Dinner with Jetpack

Jetpack logo on a green background

The head of the Jetpack team lives in Albuquerque. I live in Albuquerque. When the Jetpack group got together for a meetup of their own in Albuquerque, they decided to invite the entire WordPress community to a Dinner with Jetpack meetup.

The meetup was in a Thai restaurant near the UNM campus. Jetpack people from all over were there. Australia, Argentina, and several other far-flung locations. I talked with the guy from Australia about ways Jetpack could get Pinterest to work with WordPress without adding blocks of code to new posts. He gave me some ideas I will try.

I talked to a woman from Wyoming who works in HR and hired all these Jetpackers. She came down to ABQ to meet them in person.

It’s refreshing to go to a WordPress meetup, but this one was particularly nice because so many people came. I talked to bloggers, WordPress developers, and WordCamp organizers. I saw some former students. I saw people I’d met at WordCamps. I even saw a woman who was in the same hotel in Chicago as a BlogHer convention I attended and happened to be on the same plane home that I was on. Everyone wanted to talk about blogging and social media and topics I love.

Thanks to the Albuquerque WordPress community for a great evening.

Amara Makes Video More Accessible

I just discovered a subtitling tool called Amara that is a global captioning and translation project for video. I’m a couple of years behind the times. In case you haven’t heard of it either, here’s an introduction to the tool.

Amara is now helping with translations and captioning in many places. They say their caption editor is easy to use. I didn’t try it out, but it’s free. Amara also provides you with a way to connect to others around the world who might be willing to help translate and caption a video into another language. Since translating and or captioning a video is a labor intensive process, it’s interesting that this web-based tool is using the idea of crowd sourcing the work.

  • There’s a good review of how using the tool works at PCWorld. The review is a couple of years old so there may be improvements since then.
  • The Global Voices Community Blog has a recently updated post of instructions for translators who use Amara.
  • Vimeo, TED, and many other organizations partnered with Amara. TED provides a set of tutorials for Amara users.

Their Twitter account is @AmaraSubs. Their Facebook page is Amara Community. Neither have frequent postings, but they are worth following if you are interested in accessibility or teach accessibility in your web education classes or at conferences.

Is Twitter the New Long Form? – UPDATED

Is Twitter the New Long Form?

I follow several social justice leaders and activists on Twitter. I have noticed that they use Twitter in a way that is different from in the past.

In the past, tweets were singular events – a comment, a link, a share of some sort. A lot of people, myself included, still use Twitter that way.

The activists using Twitter now use it as a long-form platform. They pick a topic and tweet about it at length. Dozens of tweets in a day. If you stumble onto Twitter in the middle of one of these tweeters making a point, you must to go back, find your way to the beginning, find your way through the thoughts and watch to keep up. It often requires looking at whole conversations, checking for replies and questions, and then going back to the main thread.

Since most people are not watching Twitter 24/7, this approach requires some work for the people who may care about what is being tweeted, but it offers some advantages.

For the readers, a blog post would be easier to follow. All those thoughts could be put in one post, in the right order, and sent out. But easy isn’t the point. Advocacy is the point. Change is the point. Being heard right now is the point. Interaction is the point.

Twitter offers immediacy. There’s immediate feedback, immediate retweeting, immediate sharing of voices and information. Twitter is engaging. Many people can think and talk about an event or an idea in real time.

Twitter is forgiving of speed. Typos, awkward phrases, abbreviated thoughts are overlooked in the name of speed. There’s no need for polish.

Who would have imagined, when Twitter began, that it would become the long form discourse platform of choice for social change?

Update 8/26/15

Thanks to @redcrew, who just alerted me to Introducing the Tweetstorm. This article proposes a solution to the problems I outlined above for anyone trying to either write or follow a series of tweets on a particular topic. The developer, Daniel Rakhamimov, suggests a way to connect a series of tweets automatically through what he calls a Tweetstorm. His idea has many advantages to both readers and writers when Twitter is used as a longform medium. It’s a must read article and a great idea!

 

Manage Convention Contacts with Twitter Lists and Feedly Categories

You’re going to a great conference. You’re going to do lots of networking. The stack of business cards you accumulate will be enormous. Here are a couple of tips to help you keep all those names, faces, Twitter handles, and URLs straight.

Twitter Lists

Twitter lists are easy to create. They provide a way to read Twitter feeds from people according to groupings or interests. You don’t even have to be following them. You might have a list of food bloggers or tech bloggers or some other category of Twitter users. When you view the list you see tweets only from the specific people you added to the list.

When someone hands you a business card at a conference, you can quickly add their Twitter handle to a list. That will help you keep names and faces organized.

You can create a list and add to it from a desktop browser or from a mobile Twitter app. Let’s step through creating a list with a desktop browser first.

Create a list with a desktop browser

Sign in to your Twitter account in a browser. Here’s mine as an example.

The Lists option is on your profile page

In the menu bar opposite your profile photo, click the Lists link. When the Lists page opens, you’ll see any lists you subscribe to (you can subscribe to any public list, including your own), any lists you’ve been added to as a member, and the invitation to create a new list. Once you have lists created, this is where you would find them in your desktop browser.

Create a new list button

Click Create new list, give the list a name, and you can begin adding Twitter accounts to it.

When you create a new list, you can make it public or keep it private. If it’s a public list, it has a URL and anyone who is interested can subscribe to it. For example, here’s one of my public lists: womeninwebeducation.

To add someone to a list, find their user profile. You can search for their name, or just click on their name if you see it on Twitter. When their Twitter profile opens, click the gear icon by the Follow button to see user options.

Select Add or remove from lists

Select Add or remove from lists. Your lists open up and you check or select the list you want to put the user in.

Create a List with the Twitter App

Open the Twitter app.

Click the Me icon

Touch the Me icon at the bottom of the screen to see your own profile.

Click the gear icon to see Lists

Touch the gear icon next to your profile image to see Lists on the menu. Touch Lists.

Touch the plus sign to add a new list

At the top of the Lists page, you see a plus (+) sign. Touch it to create a new list. Give the list a name and decide if it’s public or private.

Once you have lists built, this is where you would go in the mobile app to read the lists you’ve subscribed to. This is also where you can see lists you’ve been added to by someone else.

Next, add Twitter accounts to your list.

Touch the gear icon to see Add/remove from lists

When you’re viewing the Twitter profile of the account you want to add to a list, touch the gear icon to see Add/remove from lists. Press Add/remove from lists and select the list you want to use.

In addition to viewing lists from a browser or the mobile app, tools such as TweetDeck have options that allow you to add columns for lists to your display.

Organize Blogs with Feedly Categories

Feedly is an RSS feed reader. There are many such tools, and you may already be using one to keep track of blogs you want to follow. The reason I mention Feedly in particular is that it offers a way to organize blog feeds into categories. You create categories yourself, or you can use Feedly’s suggestions for categories such as Food, Fashion, Books, or whatever.

Feedly has both a mobile and a desktop version, which makes it easy for you to take those conference contacts you made and quickly add blog URLs to the proper categories. In addition, there’s a pro version of Feedly ($5 a month or $45 for a whole year) that connects to Evernote where you can write notes or save snippets from blog posts.

You can login to Feedly with your Google ID or your Facebook ID.

Using Feedly on a Desktop

I logged in and customized my view a bit, which explains the orange. Hope you like orange as much as I do.

The Home menu in Feedly

At the Home page, there’s a menu on the left. It shows you the 3 categories I have so far: Cinema, Culture and Pop Culture. So far I only have a few blogs in each category. When the home page opens, all the unread feeds from everything appears, but I can click on any one of the categories or blogs and see only that.

Feedly has many categories you can browse, or you can make your own. Feedly calls these Collections. To quickly add a specific blog, find the search box on the upper right. Type in the URL of the blog you want to add. I typed www.theculturemom.com.

The search brought up the culture mom feed

The search brought up the feed from The Culture Mom. Next to the name of the blog at the top you see a button with +Feedly. I click that to add this blog to one of my collections.

Add the blog to whatever collection you want

I select the collection I want. Or I can add a new category.

Using the Feedly App

On your mobile device, the Feedly app takes some practice to get used to the way it swipes, but you’ll get the hang of it quickly.

A menu at the top left shows your feeds

It opens with all your unread posts. A menu at the upper left reveals your specific collections and blogs, which you see opened above. At the upper right, there’s a magnifying glass. Touch that to quickly add a blog.

Search for the blog you want to add

The search box opens, where the URL of the blog you want, e.g. theculturemom.com, can be added. Feedly also suggests blogs it thinks you will like. When the search results appear, you see a plus (+) sign at the top near the name of the blog feed. Touch that plus sign and add the blog to the appropriate collection.

It only takes a few seconds to add the information from a business card to a Twitter list or Feedly collection. If you do it while the person who gave you the card is still fresh in your mind, it will help you remember who you’ve talked to, what their interests are, what their blog is about, and it will give you a way to keep an eye on their tweets. Then you can concentrate on having a great conversation with the next person you meet.

[NOTE: This post was syndicated in slightly different form on BlogHer.com.]

A Talk About Nothing

Lena Reinhard

Lena Reinhard

You may have watched this elsewhere, but I found it impressive enough to add here as well. Its a very fine talk about the tech industry by Lena Reinhard at the first ever .concat() web development conference on March 7th 2015.

Here’s the abstract of the talk.

And, yes, literally nothing. Together we’ll take a look behind the curtains of reality and explore some of the underlying rules that shape our existence. We will dig into ancient philosophy, the history and today’s status physics and maths, look into the origins of computing, programming and analyse the way we develop software today. We’ll see how nothing influences us, how it shapes our behaviour every day and how nothing can help us grow – in our professions and, even more, as humans.

“Nothing really matters,”, Freddie Mercury wrote in a song that was released 40 years ago. I want to show you how right he is.

The talk is nominated for the “Conference Talk of the Year” in the .net awards 2015. Listen to it carefully as she builds her message and listen all the way to the end.

Twitter Tip: The List vs. The Follow

Follows vs. followers: a twitter tip

About a year ago I started a new pop culture/entertainment blog called Old Ain’t Dead. I started a new Twitter account for it as well @OldAintDead.

In the service of my new topic, I wanted to follow the tweets of many people and sources who write about entertainment and the stars making the pop culture news.

I also wanted to get people to follow my new Twitter account. A much harder proposition. It’s a slower process to get followers than it is to find people to follow.

I didn’t want the numbers to be out of proportion when potential new followers looked at my twitter profile. My regular Twitter account, where I tweet about web design topics, is @vdebolt. There I have more followers than people I follow.

twitter profile for @vdebolt

Having more followers than accounts I follow looks okay.

It’s great to have lots of followers in proportion to the number you are following. Makes you look interesting.

But what about the @OldAintDead Twitter account. If I were following 2000 entertainment accounts and only 412 people were following me, it would look as if over 1500 people decided not to follow me back. Someone seeing my profile would think I’m not worth following.

Screen grab of my Twitter Profile

The proportion of following to followers is fairly equal because I put public figures in a list.

My numbers are about equal now. That’s okay with me. So how did I manage to keep track of people I want to follow without actually following them?

I used a list. I took all those people and organizations I wanted to read like @Variety and @ShondaRhimes – people who would never follow me back – and I put them in a list. I called the list #mediawelike. I put actors, shows, media sites, networks, and those kinds of accounts in the list.

For my @OldAintDead Twitter feed, I follow real people who follow back, people who sometimes read my blog and people who are willing to engage in a conversation about something on Twitter.

I use Tweetdeck for watching Twitter in a browser. On my phone, I use Hootsuite. (Hootsuite doesn’t have an option for viewing lists.) Here’s what I see in my Old Ain’t Dead Twitter feed in Tweetdeck.

A screen grab from Tweetdeck

The Old Ain’t Dead Twitter feed

You see my Home feed, which is where I see the accounts I follow. I also keep open a notifications column. You also see the column for tweets coming in to the #mediawelike list. By using the list, I can keep the number of people I follow in a reasonable ratio compared to the number who follow me.

Creating a list is simple. In a browser, go to the Lists tab on your profile page. The create a new list option can be found there.

The new list button

The new list button

Makin’ a list and checkin’ it twice. Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice. No, wait. Wrong song.

Just go make a list.