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conversation finder


My next step is to write something different to get the gears moving in my head again, and Don's conversation category idea is appealing. So, let's do that. :)

Don described it as:

A conversation aggregator subscribes to the category feed of all the participants and merge them into a single feed and publishes a mini-website dedicated to the conversation. The 'referee' of the debate or the conversation moderator gets editorial rights over the merged feed and the mini-website. Hmm. This stuff is very close to what I am currently working on so I think I'll slip this feature in while I am at it.
Since this is probably too big to do in quick & dirty fashion, I was a little worried. But last night I thought of a different approach. How about something that finds conversations, rather than is subscribed to certain categories?

After all, we already have a mechanism to define conversation thread: the permalink. Generally when you're in a cross-blog thread, you point back at the last "reply" from the other person. A cross-blog thread also has the advantage of being a directed graph, with a definite starting point. So permalinks and some kind of graph traversal thingamagic could be used to find the threads that exist, and maybe are in progress.

As Don notes, sometimes you might refer to the other party by name, or make oblique references. That could be step two, using text-based search to add some more information to the graph formation. But let's say we start with permalinks only.

Hm. Okay. So what do I need for this? First things that come to mind:

  • A crawler
  • A DB (the tables, I mean)
  • A parser (to find the set of links)
  • The algorithm to find the conversations
  • Some kind of web front end to make it more usable?
Neither the crawler nor the parser have to be super-sophisticated, so maybe they are doable in a few hours. Or a couple of days?

This sounds like a good starting point. First step should be DB & crawler. More later!

Categories: soft.dev
Posted by diego on December 1 2004 at 6:52 AM

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