Home XSLT, 2004 goals, and general blather

XSLT, 2004 goals, and general blather

Man it gets quiet in the blogosphere over xmas. I’ve had to resort to some real work to keep myself occupied. I’ve been diving into XSLT to try and develop something interesting for my weblog’s topic-based navigation. XSLT can be infuriating at times. I got most of what I wanted from my XSLT session today, except for one tiny thing that I spent a lot of time trying to solve (and still haven’t). It reminded me of Don Park’s post a couple of weeks ago:

“By associating an XSLT stylesheet with the XML file, users can view the file with just a browser (well, IE).  It’s a nice solution except writing XSLT can be a real pain in the ass.  Take one little step outside the simple stuff and you are in a jungle and it doesn’t get better over time unless you use it everyday.”

I can sympathise. I was in one of those bleary-eyed seething moods by the end of my session. I have to admit I’m not a Natural Born Programmer, so that may explain part of my problems. I’m really a writer who likes to program a bit on the side. Which brings me to my goals for 2004…

In 2004 I hereby resolve to get my hands well and truely dirty with XML technologies. I’ll use my weblog to experiment with things, like I’m doing now with creating an XML/XSLT topic navigation. btw I had started with an OPML/XSLT conversion, but I swapped to doing it as an XML file with XSLT tranformation into HTML. Actually what I’ve ended up doing is similar to what Dave Winer has done with the ‘category’ tag in RSS2.0, except he’s probably using OPML. I’m currently using the Radio Userland opml-html service for my topic nav, while I sort out my xml-html version. Unless Dave Winer releases his Channel Z tool soon, which would save me a lot of hassle, I’ll keep at it. But no, I’m enjoying the challenge of XSLT development. I’m lovin’ it, as the advert goes.

Programming will always play second fiddle to my writing. I want to write more feature articles in my weblog during 2004. If I may be pompous for a second: I want to be the ‘Tom Wolfe of blogging’, sans the cream-coloured livery. I want to write colourful, original, fact-based literary journalistic articles anchored in the reality of web development in the 21st century. The keyword for me has always been originality. I’ll be mixing articles on Web Development (includes blogging, social software, yada yada) and fictional stories on a tech theme. I expect my Technorati inward links will take a hit, because I won’t usually be baiting other bloggers or throwing in my 2 cents on the latest hot topic in the blogosphere. My Game Neverending article from last week may be a good indicator of what’s to come – it attracted no comments and some people who read it may’ve wondered if I’d been chewing peyote when I wrote it. But it’s the sort of article that people will more likely stumble upon in a few months time via Google, rather than finding it in a link from Robert Scoble.

Speaking of Google inward links, I’m getting a whole bunch of people coming here via the following search query: “writing a novel”. It’s because one of my Nanowrimo blog posts started with the words “Writing a novel…”. I notice I’m number 5 on the Google search results for that phrase. Incidentally I’m also number 1 for the phrase “whiteness of the whale”, due to an earlier post of mine with that title. So I apologize to all those students coming here looking for choice words to nick for their Moby Dick essays – I don’t imagine a post about the Semantic Web is what they’re after, but that’s what they get. Ironic huh.

This post btw is not an example of ‘literary journalism’, it’s just me blathering away late at night like other online diarists! But I’ll be a snob and call what I’m doing ‘Biographical Non-Fiction’ 😉 Speaking of biography, I watched a very interesting tv show tonight on the History Channel (which has recently started in New Zealand). It was Biography of the Millenium and Johan Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press, was number 1. Bill Gates came in at number 41, but Tim Berners-Lee didn’t make the list. Hmm, Gutenberg got number one for inventing a way to publish information in books, but Berners-Lee didn’t make it for inventing a mass-scale information network?

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