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Entries tagged 'cat:Bulletin Boards'

Community Based Discovery of Interesting Content on the Small Web

Warning: This entry uses a LOT of words to come to a banale conclusion. Skip to the last paragraph for a tl;dr.

I was thinking about possibilities how interesting web sites could be discovered without relying on general-purpose search engines, web directories or unstructured recommendations in blog posts or threads in bulletin boards. Search engines will likely always be prown to SEO and therefore commercial content popping up among search results when that is not what the seacher is looking for. Web directories can be very nice and helpful if they are maintained well. But the criteria by which links are selected and categories don't always fit the needs of the visitor who is in search of new interesting content. Personal recommendations are worth a lot and I like it when people care enough about a web site or blog posts to share a link in chats or web forums. But they don't satisfy the use case that I have in mind. What I mean is the use case of wanting to create an aggregated feed of content (blog posts, other text posts, videos, audio podcasts, etc...) without learning about every single source of interesting content individually first. If you've been a member of a large social media platform you probably know how helpful it can be, especially to somebody who is new, to be able to follow sources that produce similar content quickly, making it worthwhile to stay, even though you'll want to do a finer selection of what goes into your feed over time. On Twitter I used the retweets of some few accounts with similar interests to build a very interesting feed quickly, and follow and remove single accounts over time to build perfectly individualised lists for myself. On Reddit, you can join a few really big subreddits and have some interesting stuff instantly, then over time find smaller and even more interesting subreddits that weren't among the search results of your favourite search terms.

With weblogs and the small web though, you have to know or find some web sites first to get just a little bit of interesting stuff, then click through a lot of blog rolls and link lists to find some more. It can be a very interesting journey and pastime. Maybe it fits the mentality of bloggers who don't publish on large platforms. But not everybody sees this as a good thing. And looking at it practically, somebody who wants to switch from consuming a single large social network to reading many small independent content producers does not have it as easy as somebody switching from one large social network to another.

Lists on Twitter and Shared Circles on Google+ are the perfect intermediate between picking out yourself what you want in your feed and following what everybody else follows. You do pick yourself, based on a list of interesting sources a friend or like-minded person has shared with you, but you don't have to pick every source individually. Likely there will be content among the possibly hundrets of authors you've started following with one click that you don't like to read. Then it's up to you to put them into a different circle/on a different list or to unfollow them completely. But to start out with a good set of interesting bloggers, you didn't have to search through thousands of web sites yourself first.

I don't see a reason why this isn't done more often with weblogs and other interesting web sites. I've shared and received OPML files for this purpose before. But for some reason people don't usually post their collection of great RSS and Atom feeds on a topic publicly. I'd like to encourage you to do so. If my feed collection wouldn't be embarrassingly outdated, I'd make a start. But the reason why I started thinking about this topic is precisely that I don't have a well looked after list of feeds on any topic. I just haven't cared about them enough for years. I will get it in order and post it here at some point though.

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Project Idea And A Little Story: High Power PC Cooled Completely Passively With Heat Pipes And A Large Surface Aluminium Case And My First Online Post Ever

Here is another project idea that I'll probably never realise. It's not really an ingenious idea or a new concept. But there is a reason for why I can't forget about it.

In the very early 2000s, when I started to tinker with PC cases and also made my first steps in web communities, I thought about how I could reduce the noise my computers made without running chips at dangurously hight temperatures or forgoing performance. I've read about heat pipes in some case modding community. And I thought why not take it to the extreme to move heat quickly not just to a larger heat sink than the CPU sockets could safely hold (Motherboards didn't have cooler brackets back then.) but to a heat sink or several heat sinks that cover the majority of the case's surface. When the first commercial CPU coolers with heat pipes came on the market, targetet at computer tinkerers, but still nobody in the community seemed to attempt to make a case with a huge heat sink on the outside of the wall to cool even a 2 GHz Pentium 4 with its 75 Watts TDP passively, I decided to register in a small case modding web forum and present my idea to see what might be wrong with the concept. I was actually younger 20 years ago than I am now and I had never before tried to get myself out there in such a way. I thought it was a rather good idea. But I wasn't sure how much surface and aluminium mass I needed and wether it was realistic to cool a powerful CPU passively that way. Trying to cool a Pentium 4 only passively sounds like a stupid idea after all.

So I created a post on said web forum that I've never read before, presented my idea and asked for opinions. I got a few answers and everybody seemed to think it was a stupid idea. One respondant didn't seem to get my idea but still seemed to think it was stupid. One person seemed rather friendly in comparison and asked if I could explain the idea in more detail. I felt bullied by the negative answers, I felt mocked by being inline quoted (which I don't think I had seen before) and I felt that my ideas were generally worthless since I wasn't one of those hobbyistic experts that actually know stuff and are able to answer questions asked in a web forum. So rather than explaining my idea in more detail as requested, I searched for a way to delete my post, didn't find one and asked in the same thread how I could remove it.

I didn't find the post when i searched for it a few years ago. Like most small web forums it has probably gone offline with nothing or almost nothing in a web archive. But with the experiece that I have today I suspect that I didn't explain my idea very well and the other forum members didn't realise that I was a very insecure child. I also realised many years later that it wasn't a bad idea. I even saw a computer case that implemented the same idea being sold at some point. I don't know if many people bought this. But at least somebody other than me seemed to think it made sense and could even be commercialised. This redeemed my idea in my mind and I started to think about making such a case again. But I don't have the need for high-power CPUs and didn't want to invest money into another project that I wouldn't ever finish once the initial exitement would be over by buying huge heat sinks and heat pipes. So I've added it to that huge imaginary list with projects that I like to would have done but likely wouldn't finish and conclude my decades long considerations and my decision to conclude them by writing this entry.


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