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Posts tagged with ‘WordPress’

MSN Spaces Closing, Becomes WordPress.com →

cameronmoll:

Matt Mullenweg:

As just announced on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt, Windows Live (formerly MSN) Spaces is shutting down and migrating their 30m+ users to WordPress.com. Four years ago I was fairly worried as every internet giant (Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo, Google) had a hosted blogging service. Now only Blogger remains, and is firmly in our sights.

Blogger, no doubt, has the lion’s share of everyday bloggers. But if I were Matt, I might be more concerned about Tumblr as the most credible (and future) threat to WordPress.com.

my two cents

Yes, Cameron is right. The threat to Wordpress is not Blogger, Six Apart (who was purchased by VideoEgg last week), or other old school blogging tools. The competitive challenge will come from Tumblr and other more social stream media. Of course,  Wordpress could adopt an open follower model for users to internally follow blogs, a la Tumblr, like Typepad did last year with the Micro release.

Zemanta Integrated With Wordpress.com

Zemanta has announced a partnership with Wordpress.com, so that bloggers using that platform will have direct access to Zemanta’s technology.

I have been using Zemanta on my various blogs (stoweboyd.com, underpaidgenius.com) and it is a great support. In my case, Zemanta is a Firefox plug-in that does a lexical analysis of your post in the editor mode, and recommends related articles and photos based on the topics you discuss.

Here’s the plug-in’s recommendations for a recent post of mine:

By simply clicking on Zamanta’s recommendations, members of my reading community will see links to supporting information. It’s very easy for the author, and provides more context for the reader.

Zemanta has relationships with SixApart’s Movable Type, Blogger.com and Scribefire. I use it with Tumblr, although that is not a business relationship: it just works. Zemanta reaches far more than 30% of the blogging population now.

[I just wish I could use it other types of Tumblr posts: at the moment it is limited to ‘Text’ posts, like this one. I especially would like it to work with link posts, but there is no reason that Zemanta’s great dev team can’t figure it out.]

Tumblr’s Media Direction: Mark Coatney Joins

Mark Coatney leaves his Newsweek gig as a senior editor and joins Tumblr as ‘media evangelist’, working to get media companies more involved in the service:

Jenna Wortham, Tumblr, a New Spin in the Flurry of Social Media

Mr. Coatney, a 43-year-old journalist, is the latest hire at Tumblr, a fast-growing blogging service based in New York that says it has 6.6 million users.

Until last month, Mr. Coatney was a senior editor at Newsweek, where as a side project he headed up the magazine’s social efforts on Twitter and Facebook. Last year he decided to add Tumblr to his repertoire.

“I saw it as an opportunity to talk to our audience in a new way,” he said. On Twitter, he said, “the main feedback comes mostly from retweeting,” or retransmitting an interesting message. On Tumblr, “the tone is a lot more conversational.”

Mr. Coatney quickly cultivated a following on Tumblr for his thought-provoking, quick-witted posts. Often they included commentary that was funny and bordering on acerbic — something he was able to get away with largely because “no one at Newsweek really knew what I was doing,” he said.

The credibility he established among Tumblr users, and the fact that Newsweek was one of the first big publishers to sign on, cemented Tumblr’s decision to hire him, company executives said.

Over the last few months, other media outlets have caught wind of Tumblr, which is free to use. The newest recruits include The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, BlackBook Media Corporation, National Public Radio, The Paris Review, The Huffington Post, Life magazine and The New York Times.

But many of those outlets have done little more than set up a placeholder page. In his new job as a “media evangelist,” Mr. Coatney’s role, and in some ways his challenge, is to help them figure out what to do next.

Mr. Coatney describes Tumblr as “a space in between Twitter and Facebook.” The site allows users to upload images, videos, audio clips and quotes to their pages, in addition to bursts of text.

As on Twitter, users can follow other users, whose posts appear in a chronological stream on a central home page known as the dashboard. Users can indicate that they like an item by clicking on a red heart next to it or “reblogging” it.

Commentators never seem to get down to the core difference between Tumblr and other blogging solutions. As a result, they miss the rich social dimension that Tumblr offers.

I recently characterized this as having both an ‘inside’ and an ‘outside’ view:

Stowe Boyd, WordPress Releases ‘Like’ And ‘Reblog’: We Need TumbleBacks, People!

The Outside View — When Tumblr users are looking at other Tumblr-hosted blogs, they see several controls that are not visible to non-users. Along with the blog content, they see ‘like’, ‘reblog’, ‘follow’ and ‘dashboard’ icons, like this:


The ‘like’ button (the heart) is a way to create a haptic gesture that winds up on the post’s ‘notes’ list, a history of all the ways that the post has been touched by others.

The ‘reblog’ button makes a copy of the post on the user’s blog, and adds that action to the original post’s notes history.

Clicking the ‘follow’ adds the blog to the user’s list of followed blogs, which is a perfect segue to the second view in the poststream model.

The Inside View — When the user logs into Tumblr (or when they clink on ‘dashboard’ after being logged in), they are presented their Tumblr dashboard, which aggregates posts from all the blogs that the user is following, plus posts from their own blog, and notes that other users’ actions have left on posts. Here’s the third page of my Tumblr dashboard from this morning (I wanted to show a note and the page controls):


The ‘like’ and ‘reblog’ controls are displayed on all the posts in the poststream, and work in the same way as described.

You can see that wakeupfromthedramscene has started following my UnderpaidGenius blog. Other notes also are displayed, although their are none in this page of my poststream:  reblogs, likes, and answers to questions (any text post that ends with a question mark allows for answers to questions to be accumulated).

So, I think Coatney is right to see Tumblr as sitting somewhere better Twitter and blogging. The inside view is based on an open follower model, and social gestures like ‘likes’, ‘reblogs’ and ‘asks’ fill in for much of the communication that Twitter supports so readily. But Tumblr’s rich media — images, videos, audio, and various sorts of text-based posts — make it a more literary, or interests-based medium, especially at first glance.

As a direct result, communities of people with similar interests quickly aggregate, and connect through ‘following’ relationships, in a way parallel to Twitter, but using other parts of the head since it is not an endless stream of text-based tweets and links.

Perhaps because of this media richness, and the media-oriented communities that form within Tumblr, partnerships with media firms seems a natural course to take, especially highly focused publications with tight communities. Consider groups like young parents, avid sports enthusiasts, gadget heads, or social activists: these would be natural communities that could benefit from participation of cornerstone media companies investing in a slightly more advanced infrastructure than comes off the shelf with Tumblr.

For example, a cycling magazine might build a Tumblr-based website (called Wheels) that includes pages dedicated to specific interests, like new bikes, performance training, leisurely cruising, and bike-based holidays. Members of the Wheels community could follow Wheels, and be followed back in turn. Any posts that the community members tagged appropriately would be streamed through these pages, and the best and most interesting might be featured or highlighted on the Wheels topics pages.

At any rate, it would be a straightforward prospect to develop this sort of componentry to offer media companies, and to allow them a means to use the follower model to sharpen their connection to communities, and to do so without becoming yet another Facebook colony.

Note that Wordpress and Typepad have been moving steadily in the direction of Tumblr’s innovation, adopting social gestures (‘like’ and ‘reblog’) and in the case of Typepad, even developing an inside view modeled directly after Tumblr’s.

I recently moved this blog to Tumblr (see Moving To Tumblr Manually: I Must Be Nuts), and I have used the platform for several years on my underpaidgenius.com blog. I have some complaints, but they are actually minor relative to the upside offered by this rich social interaction. I just wish I could convince more of the community that follows my writing here to sign up for a Tumblr account, and experience the rich world behind the outside view that you are probably experiencing now.

Why I am Going To Leave Squarespace

I have had a number of headaches with Squarespace — the blogging platform /Message is based on — but one is so persistently annoying that it is leading me to start the (terrifying) prosect of moving my blog once again. What is that headache? It is the lowly bookmarklet: the piece of javascript that all blog platforms provide so that a user can start a blog post based on a link to a specific web page being viewed, or perhaps selecting a fragment of text to respond to.

For reasons that escape me, Squarespace has been unable to create a bookmarklet that will copy selected text.

You might think this is a tiny tiny feature, not big enough to start thinking about porting a blog over to an alternative platform. But this is something I do all the time, nearly every single time I start a new blog post.

And I have been waiting for a resolution since I moved to Squarespace in January 2010.

I complained to the support team, who handed me over to the engineers. I got this response:

Hey Stowe,

Please understand that we receive hundreds of feature requests and have limited engineering resources.

We typically prioritize bugs that critically impact site performance or core functionality first, and this issue does not fall into that category.

Again, we appreciate your willingness to use the workaround in the meantime.

Thanks,
Korey

So I guess there are so many serious bug demanding their attention that they can’t fix this extremely annoying UI problem. Their algorithm for fixing bugs leads to low priority bugs never getting fixed so long as higher priority bugs exist. In technical terms this is called ‘starvation’. Oh, and Karey, I am not willing to use the workaround in the meantime — which is already 6 months.

Meanwhile, there doesn’t seem to be any great fanfare about coming features that would make me hold my breath and wait for some glorious future. I had a conversation with the founder of Squarespace a few months ago, Anthony Casalena, who waved his hands about a big coming release, but asked me not to post anything about it. Fine.

The other reason I plan to leave is that the streaming, social dimension that I love so much at Tumblr is completely absent at Squarespace. While the tools provided by Squarespace are solid and workable, they are nearly 100% oriented toward publishing, and zero geared to streaming socially. I am certain that the great majority of Squarespace users are happy with the technology and the company; perhaps it’s just me.

Ok.

Now I just have to figure out how to port my blog to Tumblr. That’s going to be an enormous headache, I know.

Any recommendations? Squarespace does allow me to export my context into a Movable Type-style export file. But Tumblr doesn’t support any blog import at all.

Maybe I am going to have to hire someone to manually cut and paste it all together.

And of course my links will all be broken.

Maybe it would be easier to create a new blog, and simply start over. More to follow.

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WordPress Releases ‘Like’ And ‘Reblog’: We Need TumbleBacks, People!

WordPress is following the lead of Tumblr and other blog platforms (like Typepad) and adopting at least one part the ‘poststream’ model that Tumblr pioneered. The Tumblr poststream model has two ‘sides’:

The Outside View — When Tumblr users are looking at other Tumblr-hosted blogs, they see several controls that are not visible to non-users. Along with the blog content, they see ‘like’, ‘reblog’, ‘follow’ and ‘dashboard’ icons, like this:


The ‘like’ button (the heart) is a way to create a haptic gesture that winds up on the post’s ‘notes’ list, a history of all the ways that the post has been touched by others.

The ‘reblog’ button makes a copy of the post on the user’s blog, and adds that action to the original post’s notes history.

Clicking the ‘follow’ adds the blog to the user’s list of followed blogs, which is a perfect segue to the second view in the poststream model.

The Inside View — When the user logs into Tumblr (or when they clink on ‘dashboard’ after being logged in), they are presented their Tumblr dashboard, which aggregates posts from all the blogs that the user is following, plus posts from their own blog, and notes that other users’ actions have left on posts. Here’s the third page of my Tumblr dashboard from this morning (I wanted to show a note and the page controls):


The ‘like’ and ‘reblog’ controls are displayed on all the posts in the poststream, and work in the same way as described.

You can see that wakeupfromthedramscene has started following my UnderpaidGenius blog. Other notes also are displayed, although their are none in this page of my poststream:  reblogs, likes, and answers to questions (any text post that ends with a question mark allows for answers to questions to be accumulated).

WordPress Adopts (Part Of) The Outside View Of The Poststream Model

WordPress announced (without any reference to Tumblr) support for ‘like’ and ‘reblog’ — a subset of the outside view.

Today we’re introducing a new like and reblog feature enabled across the whole of WordPress.com. When you’re logged in to WordPress.com and viewing a post you’ll notice a new link in the admin bar at the top of the page. If you really enjoyed the post then you can click the “Like” link to signify this. This will then show the author how many readers liked the post.

Once you’ve liked the post, the link will change to “You like this” and you’ll be presented with some new options via a drop down menu. You can also access this menu at any time in the future by hovering over the “You like this” link in the same way other menu items work.

Wordpress offers up a list of the posts that the user has ‘liked’ but doesn’t seem to implement anything like the outside view. However, I have to imagine that they will trend in that direction, simply based on competitive pressures.

A Growing Divide In Blogistan, And The Need For Tumblebacks

I guess that all WordPress users will be happy with the new features. But as soon as they become used to ‘like’ and ‘reblog’ they are going to experience a real annoyance: when they land on a Tumblr blog post they will not be able to ‘reblog’ or ‘like’ it. Why? Because the competitors in the blog platform space do not seem to want to play together nicely.

When I first started to gripe about this divided world, last year, David Sippey of Typepad said that he would be willing to support the development of some interoperable means to support cross-platform interoperability, which I started to call ‘Tumblebacks’. But I got nowhere with the folks at Tumblr.

A Call For Interoperable Tumbling: Tumblebacks

I would like to expand briefly on what I think is called for.

  1. A convention — like trackbacks — needs to be established, so that a message can be sent by one platform, like Typepad, to another, like Tumblr, on behalf of an author. I propose we call this ‘tumbleback’, plural ‘tumblebacks’.
  2. Let’s say I want to reblog a post from a Tumblr blog on my Typepad blog. I might use a Typepad bookmarklet that is Tumblr-aware. When I select a post on a Tumblr blog, and use the reblog capability in the bookmarklet, it would a/ post the reblog on my Typepad blog, and b/ send a message to Tumblr, indicating the reblog.
  3. The cross-platform reblog would look much like a regular, within a single platform reblog, with the name and URL of the source blog displayed.
  4. The message sent from Typepad on my behalf would be received by Typepad, and the fact that I reblogged the post could be included on the ‘notes’ history associated with the source blog post. This means that readers of the original post would see that I had reblogged it.
  5. Tumblr might send a message back to Typepad including information that would allow Typepad to display the notes history of the source blog on the post I created. Alternatively, this could be provided by an API. Likewise, as other Typepad users reblog my post Typepad could pass these notes along. In this way the full reblog history (and favorites or likes, as well) could be maintained at the original source post, and shared by everyone.
  6. I think some new microsyntax is called for, that would indicate the platform, author, and other metadata associated with these cross-platform trails. More to follow on that.
  7. The addition of downstream reblogs and likes/favorites could be added to the streams of participants by the various services.

It’s a non-trivial technical challenge, and can’t be simply accomplished with RSS, as some have suggested. But most importantly, we need a united Blogistan, not three or ten separate worlds, all implementing essentially similar services but not in an interoperable way.

We should all exert pressure on these vendors to agree to interoperability around the blogstream social dimension of blogging. I would be happy to participate in a working group on the subject, and I have had some support — like Michael Sippey — but otherwise, nothing.

While the vendors may think that their interests are served by non-interoperability, consider the instant messaging marketplace, where the three major players — AOL, Yahoo, and Microsoft — effectlively lost their importance when web 2.0 generation social tools came along. Had they done the opposite back in the late 90’s and early ’00s — created an interoperable set of standards for IM and opened that platform up for developers to build on — they might have benefitted from the social revolution instead of being sidelined by it.

The blog vendors may wind up in the same spot.

Twitter API and Microblogging: What About Tumblebacks?

Like Fred Wilson and Dave Winer, I am extremely excited about the moves by Tumblr and Wordpress to leverage the Twitter API as a way to get tumbleblogging into Twitter clients.

Tumblr’s David Karp explains on the Tumblr blog:

Inspired by Wordpress’ seriously clever use of Loren Brichter’s new Tweetie options, we’re launching our own Tweetie and Twitterrific compatible API. This Twitter-like API should make it easy for a lot of existing Twitter clients to start supporting Tumblr.


The really cool thing - because our following models follow a lot of the same principles, we’ve been able to take advantage of a ton of native features:



  • Retweeting = Reblogging

  • Replying = Reblogging w/ commentary

  • Favoriting = Liking

  • “@david” = ”http://david.tumblr.com/”

  • Conversations = Reblogs


To try out Tumblr in Tweetie 2, tap “Accounts” → “+” → enter your username and password → tap the gear icon → enter “http://tumblr.com/” in both fields.


For Twitterrific, tap ”Sources” → “Edit” → “Add a New Account” → enter your username and password → tap ”Advanced” → set “Base URL” to “http://tumblr.com/” and disable “SSL”.

via staff.tumblr.com

I confess I am more drawn to the Tumblr example since I maintain a number of active Tumblr blogs. I will leave aside the tactical issues of that integration for another post, one probably only interesting to Tumblr heads. For this post I want to focus on the ups and downs of this use of the Twitter API.

Karp’s handwave equivalences in the post, where he equates ‘@david’ and ‘http://david.tumblr.com’, conceal a host of real semantic differences in the various platforms involved in this seeming convergence of many sorts of ‘microblogging’. As just one example, David Karp is ‘david.tumblr.com’ at Tumblr, but not ‘@david’ on Twitter (David Noël, in Germany). But that’s not central.

What is central to this discussion is the differences in tumbling and twittering. The two systems share (for all intents and purposes) the open follower model, where any user can opt to follow any other. (One caveat is blocking followers, but leave that to one side as a nit.)

There is also a loose equivalence between reposting and retweeting, which was more tight before Twitter reworked the semantics of retweeting. (Note that the adoption of Twitter fundamentals as the basis of a trans-microblogging suite of social conventions suggests a new reason for Twitter to not fool with semantics of core operations, like reposting/retweeting. But I will leave the Retweet Fail controversy to one side, too.)

But some social gestures and other semantics don’t equate nicely across the tumbleblog/Twitter divide. For example:


  • Tumblr is a typed blogging system, where quotes, images, videos, audio, and text posts are distinct, and have different capabilities integrated into the user experience for authors and readers. It is the richness of media types and there supports that makes Tumblr (and its competitors) so interesting and engrossing an experience. And they can be arbitrarily long: not limited to 140 characters. Twitter has only one type of tweet, which are all limited to 140 characters. To the extent that Twitter supports media objects, it does so through URLs referencing images, audio, and other media objects. So in a sense, Tumblr has a tighter integration with media, while Twitter’s is very loose.

  • Tumblr provides explicit history of social gestures — such as ‘likes’ and reposts — for every post. These appear in a user’s stream like other posts. So if you were to ‘like’ a post of mine on Tumblr, I would see that and other social gestures in my stream, and when users append new text to repostings I would see those as a sort of comment in those messages. (PS An interesting model for Twitter to look at instead of their new approach to Retweet, by the way.)


What I have proposed is a new convention, called Tumblebacks, which would require extension made to these companies APIs, so that cross-following, cross-streaming, cross-posting, and cross-gestures would be supported.

But these issues aside, there seems to be a real possibility of a mashed up mixed up world, based on tumbleblogging platforms leveraging the Twitter API.

But there is a hidden problem. All of these systems are unintegrated.

I recently wrote a post calling for a cross integration of the user experience of tumbleblogging platforms, and not I can include Twitter, as well.

Here’s the issue: I can’t follow a Typepad blogger (or blog, more correctly) inside of Tumblr, or vice versa. I have to login to two different systems, and interoperability is manual, at the best. I have to manually cut and paste stuff from Michael Sippey’s Typepad-hosted blog into my Tumblr-hosted Underpaid Genius blog. And I have two different sets of followers and people that I follow in Tumblr and Typepad. Oh, and in Twitter, too.

This is analogous to the wonderful world of instant messaging, where AIM, Yahoo, and MSN have fought for years to not support a general protocol for instant messaging interconnection. At one time telephone companies would not allow calls to people outside their own network, either, and the US Government gave a monopoly to Bell to solve that mess.

What I have proposed is a new convention, called Tumblebacks, which would require extension made to these companies APIs, so that cross-following, cross-streaming, cross-posting, and cross-gestures would be supported. For a detailed discussion of the proposed convention, see here.

Various companies — Six Apart, Postling, Soup.io, and others — have expressed an interest in discussing this convention, and seeing where it would lead. One contact at Posterous — I can’t find the tweet — expressed puzzlement about the idea, and said they weren’t a microblogging company. He said something like ‘We’re a real blogging company,’ or the like.

Tumblr’s John Maloney and I have had an email exchange about the Tumblebacks Convention, but he seems to think that these other companies are principally or only interested in getting their hooks into the large and growing community of Tumblr users.

[Update: John Maloney emailed today (18 Dec) following this post to say he was only making a wisecrack, and he and his team are going to take a long look at Tumblebacks and circle back with an official response.]

However, my interest is on behalf of users, like me, who are decidedly not better off in a divided world.

We, the users of all these products, which form the paving stones of our shared online city, we would be better off with Tumblebacks implemented.

The vendors of Twitter and tumbleblog clients — like Tweetie, Tweetdeck, Blogo, and Twitterific — may be the place where will see Tumblebacks first implemented.

Imagine this scenario:


  • I am logged into a future client, say Tweetie 3, where I have connected to my Twitter, Typepad and Tumblr accounts. I have a single stream of tweets, microblog posts, and social gestures — retweets, reposts, likes — all presented in a consistent fashion.

  • I can opt to repost a story from Michael Sippey’s Typepad stream to my Tumblr blog, and Typepad records the repost on that story. (Note that in this case, the reposted story on my Tumblr blog has to gain the list of social gestures from Typepad, which is where that list would be maintained.)

  • Or I decide to tweet out a link to that post via Twitter, and that would be similarly recorded on the Typepad post, without recourse to third party commenting solutions like JS-Kit’s Echo or Disqus’ Mentions.

Most important, the user experience for both me as an active tumbler and twitterer is consistent and intuitive, and the experience of those who are approaching this outside the stream — a casual visitor to Michael Sippey’s blog, for example — displays the full richness of the interaction going on, with reposts, likes, and other social gestures displayed on the individual posts (and tweets?).

So I guess this latest chapter is an indication of things to come. Two clients developers, Tweetie and Twitterific, create a way to do something cool, that makes the user experience richer and better, and the vendors start to move in a great direction. But we also need a strategic vision, not just tactical advances. And Tumblebacks — to be implemented in the broadest general manner — will require strategic alignment from all the microblogging companies, and we will be the final beneficiaries of their commitment.

Moved to Wordpress

I am going to be dramatically revamping my Typepad set-up for /Message over the next week or so. Pardon my dust as I am futzing around.

The motivating cause is my desire to get Sphere working on the blog, which has proven to be a real headache. The nice people at Wordpress — solicited by Tony Conrad of Sphere — discussed moving me over to Workpress, but that soon started to look like a real major headache: partly because I have three blogs at Typepad, now, but just because I don’t want any breakage. Then the nice people at Six Apart offered to help me, but it rapidly became clear that I know just as much about Typepad’s vagaries as many of the Six Apart staff, if not more.

So, expect a template that looks something like this one, but with only one sidebar, on the right, new logo, no banner ad along the top, and a reduction in clutter of various sorts.

More to follow.