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A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts tagged WordPress

Things I didn’t know:

News UK moved thesun.co.uk to WordPress.com VIP last summer, becoming the fastest growing newspaper site in the UK, with well over 20 million monthly unique visitors, and tens of millions of page views every week. They recently added Scottish and Irish editions within a WordPress multisite configuration, all managed using the same innovative extension to the WordPress Customiser. WordPress is fast becoming an important part of News Corp’s worldwide publishing infrastructure, powering more and more sites in the US, India and Australia, as well as in the UK.

It’s a smart move – I’ve been a huge advocate of using off-the-shelf blogging platforms for mainstream news sites for over a decade, and it’s nice to see it becoming increasingly established as a mainstream approach.

It’s really cost-effective compared to many other approaches – and The Sun could do with some cost-savings right now

Condé Nast buys a WordPress plugin

Condé Nast said Poetica’s product, as well as its engineering and design team, will help it “seamlessly and quickly” deliver content to audiences across multiple platforms. The Poetica system will be integrated into Condé Nast’s proprietary content management platform, copilot, and its employees will remain based in London.

In a few years we’ve gone from major publishers dismissing blog platforms as serious publishing platforms, to a major publishers buying a WordPress plugin.

The big, propriety CMSes are not where the innovation is happening.

If you’re reading this, I’ve pulled off a technical challenge I’ve been putting off for years – literally years – now. This blog is now running on WordPress, rather than Movable Type.

It’s not been an easy move – and I’ll outline the process in another post – but it’s now complete, and this site is living on a new host, running new software in the background. And I’m excited to get blogging with the new setup.

Here’s why I moved.

Movable Type: big in Japan

Movable Type, contrary to popular belief, is not dead. It’s alive, well and still being developed by Six Apart – which is now a Japanese company. However, in the English-language world it’s largely being targeted at the corporate and professional market, with a price tag to match:

Movable Type price

So, I’m not moving because it’s dead. But I am partially moving because I don’t want to pay more than £300 every couple of years for a new version of the software. The advantages MT offers don’t outweigh the price difference between free and £300.

The need to experiment

I’m also moving because my web host was getting more and more grumpy about me running it on their servers, and I came to the conclusion that if I was going to go to the bother of shifting hosts, I might as well shift platforms as well. Because, as alive as MT might be, it’s not well-supported. Try finding themes for it. Or new plugins. Or even other web services that support talking to its API. They’re becoming vanishingly rare.

Increasingly, being tied to MT was stopping me experimenting with new tools, and I don’t like that feeling. Part of the joy of blogging for me has always been in the experimental aspects of it – playing with new pieces of software, and figuring out how they might help me publish better. To keep that feeling, I needed to move on from the comfy familiarity of a blog platform I’d been using for over a decade.

Five years ago, much of my working life centered around MT. No more. I have no clients using it, and a whole bunch of them working on WordPress. I really need to understand it much more deeply than I do – which is why my most-used blog needs to be on it. If nothing else, that will force me to explore its quirks and advantages.

And I’m just one of many sites making the move.

My Ghost-ly future

That, incidentally, is why I’m on WordPress rather than the platform I suspect I’ll move to next – Ghost. Ghost is still very young, and needs some more development before I can switch. But I value this time getting to know WordPress, too.

So, there we are. New One Man & His Blog, living in WordPress and hosted on WPEngine.

What do you think?

I am having a deeply nostalgic day right now. Not only am I provisioning a new blog – just as I used to back in my days as RBI’s blogmeister – but today is a day of note, as this tweet suggests:

More on that later.

Of course, there are differences. I’m provisioning a WordPress blog on a WPEngine server, rather than a Movable Type blog. And I’m doing the work sat in my home office, with a cup of my own coffee, not the in-office Starbucks.

Beach working
And it’s for university work, not a B2B blog.

But it’s a brief, nice throw-back.

The New Yorker website was not looking healthy this morning:

Broken New Yorker website

However, it wasn’t that bad for everyone:

And that triggered a little bell in my memory. A few days back, I saw, via Matt Mullenweg, that the New Yorker is rebuilding its website:

The new site, designed to be cleaner, with new typefaces, will be based on the WordPress publishing system. It is expected to be easier to navigate for mobile users — among the fastest-growing segments of the readership.

I was told for years by publishing company IT people that blog CMSes would never be good enough to run serious sites. In the meantime, they kept adding more and more technology costs into the business, for less and less gain. Big IT projects have an awful lot to answer for in the current debate about the viability of online journalism.

Also noted: Variety, a title sold by RBI a few years ago, is now running on WordPress:

Variety on WordPress

Right now, your operation needs a really good reason for NOT running on a cost-effective, cheap, and rapidly developed CMS like WordPress. And yet, the custom, bespoke magazine/newspaper CMS still reigns supreme.

UPDATE: In the time it’s taken to write this post, the site is live.

the source code for Ampp3d

If you’re interested in the technical detail of how sites come to be – and if you’re serious about publishing, you should be – William Turrell’s account of how he built Ampp3d makes for fascinating reading:

I find it helps to put something imperfect into the wild but make a private commitment to yourself to come back and deal with it properly later; my record on that is far from 100% but there’s a definite sense of achievement when resolving a long standing bug or paying off your technical debt.

And that honesty is on show throughout the piece.

However, buried down near the end are words that sent a chill through me:

Now that the site has proven itself editorially, The Mirror want to bring it within their own CMS, but my intention is to archive the present version (and it’s URLs) for posterity.

That’s a decision I have literally never seen end well.

Good luck Ampp3d team…

Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, is teaming with a student journalist to sue a “Straight Rights” organisation’s press officer for abusing the DMCA takedown process:

Hotham wrote an article about “Straight Pride UK” which included a comment he received from the organization’s press officer Nick Steiner. The latter didn’t like the article Hotham wrote, and after publication Steiner sent WordPress a takedown notice claiming it was infringing on his copyrights.

Through a lawsuit filed in a California federal court, WordPress and Hotham now hope to be compensated for the damage this abuse caused them.

Essentially, the press officer for Straight Pride UK disliked the tone of the article, and used the fact he was quoted in it to trigger a DCMA takedown. At no point was actual copyright violated.

This is fascinating for two reasons:

  1. The obvious one: Here’s a major content-hosting company fighting back against vexatious, politically-motivated abuses of copyright law.

  2. Here’s a student journalist using a blog to aggressively “do” journalism in public, and creating an impact as a result. Too many students journalists – even those on journalism-specific courses – seem to be reluctant to take the initiative and publish themselves with the tools available.

servererror.png

I started this daft writing project with ideas of fighting complacency. It’s too easy to slip into habits in your blogging, to just keep doing what you did before, without any serious attempt to keep pushing yourself forwards. And, in a sense, I’ve been scuppered for two days by taking exactly that approach to my technology.

I’ve been using Movable Type to blog here for over a decade now, and I’ve been on a single webhost for the majority of that time – since 2007, in fact. Now, I’m seriously reconsidering that decision. The past 48 hours have not covered my webhost in glory. They killed my blog software – and then my whole account – with no clear explanation. It took them 24 hours to resolve a photo uploading problem once the site was restored – and they broke the site several times in the meantime.

And, to cap it all, they gave me utterly wrong information at one point – telling me that I was using very old software (which is true, if your definition of “very old” is two months), which is unmaintained (not true) and therefore my site was “probably hacked”. Well, suspending my account because it was “probably hacked’ is one thing, although the “probably” is a bit worrying; surely you should check before pulling down sites? Doing it without notification is another.

Migration Labour

So, now I find myself wondering if I should migrate this blog to another of my hosting accounts – and that’s another level of work that’ll consume time I can ill-afford right now.

But then, I’ve also been reminded today how much technology does move on when you’re not paying attention. It’s been over a decade since I bought a printer. That one was on its last legs back in 2008, so I switched it for my late mother’s printer when she passed away. That printer has been faithfully serving us every since, but I finally made the decision to do away with it earlier in the year, as the ink prices for it were getting out of hand. When the current cartridges died – it was being replaced. And that happened earlier in the week. This morning, a Canon Pixma 6450 arrived – and it has been a revelation.

Two become one (tech edition)

canon-printer.jpg

First of all, it’s replacing two devices. Both my old printer and scanner are exiting, with one device taking their place. Welcome back, desk space.

Also, it connects to my wireless network – and, joy of joys, it supports AirPrint, which means I can print from my iPad and iPhone. It was quite something to tap the sharing button I’ve never used on my iPhone – the one marked “print” – and see a page pop out of the printer a few seconds later. What was more impressive was loading up some 6×4 photo paper and seeing a perfect little print popping out.

And then I realised how much time I wasted getting prints from Boots and those little printing kiosks when sending letters of thanks to people who bought Hazel clothes. This printer is capable of producing just as good results, faster, and without leaving home. The price is not much different. Sticking with that old printer was a false economy, in terms of the time/money trade off. I should have done this a while ago.

Time poor, cash… OK

Mentally, I’ve never quote made the journey from “time rich, cash poor” to “time starved, cash comfortable”. I still make decisions based on saving money not time – but since Hazel came along, time has been at an absolute premium, and I’m not yet making sensible decisions about how to deploy my money to ease that time pressure a little.

Am I paying too little for my web hosting – and suffering huge losses of time as a result? Would some sensible investment in hosting and a managed move to WordPress pay off in the long run? Where else in my life is corner-cutting costing me precious time? These are questions I need to be asking with more rigour – and focus.

Parker Higgins:

The blogging platform WordPress.com has taken the unusual — and welcome — step of going to court to defend its users against bogus copyright claims aimed at silencing their speech on the platform. Automattic, WordPress’s parent company, has joined two separate lawsuits that seek to hold the would-be censors of legitimate lawful speech accountable for their attempts.

Good on Automattic. This stuff is getting ever more important.

[via Kevin Anderson]

Matt Mullenweg

Matt Mullenweg, Founder, Automattic, interviewed by Om Malik, Founder & Senior Writer, GigaOM

WordPress powers 17% of the top million sites on the web – and that’s a huge responsibility. Matt Mullenweg wants to democratise publishing – but he also wants to build a sustainable business. Automattic sells services around WordPress, and they’re growing it to be large, sustainable and independent.

“Some of the things around Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are troubling,” says Matt. Facebook and Twitter’s primary customers aren’t those of we think as users – it’s the advertisers. Apple does well when they make something amazing, and you get your wallet out to pay for it. Their primary customer is you. He doesn’t approve of Instagram’s move – it doesn’t benefit users. WordPress comments work with all sorts of logins, and they have the freedom to do that. Data silos don’t make sense to him.

Does he plan on integrating other services into WordPress? Absolutely. You can always come home to your blog, whatever else you do. If you can back up some of that other content in your blog, so much the better. And you can push posts from WordPress to other engines. People said years ago that blogs were dead because of social media – but it has ended up providing a distribution channel for blogging instead.

Personlised online experiences

Om Malik Om is one of the philosophers of the web, says Matt. He love bespoke, hand-crafted things. How does that fit into the modern web? More personalised experiences, based on sensors and data input, says Om. It becomes our web, not their web. Facebook and Instagram are trying to sell us their web. We are the hub, not them. It’ll happen by 2020.

If you try to control the user experience on the web too much, that’s when the ecosystem fights back. Matt doesn’t want one device and one service that does everything, just as he doesn’t always want to eat in one restaurant.

Future WordPress Innovation

Where is the next big innovation for WordPress going to happen? Probably in plugins. There are 20,000 of them, and that’s where the open development happens. The first four years of WordPress were about blogging, the second four were about being a CMS – from being something on your website, to being your website.

He was shown a YMCA login app, and wondered what the WordPress connection was. The answer? The backend was all WordPress. The next four years could be WordPress as an application platform.

Mobile? He describes WordPress as being like an SLR, full of functions advanced users can find in the application. But for mobile, you can simplify and simplify the application’s UI to make it work in that environment. And they have more people working on the mobile version than the desktop one right now.

There’s something about the time it takes to create something and the time it take to consume something. People appreciate that. That’s why books are so good – and blogs.