Victus Spiritus


14 million ways to skin a cat - web programming

28 Oct 2009

(note: I don't support the  skinning of cats)

Web Programming Languages

While I'm relatively new to web programming, there is a fairly large barrier to entry to this wonderful world of creation for someone like myself. You see, I like to choose the best tool for a job and get to work. The problem is, there are too many damn good tools for web programming, and I'm not knowledgeable enough to decide on which is the right one to use for any given project.

The short list of programming languages & tools I've come across and used in the past few months:

Each of the above tools is complex in it's own right. The sum of all these tools is dizzying in their combined intricacies. Any web based project may interact with many (or all) of the above tools, languages, APIs, and/or databases. These implementation choices are in addition to hosting options (dedicated server, virtual server, cloud scaled servers).

As an example, I spent a couple of weeks just tooling with the Friendfeed API v2. Then a few weeks later the business was purchased by Facebook. With an unclear future (Friendfeed is only receiving minimal developer resources/time) that time may have been ill spent, except for the fact that I was able to experience the Google Application Engine for the first time. Google should be around for a few more years at least ;).

The Specific Problem:

To build a tool that:

  1. create a user profile to associate several different social media channels together (aggregator)
  2. categorize social comments (microblogging, tweets, blog comments, blog posts) through automation, and user feedback
  3. enter the extracted tags, any confidence or weights into a database associated with the original social media URL
  4. allow users to adjust the tags, and any weights with an interface
  5. provide personalized ads to the users from web hosts with a plugin/widget/adbox
  6. provide utilities to the user
    • 2-way search tools to the user
    • passive or active search for other users who share their interests
    • passive or active search within other microblog/blog posts related to their tags/topics of interest in a dynamic way (update in real time as folks naturally use social channels)
    • game like behavior must be fundamental to the process to aid user adoption and enjoyment. i.e. minigames based on semantic categorization

Of course this design may or may not be something users are even interested in. We plan on learning from people who play with the various product/tool versions.

I'd like to help develop additional tools to help me find information that's relevant to my interests (a virtual personal assistant) without having to know what specific search terms to enter. I wouldn't mind targeted/personal ads that are relevant to my interests, in fact I'd prefer them to banner (or completely inappropriate) ads.