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Archive for July, 2005

Dangers of RSS Sitemaps

Sitemaps are probably the most crucial pages in all Web sites. They might not be most helpful to human visitors, but they greatly assist crawlers, thereby attracting, promoting and inviting more traffic from search engines. Site maps can be perceived as ‘crawling maps’, regardless of how shallow or deep they are. These maps not just the spine, but possibly the entire skeleton of complex Web sites where crawling will take a huge number of distinct routes through pages.

Map of EuropeGoogle have recently introduced RSS sitemaps. This means that new site content will be appended to the map whose form is a long aggregated feed, i.e. links with minimal content and without unimportant media and layout detail. This move by Google encouraged many Webmasters to go on the RSS wagon and XML their Web sites. This benefits Google in a variety of ways. First of all, there is a clear pairing between content and dates. If the site delivers timely news, this will become a significant factor. Secondly, as any site is described fully by its map, there is no need for repeated crawling. There are significant savings in terms of bandwidth, which appear to allow search engines to crawl a sparser portion of the Web, as well as reduce the burden on Web servers, whose load involves a great deal of pages being served to crawlers or robots.

There are hidden dangers in moving towards RSS sitemaps. Typical HTML/XHTML/other site maps get neglected as they are laborious to maintain and as time goes by they may appear redundant, much like an older generation of pages that have gone completely out of date. One of the worrying implications is that opponents — in this particular case MSN and Yahoo predominantly — get ‘robbed’ of the true, old-styled site maps, which are conceded altogether or simply neglected in favour of RSS sitemaps. Therefore, they must follow suit and take advantage of the public RSS site maps, just as Google did. They might need to woo Webmasters and get those sitemap submitted to them as well. Is it going to be an easy task? Probably not, especially while Google’s impact is by far superior.

The phenomenon above is the introduction and absorbance of new technologies by force. Google are forcing, not malevolently though, trends of crawling and push for methods to change. Microsoft exhibited some similar behaviour by introducing new elements to HTML without consent from the community. They incorporated these element into Internet Explorer; they considered the Internet to be a source to serve Internet Explorer rather than the reverse, whereby the Web is open and accessible to all. By doing so, Microsoft encouraged Web developers to construct Web pages that work exclusively under Internet Explorer and slowly killed their main opponent: Netscape Navigator. But that is all history as Internet Explorer (version 6) lags behind Opera, Firefox and arguably behind Safari too.

In practical terms, do RSS sitemaps lead to any gains? We have discussed this issue to death at the primary SEO-related newsgroup. Borek expressed his skepticism about Google sitemaps:

So far Google just fetches my sitemaps 4 times a day. One site is PR3 5 months old, second is PR2 several years old, redesigned in June. No signs of crawl on either (and there are not spidered pages on both sites).

The bottom line, from my point-of-view, is that for news-delivering sites, RSS sitemaps provide a good opportunity to conquer valuable SERP‘s very quickly. For most standard sites with a decent amount of bandwidth to spare, RSS sitemaps appear like an overkill, even when HTML to XML implementation are virtually available ‘off-the-shelf’. RSS sitemaps may also be valuable for blogs where the nature of publication is linear rather than hierarchical or lateral.

Other related threads on the topic:

Related News: Google to Patent Ads in Feeds

Tenth Rock from the Sun

Third Rock from the Sun

The media has become fascinated with the discovery of a new planet that orbits our Sun. It is rare for main-stream media to be fascinated by astronomy, so this news is rather major.

That planet, which is the 10th in the solar system, is larger then Pluto that was discovered decades ago. Put in the words of the article from my favourite (syndicted) source of astronomy news:

Astronomers have discovered a new planet orbiting our Sun, which is larger than Pluto. It’s located 97 times further than the Earth from the Sun. This new, 10th planet was actually first photographed in 2003 by the Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory, but it took this long to study and confirm its size and orbit. A name has been proposed to the International Astronomical Union, which is making its decision.

Freedom in Photography

Pile of Dells
The pile of dusty Dells in my office, taken from my daily photolog

Below is a story which I discovered on Dvorak Uncensored. He pointed to an item from Thomas Hawk who talks about being denied to right to photograph streets:

Yesterday I was shooting some photos of One Bush St. (the building where Bush and Market Streets intersect) when their security guard came out of his little glass jewelbox lobby hut to ask me to stop taking photos of the building. He said it was illegal. I moved to the sidewalk and continued taking photos and he again asked me to stop. When I told him I was on a public street sidewalk he said that actually they owned the sidewalk and that I was going to have to stop taking photographs.

Even after shooting approximately 2000 photos in the streets of Manchester, never did anyone address me with a complaint. “Only in America”, some would say…

Internet and Nature

RabbitLet us think of nature for a moment. Think of rabbits whose reproduction rate is potentially very high. Once you have too many rabbits in the wild, not enough resources exist in nature in order to feeds them all. What’s more, predators that feed on rabbit will prosper and rapidly bring the number of rabbit down, thereby quickly reproducing themselves — the predators. It is a cycle in nature that has been explained by biologists many times in the past.

The same principles apply to the Web. When demand for Web sites is high (e.g. the birth in the early nineties), smashing success hits the few trailblazers and other envious business follow suit by joining. Yet, at some stage, the bubble must burst and there will be no more place for new sites to be accommodated. Is Internet reaching an anti-climax? I doubt so. According to one source, we are now observing a second dot-com boom develop. According to insightful predictions at Wired Magazine, we are yet to see the best of the Web:

2015

The Web continues to evolve from a world ruled by mass media and mass audiences to one ruled by messy media and messy participation. How far can this frenzy of creativity go? Encouraged by Web-enabled sales, 175,000 books were published and more than 30,000 music albums were released in the US last year. At the same time, 14 million blogs launched worldwide. All these numbers are escalating. A simple extrapolation suggests that in the near future, everyone alive will (on average) write a song, author a book, make a video, craft a weblog, and code a program. This idea is less outrageous than the notion 150 years ago that someday everyone would write a letter or take a photograph.

By 2015, desktop operating systems will be largely irrelevant. The Web will be the only OS worth coding for. It won’t matter what device you use, as long as it runs on the Web OS. You will reach the same distributed computer whether you log on via phone, PDA, laptop, or HDTV.

I have made merely identical predictions in the past:

Is Nintendo Dying?

Super Mario

Nintendo’s profits are down by nearly 80% so worries about Nintendo’s vocation begin to resurface. The giant game maker has high sentimental value to many, including myself. Above is a screenshot that I took weeks ago while playing the classis Mario series from Nintendo.

Returning to the dysphoric news:

Reuters Japan passes on word from Nintendo of a 78.5% reduction in operating profits for the quarter ending June 30. Speculation from the news service on the reason for the drop makes perfect sense – the GameCube doesn’t have enough exclusives, first-party and third-party, and sales of GBA SP and GameCube have been declining.

My Role in Society

Roy as a baby
Photo from around 1984

I live a regular life, but not a normal life. In other words, my schedule is regular, repeatable, yet it varies significantly from the norm. This has come to the point where eating involves using the computer simultaneously. I rarely ever concentrate my mind on eating or cooking, I just do it motorically, much like the process of brushing one’s own teeth. I have recently come to realise that when I work out, my head easily wanders elsewhere. My body carries on with the exercise so some routines appear to have become instinctive. By the end of the day, I will not have grasped the fact that I worked out at all. Why? Because my mind is pre-occupied with computers and science.

I spend many hours a day on UseNet. I consider my role in cyberspace to be that of helping people as much as I am able to. I know several individuals with an identical perception and ideaology. I assist people in my daytime job for a mere income, which allows me to get by, and I do so all night for no profit whatsoever. If a person is unable to finish an urgent project, I feel obliged to help. If a person sobs about a faulty computer, I try my best at giving valid advice over the Net. I have no interest in money and neither do I expect to accumulate any. All my satisfaction comes from the thank-you’s that I get, as well as knowing that I contribute to society at a greater or lesser extent.

Bill Gates Photos

Bill Gates
Female fan: “Oh, Bill, your floppy is so long

When there is nothing particularly interesting to post, the typical blogger will publish a photo. Shown above is Bill Gates posing for a teen magazine in 1985. The photo below is from WikiMedia.

Bill Gates dancing
When nobody else is in the room, I sometimes get jiggy with it

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