Monday, August 11, 2008

National Poetry Foundation launches first Mesh

The National Poetry Foundation is now the first organization to found its own Mesh:
Over forty authors from the National Poetry Foundation's conference on poetry of the seventies have published their work using a new Still Water tool that reveals connections among different peoples' writing. Who knew that "1973" and "John Ashbery" were on so many poets' minds? ThoughtMesh did.
A Mesh is a subset of articles linked using ThoughtMesh software; each Mesh is controlled by an individual or collective organization, and is typically devoted to a particular topic.

A tag cloud on the NPF Mesh home reveals the most common tags across
all the texts contributed by its members. Some are no
surprise--"poetics" and "modernism," for example--while others, such as
"1973," "John Ashbery," and "erotic," suggest themes for poets in the
seventies that might not otherwise have been evident.

Since the NPF took the plunge, other organizations have created their own Meshes, including the University of Cambridge and Still Water.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Yahoo lets you roll your own search engine

Wired reports that Yahoo has done one better on Google's Custom Search by giving developers access to Yahoo's own index:
To start your own search engine using Yahoo data, sign up for an API key at Yahoo’s developer network.
The API works much like any web framework. Query the API, and you will
get an XML file of search results that match your query. Yahoo will
also provide a mash-up library in the Python programming language.

This could be a boon to archivists and anyone else who wants to write their own harvester using data scattered over a distributed network.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Recent ThoughtMesh press

Andrea Foster writes:

ThoughtMesh is a Web site that tags open-access scholarly papers with key words. Visitors can jump to passages in papers that contain those words. And they can see others' papers, throughout academe, tagged with the same words. A "cloud" of tagged words hovers above each paper.

Mr. Ippolito says the goal of ThoughtMesh is for scholars to get their work out quickly and identify others who might be able to help them in their research.

Gerry McKiernan of Scholarship 2.0, meanwhile, calls ThoughtMesh "a truly remarkable innovation."


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Monday, December 10, 2007

How ThoughtMesh distributes and connects

The response to ThoughtMesh has been great so far, so I thought I would flesh out a bit more of the underlying architecture that makes ThoughtMesh tick. It's a model that might be useful for other applications in distributed publication.

As this workflow indicates, authors do not need to archive their essays on the ThoughtMesh server to be accessible by the mesh. While the ThoughtMesh server, operated by USC's Vectors program, does store the contents of the essays, what's more important is that it stores the metadata associated with them. In this case, the critical metadata are tags for essay excerpts and urls that point to those essay excerpts.

This means that you can upload your meshed essay to your university account, at a free Web host like Geocities, or even run it off your hard-drive--and ThoughtMesh will still connect it to other essays in the mesh on the fly.

To do this ThoughtMesh requires a form of cross-site scripting not normally available to AJaX. Fortunately, Still Water Research Fellow John Bell contributed a program called Telamon--known in Greek mythology as the "Lesser Ajax"--that cleverly permits metadata from one site to be available behind the scenes to another.

ThoughtMesh's tag lookup server avoids the problem of silo'd essay repositories because it is less a database than a metadatabase. I believe this architecture--which is mirrored in version-tracking community registries like The Pool--offers a practical approach to distributed publication that solves many of the problems plaguing the rollout of the "Semantic Web," including the potential for unintended or intentional metadata corruption. With a metadatabase, you don't have to worry about newbies botching handwritten metadata tags, and you can build in trust metrics to thwart Viagra salesmen. (Did I mention that a future release of ThoughtMesh will incorporate John Bell's RePoste trust metric?)


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Sunday, December 09, 2007

XML-Sitemaps helps Google crawl your Web site

John Bell recommended this utility, which aims to reveal more of a "deeply linked" site to Google and other search engines. You can also use it to create a human-readable HTML sitemap for visitors to your Web site.

Apart from making it easier to map the entire structure of a complex site, I'm wondering if the tool could be leveraged to expose the "dark Web" of database-driven pages--eg, pages of the form index.php?id=234, which Google normally can't find.


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Saturday, October 20, 2007

ThoughtMesh Helps Writers Connect Ideas

Last week saw the launch of the first public release to emerge from research by the Interarchive working group. ThoughtMesh is an unusual model for publishing and discovering scholarly papers online. It gives readers a tag-based navigation system that uses keywords to connect excerpts of essays published on different Web sites.

Use ThoughtMesh to post your essay online, and you get a traditional left-hand navigation menu plus a tag cloud that enables nonlinear access to text excerpts. You can navigate through excerpts both within the original essay and from related essays across the mesh. Unlike the Google hack previously investigated by the Interarchive group (and described in this blog), ThoughtMesh offers an alternative to depending on commercial search engines. To be sure, researchers can still use Google to find essays meshed with this new software--unlike Flash-based or database-driven article repositories. But ThoughtMesh also offers a completely independent, tag-based discovery system: search for "media" + "installation" and you'll see the relevant excerpts in the current essay as well as any others meshed to date.

One other handy feature is ThoughtMesh's automatic tag generation, based on Chirag Mehta's spiffy Tagline software. Authors who want to customize their tags can, but those short on time can let the software do it for them.

For more on ThoughtMesh features, see the essay "New Media Scholar? Distribute and Connect!"

ThoughtMesh is a collaborative project by Vector's Craig Dietrich and Still Water co-director Jon Ippolito, with help from John Bell, Still Water Research Fellow and developer of the Telamon remote scripting software.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Transclusion: lightweight cross-references among sites

Distributed publication just got a bit easier--and closer to Ted Nelson's original conception of hypertext--with this "transclusion" JavaScript library by Brad Neuberg et al. --jon.

Ajaxian » Purple Include: Transclusions, you know you want them!
"A transclusion is the inclusion of part of a document into another document by reference".

This means that you can include and display fragments of one HTML page in another without copying and pasting any content. For example, you could quote the second paragraph from another person's blog entry by embedding something like:

< hx :include src="!/p[2]" />