New and Slightly Improved

I finally had some time this weekend to work on a bunch of things that I have been wanting to do with my blog. The short status is:

  • WordPress 2.5 / K2 Upgrades = Success
  • Administration Improvements = Success
  • hCard = Success
  • OpenID delegation = Success
  • OpenID plugin for comments = Fail

WordPress 2.5

The biggest task was the upgrade to WordPress 2.5 (2.5.1 really). I’ve been putting this off partly because it is a lot of work for me and partly because I had to wait for K2 official support for WordPress 2.5, which was released a couple of weeks ago. I played around with some nightly builds before that, but none of them seemed as stable as I would have liked, so I decided to wait for official support.

The reason it takes so much time for the upgrade is that I’ve done a bit of hacking on the php files for K2 without doing much documentation, so it took me a while to sort out what I had changed. I also took the time in this version to carefully comment begin / end statements using a consistent search string. Now, for the next big upgrade, I can easily search the files for that string to find all of my tweaks.

I also had to do a bit of work on my custom css overrides in a few places where K2 made new changes.

Luckily, I have a pretty good setup on my MacBook with a local php/mysql/wordpress install where I can do most of the testing, breaking, and fixing without disrupting the blog, so the blog should have been up most of the morning despite my working on it for 6+ hours.

Administration Improvements

I installed the WordPress Database Backup (wp-db-backup), and scheduled weekly backups. My hosting provider does nightly backups, but I thought it would be a good idea to have my own backups. It will also make it easier for me to do backups prior to installing plugins / upgrades / etc., which I have been doing manually prior to installing the plugin.

I also used the WordPress Automatic Upgrade plugin to perform the upgrades. I love this plugin!


I really needed to get some proper contact information on my blog, and I decided that hCard would be a good way to do it, and it gave me an excuse to play with microformats. Now, people can see my contact info, machines can read it, and you can add it to your address book with a simple click.

OpenID delegation

I finally got around to setting up Fast Wonder Blog as a delegate for my OpenID account at ClaimID. Not having this earlier was sheer laziness on my part.

OpenID plugin for comments

Grrrrr. OK, this one was a big fail for me. I tried a bunch of stuff, but I kept running into one pesky error that was not occurring in my local environment. I installed wp-openid, and it worked great in my local environment, but on my hosted production copy of the blog, I kept getting this:

Fatal error: Call to undefined function: error() in /home/content/f/a/s/fastwonderblog/html/wp-content/plugins/openid/store.php on line 134

I tried commenting out the error to rule out an issue with the error message itself, I re-built database tables, uninstalled / reinstalled, activated / deactivated all with no luck. I’m hoping I can get Chris or Will to take a look at the error report and suggest a fix. I’d love to have OpenID support, but it looks like it isn’t in the cards for me today.

Recent Links on Ma.gnolia

A few interesting things this week …

Thoughts on DataPortability | FactoryCity

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Chris Messina on DiSo at Community 2.0

Here are my notes from Chris Messina’s presentation at community 2.0. In other words, these are my interpretations of his words (not my words). I might have some typos or other errors.

Enemies (I missed a few of these)

  • inviting friends
  • profile filling out & linking to other services
  • finding and joining your groups
  • duplicating content

Users are not the same thing as customers

The Web Citizen

  • has identity
  • has provenance
  • has friends
  • has enemies
  • has agency (ability choose & pull out of network with the content)

The building blocks

  • Activity: noun verb noun with context. Chris tweeted niches bitches from sms
  • Contacts, friends & identity: Google Friend Connect, for example
  • Messaging & Notifications: moving toward less siloed messaging
  • Permissions: right now it’s a nightmare – different & conflicting across sites
  • Groupings: services grouped together like Fire Eagle + Dopplr
  • DiSo Project: microformats, openID, OAuth, etc.

Jeska Dzwigalski on Second Life at Community 2.0

Here are my notes from Jeska’s presentation at community 2.0. In other words, these are my interpretations of her words (not my words), and she talks pretty fast, so I might have some typos or other errors.

To successfully build your community:

  • know your audience
  • create an engaging experience
  • iterate, learn & iterate some more
  • realize the value of the feature set & its potential
  • remember, behind every avatar is a real person
  • commit to the long term

Success Stories in Second Life:

  • Training / simulation (Harvard, Stanford)
  • Non-profits – American Cancer Society does a relay for life in second life that raises real money with interesting places for the walk (underwater, etc.)
  • Branding. Pontiac bought a bunch of islands and they let people build cars along with contests, races, customization of the car. Vodafone did a water cooler where people can solve puzzles over the virtual water cool with the focus on interacting with other people, not a focus on pushing their brand, but people see it.

SL is like RL and not

  • Behavior – engaged, but not constrained (less inhibited and behaviors are different)
  • Interaction – All objects can be scripted. Low / No material costs

Shel Israel at Community 2.0

In this session, Shel talked about his work on the SAP Global Report on Culture, Business & Social Media. It was an interesting session with a lot of stories, which are always harder to capture in notes, so I didn’t take very many notes from this session. The upside is that you can find most of the content that he talked about on his Global Neighbourhoods blog in the SAP Research Report category.

Again, these are my notes from the findings portion of his discussion, so these are his words, but there could be some errors.


  • youth is the killer app
  • youth driving more adoption than geeks
  • communities have universal apeal
  • the most generous have the most influence
  • culture matters
  • culture belongs to the community

Business findings

  • adoption is faster than you think
  • resistance is found in the middle
  • small bands of evangelists making a big difference
  • behind firewall accelerating
  • measurement is a key issue

More details about the findings from Shel’s blog:

Kellie Parker at Community 2.0

Here are my notes from Kellie Parker’s presentation at community 2.0. In other words, these are my interpretations of her words (not my words). She said a lot more, too, but I wasn’t able to take notes throughout the entire session. It is also possible that I might have some typos or have other errors in my notes.

Personal relationships are what communities are all about.

Choose your platform wisely – it can enhance or harm your efforts. Find the one that is right for you that helps you accomplish your goals for the community with the tools that you need to support those efforts. Start small, but build for future growth. Continue to re-evaluate the platform as your community grows.

Best practices:

  • Define goals
  • Know how to measure them
  • Be patient. community grows slowly
  • Require registration
  • Interact with members
  • Have written community standards
  • Address negative comments about your brand. Don’t delete them.

Communities are a group effort. Community managers can lead the effort, but everyone needs to participate.

David Weinberger on Community

Here are my notes from David Weinberger’s presentation at community 2.0. In other words, these are my interpretations of his words (not my words), and he talks pretty fast, so I might have some typos or other errors.

Community is a set of people who care about each other more than they have to. It starts with conversation, and out of that a community can (but may not) emerge. Conversation is not just people talking; conversations are:

  • voluntary
  • open ended (you don’t know what you will get out of it)
  • in your own voice

Marketing violates all of these definitions of conversations. Marketing is broadcasting one to many, but the broadcast era is ending (not going away, but decreasing in importance). We no longer spend as much time as we used to sitting and passively watching TV – we now split this time on the internet where we can also interact with and contribute to the content. We can add our own videos reactiving to other videos on YouTube. We are doing the broadcasters job, but we are doing it for each other and sending them around to share with our friends. Additionally, we contribute our own perspectives through the comments. We invent new ways of talking to each other.

DNA is not information. DNA is represented through diagrams with labels to show DNA as information, which doesn’t really look anything like real DNA. DNA isn’t information – it’s made out of other stuff in our bodies. Information is a representation, not the actual reality. DNA and brain patterns can be modeled in the computer, but the model is not the same as consciousness (Kurzweil) A model is just a symbol, not an actual brain or piece of DNA.

We want to provide people with information. We don’t necessarily read the newspaper for information – entertainment, etc. At conferences, we go through a lot of information, but people are really here for the cocktails and discussions that happen at the cocktail reception.

The view of a person on the computer is more like a database: name, id number, etc. People in the 50′s were afraid that we were reducing people to numbers within a database. Library of congress catalogs a ton of information. Shel Israel tweets thousands of times a day. Flickr a million photos a day; Facebook 8 million photos a day. *Control doesn’t scale* It doesn’t want to scale, and the internet only succeeded because there was no centralized control. We don’t have to worry about managing every piece of content.

We have abundance: of the good & the bad. We don’t give up on email because of the spam. We manage the abundance of bad (filters, etc.) It’s harder to manage the good stuff and find the right things to read. So much good content, but not enough time in the day to read it. Now we digitize everything and need to come up with new principles of organization. It used to be a goal to get everything in one spot organized in one way (card catalogs, etc.) This doesn’t work online. We look fr things in a variety of ways and brows using different information. Amazon does a pretty good job of organizing information for the online world using a lot of logic to determine which books are statistically more likely to be the right result for you based on titles, text, tags, reviews, lists, search within book, etc. They also give us unique ways to browse the information. Any site that lets you tag puts the users in control of the organization of the site. We (the users) decide the order and organization.

Library of congress put a bunch of photos that they were having issues categorizing along with the information that they had. They allowed users to add to tags to help categorize. Every tag becomes a bookshelf. Additionally, we can put boxes around portions to add notes and comments, and we will fill up all of the available space with information given the freedom to do so. People will also get creative when they run into limitations. For example, when they maxed out the 75 tag limit, people started added tags into the comments.

Knowledge is becoming conversation. Newspapers have a limitation of the physical which provides authority (only one front page with editors who find the “best” stuff for the front page). On Digg, the front page is outsourced to the users. Our inbox is also a front page where we share information and recommendations with our friends and contacts.

Twitter is also becoming a front page. It’s not about people posting what they had for breakfast – you can unsubscribe from them. Others are doing really interesting things. There is intimacy in details, and we get all kinds of interesting information from other people on Twitter.

Communities are smarter than any of the individual participants.

Communities, like Facebook, provide all of the context that a static database of the 50s lacks. We overflow the boundaries. We make connections which lead to conversations which lead to community. Without control we overflow boundaries and create abundance of information. We do it together at our best when we are in communities.

Recent Links on Ma.gnolia

A few interesting things this week …

eleven3, Portland Web Design, Solid CSS Websites, Built Green » Blog Archive » A Simple Guide to Building a WordPress Theme

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SimplePie Documentation: SimplePie Plugin for WordPress

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YouTube – Kaitlyn Chats – Dawn Foster!

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A List Apart: Articles: Community: From Little Things, Big Things Grow

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Community Building: Good, Bad and Ugly – The Video

I finally found a video of at least part of our Web 2.0 Expo session about Community Building: Good, Bad and Ugly. A big thank you to Jim Goings for uploading it. It looks like they caught the first 30 minutes of the session on video.

Panel members included: Dawn Foster (Jive Software), Jeremiah Owyang (Forrester Research), Bob Duffy (Intel), Kellie Parker (PC World & Macworld).

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

BarCampPortland 2008 Recap aka Geeks, Bubble tea, and Werewolf

The days and weeks leading up to BarCamp can be busy and stressful for the organizers as we work through all of the last minute arrangements, but it is so worth it! I had an amazing time at BarCampPortland, and the majority of the feedback has been positive. I won’t go into the gory details about everything that worked / didn’t work, since you can view the full postmortem document online; however, I will cover a few of my impressions of the event.

I love the BarCamp format

I’ve attended a number of BarCamps, and I am finding that I enjoy attending BarCamps more than traditional conferences, and I think I learn more at BarCamps, too. The people who attend BarCamps are smart and engaged. These are the people giving up a weekend to geek out with others over various technologies, not the corporate types who only attend conferences during working hours. We had people attending from as far away as Chicago, Washington D.C., and Alaska. I had amazing conversations, talked to a bunch of very interesting people, and learned about new ideas and new ways of doing things.

Online Communities

I held a community management roundtable session again this year at BarCamp to a packed room. I’ve done a few of these roundtable discussions where I kick off the conversation and let the group take it in different directions while I act as moderator for the group and contribute actively along with the other participants. I’ve done this at Corvallis and Austin BarCamps, but it never works as well as it does here in Portland. In other places, I’ve had to drag the discussion along or manage people who dominate the conversation while contributing little. In Portland, these just work, and I learn as much from the process as the other participants. I have no idea why it works so well here, maybe we are just more community-oriented than some other locations, but I’m glad that the session went so well. If you want to learn more about the topics discussed, you can view the notes from the session on the Drupal site.


We held a mini WordCamp along with BarCamp on Sunday, and there were more great sessions that I wished I could have attended. I learned a lot about WordPress theming, including how to write your own theme from scratch. I doubt that I’ll try it anytime soon, but it did give me a much better understanding about exactly how themes are constructed in WordPress. Aaron Hockley also led a really good discussion about the underlying infrastructure under WordPress.

Painter’s tape is your friend

Painter’s tape makes a great schedule board and can be used to hang really heavy banners without hurting the walls.

Unique Portland Flair

Here are a few things that make our BarCamp very “Portland”:

  • We have Bubble Tea! For the second year in a row, we’ve had bubble tea made to order at BarCampPortland. A big thank you to Six Apart & David Recordon for making it possible.
  • Werewolf games provided us with hours of amusement in the evenings led by the Portland Werewolf group (yes, we meet up to play monthly here in Portland!) We even had a Chicago attendee introduce us to a new variant that proved to be really interesting and challenging!
  • Twitter was a main attraction during the event. Portland has a very active Twitter population, and most people had a Twitter username on their badge. We used Twitter to make announcements, follow up on sessions, and drive most of the communications during the event.
  • We had lots of other entertainment including a wii station, War Games, and more.

More Information

As always, Rick Turoczy has done a great job on Silicon Florist of rounding up the coverage for the event. You can get links to pictures, session notes, and other blog posts from the Silicon Florist BarCamp Portland: The Weekend that was post.

Thank you, thank you, thank you

A huge thank you to the entire organizing team, all of the volunteers, the always helpful Cubespace staff, the attendees and the sponsors who made this event possible and successful. These events do not happen unless people are willing to pitch in and help where it is needed. People were helpful and patient as we recruited from random passers by to help with various tasks.

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts: