Highlights from WordCamp 2007

This weekend, hundreds of bloggers and Web developers gathered at the Swedish American Hall in San Francisco for the second-annual WordCamp conference.

Day 1 was dedicated to the content producers, and offered advice on how to be a better writer. We heard from John C. Dvorak, Om Malik, and Matt Cutts from Google.

Day 2 focused on the development and future of WordPress. Matt Mullenweg wrapped up the conference with the State of the Word address, describing how far WordPress has come in just a year, as well as a sneak preview of the newly designed Admin section.

I covered … Read more

WordPress app for Facebook handy, but incomplete

I spent part of this morning having a go with the new Facebook app from the folks at WordPress.com (a Webware 100 winner). Once installed and linked up with your Wordpress.com account, you can post to any of your blogs without leaving Facebook. You can also check traffic stats and add bookmarks to your blogroll. The actual blog authoring tool is very limited in this release. There's no way to add links or pictures to posts. You're also unable to manage some of the subtleties of authoring like bold and italicized fonts, indentations, and the handy … Read more


Category: Publishing

WordPress is a free blogging platform available to everyone. WordPress has two components, one is a free, Web-based blog-hosting service called WordPress.com. The other is WordPress.org, which provides users with software to run a more feature-rich version of the blogging tool on their own servers.

Both services offer a very easy way to blog, with administrative options to work collaboratively on one or several blogs using the same log-in. Bloggers can write their posts on a WYSIWYG editor, or switch over to a code view on the fly.

The service is best-known for its themes and … Read more

HeyCast: Put YouTube on your iPod

HeyCast is a new service from the folks that made HeyWatch [review], the online video conversion service. It lets you grab videos from popular hosting sites such as YouTube, Google Video, and Apple's Quicktime movie trailers site, and clump them together into a handy RSS feed you or anyone else can subscribe to in iTunes or other feed readers. The feed isn't just your standard RSS though--HeyCast grabs the Flash videos, converts them, and makes them available for offline viewing on your computer or portable devices.

I gave it a go this morning and came across a few … Read more

Centralized social commenting: coComment

CoComment is an interesting service that helps you monitor comment threads on blogs and Web sites. The service does two big things. One is letting you subscribe to any post's comments, regardless of whether the site in question offers notification of replies. The second element is scraping comments from threads you've replied to, so you can monitor and access the responses for multiple sites in one centralized location. If you're a frequent commenter on several different blogs or sites, this could be a worthwhile service for you.

In order to see if a page you're on has an active coComment discussion, you need to install a small Firefox extension. Alternately, there's a bookmarklet for other popular browsers such as IE and Opera. The key benefit in using the coComment extension is that it will automatically link your on-site comment with your watched comment threads. You need simply click the coComment button, and the service will give you the option keep track of the conversation, add tags, and mirror the thread to your watch list.

When browsing, the plug-in will change colors from blue to orange on any page you're on to let you know a coComment thread on the site or post already exists. Like the bookmarklet, when you click the plug-in button, you'll get the option to follow a thread or comment through coComment, instead of via the site's comment engine. This is one aspect that I don't like, since it's taking potential discussion off the site's built-in discussion. At the same time, for sites without the option to comment, coComment can add this functionality.

To keep track of what others are commenting on, registered members can become friends. Users can see who has subscribed to their conversation feeds, as well as see other coComment users who have responded to the same threads. Each user also gets their own comment and subscriber count, which acts as a general way to tell how much clout or interaction coComment users have.… Read more

Wizard of WordPress, part two: When open source fails

In part two of my interview with Matt Mullenweg (see also part one) of WordPress and Automattic, we discussed the release of WordPress 2.2, including its new widgets and Ajax-enhanced interface.

I asked Mullenweg what his favorite widgets were and although he said he "doesn't like most widgets," he did call out some of the blogosphere utilities like Sphere (review) and Technorati.

No conversation with Mullenweg would be complete without a discussion of the WordPress antispam utility, Akismet -- a service inspired by the young developer's mother. I also find it interesting that while Mullenweg … Read more

WordPress wizard talks to CNET's Webware

Matt Mullenweg is officially the CEO of Automattic. Please note the double "t"--as in "Matt." But he's really the guy who brought WordPress to the world and oxygen to the blogosphere.

You can see the first half of this Webware interview here. Matt explains why WordPress is open source but his antispam kismet isn't. He discloses the catalytic role his mother played in his software development. And he talks about blogging in places where the government is out to get you. The second part of the interview will be available online soon.

Matt Mullenweg: Wizard of WordPress, part 1

I sat down last week with Matt Mullenweg, co-creator of WordPress and kingpin at Automattic, the company that runs the blog host service WordPress.com. As you might expect, Mullenweg has an well-formed perspective on blogging. So what's the state of the blogosphere? He sees the field as "nascent," despite the presence of large and influential blogs that are well on their way toward challenging incumbent media (including CNET).

We talked about blogging, freedom of speech, and how candidates' blogs in the U.S. are usually not much more than platforms for "pre-canned ideas." However, … Read more

eBay does MySpace-compatible widgets

eBay has a neat new way to promote your items for free. Users can take any item listed on the auction service and widgetize it using a really simple editor. There are three options to choose from: single item, multiple item, and search. The multiple items widget has a scrolling display of item images, and is good for Powersellers, or anyone who is selling a few things at a time. What's great is that you don't even need to sign in to eBay to make one, just an item number.

When you're done creating a widget, you … Read more

Tumblr: Microblogging done right

Tumblr blogging service, which launched last month, gives people the chance to publish brief or full-length, media-rich posts using their browser or mobile phone. It's a happy medium between a tidbit posting service, such as Twitter, and a full-fledged blogging tool, such as WordPress or Blogger. Tumblr is aimed at folks who feel they may not have enough content or time to write a full blog, yet still want to write and share links and media.

Each Tumblr user gets their own "Tumblelog," a short-form blog that contains one of six types of media: word posts, photos, videos, quotes, URLs, and IM conversations. Each type of content has its own visual style and corresponding form for publishing. It's delightfully simple, and within minutes you can add a wide range of content. There's also a bookmarklet for your browser's toolbar to post items without having to navigate to Tumblr's home page.

Tumblr comes with some pretty advanced options for power users. You can give your Tumblelog its own domain, and even set the length for stories on your RSS feed. There are five themes to pick from, and you can customize the color of every aspect of the interface. If you are integrating Tumblr into your blog or Web site, there's an option to paste in your CSS.

What really sets Tumblr apart is its speed. It's blazingly fast. According to founder David Karp, the service gets in excess of 10,000 posts an hour, something you can visually track using an in-house tool called Radar. Currently in alpha, it shows the last 20 pieces of content published to the service. It's a little bit like Digg's DiggSpy, but without autorefreshing.

If you're on the fence about blogging or just want an easy way to publish interesting tidbits you find while browsing, give Tumblr a try. Our semiofficial Tumbleblog can be found here.

Note: From 2003 to 2007, Tumblr creator David Karp was a partner and CTO of UrbanBaby.com, now owned by CNET Networks, publisher of Webware.com.… Read more