This frog skin found in a used book is served up by Mongrel! I can’t think of a better payload. And the minute I heard on the Mongrel mailing list that Found Magazine [W] had been coded afresh in Ruby, I hit up Brad Pauly, the developer, for some discussion.
1. So, Found must be a fun site to work on because you’ve just got this pile of litter (notes, photos, street junk and so on) and you’re basically interfacing technology with that mound of other folk’s discarded trash. How do you sort it all out? Or is it best to just leave it disorganized?
Yeah, I had a ton of fun working on it. The previous version had some organization by way of “related finds” that we left out on purpose for this version. People seem to prefer the randomness and it makes sense to me. I think the joy of discovery is diminished when you’re guided.
(cont’d) ...Do you think all the trouble we spend sorting things ever pays off? Sometimes it seems like when things are sorted, everyone ends up seeing the same things, in the same order.
To the extent that categorizing/tagging makes information more accessible I think it’s useful. And that’s about it. I don’t think it influences the experience much. I’m wondering how things might look without categories.
2. It seems like the whole site is artistic in nature. Like: this trash is beautiful when out of context and when it’s all warped and damaged. Are there any libraries or algorithms that feel artful to you? That go well with art?
Definitely, but in a different way. I think beauty in code comes from mastery more than context. High levels of skill with a tool allow creativity to flow. So anything that encourages creation…
I’ve been programming for a while but my tool belt still has that stiff leather feel. I can’t decide what goes where and I keep swapping the hammer for a pair of pliers, using that for a while, then switching back.
3. You’re using Mongrel on the site. Wow. Has it been a cinch?
It’s been great. The server is a dedicated box that is managed with Plesk and also hosts a couple other sites. I hadn’t used Plesk before and didn’t want to mess up the other sites or end up with a config that was overly complex. I was able to add one config file that was no more than ten lines long (a few rewrite rules and ProxyPass stuff), restart Apache, and the site was live – serving the other sites, the FOUND blog (WordPress), and handing off to Mongrel for the main site. It’s been humming along for a couple months now without any problems.
4. Hey, give us a freaky pic from the Found catalogue. Anything that just totally took you guys off guard or just made you die for hours.
Hehe. So many, and I’ve only seen the ones that get published. This one gets a lot of play.. still my favorite though: #558
5. Lastly, and this is just out of curiousity, how do you use RSS? Do you use a reader regularly? Is it a part of your life or anything like that?
Nothing fancy. I recently used it to add feeds to a simple forum I built for Rails Day. NetNewsWire is the reader I use and it typically sits next to Mail. When I check email I usually give NNN a refresh too.