A decade ago, metadata was all the rage among the geeks. You could tag, geo-tag, or machine-tag Flickr photos. Flickr is from the old community. That’s why you can still do Creative Commons searches at Flickr. But you can’t on Instagram. They don’t care about metadata. From an end-user point of view, RSS is out of favor. The new companies are not investing in creating metadata to make their work discoverable and shareable.

from: Joho the Blog – [berkman] Anil Dash on “The Web We Lost”

Some great reading this morning starting at How the Web is being body-snatched ~ Stephen’s Web through Doc Searls Weblog – How the Web is being body-snatched to the post with the above quote.

This quote really jumped out at me, I’ve loved the flickr API for a long time and used it for lots of fun. I enjoy Instagram too, for its easy, quick hit, and lightweight community.

I really hope that we are not drifting away from such valuable resources with apis and rss feeds to the easy and locked in.

One of the things that makes the huge gap between sites like flickr and facebook is who has access to data and how they access it. When you share on flickr you are doing something quite different, and potentially much more valuable than sharing on facebook or google+.

I hope that open never gets old.

Woke up this morning to a barrage of tweets about Posterous turning off on April 30.

We use posterous for EDUtalk and I have a few other posterous blogs too.

This is not too unexpected, I bloged about it a couple of times, Posterous Worries and More Posterous Worries but it is still disappointing, who doesn’t like great stuff for free.

I’ve blogged enough about how good posterous is and the features that make it great for EDUtalk. I am going to make a list here of what is needed with some possible solutions and hopefully get some feedback.

  • Cost, posterous is free. I am not opposed to paying for stuff on the web, I pay for hosting here and elsewhere, the icecast part of Radio EDUtalk, flickr, pinboard and other stuff but we don’t want to pay too much for EDUtalk.
  • Space, last year at some point I downloaded everything from EDUtalk (There is a mac app for that) and it was well over 1GB then, there are >1000 posts. We need to move to a flexible hosting, or to use the Internet Archive for hosting our larger files.
  • Upload size, posterous allows upload of fairly large audio files through a browser. Other options may mean ftp, not a hugh problem but.
  • Media handling, folk can email in all sort of audio to edutalk and posterous deals with it and displays it nicely.
  • Open posting by email, I’ve not seen this else where, folk can email an audio file to EDUtalk and it is posted to the moderation queue, this makes for a very easy entry to podcasting, covering events by lots of folk easy, My favourite feature about posterous.
  • The Posterous API, recently broken, this allowed us easily to pull in audioBoos and ipadio phlogs. The MetaWeblogAPI or the FeedWordpress plugin (not sure how it handles attachments) would let us do this with WordPress.

From my knowledge and experience the simplest fit would be self hosted WordPress, ftp upload of Radio EDUtalk episodes (either to the sit or to the Internet Archive), forget the submission via email, or do this manually. Use the MetaWebLogAPI or FeedWordpress to bring in other content.

An Opportunity?

I’d like better, I’d love to keep all the features of EDUtalk and even get back the old phone in feature (that used to be handled by gabcast). I’ve also got some interest in using something else from the ubiquitous wordPress (ironic since I’ve spent a ton of time arguing for WP in Glow recently).

I wonder too how well the various WordPress posterous import solutions would handle our content, for example some of our ipadio and audioboos use the players from these sites, some use just a lonk that posterous turned into a posterous player and most recently we have been downloading and reposting the files to fix a feedburner/audioboo problem!

I’d love to hear some ideas of the best way to move this forward.

Update: just see this: Posthaven is the safe place for all your posts forever

When will Posthaven be able to do _______?

Everything you expected and liked about Posterous will eventually be in Posthaven. Things like post by email, multiple users, pages and links, full HTML theming, and the bookmarklet.

We’ll deploy the features and let you know as soon as they’re available.

from: Posthaven is the safe place for all your posts forever

I’ve reserved edutalk on www.posthaven.com for $5 as a possibility.

I’ve been aware of the Primary Games Arena 1 for a while. I only noticed yesterday that it had an API The api lets you search for games and returns some xml. XML makes me think of Glow 2. Glow handle xml quite nicely, unfortunately for most teachers this needs a knowledge of XSL, which I do not think is common. I’ve managed in the past to figure out way of displaying RSS using XLS so though I’d try to do the same with the Primary Games search results. It turned out to be pretty straightforward as the xml returned by Primary Games is nice and simple.

Displaying a set of Primary Games in Glow

Glow xml Webpart Empty

You use the xml webpart. This part has 4 main fields: xml link, xml editor, xsl link and xsl editor, of these you only use 2, using either the link the direct editor field for both xml or xsl.

The way it work is that the xml is loaded and modified by the XSL. The XML webpart can be usefully used to display any html fragment without any XSL at all, but in the case of RSS or xml from the primary games arena it need to be formatted.

For example the url:

in the XML Link field produces an XML list of games tagged money. Clicking that link will show you what you would get in glow if you do not use XSL, not pupil friendly at the moment. We can use XSL to transform this. As a first test I used this xsl in the XSL Editor field.

This produces this: (click for flickr page):

primary games in glow

On the glow page the images launch the Primary games page with the game in an iFrame.

It then becomes simple to repeat this for other searches and give pupils sets of games, just replace money in the xml link with another word.

We can also pass around webparts already loaded with the xml address and the xsl and these can be imported onto a glow page. Here is a the money one. You could import that onto a glow page and just change the search string at the end of the url to get a different set of games to display.

Taking it a bit further

After doing the above brief test with glow I asked @johnmclear, one of the folk behind Primary Games, if there were any other parameters that could be used on the search, this is what I got back:

John McLear

@johnjohnston can add it. Email me an ideal request/response
Sat Jul 09 12:19:28 +0000 2011 from HootSuite captured: Mon, 11 Jul 11 16:11:04 +0100

A few hours, a couple of email and some tweets later John had updated the Primary Games API to include subject, year, keystage, topic, unit and gametype!

This man we can now use, for example: ?q=money&y=3&g=Strategy as a query and get all the money games suitable for year 3 (=primary 4 in Scotland) that are categorised as Strategy games.

Of course the API can also be used outside Glow on the web via php. Here is a page that lets you search and display games: Primary Games Arena API and here is the Source.

I’ve extended this a little to create a page that can search and display games in the same way but also supplies an embed code to embed the code on webpages, blogs or glow.

Primary Games API with Embed codes

To embed in a blog you just need to switch to the html view in the editor and paste in the code. In Glow you can use an XML webpart and past into the xml editor field.


Can you organise the planets in our solar system?

The embed code here was edited to make the background yellow.

Of course you could simply create a screenshot of a game page, upload it and make it a link, but this is quicker and loads the games inside the Primary Games ecosystem this has a nice wee toolbar allowing pupils to gain achievements by playing games, rate games anonymously and get links to other games. You also get the advantage of the folk at Primary games having already categorised a huge range of games suitable for primary aged pupils. Many thanks to @johnmclear for the extremely quick additions ot the API.


1. Primary Games Arena run by Primary Technology an company who run a fleet of commercial and free ICT services for primary schools.

2.When Glow was introduced I was one of the many folk who were very disappointed that Glow did not have tools for handling RSS: At the Scottish Learning Festival, on RM developer was asked about RSS and answered, ‘What is RSS?’! It turns out glow did and does support RSS and XML in general.

The footnotes are a wee experiment to make my posts a little less verbose, I used a technique describe on Daring Fireball: About the Footnotes.

One of the interesting things about twitter is the speed that tweets flow past, always something different to look at and always something to miss. I quite often use the favourite tool in twitter, especially on my phone, to ‘bookmark’ tweets of interest. some of these are ones that just amuse me:


And some contain links I am interested in following up later. I sometimes use TweetDeck‘s filter to filter out links containing links. A while back I made a wee web page to do the same thing:


Fav tweets with links

This joins one or two almost useful twitter toys I’ve made, as opposed to a few more useless ones.

Warning, little educational content ahead, this is a holiday post.

I’ve been messing around a wee bit with the twitter api, twitter tester, Tweets to TeachMeetPerth and twitter presenter, the last in response to Ewan’s tweet: Can one present by Twit?.

None of these are what could be called polished jobs even given my limitations but the TwitterApi Documentation is pretty straightforward.

I have also created a few of rss twitter bots the most useful of which is ScotEduBlogs which tweets the blogs post title as they arrive on ScotEduBlogs this uses the twitterfeed.com : feed your blog to twitter – post RSS to twitter automatically I think.

So it seems time for my first twitterbot ObliqueTweet, tweet anything @ObliqueTweet and it will reply with a random Oblique Strategy (currently the 4th edition).

The Oblique Strategies are a set of cards devised by Brian Eno and artist Peter Schmidt to solve (artistic) problems by drawing a card randomly. There is a lot of information at The Oblique Strategies. There have been a number of computer programs to show Strategies at random, web and download versions. (I even made a supercard project back in 2002). There is a nice php version, minimal design | Oblique Strategies, which you can download.

The ObliqueTweet twitterbot, just grabs the most recent @ replies to ObliqueTweet and then grabs a random Oblique Strategies and sends it back as a reply.

The script is automatically run using http://www.webbasedcron.com once every minute.

I am wondering now if I can think of a useful twitterbot, any ideas?

The questions are at the end feel free to skip down there if you know anything about gps.

I spent quite a while over a year ago messing with the google maps api. eventually I made an interface for creating maps, uploading photos and placing them on the map. This gave me a lot of fun, but I found it too time consuming for children to use.
The earlier this year Google My Maps came out which was a lot neater than my effort, and I’ve used it a few times, mostly pasting in the links flickr provides to add photos.

Cort-ma-Law from Lecket hill This week I stared another one with a few photos from a walk.
I was a bit frustrated about placing the photos on the map as I found it hard to figure out where place where in the rather featureless Campsies.

Flickr map Sorry

I switched to using flickr own maps but found them it a bit slow (that might be my aging mac).
I found it even more difficult to get the photos placed with any accuracy on flickr maps, although the interface for adding and looking at the photos is very slick, especially when you grab a bunch of pictures and throw them on a single spot.
Perhaps I just do not go far enough so need to much detail on a map to make my walk look like a walk rather than a spot.

All this made me think about my previous experiments, especially as there was an article in macuser about using the flickr and google maps apis combined. I had just finished using phpflickr to make a community gallery so though this might be quite quick.

Unfortunately the macuser article relies on a flickr api flickr.photos.geo.getLocation which depends on you having placed the photo on the flickr map (I was beginning to go round in circles).

Then I remembered Adam Burt‘s Applescript for getting geo tags from Google Earth ready for pasting into flickr. Adam does amazing things with blogs, google Earth/maps and geoblogging.
The appleScript copies to the clipboard geo tags of the location showing on google earth at that time.
It is much easier to figure out where you are on google earth, it has a smoother gui than google maps and a better resolution (of where I was at least). so I geotagged a bunch of photos, grabbed a new google maps API key and got busy.

Flickr googlemap mashup

Of course at that time I didn’t know about flickr.photos.geo.getLocation depending on flickr maps.And I didn’t know a tag geo:lon=-4.704382114809 would be returned from the API as machine_tags=”geo:lon=4704382114809 geo:lat=56258859999999″ ie without the minus sign or point so I spent a fair bit of time staring at a blank map, as the google maps API didn’t understand what I was sending to it. Anyway to cut a very long afternoon short, I delved deeper than I had been before into the data returned from flickr.photos.getInfo and finally clunked together a couple of files, the first uses phpflickr to grab the info from flickr and store it in a file, the second pulls that info using the google maps api and create a map.
I did try pulling the information and creating the map all at once, but that took too long. The data from flickr obviously does not need to be updated very often so that job was hived off, speeding up the maps creation. The unfinished product is here: John’s Flickr Map Mashup.

This is just scratching the surface of what could be done, it would be better maybe to create different maps for different days or for particular tags. if all of my tagged photos go on the same map it might eventually be too crowded and need some pagination.

Help wanted: I’d like to know a bit more about geo tagging and perhaps GPS:

  1. Would it be possible to get data from a GPS device and add it to the EXIF data of a photo before uploading it?
  2. Does Flickr undersatand embeded gps data?
  3. Is there a cheap enough GPS device that would work with a mac?

I am thinking of a work flow that includes the tagging of photos before uploading, maybe in iphoto with AppleScript or a SuperCard project, I think I’ve done some EXIF data extracting so imagine that adding can’t be that much harder.

Any ideas that do not involve a lot of expense gratefully received.