Walled garden and comments

My friend Sameer and I are having a conversation on Facebook. The conversation started with Sameer thanking me for writing content on the unwalled garden i.e. the open internet. We are chatting about that, WordPress, Automattic, and a few other things.

And it hits me – why are we chatting about the unwalled garden in the walled garden? The reason of course is that Facebook and the like have brought many if not most of my community into a single place. They see what I write, I see what they write, we talk about it (or like it or whatever).

Over the past two decades I’ve written on many forums. I spent years on Posterous before it died – unfortunately the export function wasn’t 100% successful and I lost photos. I lost more information when Path went away. I blogged on Tumblr for years and then it hit me that really, I needed to control my own content. As an early WordPress user I decided I could self host (did that for years) or do the easy piece and use Automattic. The key though is that I own the content and can move it around.

But comments and social interactions just don’t work correctly on this distributed system. There needs to be a common, simple aggregation much like the Facebook Feed. It pulls from everyone I know, it follows simple permission rules, and the app that goes with it would support all of this. WordPress could do this but just hasn’t yet. I’ve seen WordPress Reader but that isn’t quite right – that is more about long form reading and not short form content.

#facebook, #social-media, #wordpress

Hosting with Wordpress.com

I started blogging in November 2006 I think with WordPress. I moved to Posterous (RIP) for a time. Then I relied on Tumblr for years and was generally happy with the service. Unfortunately with Tumblr’s sale to Yahoo and all of the travails ensuing it seemed prudent to move. I looked at the options and decided that migrating to WordPress and hosting with Bluehost was the way to go. That was a year ago.

Since then I’ve discovered that Bluehost isn’t a great way to go. I don’t mind the minimal service outages; I have few readers and if they need to wait 10 minutes for a machine to reboot it’s okay. But their tech support… wow! I needed to update my credit card information recently, you know, so they could take my money. The tech support was so bad I decided the time was right for another move. Along comes WordPress.com with hosting for 50% of what Bluehost offers. Sure, I cannot use plugins and I cannot manage the PHP code directly – I wind up rarely doing that anyway.

So here we go, embarking on a yet another blog hosting site. Welcome to bricin.net v5!

#blogging, #hosting, #wordpress

Converting from Wordpress to Ghost

Over the past week or so I’ve become intrigued by a relatively new blogging platform, Ghost. I’m a big fan of WordPress both in terms of what you can do with it and a fan of the company. That said I always want to learn new things, check out the bright shiny new thing (e.g. when I moved to Tumblr), and understand the technology behind it. I’m not comfortable moving my primary site bricin.net to Ghost yet so I am working on a few side projects. What I’ve learned so far:

  1. Ghost is very light. And by that I mean both speedy (good) and lacking features (uh oh). Ghost is sort of the Notepad as compared to Word. That may be good or bad depending on your need.
  2. Ghost is easy to install. There aren’t many settings to mess with (or mess up).
  3. Installing Ghost themes is so far out of reach (for me). For many this would be a deal-breaker; for me this is a nice learning chance.
  4. Very few plugins. This is where WordPress really shines. Want to change your blog? Great, find one of the million plugins that do something for you. I bet Ghost will begin to see this ecosystem soon. There are two reasons: first, Ghost is built on node.js and node.js is the current shining star in the geek galaxy and second, there is a gap in plugins so developers will start to earn money filling that gap.
  5. Ghost supports markdown. I’m a markdown junkie as I am *done* with tools that corrupt or change my formatting when I move my content around.

Bottom Line

Unless you like tinkering with things or you are okay with a minimalist blog, Ghost isn’t for you. It’s getting better but if you want something full-featured stick with WordPress… for now. I think it’s good for everyone that there is a new choice and a team thinking about things differently.

p.s.

  1. I moved http://sportsbriefdaily.com to http://www.flukeslap.com. I like the name better and think I will start writing a weekly topic or two on sports again. Daily was killing me, kudos to those who are able to publish every… single… day…
  2. I started www.monkeycorridor.com as a place to park various side projects. It was getting rough to bring up a new site for each new project.

#blog, #blogging, #ghost, #software, #tools, #wordpress

The WordPress transition: when I schedule a post…

I usually schedule posts rather than blast them all out at once. My first complaint is that WordPress does not have a native queueing ability; or rather it might but I have far too many other options to dig it out. Tumblr has this in a very simple option.

My second complaint: I go through the trouble of scheduling a post and click Schedule and the UX takes me… nowhere, it leaves me on the same page. A few options:

  1. Take me to the list of scheduled posts.
  2. Take me to my own site (not as good).
  3. Take me to the overview of my site.

Regardless, leaving me on the same page is weird. I am done editing, why am I still here.

p.s. why doesn’t posting remember my default Sharing options? I don’t want to cross-post to Tumblr often, leave it unchecked.

#tumblr, #wordpress

Checking out Wordpress again

It’s been a long time since I used WordPress. I switched to Posterous for a while. When it was purchased by Twitterand then shut down, well… Time to get serious about Tumblr. I checked, apparently I have been using Tumblr for over five years now, my how the time flew by.

Ive been reasonably happy with Tumblr. It is nicely integrated with most of the tools I use, the price is right (free, sort of), and they have a nice community. But like all things the “free” aspect has to come home to roost, i.e. someone has to pay at some point and the ads are piling up while the feature velocity oils slowing down.

I plan to try WordPress for a while, see if I like it before taking the plunge… again. Last time I self-hosted, I don’t think I’ll take that on again just yet.

#tumblr, #wordpress