May 7, 2009

An Experiment Towards the Future

Social networks are finicky things - to develop a community of interest, you need to have both a compelling topic and a reasonable platform on which to host that community. I've been working with Drupal for several years now, and while I thoroughly love Drupal for its extensibility, in order to build a community of any complexity, you end up having to make so many modifications and add so many modules that the system can become glacially slow.

I stumbled upon Ning recently, though I've been on Ning networks before without realizing it, and found that I could put together a serviceable site that offered almost every capability that I'd been looking for in about twenty minutes. It's also separately hosted, which solves a lot of the concerns that I've had with my own self-hosted site at, especially given the high cost of hosting and my own rather precarious financial state at the moment. Given those concerns, and of course the option of playing with a new social media environment, I decided to set up a Metaphorical Web ning site.

I want to open this up to participation by anyone interested in the primary topics of the site. What are those, you ask? (You did, really, I heard you about to say exactly that! Really!!). Well, what I'm going to cover here moves beyond what I cover on, which focuses purely on XML issues, though I'll be covering that too. However, with Metaphorical Web, I have a somewhat broader agenda.

Specifically, the following topics come to mind:

  • The Metaphorical Web Side This is devoted more to future topics and issues
    • The New Publishing - neo-journalism, social networks, CMS's, DITA, DocBook, Drupal, Twitter, SVG, etc.
    • The Architect - discussions about the profession of information architects, software design, programming, methodologies, and so forth.
    • Macro-Economics and Systems Theory - Everything from relevant economic discussions to software agents to the Sims
    • Climate Change and Green Tech - A look at everything from climate change related stories (pro and con) to solar energy to infrastructure issues.
    • TomorrowVille - A change to play futurist, looking at trends and patterns that will shape our future.
  • The XML Side This is devoted to XML related topics in particular
    • Open Standards - W3C, OASIS, IETF, ECMA, and just about anyone else.
    • XRX Technology - XQuery, XSLT, XForms, RESTful Services, XProc and other Xy things
    • XBRL and Open Data - includes NIEM (and NIEM IEDPs), GML, ePub and other governmental XML standards, as well as looking at the intersection of IT and government.
    • The Semantic Web - RDF and RDFa, classification, taxonomy, OWL, SPARQL, and the way that we organize information.

It's a fairly daunting list, and is no doubt incomplete. My desire here is to pull together people that are interested in the trends of tomorrow, from the technologies to the social issues to how we actually survive on this planet. Feel free to join the group, to blog, to create new discussions, to post your events or your photos, to make yourself at home. Think of this as a debate salon, a place to discuss the world with others, and to put in your two cents worth.

I will be maintaining the site as well, but will continue the trend that I've started with it and keep it strictly focused on XML-related news exclusively. This site I'm hoping instead to focus on building community. Enjoy, kick back, and stay for a while.

Kurt Cagle
Managing Editor
The Metaphorical Web

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