Introducing “Sharebacks”- the MLX Implementation of Trackback

The web elves have been doing some refining of our Maricopa Learning eXchange “packing slips”- mainly in the lower portions. For reference as we blog, see the MLX slip for the Correlation Meter.

We wanted to make the commenting function for apparent by embedding the comment form directly in the packing slip, and using what should be familiar as the kind of form one finds on weblogs where name and em-mail can be cookie saved. We also extract the most recent comment in display form on the slip, with a link to see the rest,

In parallel, you will find a revamp presentation (and under the hood implementation) or Trackback (described more than a year ago). Thanks also to Derek at Auricle for generating some ideas on Trackback.

Given that the word “TrackBack” does not really describe the effect, we took liberty to call it “Shareback” meaning if you use, re-use, describe, mentione, blog one of our packages on some other web site, we have the tools to easily “shareback” that information with the MLX package.

Like our comments, the Shareback area of the MLX packing slip now will display the most recent shareback, and link to more (if there is more than one). The Shareback display includes all pings registered, as well as more of an explanation of what we mean by shareback, and a web form where you can register the information if you lack the tools to do it for you.

So like all along, there are embedded RDF tags in each MLX packing slip. e.g.

That provides all the information for “autodiscovery” of trackback information. This means that if you use we weblog tool such as MovableType, TypePad, and Manial (I think), when you include a link to an MLX package, the blog tool examines the link to see if there is ping-able data. If so, the trackback data is sent automatically. If your tool of choice does not work this way, but can send pings, you can copy/paste the ping address. And you can register a Shareback just as easily, for any web site, by using the linked form we provide.

To make this work more efficiently than before, we had to make some modifications to the Standalone Trackback Server script freely provided by MovableType. This was the trickiest since I do not read obfuscated perl, but it ended up being easy to trip out things we did not want (the way it stores data in binary text and XML files), and adding some small code to post the trackback data directly to our mySQL database.

Having the trackback data stored inside the MLX makes it easy to generate dynamic snapshot data, e.g. total numbers of trackbacks, identifying how many trackbacks are per package, etc. See the new MLX Shareback page for a listing of all MLX packages with Sharebacks (I think I generated 90% of them, and there should be one more because of me linking to MLX package 278 in this post).

It is as simple as this (to me)- the epic “promise” of learning objects is their potential for resuability– yet 99% of the brain power has been solely devoted to describing, tagging, and creating of little-used repositories. If some of that cranial power were put into a protocol for connecting how objects are used outside the repository back to the objects, that would be the holy grail, eh? Maybe TrackBack is the wrong mechanism, but we have clearly demonstrated the concept this past year yet all we keep hearing about is meta-data and new standards for describing objects. Yawn.

So let’s here some thoughts on our new “shareback”– same old ping in a new suit??

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


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