I've completed the second phase of the Watching the Watchers relaunch, which I began in late May. The site has become a digest of interesting news and commentary from sites that permit redistribution. As you can see, the traffic graph's become a lot more fun to look at lately.
The site now includes stories that were published under a Creative Commons license that permits reuse. If you're unfamiliar with Creative Commons, it's a popular way to allow your copyrighted work -- whether it's text, photos, audio or video -- to be reused by others under terms that you select. On the RSS Advisory Board, we use the license to share the RSS specification, RSS best practices profile and other documentation we author. Some people have used our license to create foreign-language translations of those documents.
Here's a sampling of stories I've republished on Watching the Watchers that came in over the commons:
- End Public Radio Fund Drives
- SEC Must Constrain Abusive Short Selling
- Tweet Could Land Guatemalan in Jail
- A Salute to the Iranian People
I wrote a Java application that looks for weblog content shared under Creative Commons and a PHP web application that lets me manually review stories for potential republication. So far, the richest source of reusable content is coming from WordPress blogs because they include content:encoded, an RSS element explicitly defined as the full text of a weblog entry. WordPress does not use the Creative Commons RSS namespace in its feeds, so my Java application loads the web page associated with a blog entry and looks for HTML markup that identifies a license. Here's an example of that markup:
The contents of this website are licensed under a <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/">Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License</a>.
As I was reviewing stories that came in, I decided to expand the focus of the site beyond liberal news and commentary and make it non-partisan. If I find something compelling that's worth sharing with a wider audience, I don't want to leave it out because it expresses a conservative or libertarian viewpoint or isn't political at all.