Monday, January 30, 2006

MashUps, ReMixes and Hacks

a listing of categories in a tag cloudI've was very busy this past weekend working on . You may not notice it by looking at the place but it's true. A successful blog lives and dies by the post. Not post-age, no view-age.

There's another image for bottomunion I have yet to sketch and post today. More on that later.

Because I am creating, on average, one new sketch each day and about one and a half new posts each day, I want to have some sort of organization for all of this information. Call them Tags or Categories, they are a good idea. It's all part of this machine-readable movement that is hot again. Just like putting alt="" descriptions in for images, Tags give everyone more information about a posted item.

This also makes the items more accessible. Some people still browse the internet using text only browsers like Lynx. It's faster and eliminates a lot of visual noise. Try it sometime.

Google is usually ahead of the curve when it comes to accessibility of information on the internets. Not so in the case of Tags. After conducting a search via Blog Search for the terms blogger categories I soon learned Blogger doesn't have them(results).

After some preliminary research I settled upon the Greasemonkey| MashUp method. Some people don't like this solution and prefer to utilize results from Blog Search. That may make for a more unified visitor experience but I prefer to use the best tools available. In my opinion, that's definately Greasemonkey and absolutely

Ever since checking out Flickr and seeing the tag cloud, I knew it was an effective visualization of information. There's a screen grab of sketch-it's tag cloud at the top left of this post. If you want to implement this solution in your blog, go here. FreshBlog has a variety of categorization solutions available.

Greasemonkey is a FireFox extension that enables thrid parties to develop JavaScripts to extend the capabilities of the browser. I currently use FasterFox, Greasemonkey, NoScript and Blogger Web Comments extensions.

FreshBlog's Greasemonkey solution creates a blogger entry box below Title called Tags. Simply entering a list of space separated tags, answering some questions after hitting publish post and clicking on the incorporated link on the Refresh Blog page is all there is to it. You of course need a account before undertaking this project.

Since I had about 50 posts, it took me a while to re-Publish each one with all of the appropriate tags. You can see that I receive a lot of requests to sketch animals.

The only way this method could be made easier if there were a list of tags with radio buttons from which to chose my tags a la WordPress. Thing with Blogger is I didn't have to install or update anything. I like it that way. With any sceeding of control goes the ability to modify. That is until someone comes up with a clever hack.

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