Life after Erik’s Linkblog

20 06 2007

It’s been more than a month since Erik Thauvin put his linkblog to rest, and I really miss it.

I’d always wondered how he found the time and motivation to keep it going day after day, so I understand and respect his decision to stop doing it. But it’s still sad to lose a resource that’s been so consistently useful over the seven years or so that I’ve been reading it.

Sure, in this age of blogs, feeds, search engines and community-driven sites there’s no shortage of information. With a good feed reader you can whizz through long lists of stuff to read or ignore as you see fit. However, each such source has different characteristics (volume, subjects, selectivity, timing etc), and I’ve not yet found anything that hits quite the same sweet spot as Erik’s linkblog – a daily, concise list of well-chosen links covering a broad range of Java-centric news, articles, and announcements, without any unecessary bells and whistles, and with no hidden agenda. To be fair, it was never my sole source of information, nor even my main one. Mostly it just seemed like a convenient way to catch anything important or interesting that had otherwise slipped through the net. Without it, no matter what other sites and feeds I use, I still feel like I’m missing something.

Maybe it’s all in my head. Maybe the more sources of information you have, the more you worry about what else you might be missing. The feeling that somewhere out there is that magical, perfect feed that everybody else knows about, but that you’ve somehow never come across. Or is that just me?

Anyway, now that Erik’s linkblog has ceased to be, I’ve been looking for any other such linkblogs in the hope of finding a suitable replacement. I thought there would be lots of them, and it would just be hard to find any that I liked.

Instead, it looks like pretty slim pickings, and I’ve struggled to find anything similar. OK, is effectively one great big global linkblog, but I don’t think that’s what I’m looking for. Unless I’m missing something, the idea of a linkblog such as Erik’s seems all but dead.

Come to think of it, the links to the “Quick News Items” from the Java Posse‘s podcasts are probably the nearest thing I’ve found, though being just one part of their podcasts this isn’t quite frequent enough or comprehensive enough to entirely do the trick. (By the way, if you’ve not come across the Java Posse guys yet, they are well worth checking out – they do weekly-or-so podcasts covering varied technical stuff including news and general discussions and some cracking interviews, all done with a great sense of humour).

So what am I missing? Anyone know of any other good quality linkblogs for Java and general IT stuff? Anyone found a way to cure their own no-more-Eriks-linkblog blues?

Alternatively, maybe I should start a linkblog of my own? I guess the simplest way to get started would be to use to capture links during normal browsing, then publish from there to a blog once per week or so. But would it be any good, and would anybody ever read it?

Maybe we need a handful of us to all start such linkblogs, and let natural selection reign. Anyone willing, or already doing this? Maybe if lots of us started such linkblogs we could also start a site where they could be centrally registered, accessed, categorized, rated etc?

So is it time for “real” linkblogs to be reborn into the “Web 2.0” world, or are we all happy to rely on our own scouring of, theserverside, infoq, artima, javablogs, javalobby, cafeaulait, DZone, Digg, Technorati, slashdot, and all the rest?



6 responses

20 06 2007
Pure Danger Tech » Blog Archive » The power of human filtering

[…] just read a lament from Mike Kaufman about the passing of Erik’s Linkblog. I am similarly sad to see this resource (that […]

20 06 2007

PopUrls makes a nice, quick aggregation of some of the better sites. DZone seems to be steadily improving and is standing our as the diamond in the ruff.


20 06 2007


Thanks for the link to PopUrls, hadn’t seen that before. DZone’s good at what it does, but as Alex Miller says at Pure Danger Tech, there’s real value in human filtering (and maybe adding context and discussion).

The dilemma is that the volume of stuff seems too much for human filtering to be practical (at least for unpaid, spare-time), but automated filtering, ranking etc just doesn’t seem smart enough yet.


21 06 2007
Rick Ross

Mike, Erik is a dear friend of mine, and he and I have spent countless hours discussing his linkblog, the tools that power it, DZone, and many other topics related to concentrating and distilling the best information for developers from the vastness of the web. Trust me when I say that I miss his linkblog and his excellent weekly contribution to the Javalobby newsletters, “The Pulse.”

But I feel there’s an important subtext that is missing, and I think Erik would agree. DZone is not a 3rd-party information resource assembled by a traditional publishing team of authors and editors. On the contrary, DZone is you – I found this blog entry because it was referenced from DZone.

DZone is NOT automated filtering, not at all. Instead, it depends utterly and completely on the participation of community members who give a tiny portion of their valuable time to VOTE in the queue. Social filtering works, but it only works when people actually vote. The cost (time and effort) is truly minimal, and the benefits are rich. Every single queue vote has enormous impact, and if more people voted regularly we could continue to raise the minimum threshold score required for a link to get promoted.

It’s so easy, but 99% of the people are absolutely passive consumers of the information, returning nothing to help the system deliver better results – the results they want! DZone is powered solely and completely by human filtering, and it can improve by leaps and bounds if more humans participate in the process. I hope every reader will understand this and consider taking the leap into the 1% or so who really make it work for everyone else. I see the numbers every day, and you’d be amazed how much power and influence a single vote can have.

Don’t lament too much, just begin voting and help drive a community effort that I guarantee you Erik has been involved in shaping since I first conceived of it. All it takes is a small effort, and the returns are abundant.


21 06 2007

Cheers Rick.

Apologies for any implication that DZone is “automated” ranking – of course it isn’t. I’ve recently started voting on DZone (and Digg), and will try to do so on any other such sites where I find good stuff.

I do like DZone, and hope you can get even more people to make the effort so that it improves further. But alongside skimming through lists of stuff to pick out what I do and don’t want to read (and voting, of course, and doing similar on other sites), I still feel there is also a place for a “trusted” individual’s pick of a small number of items they think especially noteworthy. At any rate, I find such things interesting, and sometimes useful as an alternative view.

I guess there’s two extremes: a few individuals putting a lot of effort and their own personalities and “smarts” into it, vs. large numbers of people making a little effort each, and “the wisdom of crowds”. To my mind both have their merits, and my ideal world would have room for both and/or something in-between. As ever, this is just my personal taste (and perhaps a generational thing – after all, I’ve had seven years of being able to enjoy Erik’s linkblog!).

Regards, Mike

21 06 2007
3monkeys » For Alex and Mike and the Passing of Erik’s Linkblog

[…] few bloggers are lamenting about the passing of Erik’s Linkblog. So Alex and Mike I give you a some reprieve and offer this bit of code you can insert into your own blog. While it […]

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