Driving Under the Influence of OPML
The audience for podcasts in the Irish language is small, relatively speaking. So you’d think I would have more sense than to reduce it even further by going all geeky and talking about outlines, OPML and open directories? You would, wouldn’t you?
I think this is the strangest podcast I’ve done. Driving around Ennis, getting my car NCT’d, trying to explain OPML directories, speaking in Irish, while my baby son chimes in from the back seat (he’s an anti-geek device!)
I’ve been following James Corbett‘s blogging with great interest for the longest time. Some people, like James, grasp the potential of things like OPML straight away. The rest of us have to wait until those people demonstrate that potential for us.
I really twigged what OPML was about when I saw the Indiepodder Directory – and got the idea of how a distributed directory could work. Unfortunately that project has, it would appear, been somewhat neglected. A good while back I hacked together an OPML outline for Celtic language podcasts and mailed Adam Curry asking to get it included on Indiepodder – without any reply. Not to worry, though, because that’s one of the advantages of OPML. As Dave Winer has explained it, there really is no “top” of the directory. So while it gives a large number of volunteer users the power to organise their information, if key volunteers get distracted it does not fall apart. Indiepodder.org may be effectively defunct, but the guts of that directory is not on indiepodder.org at all, but merely included in it. The various nodes which make up the indiepodder.org directory can be, and already have been, included in other directories also.
It’s over 6 months since James suggested I do an Open Directory of resources in the Irish language. I’ve been distracted by all kinds of things in the meantime, and hampered by the dearth of user-friendly OPML editing tools. (Anybody know how do I set the “type” attribute of “outline” using Dave’s OPML editor?) But I kept being encouraged by seeing the work James, Rowan, Grazr and others were doing. We’ve learned how to render and browse OPML beautifully – and in doing so developed some new ideas about how feeds can be discovered and consumed – by grazing OPML.
Then last week, I reported in my column for Lá on how Damien Mulley had created 166 watchlists, John Handelaar had OPML-ised them and James had included that OPML in the Open Irish Directory, resulting in an easily browseable (grazeable!) list of Irish TDs (members of parliament) which expands into a watchlist for each of their names. What more encouragement did I need? It was time to act!
So today’s posts and podcasts are by way of announcing Eolaire Oscailte na Gaeilge, the Open Directory of the Irish Language. It’s just a start, but I think I know a community of volunteers who can help to build on it! Tús maith, leath na h-oibre!