Thoughts on Themes and

I just gave in to the temptation to start a new blog, having resisted said temptation for… months? years?

I teach at Virginia Tech. Like many universities, it hosts WordPress blogs for those to whom it provides an email address.

So I started a new blog there. Well, there isn’t physically at Virginia Tech: Blogs @VT is run by Pressable.

I had fun choosing a theme, and writing about choosing a theme. Is that sad? Understandable? Feel free to leave other adjectives in comments.

This will continue to be my main blog, and my personal home on the web.

Electing to Start Blogging Again

I didn’t give up blogging, I just didn’t post for almost four months. I last posted just after the big summer storm, when we lost power, and got it back on the 4th of July. So I hardly blogged at all between Independence Day and Election Day.

Today’s election was the first in which I was eligible to vote as a US citizen. I did so accompanied by my kids.

Voting is good, and blogging is good. Will the outcome of the election be good? Or rather, for whom will it be good?

ReadWriteWeb Acquired By SAY Media

In the years I’ve been blogging about social media, even before we thought that Web 2.0 was a cool and cutting-edge term, ReadWriteWeb has been among the feeds I follow. So I knew (or at least emailed and otherwise interacted with) Richard MacManus when he was an ambitious and hardworking blogger. I continued to follow RWW as it became a new media property (whatever that means) and added staff, such as Marshall Kirkpatrick.

I’ll continue to follow RWW as it moves into the third stage. Having been a blog and a media property, it’s now part of a media empire. RWW has been acquired by SAY Media.

Richard, sincere congratulations. I hope that this is a very profitable event financially. I also hope that it is not an exit from RWW for you as a blogger.

HTML5: Which nest(s) should it foul?

HTML5 kills the blog format! That’s the hope, if not quite the prediction, made by Scott Fulton at RWW. There’s a lot to like about the post. For example, Scott acknowledges that it’s strange to wish for the death of the very format you are using to express your wish.

But I’m not sure that Scott is aiming the HTML5 gun at the appropriate target. He detests “the fast food of today’s publishing society.” So do I, but blogs are, by today’s standards, leisurely and thoughtful repasts. His main complaint, though, concerns formatting.

The blog format relieves publishers from the tiresome duty of producing covers and front pages and things to make their content more attractive and make readers want it. In some cases, it enables publishers to surrender any responsibility for making content attractive in the first place.

This may have been true a couple of years ago. But it ignores the work done at WordPress, Tumblr, and other platforms to provide tools for the management of content – including the very aspects on which Scott focuses.

If Scott wants to aim to HTML5 gun at any platforms, for the reasons he states, then he has at least two targets more appropriate than blog/content management platforms. I refer to Facebook and Twitter. Each enables and hosts the production of vast amounts of fast food, in generic containers.

I expect to be blogging, probably using WordPress, for years after HTML5 makes its mark on the web. I’m less sure that I’ll be using Facebook and/pr Twitter that long. How about you?

A New Year – for schools, and…

It’s Labor Day weekend here in the USA. That traditionally marks the end of summer, in a way that seemed strange and sharp to me when I moved over here from Europe.

Things are starting up again. Maddie is already back at school, having started at Bannockburn Elementary on Monday.

It’s time for me to start inflicting myself on the web again, after having taken the summer more of less off. There were lots of reasons for the shutdown. One was that I realized I had set up too many sites. An idea, a new and cool (to me at least) URL, a little WordPressing, and voila! a new site. So which sites to shut down? Which sites to keep active? Which sites belong somewhere in between those two extremes?

There is one site for which the answer is sadly obvious. That’s the site for the PTA of Highland Elementary School. Since Maddie no longer attends Highland, and we no longer live a short walk away, I can’t continue to provide content for that site, or to be actively involved. Its state is: leave on the web, hope that someone takes it over, be very willing to help them do so.

The answer is just as obvious for this site. Changing Way is my home, home on the web. I’ll start posting here again, covering such vital topics as moving house, staying on the internet when Verizon strike and Comcast cable is hit by lightning, and so on.

Thanks for reading!

Too Many Blogs: But Andrew dot Survives

I have too many blogs. To put it more broadly, I have too many websites. To put it more narrowly, I have too many WordPress blogs; I even have too many blogs. Hence the tag toomanyblogs, and the exercise of culling some of them.

One site that will survive the cull is It was my first site, way back in 2005. If I hadn’t scored an invite (thanks, Matt), I wouldn’t have got to early enough to have got such an obvious site address. It also has some interesting content, as I’ve just boasted about in my first post there in years.

WordPress and Less, Tumblr and Micro-Publishing

Blogs were once the outlet of choice for people who wanted to express themselves online. But with the rise of sites like Facebook and Twitter, they are losing their allure for many people — particularly the younger generation.

So says the NYT, based on a Pew report.

Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family.

I saw the article via a blog post, albeit one so short that it wouldn’t have been out of place on Facebook or Twitter. The post was by Toni, CEO of Automattic, the firm that runs (among other things).

The guy who put the Matt in Automattic responded to the article at a more traditional blog post length. He pointed out the big picture: “people of all ages are becoming more and more comfortable publishing online.” He also described the various tools publishing as complementary.

Tumblr is a particularly interesting publishing tool in this context, so it was good that an interview with Tumblr founder David Karp went online today (at TechCrunch). He admires WordPress as a tool for “long-form publishing.” David founded Tumblr for people whose dislike of writing presents a barrier to blogging.

But don’t Twitter and Facebook lower those barriers even further? They do, but they lack a strong expressive identity, argues Karp… Tumblr, in contrast, is built to be a place you can be proud to call your online home. It’s very design-oriented and you can customize your Tumblr to reflect your personality.

I think that’s a pretty good characterization of Tumblr, or at least a good motive for founding it and for using it. Meanwhile, I’m posting this on WordPress, which will automatically tell my Twitter followers about it. Hey Twitter types, and others, thank you for reading this opus.

WordPress Winning By Being Free as in…

In the future of blogging, “the winner will be WordPress.” That’s the way it seems to Philip Leigh, writing at MediaPost (via WordPress Publisher Blog). Philip goes on to imply that blogging will be an important factor in the future of media.

He identifies two reasons for the success of WordPress: it’s free, and it’s free. He uses open source rather than free, or free as in speech, or GPL’d, to describe the second cause of success. The first cause is free as in beer, gratis, cost of zero, etc.

I refer to the MediaPost article, not just to quote it – it’s been fairly widely quoted already – but to remark on some of the questions it implicitly raises. In particular, consider the following.

WordPress is not merely a blogging tool. It’s a platform that can lead to an explosion of new media properties capable of text, video, audio, music, animation, interactivity, online merchandising, podcasting, and even social networking.

WordPress isn’t the only such platform. It isn’t the only such platform that’s both free and free. Drupal and Joomla spring to mind. So what is it about WordPress that will make it the winner? Is it the trajectory from simple blogging tool to rich publishing platform?

Whither Movable Type?

There are several comparisons of WordPress and Drupal here at Changing Way, the most recent being 5 months ago. What about other social publishing platforms? Well, I posted about a Smashing comparison of WordPress and Joomla at around the same time.

And what about Movable Type? That’s the question posed in a recent comment on the WordPress and Drupal post. It’s a good question, particularly in the light of recent news about MT’s parent company. I refer to Six Apart dropping Vox, and then being acquired by VideoEgg. (I didn’t post about the acquisition, but former Six Apart evangelist Anil Dash did.)

The most recent post on the official MT blog is a promise that MT is safe: “of course we will continue development and support of this platform that now has a decade of history behind it.” The same post stresses that MT is open source. In that, it is similar to WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. Unlike those other platforms, it was not born free/open.

Many of the key points at the MT overview page will be familiar to those made about the other open/free social publishing platforms. MT isn’t just for blogging, it can be used as a more general tool to create websites. It can be used to build community, as well as to publish content.

Movable Type is not 6A’s only product, or even its only platform. There’s also TypePad, “Six Apart’s premier hosted blogging service… [with its] easy to use interface.”

So, that’s my shot at mixing Movable Type into the comparison. It may be more about 6A than about MT, but that seems appropriate at the moment. Comments are welcome, on 6A, on more technical aspects of MT, or on pretty much anything else.

Windows Live to Roll Over to

Web services close down all the time. TechCrunch, among the sources I subscribe to, is the most zealous at documenting such shutdowns. It usually uses the term Deadpool.

But it just passed up on the opportunity for headlines such as “Windows Live Spaces to the Deadpool.” Instead, Jason Kincaid’s post has the title Windows Live Outsources Blogging, Migrating 30 Million Users To Now, this seems to be less abrupt than many closedowns.

Users will be migrated through a process that preserves all of their content, and will automatically redirect visitors who head to their existing Microsoft Live Spaces sites… Microsoft is going to be killing off the existing Spaces product in six months.

So it’s killing off without a deadpool? I’m not sure why it takes TechCrunch most of the article to use a word of death. It’s not usually that delicate, or squeamish.

Anyway, this is big for, where Paul Kim welcomes the new arrivals.