Relaunching Watching the Watchers

Watching the WatchersI recently relaunched Watching the Watchers as an Utne Reader-style digest of interesting political news and commentary published on sites that permit redistribution. In the first phase, most of the content is coming from Daily Kos, which has the following license:

Site content may be used for any purpose without explicit permission unless otherwise specified.

Hundreds of diary entries roll through Daily Kos every day, and a lot of interesting stuff falls through the cracks. I only consider Kos diaries that didn't make the site's front page or get linked on the front page in the 24 hours after they were published. Stories are chosen manually, not through an automated process, and all republished stories have a link to the author at the top and the original Kos page at the bottom.

Here's a sampling of stories selected for Watchers:

I'm trying some new things with the site, including a stripped-down design that was inspired by how Google News displays wire stories from AP and AFP. I also decided not to accept comments.

Because the Kos license permits redistribution "unless otherwise specified," when a diary indicates that it should not be redistributed or contains a copyright statement, I honor that. I also would stop republishing anybody who told me to stop, of course. Some concerns were raised by Kos users when one found his work on the site, but for the most part the community supports reuse. Site founder Markos Moulitsas made this comment:

To be clear this is perfectly cool and within site rules. If anyone has a problem with it, which is perfectly understandable, slap a copyright notice at the bottom of your diaries ...

I'm a content anarchist, so I don't try to hoard and control what's written on this site (even the stuff I myself write). But I've got no problems with people disagreeing and wanting to control their own material.

Although Kos has RSS feeds for the front page and user diaries, so much is posted there that the feeds don't contain all of it. I wrote a Java application that parses the links on the front page and diary page. The Apache HTTP Client Java library makes it easy to retrieve web documents.

In the next phase of the project, I'll be adding the ability to republish Creative Commons-licensed content.


Type II diabetes is entirely preventable. 4 years ago, I was told I was headed straight in that direction. I changed my diet, lost over 30 pounds, and now I have no risk of developing diabetes.

There are people I have sympathy for - type I diabetes patients come to mind. Type II? Not so much.

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