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July 2007

Dave Winer on the future of web publishing

Author:

Dave Winer on stage now is going to start with a story (I can’t tell if he started it yet) and then move into questions.  Dave is describing it as something like a blog post.  Like podcasts, unconferences, and similar…ideas based on the idea of social media.

Dave says that Tim Berners-Lee had the first blog, not him (as it is claimed he says…) to settle (ha!) that debate.  In 1996 Dave Winer, while at Wired, wanted to help fight the communications decency act (the striking down of that law just celebrated it’s tenth anniversary).  A mail list started and flamed out.  Dave took some of the content there and built a site that became Scripting.com.

So a blog becomes and is the place where you can say your piece and no one can stop you.

Microblogging…Twitter as a microblog.  Text, link, go.  The link blog.  Is it useful?  Should it be part of WordPress?  Should there be a formal “style”? or “format”?

Future-safe archives…reflecting on giving RSS2 spec to Harvard.  Putting it on a server to hopefully save it for later.

Why shouldn’t your blog be around 100 years from now?  But given how we store and archive our blogs and data, how is that possible?  Is the next Faulkner or Hemingway out there and blogging?

(Dern more power block problems…overheated again).

Is ASCII and HTML the technologies that will stay?  Dave doesn’t have the answer for that.  When Dave republished the posts from the first day of his blog, April 1, 1997, he found that a lot of the links didn’t work anymore.  The sites are gone or have changed their structure so that the URLs are useless.

Archive.org…is that enough (Chris Heuer asks)?  Dave says it’s part of a solution not the whole solution.  How can then the domain changes be saved?

Wow, I didn’t know that Library of Congress is archiving music on 78s (78  RPM albums)!  Why, because they are easy to get the sound out of.  And think about the demise of punch cards, 5 1/4 floppies (when floppies flopped), even 3.5 in floppies…lots of computers don’t have disk drives anymore.  Laptops certainly don’t.  My first Dell laptop had a floppy drive that I could swap with the CD drive.  I think I used it maybe three times in three years.

“The greatest danger to archiving and protecting content is copyright”…I guess that’s true to a point.  Lorelle … “Pay first, then break”.  Is there a higher goal that preserving the content is above copyright and the law?

As I’m running low on battery juice…I have to let others take up the slack…

Rashmi Sinha, Slideshare, Designing Massively Multiplayer Social Systems

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Rashmi Sinha of Slideshare is talking about second generation social networks.  Her deck is on Slideshare, of course…now I’m saying this not just so you can follow along, but because the my power supply for my laptop just bought the farm.  Brian Oberkirch and I were sniffing the air wondering where the ozone burning smell was coming from…

Because I might be living on borrowed time here (laptop battery running out of power) … I’m sorry but I’m going to cut this post short, let the power supply cool (it is hot to the touch), and see if it still works.  If it doesn’t well I guess I’ll be finding a Best Buy or Staples soon….

Update:Whew.  I think I dodged the bullet.  Maybe the power supply sitting on the carpet didn’t let it cool itself well enough.  I’m back to charging and on AC power.

The fascinating part of this talk, since I cold focus on it almost entirely (as much as my ADD brain would allow, of course).  Her idea that people and popularity aren’t the best systems for determining what is good.  After lunch I’ll muse on this a bit more.  Lots to consider and cogitate on.

Jeremy Zilar of the New York Times on the Gray Lady's blogging efforts

Author:

Jeremy is the technologist behind the NYT blogs.  There are 100+ blogs right now there and growing.  Okay, a lot of spiffy stats on their bloggy prowess, but let’s get to the meat of the issue…

Jeremy’s first point is about teaching.  Sharing how you use this new tool and medium.  Opening the conversation.  We need to share how we teach people so we can help others.

I didn’t get a heck of a lot of live blogging in for this session.  Maybe I’m distracted or something, or maybe I was listening…

Listening actually.  So the NYT.  What’s special about Jeremy coming in at the last minute?  It’s showing that blogs and newspapers really fit together.  He finished his talk giving the example of a writer using Moby Dick as part of an analogy for George Bush (did he give the link?)…the post spawned an amazing number of comments.  A true intellectual interaction.  That is an exciting thing to see.  Take the news.  The blog it, then extend it and share it.  While the MSM might be reviled (okay there is no might about it) for its perceived snobbery at social media I think the NYT is doing something to change that.

Jeremy Zilar of the New York Times on the Gray Lady’s blogging efforts

Author:

Jeremy is the technologist behind the NYT blogs.  There are 100+ blogs right now there and growing.  Okay, a lot of spiffy stats on their bloggy prowess, but let’s get to the meat of the issue…

Jeremy’s first point is about teaching.  Sharing how you use this new tool and medium.  Opening the conversation.  We need to share how we teach people so we can help others.

I didn’t get a heck of a lot of live blogging in for this session.  Maybe I’m distracted or something, or maybe I was listening…

Listening actually.  So the NYT.  What’s special about Jeremy coming in at the last minute?  It’s showing that blogs and newspapers really fit together.  He finished his talk giving the example of a writer using Moby Dick as part of an analogy for George Bush (did he give the link?)…the post spawned an amazing number of comments.  A true intellectual interaction.  That is an exciting thing to see.  Take the news.  The blog it, then extend it and share it.  While the MSM might be reviled (okay there is no might about it) for its perceived snobbery at social media I think the NYT is doing something to change that.

High Octane WordPress…making WP go faster

Author:

First off, this is getting into the hard-core geeky stuff.  Barry Abrahamson is giving us the in and out of how to make a WordPress install crank faster.

Most of you should know that your basic install of WP on a basic server can handle a huge amount of traffic without having trouble handling it.

There are some PHP add-on you can try for making PHP run faster (APC it’s called) but it seems that WP-Cache is the best solution for most people.  Although talked about the PHP add-on first, that isn’t something you can do if you aren’t in complete control of your server.  I’ve used WP-Cache before.  This isn’t a plugin for the faint of heart either.

The insight into how WordPress.com keeps the lights on…racks of servers…Matt gave an intro of using HyperDB (the sound of whoosh going over my head) in WP to make the DB connections go faster.

How does it all happen?  The core is planning.  Knowing where the fail points are and finding a way to deal with it.  Load balancing, multiple servers, multiple data centres.  Matt looked at what others had done before and saw where WP.com could get nailed and managed for it.

Now if basic WP install can handle a ton of traffic, why do sites crash when they get Dugg?  Oddly enough the crashing isn’t a WP problem, it’s an Apache (the web server software) issue.  Apache will take up too much memory and then the operating system will kill (shutdown) a process or three to save itself.  Unfortunately it will kill the database process…not a good thing.

Sounds like to “Digg proof” your blog…WP-Cache is the way to go.  Okay there is a trick to make an HTML version of your page and fake things around to make it static … that will give you breathing room.  That’s a mid-Digg thing to do.  There is also a way to use htaccess to block everyone from the blog so you can get in there and fix stuff too.

(Note to self…try getting WP-Cache in there…and turn some plugins off)

Matt Cutts: no Google doesn't hate you, just your code–SEO tips from Google

Author:

Matt Cutts is on the stage giving us all the inside info from Google and da man himself.

Simple stuff, basic stuff.  Don’t have your blog in a directory called wordpress…using blog is best.  Personally I like having it in the root, but I get it.

Flipping the title and the blog name…very key.  Write your post rich in keywords…not to a spammy degree, but something that reflects what people use to search.

Categories that make for good keywords too.  Totally whitehat, totally helpful to your users.

URLs and path, dashes best, underscores next..no spaces sucks.  The engines have to work harder to figure out what the keywords are.

Guess why Matt started on WP … Blogger didn’t use categories and a lot of the SEO tweaks are just default.

ALT tags … use them!  Enough said (he says guiltily).

Usability … crawable (WP users all okay), mobile browsers (WP-Mobile solves this), full-text RSS, ping well (WP … no problem and FeedBurner’s pingshot).

Matt is talking about moving your site…man I think I’ll just talk about this later… cause I just did it and the wounds are still fresh.

 

Matt Cutts: no Google doesn’t hate you, just your code–SEO tips from Google

Author:

Matt Cutts is on the stage giving us all the inside info from Google and da man himself.

Simple stuff, basic stuff.  Don’t have your blog in a directory called wordpress…using blog is best.  Personally I like having it in the root, but I get it.

Flipping the title and the blog name…very key.  Write your post rich in keywords…not to a spammy degree, but something that reflects what people use to search.

Categories that make for good keywords too.  Totally whitehat, totally helpful to your users.

URLs and path, dashes best, underscores next..no spaces sucks.  The engines have to work harder to figure out what the keywords are.

Guess why Matt started on WP … Blogger didn’t use categories and a lot of the SEO tweaks are just default.

ALT tags … use them!  Enough said (he says guiltily).

Usability … crawable (WP users all okay), mobile browsers (WP-Mobile solves this), full-text RSS, ping well (WP … no problem and FeedBurner’s pingshot).

Matt is talking about moving your site…man I think I’ll just talk about this later… cause I just did it and the wounds are still fresh.

 

Designing web-based applications…Designing the Obvious

Author:

Robert Hoekman, Jr. is about to take the stage…okay he’s actually been on stage prepping for a few minutes, but you know what I mean.

Rather than being about designing websites, per se, rather it’s about web-based apps.  Now here is a great thing about Robert…he had a whole presentation set up and he scrapped it!  Why?  Because he realized that his slides didn’t match well with us, his audience.  Kudos to him!  So while he disclaims that this is untested and off the cuff…he got huge applause because I’m guessing that we’re going to get something really awesome and tailored to us as bloggers

“Without this coat I’m just a random guy, with this coat I’m a professional speaker”

Yeah not related to the content…but funny.  Yeah you had to be here.

Okay design…get rid of the extras.  Remove the unneeded.  Look at your blog, what are the essential elements. What is essential..

Search…comment count…the post…colour contrast between text and background (so you can read it…white on white or black on black don’t work)….About page… (pausing to look at my blog for a moment…eek)…post title…author name (yes for multi-author blogs…maybe for single author)…permalinks…RSS…

Just think about it.  Tag cloud widgets?  Maybe not.

The About Page and the ability to set context is very important.  Interestingly enough the theme I settled on for my blog has these features built in.  W00t!

Servicing the important elements on a page…

What will help your readers do what you want them to do?  That’s what servicing means.  If you want comments…make the comment form more obvious…make the comment for more inviting.

RSS…gotta make it easy, make it simple.  Remember, we’re still on the edge of users.  Even if you don’t think you do, if you’re reading this, you probably do.  If you’re here at WordCamp you do.  Speaking of which I need to write a page “just what is this RSS thing anyway…” for folks.

You know those sessions where you don’t think you’re learning stuff?  Where the act of listening is just giving you more ideas?  Yeah this is one of those.  I’m trying to focus on what Robert, but man too many ideas I have in my head!

Crap.

Whew…most popular posts and related posts are getting thumbs up!  Got both on my blog!  In fact just like the widget that I added recently and see this post how I did it…for top posts.  Related posts…well that’s the core of my WP installs.

etre.com–colour contrast checker.  Good tip!  You gotta make sure people can read your stuff.

Speed (actually the lack thereof) kills!  Gotta load fast.  Guess what all those goofy widgets we add cause we think they look cool?  Yeah they slow down the page load.

And why does MySpace stay popular when the design sucks?  Because it replaced Friendster and was faster…and it exploded onto the scene it almost can’t be stopped.  Until Facebook gets bigger.

Matt Cutts of Google is up next…typing might be sparse…you’ve been warned!

How to contribute to WordPress

Author:

Getting Involved with WordPress Lloyd Budd and Mark Jaquith … on being a part of this phenomenon…

Lloyd, who squashes the bugs (or tracks them), and Mark who has contributes to the code (like post preview…thank Mark…who also works at b5!).

Lloyd made an impassioned speech that we all contribute to WordPress by using, blogging, and talking about it.  I would agree.  I can’t code,  but I can use, help extend, comment, and become a person who is passionate about WP.  Works for me.

Mark, who is met in person for the first time last night, gave a funny presentation about how to help.

I’ve been listening more than writing, clearly, and what strikes me is that WordPress is ours, let’s all help to make it better.

Help with the codex (I think I’m going to do this)…sounds like this is something that those of us who can’t program (there are legions of us) can make a big difference.  Figured out how to fix something?  Make sure it’s in the codex.

Sounds like WP 2.3 is going to be a really sweet upgrade.  Okay, I’m getting a little geeky here, but come on I support a ton of WP blogs and anything that makes WP better and easier to use makes me smile.

Up next is something that is going to take a lot of my focus…design.  Yes. I know this blog is still busted.  Hush, I’m still workin’ here.

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