MooseCamp – WordPress and Your Problems Followup

During the MooseCamp session “WordPress and your problems” I promised to look into a few items that we were discussing, and report back to the group. I’ve finally made some time to dig around, and here’s the goods.

Nancy White asked some questions about tweaking her WordPress site, and they were all things that sounded really good, but that I didn’t know how to implement.

  1. Automatically tagging new posts on the WordPress site on del.icio.us – not sucking del.icio.us tags into WordPress, or listing latest sites tagged, but automatically bookmarking each new post (with categories and tags applied as in the WP post) in a way similar to the Twitter Tools plugin’s broadcasting of new posts. I haven’t found any way to do this, but am still looking.
  2. Hierarchical menu display – how to have expandable/collapsible menus within the WordPress site?
  3. Use del.icio.us as a source of tag autocompletion within WordPress? The idea is that there should be a canonical set of tags that a person can use for all of their tagging – blog, flickr, del.icio.us – and that it would be great if WordPress could use a person’s del.icio.us tags as the source for an autocompletion while tagging new blog posts within WordPress. I haven’t found anything that does this, but know a BUNCH of people would be smiling if something could be found.
  4. How to add a link to an external website as part of the main page menu structure? it’s possible to hack a theme to add links this way, but not in the middle of the menu. I’ve found the WordPress Menubar Plugin, which looks close, but am still wondering if there’s a more mainstream way to do this.

new policy on spam

It’s my blog, and I get to determine what is spam and what is not. The latest round of human-generated spam is getting past the automated spamblocks because the comments look valid. They’re natural language, often on topic, and occasionally even interesting or insightful – or relevant to the post being spammed.

I’m using a few WordPress plugins to help ease the pain, but for the love of Xenu, this bullshit should not be necessary.

But, if I think a comment is spam, I reserve the right to nuke it. Or to remove the URL and leave the comment in place. It’s my blog, and I’m sick and tired of people crapping on it in order to game google. PFO.

Reflections on Northern Voice 2008

I’m not going to post a conference recap, and others have beaten me to the punch with eloquent reflections on the event. It’s one of those things that sounds like fanaticism – the sense of wonder usually reserved for such things as the TED conference (aside: could you imagine going to that? how many toes would I gladly trade for a TED pass?) But, Northern Voice has become, or has always been, one of those events that help me form my own thinking, and helps to connect that with the awesome stuff that the really great minds (that I am lucky enough to be allowed to tag along with) are doing.

Jim hit the nail on the head, for me, in his description of the role of the Mythical Eduglu. It’s not about any particular implementation, or even about the concepts and strategies that make up EduGlu. The power of EduGlu, according to The Reverend, is as a Hitchcockian McGuffin. It’s a plot device that moves the story along, giving a sense of narrative focus and momentum.

And that, for me, is the real power of Northern Voice. It’s not about the conference (as cool as the conference is) and it’s not purely about the people (as amazing, cool, and open as the people are). Northern Voice is a McGuffin. And for 2 days or so, every year, we are able to work together to peer into the suitcase. That shared sense of purpose and momentum colours the entire event – the conference sessions, the openness of the people, and the emotional intensity of the whole thing.

So, if it takes the guise of a conference to push the story along, to have everyone from a stunningly broad range of backgrounds and perspectives come together as one, however briefly, I think it’s well worth being part of the experience.

aside: my wife’s family tree includes Alfred Hitchcock, so I like this McGuffin analogy on a bunch of levels

One thing that struck me, when reviewing the photos that I took during Northern Voice, was that the most powerful and meaningful ones weren’t taken during the sessions per se, but in the social gatherings. The magic of Northern Voice isn’t part of the conference itself, although it is definitely fed and inspired by the conference. The real magic is in the deeply intimate connections between the people who gather. And one of the amazing things about the particular group that I am so lucky to consider myself a part of – every one of this group met online first. Several only met IRL at the conference. And yet we are all friends, and there was no ramp-up time required, or introductions needed. We all knew each other, and were able to hit the ground running, as it were.

There is a bit of rabid fanboy that bubbles up within me before, during, and after the event. I can’t fracking believe I’m lucky enough to be able to hang out with these people, and to discuss in depth the things that really matter (and a bunch of stuff that’s just plain fun, too).

If I had to pick a single photograph that represents Northern Voice, it is this one because it somehow captures the energy, the intimacy, and the vibrancy of the conversations. The unreserved laughter of The Reverend. The energetic groove of Scott. Mikhail joining in as though we’ve known him for years – even though this was the first time most of us actually met him. And the piercing calm of Chris, the poet. In the warm, safe, inviting home offered to us by Brian and Keira.

casa del McPhee-Lamb - 28

With that said, I am absolutely thrilled at how the entire Northern Voice 2008 photo set turned out. There’s something about the event that causes us all to draw on our strengths, playing our own instrument in the jam session. Mine just happened to be a camera :-)

IMG_0959IMG_0963IMG_0969IMG_0972IMG_0976IMG_0980IMG_0982IMG_0994IMG_0997IMG_0999IMG_1023mitchIMG_1034IMG_1036IMG_1046IMG_1047IMG_1048IMG_1052IMG_1054IMG_1061IMG_1069IMG_1072IMG_1073IMG_1074IMG_1075MooseCamp - 1MooseCamp - 4MooseCamp - 7MooseCamp - 10MooseCamp - 11MooseCamp - 19MooseCamp - 22MooseCamp - 26MooseCamp - 30MooseCamp - 31MooseCamp - 35MooseCamp - 38MooseCamp - 39MooseCamp - 40MooseCamp - 41casa del McPhee-Lamb - 1casa del McPhee-Lamb - 2casa del McPhee-Lamb - 3casa del McPhee-Lamb - 5casa del McPhee-Lamb - 6casa del McPhee-Lamb - 8casa del McPhee-Lamb - 9casa del McPhee-Lamb - 10casa del McPhee-Lamb - 11casa del McPhee-Lamb - 13casa del McPhee-Lamb - 14casa del McPhee-Lamb - 15casa del McPhee-Lamb - 17casa del McPhee-Lamb - 19casa del McPhee-Lamb - 21casa del McPhee-Lamb - 24casa del McPhee-Lamb - 28casa del McPhee-Lamb - 29casa del McPhee-Lamb - 30casa del McPhee-Lamb - 34casa del McPhee-Lamb - 42casa del McPhee-Lamb - 47casa del McPhee-Lamb - 55casa del McPhee-Lamb - 58Northern Voice - 1Northern Voice - 2Northern Voice - 3Northern Voice - 4Northern Voice - 5Northern Voice - 6Northern Voice - 7Northern Voice - 8Northern Voice - 9Northern Voice - 10Northern Voice - 11Northern Voice - 12Northern Voice - 13Northern Voice - 14Northern Voice - 15Northern Voice - 16Northern Voice - 17EduBloggers JamFest - 1EduBloggers JamFest - 5EduBloggers JamFest - 8EduBloggers JamFest - 11EduBloggers JamFest - 14EduBloggers JamFest - 15EduBloggers JamFest - 16EduBloggers JamFest - 24EduBloggers JamFest - 30EduBloggers JamFest - 37EduBloggers JamFest - 41EduBloggers JamFest - 51EduBloggers JamFest - 55EduBloggers JamFest - 56memories of northern voicememories of northern voice, redux