Implicitly WordPress.com

This is something I noticed in two of my recent conversations about blogging. One of the attendees of my OOP training asked me that he wanted to form an archive of his own understandings. I said, of course, start a blog. When he asked me where, that is where I realised that I had stopped mentioning WordPress.com explicitly. I had stopped thinking about other places where a blog can be started, WordPress.com was implied. It offers so many things that other options seem inferior.

For starters, it is based on the excellent blogging platform WordPress, has excellent hosting quality, managed by the small-yet-efficient team of Automattic and has a lot of themes to choose from. The only other option is to host your blog by yourself where you have to arrange for your own domain name and hosting. It lets you focus on writing and not worry about a lot of other things like getting overloaded or backup. It pulls technology out of your way. I realised this when I moved my blog to self host it. The reasons behind that move included experiments and some other projects which I could not do here. But if you want to write, participate in a growing community and be least bothered about technology, nothiing better than WordPress.com.

Yesterday I received an email from one of my acquaintances about writing articles when I, again, asked him to start a blog. While reviewing the email I realised I had, again, not mentioned WordPress.com. It is so implied because it has become synonymous to starting a blog!

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Not Only WordPress But Even WordPress.com

WordPress family now has a full bouquet of products. But its not only the tool, the WordPress.com is now offering all the services for hosting your blog. You can now have your own domain name for WordPress.com blog along with the CSS Upgrade feature. You can choose the VIP hosting if you expect high traffic on your blog. Full marks to the Automattic team which works behind the scenes on all this.

Six Apart and Google now have to face the competition on multiple fronts – the blogging tool as well as the blogging service.

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Copyright Abhijit Nadgouda.

Blog Anonymously

Ethan Zuckerman has setup a guide for blogging anonymously (via Lorelle On WordPress). The suggestions include using the free yet fantastic WordPress.com platform and Tor for anonymity. I think howmuchever a technology is good, there will always be technology that will break it. Probably the best way to blog anonymously is to blog from different places.

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To Move Or Not To Move

I am contemplating moving to a self-hosted blog. Not because WordPress.com falls short of anything, just that I have become greedier. I want to control more and want to experiment more.

I will definitely continue with WordPress. It has achieved the privileged milestone of one million downloads and is coming up with some dynamic features. WordPress.com too has seen massive growth, it hosts 310 thousand blogs on its first birthday. WordPress.com has time and again shown that it is one of the highest quality blogging sites, with lot of high traffic and slashdottable blogs.

I want to dig deeper now, get more control and start some experiments. The new avataar will also host some projects and some personal stuff. After some research I have narrowed down to bluehost.com, dreamhost.com and mediatemple.net for hosting with a bias towards bluehost. Feel free to suggest if you have any information regarding this. I am looking at PHP, Ruby and Python support. Any kind of guidance will be appreciated.

I am trying to evaluate the costs of moving, some are apparent and I am sure some will raise their head later. Right now though, none of the disadvantages are heavy enough to outweigh the basic advantage of being able to do more with self-hosted WordPress for me.

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Copyright Abhijit Nadgouda.

Blogger Upgrade

Blogger (from Google) is redesigned and with it goes static publishing. Like Matt says, whatever happened to the static publishing pros. I think with this change, it should probably read Blogger is reborn.

For starters, static publishing is a way of exporting the post to HTML. A post when published, is processed, the HTML is composed and is saved as a page to be ready to be served. This was considered better as serving ready and composed pages did not go through the web server processing and increased performance. The lopside to this was that it was, for lack of a better word, static, which does not fit very well with today’s dynamic web. If there was a change, the post had to re-exported to HTML. Think of a change, like change in the sidebar or layout or design, that will affect all the posts and think of the trouble of republishing all of the posts. For all the ease that Blogger said it had, the user had to know when to republish all the posts, which actually can eat up lot of your time. This was a fundamental difference between WordPress and Blogger. Well, now its gone.

Another concept Blogger has embraced is the tags, or labels as they call it! It is very close to categories in WordPress. This will definitely bring in better navigation and better tagging for the users. However, the dilemma for lot of users would be whether to tag the existing posts done using the old blogger. If not, the tags will miss a lot of posts and not serve as good navigation.

Along with this, the hosted service, Blogspot.com will gradually get all these features.

Movable Type still supports static publishing. It does support a dynamic workaround, but it is strongly discouraged as a host of third party plugins don’t work in the dynamic mode.

Now that Blogger has got the new face it will be interesting to see if the demographics change. The existing loyalists would probably not leave, but new bloggers will have to compare a little more between the different blogging tools as the gaps between them is reducing.

More on this:

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Copyright Abhijit Nadgouda.

Missing Wordcamp?

Wordcamp – A WordPress Conference was announced and is on its way in San Francisco, California.

It is a sore miss for those of us who could not be present there. Fear not, we have Matt Craven, Aaron Brazell and David Krug from The Blog Herald giving live coverage of Wordcamp. Thanks a lot guys! You can see (literally) them live blogging different sessions and contributing too to the barcamp style event. Live blogging is an efficient way to report.

More interesting stuff is expected to come out of the event. Hopefully we will get to attend the future ones. Or Wordcamp can start webcasts or virtual conferences :-) so that the world-wide user base can attend it. Nevertheless, we will see more coverage and more reports of the event later, till then continue to follow The Blog Herald guys.

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Copyright Abhijit Nadgouda.

Where Do I Click?

I could not but help to write about this when I read Lorelle’s blogging challenge – Testing Your Blog Clicking Experience. The reason it was so tempting was because just a month back I had consciously tried to identify what I clicked on while reading a blog. So here it goes!

Data and Metadata

I come to know of a blog either through other blogs or through search engines. In the former case, it is more of blog surfing and the latter is in search of content. The first time I visit a blog, and reading post(s) on the page I head to know more about the blog and the author. Usually, this is what leads me to decide whether I should return to this blog or not. Which brings us to the next important item I click on, subscribing to the feed. Some of the blogs still do not support feeds, which is sad, but most of them today do. There have been some exceptional cases where the posts were so fulfilling that I subscribed to the feed without reading anything else.

At this stage I have gone beyond scanning the blog. I click on categories or tags or whatever navigation provided so that I can try to understand how the blog is setup. This helps me make a mental note and map the blog to the kind of information I would come to this blog for. Next time I need anything there, I do check it up along with googling for it. In some cases, reading the blog before googling saves a lot of time and effort.

Author and Blogshelf

While reading about the blog I try to find more about the people behind the blog. More emphasis cannot be put on this than by saying that blogs are conversations. Some are not initiated, some are left halfway, but they are intended to be conversations. Not only through the comments, the whole linking phenomenon, which now even newspapers have started to adopt, ends up building a conversation on a topic. I like to find out what’s on that author’s blogshelf. The ones I like endup in my list of blogs to read and this affair with growing number of blogs continues. In my opinion, this recursive discovery of blogs is the hidden treasure of blogging.

Sometimes I do click on the photos or the listened songs but that is a rarity. I would not call it as a habit, in fact the habit is opposite of this.

Software and Design

Last but not the least, I gather some more information that stimulates the engineer inside me. I try to find out information about the design and the philosophy behind it. This adds to my experience, now I can enjoy the good points and I get to know the bad points that I should not repeat when I design. I try to test the blog on different fronts – usability, accessibility and performance. Then it is the software tool used to setup the blog. WordPress, Movable Type, Text Pattern, JRoller, … there are so many and it is so involving to see how the design makes most of the tool.

License, Help, etc.

Surprisingly I never used to read the license or the disclaimers, they never bothered me. But my blogging experience has taught me to expect the unexpected. I read up the license, disclaimers or any such information, especially if I am going to link to the site or quote something from it. Usually getting linked and quoted is a good thing, but someone might not like it and I have to respect it. I try to see if the blog owner has posted help for going about the site. I enjoy reading things like help, it makes me feel that the blog owner has thought about me and makes me feel more comfortable.

When I had started reading the blogs, I usually referred to them with the blog names. Today I refer to them by the people behind them, probably because of the way I read blogs.

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Copyright Abhijit Nadgouda.

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