The Microcontent Client

An interesting and important article on where “web content” is currently at, and where it is going. It takes in content creation, aggregation, tools, and the culture surrounding all of these. (Via

“The microcontent client is an extensible desktop application based around standard Internet protocols that leverages existing web technologies to find, navigate, collect, and author chunks of content for consumption by either the microcontent browser or a standard web browser. The primary advantage of the microcontent client over existing Internet technologies is that it will enable the sharing of meme-sized chunks of information using a consistent set of navigation, user interface, storage, and networking technologies. In short, a better user interface for task-based activities, and a more powerful system for reading, searching, annotating, reviewing, and other information-based activities on the Internet.”

I certainly find my web habits moving in the direction outlined in this article. I skim, I scan, and I have twenty-three browser tabs open as I’m writing this. Opera suits these browsing habits of mine: tabs, mouse gestures, opening new windows in the background, search functions integrated in the address bar, the ability to quickly turn images of/on… All of these functions make it a lean, mean, browsing machine.

I have also been thinking more about RSS, and RSS tools. After seeing NetNewsWire yesterday, I have now also found FeedReader (free) and NewzCrawler ($25). NetNewsWire is Mac-only (and drop-dead gorgeous), but the latter two are for Windows (and this just after I vowed to give up Windows….). They also implement the tri-pane interface of news reading that will be familiar to users of Outlook/Outlook Express and other similar mailreaders. When I first saw the tri-pane interface, I immediately thought that this was a much better idea than the single web page summary view that AmphetaDesk and Aggie do by default. (And I’m now wondering how long it will be before it’s integrated into Outlook Express…)

Just after I’d written down that very thought here on my blog yesterday, Morbus Iff (the creator of AmphetaDesk) sent me a very friendly email asking me why I wasn’t happy with AmphetaDesk, and whether there was anything he could do to improve the experience for me. Wow! I thought. Someone who actually takes an interest in their users! (And not in a creepy, stalky way, either!)

His email also got me thinking about why I was less than 100% happy with AmphetaDesk. A lot of it comes down to that tri-pane thing. But later on in the evening (well into the morning, actually), I had a blinding flash of the obvious: AmphetaDesk is a template-based system, so I can write my own DHTML tri-pane interface for it!


And because AmphetaDesk is also available for Linux, that would sort me out with a tidy little RSS reader. It also gives me something to strive for on Linux, which may take my mind away from the Windows withdrawal pains.

The only downside of this is that Opera 6’s support for DHTML is…less than optimal. So I’m going to have to code up the templates to work with Mozilla rather than my favourite browser. On the other hand, Opera 7 should be creeping ever closer, and it will have yummy DOM/DHTML support.

Warning: bizarreness ahead

And while I’m on the subject of Opera… For some odd reason, if you Google for “Opera 7”, there’s a tiny, two-paragraph weblog entry of mine that pops up inside the top 10 results.

According to my server statistics, this “article” (I’m almost embarrassed to grant it that status) pulls in about 30-40 hits a week. Because it links to Opera’s own web site, some people inevitably follow the link. Which in turn means that this article is ending up in Opera’s web server referer logs.

That’s the only reason I can think of that Opera would list the article on their page of press cuttings.

So now I’m getting inbound traffic from Opera’s web site. And the inbound link may boost the original article’s page ranking on Google, so that it stays high up in the search results for “Opera 7”, even though I have no more of an idea when it will be released than the next person.

I would love to know! If, by any chance, someone from Opera ends up reading this blog entry, please drop me a line and give me a hint as to when it’s going to be put on beta! Or better still, send me a copy of the alpha code. I’m dying to see it…