Mapping Mideast Bloggers

After a rather hurried afternoon and evening of a) learning Microsoft’s Virtual Earth API, and b) Figuring out how to twist and bend it into the shapes I wanted, I’ve managed to integrate TTLB’s Middle East blog tracking with Virtual Earth’s rather impressive mapping capabilities.
The new map-based tracking page class=”textlink”>is here.
I’ve made a first pass through the regional blogs that TTLB has been tracking thus far, and have done my best to assign them locations appropriately. I didn’t get through every single last one, however, and for some blogs, it is a bit difficult to determine exactly where their authors are located.
So: if you are a blogger actually blogging from the conflict zone, by all means, please e-mail me and let me know your location. Ultimately, I need to plug your location in as a latitude and longitude (i.e., 31.7800 35.2300 for Tel Aviv), but if you live in a major city that is shown on the maps, just tell me that and I can look up the lat/long.
Even if you are not a blogger in the Middle East, however, I need help!. There are many things I could do with the existing map integration and blog tracking to vastly improve their usefulness in tracking the conflict — but there are only so many hours in a day, and I’ve only got these ten fingers pounding on the keys.
I am looking, therefore, for volunteers who would be willing to help me with online research and general gofering. Tasks would include things such as hunting down the latitude and logitude for bloggers in the region and other ‘net searches. Requirements are that you be a blogger with an established weblog and be willing to put up with me — other than that, anyone may apply! In exchange for such assistance, I’ll list you & your blog on the tracking page as an Editorial Lackey, or somesuch. If you’re interested — you guessed it: e-mail me.
That’s enough for one day. Goodnight to all, and to those in the conflict zone: may you and yours find safety, peace, and freedom….

Tracking Page: Middle Eastern Bloggers on the Crisis

I’ve set up a class=”textlink”>brand new tracking page to monitor the unfolding crisis in the Middle East. The page monitors Israeli and Lebanese blogs and aggregates their latest & most linked posts continually throughout the day, and additionally shows the most popular posts on the conflict from non-local bloggers.
The code is working well now, but I’d welcome suggestions on blogs that I may be missing. If you have suggestions for blogs that should be added (or if you think I’ve included a blog inappropriately), please let me know via e-mail.
One note on the layout of the page: if you’re wondering why sometimes the page shows Israeli bloggers at the top and sometimes it shows the Lebanese — it’s on purpose. I’ve deliberately coded the page to randomly select the layout each time it is generated so that each community of bloggers gets the top-of-the-page exposure equally…

— N.Z.

Update: After prompting by Mickey Kaus, I did some searching for Palestinian blogs, and found a bunch. There is now a section devoted to Palestinian bloggers on the page, so check it out. As for why it wasn’t there in the first place: I simply was following links from bloggers I know to find ‘local’ blogs, and for whatever reason, none of them led to the cluster of Palestinian blogs I’ve now found. Still, it was fairly dense of me not to think of searching harder, so sorry about that, and thanks to Mickey for nudging me.
On a related note, a word on how I’ve selected the blogs for listing. My criteria has been simple: for each section, I’m looking for blogs that:

  • Are written by a resident or expatriate of the area
  • Have been updated within the past several days
  • Appear to be posting regularly on the conflict

I’ve no interest in filtering based on content or views, but I have filtered out local bloggers who choose to focus their blogging on poetry or art rather than war. Quite possibly a wise choice for them, I suppose, but not terribly useful for the purposes of the tracking page…

Front Page Update

As you may have noticed, I just released yet another update to the new design. The class=”textlink”>front page of TTLB is now wholly devoted to tracking the latest and most popular posts from across the blogosphere: there, you’ll now see a rundown over the past several days of all the most-linked posts, along with links to related posts and topics.
More to come, and feedback is welcome as always…

the new ttlb

It’s a big day here at TTLB: Welcome to the new release!
Let’s cut right to the chase. Here are just some of the goodies you’ll now see around the site:

  • Topics, topics, topics: TTLB’s topic-tracking functionality has been completely overhauled, and is now focused laserbeam-like on all the most interesting subjects being discussed in the blogosphere. Check the top of the front page for the at-a-glance view, or view the full topics page for history graphs on all the latest topics.
  • Search: Don’t like the topics TTLB is tracking? Use the search function and make your own topic page. If you’ve signed up for a free account, you can even save your search to your very own ‘My Topics’ page for future reference.
  • Blog Details: The blog details page has been expanded with completely new functionality, including a Metrics tab showing how a blog is doing in terms of traffic and links compared to its historical average (is this a “hot” day or a “cold” day?) and new spiral graphs which show which blogs are linking to the tracked blog — and which ones it is linking to.
  • New Design: With the help of the talented Karl Egenberger, we also have a new look to go with all the new features. Karl enhanced the existing bear logo, added a spiffy (and far more accurate) new portrait of the lovely Lady M, and helped clean up the graphics and styles throughout the site.

While the new release has been in testing for quite some time, there are sure to be glitches, so please bear with me in these first days as we shake them out. In particular, be aware that Ecosystem rankings and link-counts are in flux due to some of the work around the release, but will stabilize back to normal over the next few weeks. (So no “why did my ranking drop???” queries for at least a little while, please.)
Much effort has gone into this launch, and so I’d definitely welcome feedback, comments, and suggestions. Take a look around, get to know the new look, and please — let me know what you think!
N.Z. Bear
Update 8:28pm PDT: Ah, nothing like an Instalanche to provide some nice performance/load testing! One feature — the spiral Inbound/Outbound links graphs on the blog details pages — appears to be causing performance problems. I’ve disabled it for now whilie I work on a fix…