📅 WordCamp Orange County, June 9-10, 2018

Attending WordCamp Orange County, June 9-10, 2018
WordCamp Orange County is a great place to learn meet, talk, and immerse yourself in everything WordPress. From the absolute beginner to the hardest of hardcore developers, WordCamp Orange County will have something for you.

Putting this on my calendar to attend later this year. Waiting patiently for tickets to go on sale.

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Recap of Los Angeles Area Homebrew Website Club February 21, 2018

After a relatively quiet quiet writing hour where I worked on acquisition posts a bit, people began arriving just before the 6:30 pm official start time.

I kicked off the meeting with a quick overview of IndieWeb’s concepts and principles for newcomers. As a mini-case study I talked a bit about some of my work and conversations earlier today about thinking about adding acquisition posts to my website and the way in which I’m approaching the problem.

Asher Silberman was glad to be back at a meeting. He has recently been working on more content over functionality.

Micah Cambre showed off a gorgeous development version of the new theme he’s building for his site which is a super clean and pared down theme based on the Sage platform using WordPress. He’s hoping to finish it shortly so he can relaunch his personal site at http://asuh.com. He spent some time talking about the process of using David Shanske’s IndieWebified version of the Twenty Sixteen theme as a template for adding microformats and functionality to the Sage set up.

Richard Hopp, a gen2/gen3 user who is completely new to the community and interested in learning, has a personal domain at http://www.ricahardhopp.com/ on which he’s installed WordPress. He’s currently considering whether he’d like to begin blogging soon and what other functionality he’d like to have on his site. He’s relatively new to Facebook, having only joined about six months ago. On the professional side, he does some governmental related work and has some large collections of documents that he’s also doing some research for in consideration of how to best put them on the web for ease of search and use.

I wrapped up the demo portion with a quick showing of how I leveraged the power of the Post Kinds Plugin to facetiously add chicken posts to my site as a prelude to doing a tad more work to begin adding explicit follow posts.

We took a short break to take a photo of the group.

In the end of the evening we talked over a handful of broad ideas including user interface, webactions, and Twitter interactions.

We wrapped things up with a demo of how I use the URL Forwarder app on Android to post to my website via mobile. We then used some of this documentation to try to help Asher fix his previously broken browser bookmarklets to hopefully work better with the Post Kinds Plugin. I spent a few minutes to create a similar bookmarklet to add the ability to more easily add follow posts to my website since I hadn’t done it after adding them last week.

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👓 Jetpack 5.8: A Focus on Speed with Faster Search and Lazy Loading Images | Jetpack for WordPress

Jetpack 5.8: A Focus on Speed with Faster Search and Lazy Loading Images by Nicole Kohler (Jetpack for WordPress)
Today’s release of Jetpack 5.8 includes several features that have graduated from beta testing. We are very excited to bring them out for you to try. Let’s take a closer look at what we’ve included in this update, and how today’s additions will help you speed up your site and deliver faster...

I like the idea of Elastic Search being added in here and that alone might make it worth the subscription price! I’m surprised that it wasn’t bundled in from the start or that Elastic Search isn’t making an smaller subscription version available via plugin for a smaller price.

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👓 The need for speed: Google dedicates engineering team to accelerate development of WordPress ecosystem | Search Engine Land

The need for speed: Google dedicates engineering team to accelerate development of WordPress ecosystem by Michelle RobbinsMichelle Robbins (Search Engine Land)
Google's partnership with WordPress aims to jump-start the platform's support of the latest web technologies -- particularly those involving performance & mobile experience. And they're hiring WordPress experts.

Contributing back to the community is an interesting way to go, though I’m curious how readily the community will pull the pieces back, particularly into core. This is certainly a better modus operandi than attempting to press forward on AMP technology.

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🔖 PressForward in the classroom

PressForward in the classroom (pressforward.org)
Do you want to work with students to publish class assignments or research? Instructors use PressForward in the classroom to consolidate and review student assignments, help students learn to survey their fields, and create opportunities for collaboration, communication, and research. The Lewis & Clark College Environmental Studies Program produces Environment Across Boundaries, a student-led publication that cultivates interdisciplinary perspectives on environmental issues. Participation gives students an opportunity to engage with their discipline through experiential, project based learning. They develop skills both in their field and with a suite of digital tools.

An interesting use case for PressForward: creating a “planet” website to aggregate and/or showcase work of students in an entire classroom who are all posting content to their own separate web spaces.

Sketch idea: create a standalone WordPress site for a course, install the PressForward plugin, input the RSS feeds for students’ websites to aggregate all their work collectively into one space. Various ideas include:

  • Use the feed for students and teacher to keep up with the entire classroom.
  • Publish an OPML file for students to easily subscribe to all feeds in their feed reader of choice.
  • Optionally publish the highlights of the best work or even all of it.
  • Teachers could use the feed to check that students are posting/keeping up with assignments for grading purposes.
  • Use the read/unread functionality to “mark” pieces as graded/ungraded or seen/unseen.
  • Use the internal commenting system to keep private notes on student’s work.
  • Create output feeds for specific tags and/or categories
  • Works with any student sites that produce feeds, not just WordPress, so students have choices of different CMSes.
  • Use the nomination functionality to quickly aggregate and disseminate online sources for classroom assignments or readings.

I had contemplated planet like aggregation at the recent WPCampus online conference. It’s interesting to see that PressForward has considered it as a use case as well though I’d love to hear about or see examples of this in the wild.

How else could this rich, multi-functional Swiss Army knife-like plugin be used in education?

Cartoon diagram with a funnel collecting content from sites like YouTube, WordPress, Drupal, Blogger, RSS being aggregated into a single computer-based website.
Diagram of PressForward functionality as a content hub or “planet” courtesy of PressForward.org
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Yarns Indie Reader

Yarns Indie Reader by Jack Jamieson (jackjamieson.net)
Over the past little while I’ve been chipping away at an Indie Reader plugin for WordPress. It’s still a bit rough at this point, but works well enough that I’m happy to announce it here. Yarns Indie Reader allows you to subscribe to websites that publish either rss or h-feed. As well as keeping up with your subscriptions, you can like and reply and it create posts on your blog automatically.

I’m hoping this is another great example of the types of feed readers we need in the world. ​​​​​​​

Reply to Why we transitioned from Medium back to our own blog | Baremetrics

Why we transitioned from Medium back to our own blog by Josh Pigford (Baremetrics)
Where to publish something has becoming a difficult decision for a lot of businesses. You read so many stories about using various channels to distribute content and grow traffic, it’s hard to know what does and doesn’t work. Medium, in particular, has become a major player in the world of startup content, but is it really that great? [...] The numbers just didn’t make sense. Yes, I could put more into Medium and try to build up readership even more. The guys at Basecamp regularly get 250k+ views on their content. But doing that helps Medium the most in the long run. They’ve been fumbling left and right trying to figure out how to make Medium sustainable, and I’m just not convinced they’ll always do what’s best for us and our business. Switching back Now I didn’t want to throw out distribution on Medium entirely. There can definitely be some benefit to syndicating content there. It’s essentially another distribution channel to expose people to our content. So we needed a game plan on how we could still make use of Medium as a distribution channel without cannibalizing our own readership or SEO work.

This is 100% on the mark, you should definitely own your own content. Syndicating it out to Medium is a great idea, particularly when you can get a rel=”canonical” tag for the original on Medium. Incidentally Medium has their own WordPress plugin that will allow you to quickly and easily syndicate your site’s content directly to Medium without needing to separately import it. It’s also available on a per post basis.

But, even with this, you’re only getting 50% of the value of having your own website because you’ve only got one way communication out. Next you’ll need communication back in. What if I said you could get a lot of the comments, likes, and interactions from those other silos back into your website too? This way the conversations others are having relating to your content also come back to your site and enrich it there? What if you could own all (or almost all) of the conversation around your content?

Think about it, what if there was an @mention functionality that worked from website to website instead of being stuck inside Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Flickr etc.? Interestingly, it exists! And you can set it up for free with last year’s new W3C Webmention protocol which already has WordPress plugins ready to go. Roughly for WordPress you’ll need the Webmentions plugin, the Semantic Linkbacks plugin, the Syndication Links plugin, a few strategically placed rel=”me” tags on your site, (maybe some tweaks to your microformats on your theme), and a free Brid.gy account. Details for setting it up can be found on the WordPress pages of the indieweb.org website. I suspect if you’re strong enough to have figured out the tech for your article, you could probably have it up and running in under an hour or so. Then instead of feeding content from your blog to the black hole of social media, you could have actual two-way communication with many social silos! Now you won’t need to pay as much attention to those other sites as you can use your WordPress site as an “app” to interact with them instead.

I’m happy to help walk you through it if you’re interested and need help. My own personal site has some documentation of some of the above as well as examples of how it works.

In some sense, hopefully this post on my site will be an interesting exemplar. I own it and “loaned” or syndicated copies to Disqus and Twitter. Comments, likes and reposts you make to the Twitter copy will automatically be ported back here after the fact using Brid.gy. (Sadly, Disqus isn’t supported–yet.)

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📅 Domain of One’s Own Workshop for Admins

Might be attending Domain of One's Own Workshop for Admins
After hearing from a number of schools running Domain of One’s Own, we thought it might be useful to host an in-person workshop that focuses specifically on implementing this project on your campus. Workshop of One’s Own is a two-day, geared towards the instructional technologist who assists with managing DoOO on an administrator level, but also focuses on project conceptualization, instructional uses, and empowering their community from a teaching/learning standpoint. You’ll not only be receiving the in-person, focused attention from the entire Reclaim Hosting team, but you’ll also get a chance to brainstorm with folks from other schools who are running their own Domain of One’s Own projects. We’ll work through common troubleshooting tips, SPLOTs with Alan Levine, cPanel application case studies, and more.

I’m almost painfully tempted to attend this workshop on March 15-16 with the idea of and setting up a side business to specialize in hosting WordPress and Known sites for IndieWeb use. While it could be a generic non-institutional instance for academics, researchers, post docs, graduate and undergraduate students who don’t have a “home” DoOO service, it could also be a potential landing pad for those leaving other DoOO projects upon graduation or moving. Naturally I wouldn’t turn down individuals who wanted specific IndieWeb capable personal websites either.

Either way it’s an itch (at an almost poison ivy level) that I’ve been having for a long time, but haven’t written down until now. It would certainly be an interesting platform for continuing to evangelize the overlap of IndieWeb and Educational applications on the internet.

I think there are almost enough IndieWeb friendly WordPress themes to make it a worthwhile idea to have a multi-site WordPress install that has a handful of microformats performant themes in conjunction with tools like webmentions and micropub that allows easy interaction with most of the major social silos.

I think the community might almost be ready for such a platform that would allow an integrated turnkey IndieWeb experience. (Though I’d still want to offer some type of integrated feed reader experience bundled in with it.) Perhaps I could model it a little bit after edublogs and micro.blog?

Who wants to help goad me into it?

 
h/t:

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📅 RSVP for WPCampus Online: A Virtual Conference for WordPress in Higher Education

Attending WPCampus Online: A Virtual Conference for WordPress in Higher Education
Our next (free) conference, WPCampus Online, will take place Tuesday, January 30. It will be a free event and completely virtual. View the schedule and join us for a full day of professional development. No travel required! The WPCampus Online schedule is filled with 16 free sessions focused on using WordPress in higher education.

This looks like a cool event at the end of the month. I’m curious to see what #edtech and #IndieWeb-esque things they may be touching on during the day.

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👓 Learn Archives – Pods Framework | Pods.io

Learn Archives - Pods Framework (pods.io)
WordPress Content Types and Fields WordPress is all about creating content. It comes bundled with Posts and Pages, which you can organise using the Categories and Tags taxonomies. It’s also got post meta fields which you can use to append data to your content – author, date, and custom fields, for example.
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🔖 Pods Framework

Pods Framework (Pods Framework)
The Pods Framework is an open-source, GPLv2+ licensed PHP project released on October 8th, 2008. The goal was to create an interface and PHP codebase to easily create, extend, and manage content types within WordPress. While the normal WordPress content architecture is limited to the built-in tables, a primary feature of Pods allows you to base content types off of their own custom tables designed around each content types’ needs. The Pods Framework allows an ordinary user or developer to easily create and extend custom post types, content types, taxonomies, users, media, or comments — helping you keep your content organized and speed up the development of your project. Pods starts as a blank slate, as most frameworks do. The control is put into the hands of the developer to mould it into what is needed, without the fluff. Much of Pods’ functionality is coupled with a UI for easy administration, however, there are large portions of the codebase that can be optionally used for advanced implementations or specific project needs. You control everything while Pods Framework does the behind-the-scenes heavy lifting.
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Reply to What Was Known by Jim Groom

What Was Known by Jim Groom (bavatuesdays)
...the issue for me was Known was contextless for social media. I often post across various sites in response to things and share my photos as part of a conversation, so doing it through Known seemed a bit like working in a vacuum. I use Twitter less and less for discussion, so I wonder if I would feel different about this now, but what I wanted from Known was a way to also view and respond to Tweets, Facebooks statuses, photos on Flickr, Instagram, etc. A kind of reader for my content that would collapse those various conversations for me, and I could respond through my Known as if I was within those apps. I increasingly thought Known would make an awesome read//write feed reader if it had such a feature. The main reason Known fell by the wayside for me was I was not using it to publish in all these spaces, rather doing it post-facto if at all. Does that make sense?

Interestingly, Known had a lot of these features hidden in code under the hood. Sadly they weren’t all built out. It in fact, did have much of a reader (something which Ben indicated they were going to take out of the v1.0 release to slim down the code since it wasn’t being used). It also had a follow/following block of code (and even a bookmarklet at /account/settings/following) so you could follow specific sites and easily add them to your reader. Also unbeknownst to most was a built-in notifications UI which could have been found at /account/notifications.

It’s a shame that they put many of these half-built features on hold in their pivot to focus on the education market and creating a viable cash flow based company as this is the half that most CMSs lack. (If you think about what makes Twitter and Facebook both popular and really simple, I think it is that they’re 95% excellent feed readers with 5% built-in posting interfaces.)

I’ve managed to replace some of that missing functionality with Woodwind, a reader at http://woodwind.xyz, which one could connect with Known to do the reading and then integrate the posting, commenting, and replies to complete the loop. I do have a few very serious developer friends who are endeavoring to make this specific feed reader portion of the equation much easier to implement (and even self-host) to make the hurdle of this problem far lower, but I suspect it’ll be another 3-6 months before a usable product comes out of the process. For those looking to get more social into their feed readers, I often recommend Ryan Barrett’s appspot tools including https://twitter-atom.appspot.com/ which has instructions for extracting content from Twitter via Atom/RSS. It includes links at the bottom of the page for doing similar things with Facebook, Instagram and Google+ as well.

Interestingly there are now enough moving pieces (plugins) in the WordPress community to recreate all of the functionality Known has, one just needs to install them all separately and there are even a few different options for various portions depending on one’s needs. This includes adding reply contexts for social media as well as  both the ability to syndicate posts to multiple social sites for interaction as well as getting the comments, etc. backfeed from those social sites back into the comments section of your post the way Known did. Sadly, the feed reader problem still exists, but it may soon be greatly improved.

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