The Blog, take two 5

Posted by erik Tue, 26 Jul 2005 17:55:01 GMT

We sort of joke about how bad we are at maintaining the Robot Co-op blog. It’s not a very funny joke, but it made me start thinking about why that was. I mean, we spend all day every day thinking about what we’re working on, and enjoying it, why do we find it so painful to share some of that excitement on the blog? For me, it came down to feeling like we always talked about ourselves and that’s not really a whole lot of fun. Ideally, like the wonderful flickr blog, our blog might be better served as a place to highlight interesting people, interesting things that they are doing, and interesting places that they are going.

And since we’re all Ruby on Rails enthusiasts, we figured it was time to move the blog over to the quite elegant Typo weblog publishing engine. This made it easy to customize things so that we could easily highlight people, goals, places, and entries on our end when posting a new entry.

In any case, hopefully this will help encourage us to be a little more open about the things we’re passionate about at the co-op.

Next stop, 43 Places. 5

Posted by josh Sun, 26 Jun 2005 19:59:12 GMT

We’ve been hard at work on our next release (codenamed “Tootietails”) and we are really grateful to everyone who has helped us out with some early testing.

So by way of introduction, the next new thing from the Robot Co-op is a little site we call 43 Places. It’s a way to share stories about great places in your city and around the world. We hope it wil become the same sort of fun that 43 Things has become for tens of thousands of users.

None of projects are ever “done” - they just hit milestones. The first milestone for 43 Places is coming up, as we get ready to release it to the public. We’ve had to leave at least half the good ideas behind in order to get this first half out the door. So getting this site “launched” this week is just a first milestone on a great adventure. One of the really satisfying parts of building sites like 43 Things and 43 Places is that we get to build them together, with you and with the help of great talented people. Like the team at Mule Design who’ve been helping us with this release.

We’ll try and share a bit more about the site over the next few days for those of you who wondering about it. If you’ve got questions, ask away in the comments and if you want an invite - add this goal to your list.

All Consuming has become a part of the Robot Co-op family! 7

Posted by erik Wed, 25 May 2005 01:42:46 GMT

I’m happy to announce that the Robot Co-op has decided to take over maintenance and further development of All Consuming. Yay! In case it’s not obvious, this is a very good thing!

In case you’ve never heard of this site before, it’s basically a site that helps you keep track of what you’re reading, listening to, watching, and (our new favorite media) eating. Check out how Josh and Bob have tagged their steak frites from the Elysian! If you have a 43 Things account already, you can log in from here and begin building the list of things that you’re consuming.

The main thing that this means to existing All Consuming users is that we are moving the site over to more stable servers, and integrating the accounts and infrastructure into 43 Things. The new version of the site is, and we’re going to ask that people open up a 43 Things account (if they don’t already have one) and import their existing All Consuming account into it if they want to continue using the new version of the site. The two versions of the site will exist alongside each other for 90 days, at which point we’ll be moving version over to If anyone doesn’t want to move your list over, they don’t need to do anything at all.

I bet people have questions! Learn more here →

I’m very excited that we’ll be able to actually continue working on this—as part of my job no less! If you have feedback or questions, you can email me (erikbenson at gmail dot com) or all of us at the Robot Co-op (robotcoop at gmail dot com).

43 Things Suggests, Subscriptions, More Profile Images, & more... 6

Posted by erik Wed, 11 May 2005 01:37:00 GMT

Today’s release brings a lot of new features that people have been requesting and talking about for a long time:

Subscribe to People (aka Friends, Bookmarks, Contacts, etc)

If you’re logged in, every person’s profile page now has a “Subscribe to this person’s recent activity” link in the right sidebar, and this link (when clicked) will let you keep track of all of their entries, comments, and goal adoption/completion milestones from the site itself or via RSS or even via the web services. Previously, the only way to keep track of your friends was to invite them all to a team or individually subscribe to each of their RSS feeds. After you have a few subscriptions, check out the Recent Activity page (linked from your profile page and the Zeitgeist page) and you’ll see all of their activity aggregated into one big happy list.

At the moment subscriptions are private, meaning that only you can see who you’re subscribed to (though you can see how many people are subscribed to you), but we’re curious to hear any thoughts on this… do people care if this information is public or private? Play around with it for a while and let us know what you think.

43 Things Suggests

Along the lines of Google Suggests, this feature lets you start typing into the “add a goal” box on our homepage and it’ll show you a dropdown of all the goals that begin with those letters/words, sorted by popularity.

We’ve been having tons of fun the last few days seeing all of the goals that start with “travel to”, “be a better”, “build”, “meet a”, “meet b”, “meet c”, etc… and some of the more disturbing ones like “eat a”. With almost 90,000 goals, it’s difficult to find a verb that someone doesn’t want to enact… it’s really quite crazy if you think about it.

Multiple Profile Images

Before today, you could only have one picture of yourself to represent all of the multifaceted corners of your personality. We’ve upped that to 10 now, and have created a gallery page that displays them all, with optional captions.

Invite people to a goal by their username

We haven’t really publicized this on the site yet, but you can now invite people to do something with you as a team even if you don’t know their email address. More info on this on the ideas site.


And with this I think we can say that our latest release code-named Bubbles is officially complete. Momentum is building here at the Co-op… there are two or three other exciting projects that are on their way, which we’ll be announcing here soon enough.

Building web services that play nicely with other web services 5

Posted by erik Tue, 12 Apr 2005 14:04:00 GMT

Upcoming has been very actively improving its web services API over the last week or two, and a few of their most recent changes have allowed us to integrate into

Events on city pages. You can now see upcoming events on any of our city pages. It’ll display the next 10 events in that city and link to for the rest.

Call our web services with Upcoming’s IDs. You can now get city information from our web services by passing Upcoming’s metro_id instead of our id. We’re hoping that this’ll make it easier to combine web services if, say, someone wanted to create a site that matched goals up with events and plotted them on a google map along with all of the craigslist apartments that were available for rent. At least, they wouldn’t have to do an extra search on our site to match the cities together. This kind of stuff makes my brain spin, but it’s the future!

More info added to person requests. While we were mucking about with the web services, we also added a couple extra fields to the Person object (the XML that gets returned whenever a person or a list of people is requested). First, we added the metro_id for those people who’ve let us know which city they live in. Second, we added the flickr_username for anyone that’s associated their flickr photos with their 43 Things account. Here’s my profile as an example. Again, we’re hoping that by consolidating some of the various information about a person on the web, that people will be able to do cool things more easily.

Finally, all of the person-related method calls now support requests where you pass us someone’s flickr_username instead of their 43 Things username. It would be fairly easy for someone that’s already getting information from flickr to send out one extra call and get that person’s goals, or their entries, or their teammates, or their tags.

This is where we see web services getting really interesting. When the web services start playing nicely with one another, you can begin to string them all together and build things that are greater than the sum of their parts. Let us know if you build anything with any of this and we’ll link to it from here.

For full documentation of our web services, go here.

Making the robots proud!

Posted by josh Mon, 11 Apr 2005 10:30:00 GMT

You can hear Daniel’s band on the radio in Seattle and live on the internet doing an acoustic version of a few songs from their new album. The new record is released tomorrow. Daniel’s voice is deep on the radio. Maktub played a sold out show this past weekend here in Seattle - leading up to a great tour.

Don’t miss your chance to meet Robot Spils on the road (and see a free Maktub show). We are cheering for you guys!

Quiet boil 6

Posted by josh Thu, 07 Apr 2005 09:26:00 GMT

It’s time to trot out the next pony. Sometimes we announce one with a bang - like hugster, or quackers - but this time we’ve been working a bit more behind the scenes on the new release we call Bubbles.

Like all our releases, Bubbles is a pony, maybe even two ponies as it looks like there is a “baby bubbles” that matches the big bubbles - and that is appropriate as we are percolating the release out onto the site in belches and burps over the last few weeks. So far we’ve fixed about 40 bugs with this release, changed our host, and added several new features (some of these you might have seen in the last few weeks):

  1. (more on this in an upcoming post)
  2. goal thesaurus - the beginnings of matching similar goals together (again, more on this feature in an upcoming post)
  3. who cheered you (or Erik) - now on your profile page
  4. a full web services API and a Ruby library thanks to Pate
  5. a hidden 43 Things store
  6. newly Ajax-ified tags

We’ve got at least one more burp of bubbles in the next week before we retire this pony. We’ve got 3 more ponies in the works: next up Wavedancer, Whizzer, and Tootietails . . .

Spring has sprung 4

Posted by josh Wed, 06 Apr 2005 10:46:00 GMT

So of the sites on the list, we’ve now seen 6 out of 7.

  1. Two of them are really great
  2. Two are really late
  3. Two are way over hyped
  4. Two should have taken longer to come up with something that is actually new
  5. One of them is still not done
  6. One of them is under-hyped
  7. Five of them are still not released

43 Things back online ... 2

Posted by daniel Thu, 17 Mar 2005 10:17:05 GMT

We’ve completed our maintenance—5 minutes under schedule. It may take a bit more time for the DNS to propogate so just keep checking back if you’re not yet seeing 43 Things. Thanks!

43 Things outage 1:30 to 2:30pm PST

Posted by daniel Thu, 17 Mar 2005 09:31:23 GMT

We are going to be down for a bit today to do some required maintenance. We should be offline from around 1:30 to 2:30 pm PST. Go outside and do one of your 43 Things and check back soon.

43 Things on tour with Maktub 7

Posted by daniel Mon, 07 Mar 2005 03:41:00 GMT

43 Things can’t afford a tour bus so I’ve decided to take us 43T users along for my band Maktub’s April/May tour. We’re releasing a new album called Say What You Mean on April 12th. My hope is that I’ll be able to give away 5 free tickets to 43 Things users in every US city we play (currently 31 cities). If I’m lucky I’ll be able to meet 43T people at Maktub shows, share some 43 Things stories, snap a user picture or two and post the whole experience to 43 Things.

I’ve got plenty of tickets for the following dates—let me know if you’re interested:

  • Fri Apr-08 Seattle, WA Neumo’s (all ages)
  • Sat Apr-09 Seattle, WA Showbox
  • Tue Apr-10 Aspen, CO The Belly UP
  • Wed Apr-13 Denver, CO Lion’s Lair
  • Thu Apr-14 Boulder, CO Trilogy Wine Bar
  • Fri Apr-15 Salt Lake, UT The Velvet Room
  • Sat Apr-16 Boise, ID Big Easy
  • Fri Apr-22 Spokane, WA The Big Easy
  • Sat Apr-23 Pullman, WA Beasley Coliseum WSU
  • Wed Apr-27 Minneapolis, MN TBA
  • Thu Apr-28 Chicago, IL Martyr’s
  • Fri Apr-29 Louisville, KY Uncle Pleasant’s
  • Sat Apr-30 Indianapolis, IN The Patio

There appear to be only 4 cities that 43T users haven’t yet adopted as their own. If you live in one of the following places enter your city and put it on the map.

  • Aspen, CO
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Ashville, NC
  • Solano Beach, CA

Getting started with web services 5

Posted by erik Tue, 01 Mar 2005 13:04:00 GMT

With Yahoo announcing some pretty cool web services today, it’s a good time to mention that we’re also in the process of adding some super simple web services to 43 Things pretty soon. We’re hoping to debut at the Emerging Technology Conference (in particular, at the Web Services Mashup Tutorial that I’m participating in with Alan Taylor and Cal Henderson).

As with many things, we looked to flickr for inspiration on how to do things right, and also spent a lot of time reading up on the many varied blog APIs. I tried to follow as many of the design principles that came out of work on the Atom API as possible.

A couple lessons learned along the way:

No need for a SOAP API. First of all, almost nobody uses them (85% of people use Amazon’s REST interface over the SOAP, and almost nobody uses flickr’s SOAP and XML-RPC interfaces over the REST interface). I learned the same lesson when I offered SOAP and REST interfaces to All Consuming a few years ago. Second of all, we can always build alternative interfaces later. Therefore, the first version of web services that we’re offering are REST-based.

Make it easy to get an API Key. We’re requiring people to get an API Key before they start using the services so can limit access to people who abuse the system. But it’ll be easy for anyone with a 43 Things account to get a key (or three), and they’ll be approved by default. At some point it’ll be easy to also display a list of people who are using the service in interesting ways.

Make authentication easy. Many web services don’t require authentication because the methods offered are read-only. In fact, 27 of the 34 methods we’ve implemented so far don’t require authentication. But web services become more interesting when you can use them to write as well as read. For example, posting photos to your flickr account, adding something to your Amazon shopping cart, or adding something to your 43 Things list all require authentication. The Atom API actually has a pretty slick way to authenticate that’s secure and that isn’t so complicated that it becomes impossible to implement. This is proven by the fact that so many people have been able to implement the API in various posting tools during the short time that it’s been out there. So I figured we’d use that same system for our web services. There’s a good article about it here. And for people that don’t want to implement a secure way to authenticate but still want to play around with adding goals and entries to 43 Things, we’re also supporting simply passing usernames and passwords via GET in the URL. That way you can get it working first, and then make it secure later, if you want.

Don’t duplicate work. Because we’re using Ruby on Rails to power our site, all of our code has been abstracted into controllers, models, and views. It only took a few days to build the webservice because it was as simple as writing a single new controller that used all of the same models and then displayed results using XML views rather than HTML views. When we update the way the models works on our website, it’ll also update the way the model works in the web service, without requiring any changes to the API.

All that said, we’ll be offering quite a full set of methods to query everything from goals, people, entries, teams, cities, and tags, and you’ll be able to add goals, remove them, update them, and post entries to them. 34 methods in total so far. I’m really excited about them personally. If anyone is feeling really adventurous and has some extra time on their hands to help test the service before it launches, let us know.

11,000 people in 824 cities are doing 40,554 things including… 4

Posted by erik Mon, 21 Feb 2005 10:44:00 GMT

After launching a couple new features last week and being chosen as one of Kim’s Kool Sites (which has a surprising number of subscribers), we shot past 10,000 registered users this weekend on 43 Things, and actually just passed 11,000 as well.

There’s some heated debate at the co-op about who exactly the 11,000th person was. I personally think it was cheesebikini and don’t have to go into the many reasons why I think this, but others who claim to have “ess queue elle” on their side say it was ebyrnes. Well, we love all of our users equally, regardless of what their outfits are made out of, so I guess it’s not worth fighting over too much.

New Features Just Launched: Cheers, Cities, Help, and more! 4

Posted by daniel Wed, 16 Feb 2005 15:12:00 GMT

Hello Quackers! The latest version of 43 Things is now live.

Cheer This Goal! Cheers allows you to support people and their goals by cheering them on. Click the “Cheer this goal” link next to goal on the profile pages of people you admire. We only give you a handful of cheers a day, so spend them wisely.

Cities Cities adds a new regional dimension to the site. You can now see popular goals by city. At launch these are the top 3 goals in a sampling of cities:

  1. Discover secret coves of wholesome fun in Seattle.
  2. eat at every restaurant on 1st and 2nd between Bell and Pike
  3. find 43 bugs in 43 things
  1. Buy a Golf GTi
  2. create an online cv website
  3. take up archery.
  1. travel to argentina
  2. be more sincere
  3. visit Seattle
  1. drop acid
  2. Help Boris refurbish his old boat
  3. rock out with renewed authority
  1. get all montreal podcasters together for a beer
  2. Rédiger et déposer ma thèse de maîtrise en communication
  3. travel the world, discover new landscapes and meet people

Find your city here and add it to your account to start influencing your city’s list.

I Want To Help Others Do This! Select the “help others” option when completing a goal and you’ll become a resource for those in need. Stuck on the progress of a goal or just looking for a little advice? You can now submit a plea for help that gets sent directly to the people who are interested in helping.

A few of the smaller new features include…
  • Today’s most popular goals
  • WordPress support for posting to your blog
  • Javascript include of your goals that you can put on your website
  • More accurate search
  • Number of people doing a goal now includes people who haven’t yet published their lists
  • Lots of new zeitgeist pages including “Popular completed goals,” “Entries by people doing the same things as you,” and “How other people are tagging goals that you have”

Not to mention 73 other little bug fixes and performance tweaks…

As always, we love hearing your comments, suggestions and bug reports. Drop us a line.

Help is on the way! 2

Posted by daniel Tue, 15 Feb 2005 14:00:00 GMT

Want to Learn Ruby? 98% of people that have completed this goal think it’s worth doing. More importantly, lots of them are willing to help.

When Quackers releases, if you have the goal to Learn Ruby you will be able to post a “plea for help” - basically ask a question of folks who’ve “done this” and get answers back from the community of people who have met this goal.

The stats help you see which goals people think are worth doing and which are not. Some examples?

  • Interested in corrective eye surgery or lasik? 21 out of 22 people (95%) think this is worth doing. Got a question? Post a plea! Now you’re seeing clearly.
  • How about get married? Well only 89% of folks who’ve done it think this is worth doing. Careful, Valentine!
  • Thinking about checking out SXSW Interactive? 88 people want to go and 84% of the people who have gone before think that it is worth doing. Would you do better at Emerging Tech? 41 people want to go and 100% of the people who have gone in the past think it was worth doing.

We are polishing up the last bits - it should be online by the end of the week.

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