I'm still tweaking the way the new erikkregator works, especially since the timestamps get a little out of whack coming from all of the different sources. But, because I want to have something to link to to explain what I did, this is the order of thoughts in my head that led me to build what I built (one more time):
1) I used to try to keep all of my stuff in a single blog. Blog as defined by a single authoritative database table displayed in reverse chronological order on a single URL.
3) A lot of duct tape was required, as while it's awesome that most sites (that I'm interested in) have opened up their data to allow sharing of some sort, every site allowed sharing in a slightly different manner, and required me to step out of my flow on those sites to make sure that I got my stuff collected back on my blog as well.
4) I realized that Bloglines had become my own personal internet. I wasn't using my blogroll anymore, nor was I actually visiting sites much... instead I was reading most of my content through Bloglines folders that subscribed to the RSS feeds of sites that I was interested in.
5) Almost every bloggy site has an RSS feed now.
6) Bloglines is good for keeping up with other people, but I realized that somewhere along the line I had begun to use it to keep up with myself as well. In a way, I was using it to keep track of my own work around the web so that I could find it again when I wanted.
7) Bloglines has an API, aka a web service that lets me retrieve content from my account via a script rather than through the browser.
8) I haven't played around with the Bloglines web service yet.
10) I build a quick Ruby script to pull in entries from that server, in chronological order. I store these entries in a local database, and display them with my favorite web application framework in the world, Ruby On Rails.
11) RSS is already normalized. Bloglines also does some cleaning up for me. What I get back from Bloglines is beautiful content that looks the same no matter which site I originally posted it on. Since everything goes through this filter, there's really no need to have access to the database of content directly. I therefore decided to move all of them off my server and to make Bloglines the mesh net through which I collect all content.
12) I exported my Movable Type blog (already incarnation number three million since I started writing 6 years ago) over to Typepad. I moved all of my Morale-O-Meter links over there too and decided to start using del.icio.us a lot more religiously. I love del.icio.us. I moved all of my photos over to Flickr, and then added a few more sites that I had never been able to integrate into my blog like Live Journal and Ta-da Lists.
13) Now, I don't have to worry about backups, performance of my crazy little scripts, maintaining my email server to correctly handle posts via email, or really any of the stuff that I was never very good at to begin with. I love end results, and that's what I get when people who are good at what I want to do are doing the things I want to do better than I ever could.
I like thinking about the layers of computers between you and me. I write something somewhere, it gets stored in a database, then represented as RSS. Then it gets picked up by Bloglines, normalized, stored in a database, and represented again as RSS. Then it gets picked up by my script (which runs every 15 minutes), parsed, and stored in another database, and represented as RSS. Then it gets picked up either by your browser, or by Feedburner, where it again gets parsed, stored, and redisplayed before being parsed, stored, and redisplayed in your favorite RSS reader. Depending on how you are reading this, that's between 9 and 14 transformations along the way. And that's not even counting the parsing, storing, interpreting, and comprehension layers in my brain before I write the thoughts down, and in your brain after you read the words. It's amazing that we can communicate at all.
I'm at least 3.5 times happier as a result of all this fun. And too boot I don't have to worry about comment spam during this fun honeymoon period before the spammers all find my new homes. I'm enjoying it while it lasts.