-automatically cross link it's huge database of articles. This can make it easy to browse related material, but doesn't help you with the rest of the web.|
|||See a city is not a tree by Christopher Alexander.|
|||Like Furl and Flickr and Technorati and.....|
One Good Turn....
Good Timber is one of the businesses run by the New Creation Christian Community, to which I belong. This business sells English and Australian hardwoods - primarily to hobbyist wood turners, but also to people making hand crafted furniture and expensive bespoke kitchens.
A local wood turner Guy Ravine was with us and demonstrated turning various of the woods. He had (and created) bowls, vases, and other intriguing artefacts from the different woods. Wood is a beautiful material - unparalleled in beauty by any manmade substance. Turning and finishing wood - whether it be walnut or lignum vitae  or beech - brings out the subtle elegance of the grain. Particularly in the hands of a master craftsman like Guy .
Strangely enough the real star of the show was a timber called Kerto from Finland. This is a (man made !) softwood laminate that we obtained as a by-product of the construction industry. It's also known by it's more common name - plywood... shhhh...
Despite this, it actually turns very well - the laminate forming a distinctive grain. It's also cheap enough for beginners to turn big blocks without wasting too much money . See the images below for what can be done with it by the tools of an expert....
|||Whose name means 'living rock'. This African hardwood sinks in water and is so hard they used to make ball bearings with it.|
Let's Get Personal
Ok, it does happen occasionally; I've made a decision .
My Techie Blog looks very dry compared to some. All my personal stuff I keep over on the Voidspace Blogspot. This means my non techie friends, I do have some , don't have to wade through incomprehensible jargon. It also means some of my friends have to subscribe to both. Unfortunately a side effect is that those who only subscribe to my Techie blog might think I have no life at all .
From now on I'm going to include my personal stuff in the Techie blog as well. The Techie blog is going to grow much faster than my personal one - but while I only do personal blogs once a week, or every few days, it shouldn't be a problem.
After some feedback suggesting this is a bad decision, I'm reconsidering.
Categories: Blog on Blogging
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