Over the years I've developed a number of web applications and blogs reflecting current interests and whims of the times. Most all of
them are zero-budgeted and zero-marketed meaning I did them for fun or for learning, or with the idea that I'd build a prototype and
maybe someone else would come along and offer to fully develop them. Today the world is moving away from the
desktop web so it's unclear what I'll output in the future since mobile development involves a much steeper learning curve.
Web applications don't get any simpler than this. "A Place to Paste" (yeah, literally www.aplacetopaste.com, is
just a big text field box you can keep open in a spare browser tab
or (and) accessible as a shortcut in your toolbar. When, while working on the web, you suddenly have cause to briefly store a bit of text
for whatever reason (say while editing an e-mail message and still toying with the right words), A Place to Paste
is the perfect place to do it. This is probably the single handiest thing I've ever done, though, as usual, it takes working with it a few hours or days for
normies to appreciate its value. There are a lot of similar web tools but they all screw it up by adding features and making simple pasting more
complex than it needs to be -- IMHO.
Battle Blog is a blogging engine with built-in democratic content controls. I initially conceived it as a gaming system anticipating
that people would become addicted to voting comments or articles up and down and even off the system in a fate dubbed "Battle Blasted". Later success of websites like Digg and Reddit proved me right.
Battle Blog enjoyed a flurry of distribution activity when I released the first .asp versions (the original was .cfm, Cold Fusion) but
it was always rather only "half-done" and in time people centralized their attention around products like Wordpress. Recent to this writing
I ultimately discontinued public distribution and continued to use it for personal publishing projects and websites only. You're reading this on a
Battle Blog engine.
This started as a service to help vet Craigslist ads. A person would enter a Craigslist ad ID and people who had experience in interacting
with the ad's poster could detail their stories, perhaps thwarting a scam or any other sort of waste of time. For some reason that initial
idea fell apart, or, I just saw a broader use for the service and migrated to what it is today, a system to track stuff. The idea is that
you apply an ID to something, one you literally make up, enter it into the database, then allow updates to that record over the lifetime
of that "thing" - whatever it is. If it's a box that gets passed from owner to owner over the decades, why, a person could look it up by
the ID and see where it's been. I have all kinds of ideas how this might be useful but have not developed the service to the extent it
might work on massive scale (people be like, "What about mobile QR code scanning; what about blockchain!?" -- yeah yeah I get it).
Next to Battle Blog, this is my favorite. Headline Prophet is an online registry where anyone can predict the news in headline news
format. Users submit a headline they think people will one day see for real, being sure to add their reasoning in the same submission.
Other users can then either "concur" or "doubt" the poster. The system includes a feature for others to call out online evidence that the
poster was "right". When that happens it's called a "fulfillment" and the original poster gains points. The idea is that in time there
will be people who are always right, and at least one person who has the highest number of fulfillments. The latter is referred to as
the true Headline Prophet for which it is written in sacred scrolls, there can only be one.
I really believe in the long term development
of this website despite my pained attempts at working with it. One day I'll white paper it and outsource the coding so that it is all done
"right". In the meantime a reasonable facsimile of the concept is up and running as a
subreddit, which is about as active as the actual website (sigh).
This is a remarkably useful project website of mine that allows people to exchange web links they find with other individuals, presumably
significant others like their spouses or affiliated small groups. It's better than e-mailing or IMing links because with one click from the
browser a link of interest is stored for casual recovery later. The system provides a method for determining when someone has viewed a link
and ways to dispose of the link when done, or to remark on it.
Linkhugger Promotional Spot - these Fiver girls did a great job!
LinkHugger was developed with the idea in mind that people will one day turn away from the "public web" and recoil back to an "interpersonal" one
where links to people are established on the basis of real trust in who they are. I suspect that is the sweet spot of online interaction
that will eventually become the dominant scale.
The project needs to be developed further, and definetely needs to be ported to today's mobile environment, but when utilized to the max
this is the best interpersonal link sharing system on the desktop web today.
It's called "NYC" People Fusion because this prototype project caters to the New York City online community. I started the project
while living there in 2013 or so. However, when I complete it, the engine will be easily portable to other cities or to organizations
seeking their own iterations.
NYC People Fusion is a sort of bulletin board similar to the ones you'd find via direct dialup in the 80s and 90s. It
allows people to build straightforward no-graphics online communities from which people are free to circulate their own
bulletins and interact with each other, all while remaining relatively anonymous. Most community systems today are
abandoning the anonymous user state, but this system holds out favoring controls for moderation rather than forcing over
identification. The vision is to see a lot of little "people fusion" systems like this being used by journalists
and other activists who need a way to communicate under non-Googleable usernames, away from the general public. The original web
had plenty of places like this at one time. The system doesn't itself protect ultimate identity, but it protects user identity from
other users and said search engine indexing.
Tampa Rail is a blog I started in the mid-90s watching and reporting on the development of urban transit rail solutions for
Tampa City and the surrounding region. Its primary output was, at one time, commentary and exhibitions championing Tampa's progress toward a
light rail (or any fixed guideway) system, while at the same time, criticizing and challenging opponents. Some of its history
is laid out here.
Today it's a
much tamer version of itself, not that you'd ever guess how flamboyant the site was given that most of the old content from those
hyperbolic days is now offline. My not actually living in Tampa blew away much of the blog's energy after 2008 even though I keep it up and running
as a static website today hoping to provide insight to newcomers and inspire future movements. There is still a blog component
to it but it is rarely updated.
The blog was well-known in the community and I believe influential. In 1996 it was formally acknowledged by Creative Loafing (a weekly
pop cultural circular then) as an editor's best
pick for blogs in the Tampa/St. Petersburg markets. As well the site brought me toe-toe with the city's political
class for a time, and helped me to develop strong relationships with the area's transportation leaders of the day.
Unintentionally, the site also drew me in as a local "stock enthusiast" on the subject of
light rail whenever a local media producer needed quotes or soundbites for a story. Humorously, I reflect, I was called to
rate the architectual models of light rail stations built by architectual students at the local community college. As more enthusiast looking forward to the day
I could ride light rail in Tampa, not legitimately commentate on any of the concept's structural facets, I turned down a request to play judge a second time when
the first time painted a clear picture of me having no idea what the hell I was talking about.
This blog was an effort to explore the evolving technologies involved with both living in and the running of cities. I
launched it while living in New York City figuring I was in just the right place to explore such questions. However, with work and other stresses in play
for most of that time, I never focused or got out enough to consistently mine content. My interest in the site deflated and on top of that I eventually I left the city.
Similar to my blog Tampa Rail, Wilkes-Barre Rail exists to track and advocate the development of urban rail in my hometown
of Wilkes-Barre, PA. It focuses on three projects: A light rail system connecting with at least Scranton; a New York City to Wilkes-Barre commuter rail
system (specifically the Lackawanna Cutoff Project); and more fantastically, a high speed rail system connecting New York City
to Wilkes-Barre, which nobody but me is actually talking about.
The blog also delves into the political and material development of the city which I feel is essential to the successful pursuit of
rail, and, bluntly, because I feel Wilkes-Barre needs it. The city of just 41,000 is currently straining from the lack of a frothy economy,
an influx of criminals from the big cities (likely thanks to home values which have fallen out), and an overall dismal aura helped in
no small part by high profile corruption stories like the Kids for Cash
scandal. I believe rallying around a lofty project like rail transit to New York City is one way to turn the course, crazy as the concept may
As is the case with Tampa Rail I am not currently living in Wilkes-Barre but nonetheless keep tight tabs on its formal and
social media output online, ready to chime in from afar on a moment's notice.
Tampa Media Bypass
This was a blog effort in which I systematically collected (what I believed at the time to be public domain) press releases from various
agencies around Tampa Florida, re-posted them as individual entries, and then allowed visitors to comment on them. Hence it was
meant to be a way for the public to directly remark on typically one-way communication streams from government sources that do not typically include "comments sections" for their releases the same way that newspaper websites often do.
It wasn't immediately apparent
at the time but this was a wildly successful blog; it garnered thousands of hits after several months. People who Googled
friends and family members who wound up on a Sherriff's arrest report, for example, found it a vent to rant through. This was before
After just a month I lost interest in keeping up with the daily spill of releases (at one point I was using my lunch hour to cull,
convert, and post) before logs began to reflect the onslaught of interest. That data showed up months later and convinced
me it was such a great idea that I wanted to perfect it and re-launch the concept, although I never actually did. In reflecting on the energy of traffic years later, I attempted New York City Press-Free
which aimed to duplicate the process as well as promote what I called "ground media", video and pictures taken by ordinary people
of breaking news events around the city. Again I simply lost interest in the project when confronted with the actual work of generating fresh content (and,
by this time in any event, the migration of people off the web was well in play).
I have a weird fascination with consumer-level technology's impact on crime. Things like burglar alarms or GPS for example. Simple
technology like that dramatically re-routes the usual flow of criminal behavior and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
While I certainly have no science to back it up I feel the new constraints of technology on individuals to act criminally is one
factor in the rising violence between the public and police. Criminals are less capable of doing what they want without immediate
detection or confrontation and these confrontations lead to more dramatic outcomes. A burglar, for example, needs to move faster
because of a burglar alarm going off, and even if he gets away, he then has to worry about webcam footage leading directly to a
warrant. And his whereabouts will be uncovered quickly because something he stole has an embedded GPS tracker. A confrontation is
much more likely than it might have been in the 60s when a burglary might just wind up an unssolved piece of paper in a file
cabinet rather than an armed warrant team knocking on the door of someone desperate enough to be burglarizing.
What does all this have to do with something called Perp Turkey? This blog documented cases of criminals brought down
by the consumer technology, parsing out their apprehension to illustrate how cameras, GPS, cell phones, etc., all played in the
process. A "Perp Turkey" was someone who committed a crime but even if were not in immediate custody, was nonetheless identified by
virtue of such technology. An example entry might be webcam footage of someone burglarizing a home.
There were a few entries before it fell dormant due to lack of energy and an efficient blogging process, but I still enjoy
thinking about the ideas it existed for.
Turkeys Gone Wrong
This blog was to be a pictorial gallery of turkeys that were burnt, crushed, demolished, drowned, or outright mangled in any
other number of ways, while being prepped for Thanksgiving Dinner (or, really, any holiday). The idea came about when one of
our own turkeys came out so bad I wanted to share it with the world. I bought the domain, set up the blog, posted a few
entries, then ... nothing. By next Thanksgiving the blog was dead. Still a fun lark though.
I attempted to operate a number of concepts under this title, porting and modifying the code base along all the while.
Its absolute original point was to provide a way for people to post information about their Yard Sales. Not just the
place, time and location, but also photographs of their spreads so that people could "shop" the yard sale before actually
That vision never saw a day of code before I decided to try a different direction. I noticed that places like Craigslist and
Ebay were really unsuited for selling or unloading small things worth, say, 25 bucks. People just didn't go through the
overhead hassle to try and transact things like that on those services. What people seemed to be actually doing in those
cases was dealing with people somehow hyperlocal to them by virtue of work or home address. You have a lamp you
really can't get more than $10 for, so you take it to work and find a co-worker who buys it. That's much easier than
posting a Craigslist ad and coordinating with a complete stranger who you then have to meet - all for just 10 bucks.
That iteration of Yard Bark tried to address that problem by building up a database of "places" such as office buildings
and zip codes which are places people identified with in real time in their own existing ongoing lives. If you worked in
the Acme building, for example, you could post about your $10 lamp where someone who also worked in the Acme building could
find it and offer to buy. When the deal was struck, you only need throw the lamp in the car and take it out while
hanging out at the water cooler. Not only is that safer, it beats inviting strangers to your home or driving for miles
out, for such little money.
As cool as that concept struck me, even that isn't how Yard Bark landed. At some point I stalled in the development
of the part of the project that allowed people to add a place on their own (as opposed to myself who would have to manually
catalog every building in every city Yard Bark would have been applicable in). Eager to "release" the product, I opted to
launch as a conventional classified ad system that wound up looking like any other. It worked but as it wasn't different,
and as I never went back to fixing the problem of "place population", nobody found cause to
use "just another" low-traffic classified ad system. During one of my many hosting ports I
simply left it behind. However, I still own the domain and one day might try any of these concepts with it again.