Hosting Features For Web 2.0 Blogs

On the technical side of things, I want to discuss one very important feature of web hosting for filmmakers or anyone else. Frequently, a program running on a server will access other web sites behind the scenes (often using cURL). A major innovation of the vaguely defined Web 2.0 is that web applications can share data via XML (as in RSS) and other machine-readable formats. Previously, everything on the web was mostly stored in HTML, which ties the information to the layout, making it readable only by humans, making data-sharing tedious.

I’m working on some custom software that will use cross-site data sharing. But even Wordpress, the blogging software that powers this site needs it to fully function. Wordpress will certainly run without it, but here are some key features that require it:

  • Comment spam filtering. Wordpress uses the Akismet plugin. To check incoming blog comments against a database of known spammers. It doesn’t work if your site can’t access the Akismet server.

  • Trackbacks and pingbacks allow your blog to automatically post a comment on other blogs that your posts reference. This is a great way to encourage cross-site discussion and make other bloggers aware that you’re writing about them. It’s also great for driving traffic to your site by creating a link on another site.

  • Update services such as Pingomatic notify blog directories every time you update your site. Certain plug-ins can also directly ping Google and other search engines so your search listings are as up-to-date as possible. Great for driving search traffic to your site

  • Feed Syndication. You may want to have on your site a list of links or posts from other services such as Flickr, Twitter or There are Wordpress plugins that will use RSS or Atom feeds to automatically update these lists.

Even if you’re hosting service does support cross-server connections, it’s not a bad idea to make sure the above features are enabled and working correctly.

Unbelievably, my current hosting service,, does not allow this kind of intra-server data sharing. They claim that it’s a security problem, which I understand. But it’s so important that I have to switch to a different service and question the viability of their business. So I will be switching to Site5, which was recommended to me by Lance Weiler, who uses it to host the Workbook Project. So we’ll see how it turns out. (The fact that this site has been intermittently unavailable today has me more confident that this is the right decision.)

It can take two or three days to fully move a web site to a different hosting service, so don’t be surprised if you encounter some problems with this site. For starters, I’m going to disable comments on the old server to avoid synchronization issues. If there’s anything else that’s surprising or persists more than a few days, please do let me know.

BAFF Panel Video

Here is the video of the Big Apple Film Festival panel I did last month.

The video is also available in higher-bandwidth Flash or as an AVI download on my channel. Please comment here and/or on the YouTube Watch page, where you can rate it as well. As usual The Film Panel Notetaker has notes.

Peter Goldwyn and I disagreed on a few things, which made for a fun and interesting discussion. He seems like a smart guy, and it was good to hear from Peter and Clémence, who have very different sets of experiences.

Correction: In our discussion, I compared the theatrical film industry to the bottled water industry. I mis-stated some figures. Upon further research, I realized that the global bottled water business generates $50bn, whereas the U.S. market is closer to $10 billion (source: ResearchBuy MarketWikis). However, this is still more than the annual U.S. theatrical gross of $9.49bn (source: MPAA). So I think my point is still valid.

Artists as Entrepreneurs

A few bloggers have noticed a post that Netscape founder Marc Andreessen posted last week. He proposes that, given the precarious state of Hollywood’s control over…just about everything, the WGA strike could serve as a tipping point at which the structure of Hollywood changes to one similar to Silicon Valley, where the artists become entrepreneurs and each film is its own independent start-up company. Yet another blockquote:

But here we are, living in a world in which the bottlenecks have suddenly become irrelevant.

I don’t think there’s any question that this is the logical model to pursue in the age of the Internet — the age of free distribution and marketing.

Suppose the writers’ strike continues for months to come — and even beyond that, suppose the actors or the directors also go on strike. In such a scenario, it is hard to see how many companies based on this new model won’t be created extremely quickly — after all, if you really can’t work for the Man, why not start your own company, if you can?

Read on →

links for 2007-11-13

The Death of Cable (CMCSA, TWC, CHTR) – Silicon Alley Insider

As I’ve said, big media companies have based their businesses on controlling access to distribution. The Internet and new regulations like this FCC proposal will free up access and force them to compete with quality content creation and curation. This i

(tags: business netneutrality cable comcast timewarnercable)

Retro: Mailer and McLuhan – Video

“Norman Mailer and Marshall McLuhan expound on violence, alienation and the electronic envelope. The clash of two great minds. (1968)” [via Karina @ Spout blog]

(tags: media reference video resource marshallmcluhan normalmailer debate culture)

Reports of Cable’s Death Greatly Exaggerated – Silicon Alley Insider

then again, maybe not

(tags: business cable resource article netneutrality timewarnercable comcast)

100,000 page views in 5 minutes at Holy Shmoly!

Donncha O Caoimh discussing using Litespeed Web Server instead of Apache for Wordpress. He claims it can handle much heavier server loads. But it does appear to have some drawbacks. This article is very technical.

(tags: wordpress apache performance server reference)