afoe 3.0a

Someone once said that there’s nothing really new to the concept of „Web2.0“, that it is really just a marketing ploy designed to actually make those people (in German) get what it’s all about. Someone else said that it all could have been done just as well with a cgi and some Perl back in 1995. And that’s probably true in some sense. But just as my claim to a successful voice over IP telephone call using a 14.4kpbs modem in early 1995, it is also entirely misleading.

If you’ve not been on holiday for the last week, you’ve probably spent as much time on the web as you did in a whole month in 1995 – or more. In 1995, when Sandra Bullock ordered a pizza over the web in „The Net“, I had a good laugh thinking ‚why would anyone ever want to do that?’ Now, while the pizza is probably still best ordered with a traditional phonecall, the web has improved in a lot. Ten years ago, there was still scaffolding everywhere. Now, even if you’re not playing “Second Life“, it has become a not too uncomfortable place to hang out, read, write, watch crazy stuff, or chat with people.

Just as the social invention of the telephone followed its technological invention and, in many ways, surprised those who had to evaluate its potential value before, the web will keep surprising us. And occasionally, we will try to classify phases and identify them with numbers. So websites with increased interactivity and partly user created content – that’s web 2.0.

So what is 2.0 about afoe now?

Well, being a blog, A Fistful of Euros is evidently inherently „web 2.0“. So as of today (even though not all parts of the page are completely finished), we are boldly going beyond the 2, reaching for the 3, not just to reflect the third design, however much you will hopefully appreciate it, but also to denote the increased functionality of the site.

First of all, we have included a beautiful javascript based slideshow called „European impressions“. Depending on your browser cache settings, this should reduce the load times for afoe while still enabling you to benefit from our collection of beautiful banner photographs. The script used on afoe has been adapted with patience and a lot of help from various people in various fora, but the original concept and programming is by Scott Upton (couloir.org).

While hovering over the „more“ button in the main navigation menu will give you a pop up menu of blogs in the potentially still growing afoe family, including our upcoming podcast „radio afoe“, clicking on the button will take you to a summary page displaying the latest entries for each of the blogs.

The most important addition to the site is the result of an idea that we discussed during the first afoe meet-up in Stockholm, about a year ago. Talking about Edward’s „living in Europe“-experiences, and how the web site was far too ahead of its time in early 2004, we developed the idea of our own web based aggregator.

What we’ve called „@foe“ is a web based aggregator of some of the European news and opinion sources which we deem most useful. Conceptually it is a combination of an aggregator site like popurls.com, a site that displays a significant number of feed items on a single web page, and a collective filtering mechanism like the one employed by sites like Digg.com. There will be additional feeds and categories in the near future. It’s extremely intuitive to use – hover over a feed title, and an excerpt of the item will be displayed, click on the [+] next to it, and your vote for the item will be counted instantly. Click on the item and you’ll be taken to the blog’s or news source’s web site. Technically, it’s based on a heavily customized mix of the Spanish and English open source content management systems menéme and pligg.

Our blogroll, chiefly compiled by David, has always been a great way to explore the European blogosphere. Now we’ve hopefully made that experience even more agreeable. Of course, the value of the collective filtering mechanism very much depends on the collective using it – the more votes, the better.

What you’ll find when you click on „projects“ is currently limited to the final results of the first two installments of the afoe European Weblog Awards – the Satin Pajama. But this is where all future afoe projects will have their home on the web. Under „about“ you’ll not just find partly updated author biographies and pictures, but also a form to quickly contact us by email.

But the navigational improvements do not stop there. It is easier than ever to delve into the afoe pool of wisdom, largely thanks to a recently published new search script and the introduction of native „tagging“ in Movable Type. On individual article pages, there are additional options allowing to print or email the article, to subscribe to comments by email or RSS, and to socialize by telling the world about the article with a single click on an icon representing your social bookmarking service of choice.

Last, but not least, a couple of words about the design itself. As many other websites, we have chosen a wider design, reflecting the increasing screen resolution of most PCs. Still, even those with smaller screens should not be too concerned, as the main contant is on the left of the page. Typographically, the page is best displayed with the Windows Vista Core Font, „Segoe UI“ installed.

The site has been cross browser tested, but I am sure there will be some remaining issues, particularly on older browsers. Due to the use of transparent .png files for the banner effects, the slideshow will not work and the display will be less than optimal in browsers below Internet Explorer 5.5.

If you find any issues, please let me know – and now, I hope you’ll enjoy afoe 3.0a.

12 thoughts on “afoe 3.0a

  1. Are y’all going top tweak the blogroll as well, as quite a few people on it have stopped blogging for a while now AND you still have not put my blog on it!

  2. I tried to click on ‘more’ (the hover over menu works nicely), and first got a 404, than got:
    Warning: main(../pligg/magpierss/rss_fetch.inc) [function.main]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/rrhszkz/public_html/afoe_includes/more_maincontent.inc on line 4

    Fatal error: main() [function.require]: Failed opening required ‘../pligg/magpierss/rss_fetch.inc’ (include_path=’.:/usr/lib/php:/usr/local/lib/php’) in /home/rrhszkz/public_html/afoe_includes/more_maincontent.inc on line 4

    Opera 9, Windows XP

    Oh…. and I *do* order pizza/shoarma/otherfood online; they show the menu of all the online restaurants which makes choosing easier 🙂

  3. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. Love it. AND you’re keeping the good old MemeFirst/Stefan Geens comment spam filter? I love you guys!

  4. Thanks for the info, Dutchmarbel! Should be fixed now. I just checked it in Opera and it looks almost exactly like in Firefox (in which it was designed).

    I hope the pizza tastes well, regardless of the medium used to order 😉

  5. The blogroll was switched back to a month old version, for some reason. So Felix and twenty other blogs have *not* been delinked on purpose. This explains at least some of the broken links too. I’ll fix it as soon as I can.

  6. Looks good on the whole, although perhaps a bit busy. I’ve never been a big fan of three column, main content left.

    The “European Impressions” toolbar is a nice touch, but the way it is positioned it looks like it relates to the items below it in the second column. Perhaps it would be better aligned to left or right of the screen.

    A bug: the ad-sense column briefly flashes up on the left-hand side of the screen when I mouse over some links. It happens with all links in the first item in the left hand column and those before the “feeds” section in the second column. It doesn’t seem to happen in the third column.

    A minor bug: the status bar doesn’t seem to be cleared properly. I get “waiting for …” (where … is usually afoe, sometimes *.sitemeter.com) until I switch tabs. Maybe it isn’t being cleared after a async requests complete?

    Not even a bug: I get a horizontal scrollbar when viewing in my browser (934 pixels wide). If the minimum size of the 1st column was reduced slightly it would get rid of it without unduly impacting the site’s layout.

    I’m viewing the site with Mozilla 1.7.13, running on Gentoo linux.

  7. The last time I ordered pizza online I tried a new company – and theirs was actually way better than the place I used to call 🙂 🙂

    Be carefull using Opera – it’s addictive.

    The new design is really nice and I really like the ‘european impressions’ script.

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