Archive of: 2009

  • Tips on running a successful online community

    (8th May 2018: Updated the “accompanying links” URL to point to Pinboard)

    Yesterday I gave a talk at the Leeds GeekUp event. It was a 20:20 style presentation on a subject of my choosing, so I went for tips on running a successful online community.

    Still flushed from the success of the Oxford Flickr Exhibition and having given a lot of recent thought to just how much we’ve achieved as a group in the last three years it seemed a good subject to tackle.

    The talk seemed to go down very well with more than a few laughs elicited from the crowd. I had a really great time and the Leeds lot are a really nice bunch of people. It’s good to see the grassroots level geekery flourishing all over the country.

    20:20 style talks are pretty tricky and if I learnt one thing it’s not have so many bullet points in my notes, there’s really only time for one nugget per slide. It was a lot of fun though and I’m going to see if JP is up for trying them out at a future Oxford Geek Night.

    I’ve posted my slides if you want to have a look but I’m not sure how much sense they’ll make in isolation. Of more use are the accompanying links on delicious accompanying links on Pinboard.

    Thanks to everyone at Leeds for a great night.

  • Magic hour

  • Mainstream journalists in "still not getting Twitter" shock!

    Shane Richmond of The Telegraph lays into those mainstream journalists and commentators who are still confusing Twitter with a publishing platform.

    To criticise Twitter for its content (or, I should say, your perception of its content) makes as much sense as criticising the content of the telephone networks or the postal service. Like them, Twitter is a means of communicating. The content communicated has no bearing on its value.

    And as he rightly recognises, they’re not used to being called on their knowledge and veracity.

    It’s now possible for columnists and companies to hear what people are saying about them. That’s unnerving for columnists, not least because their opinions are now frequently challenged by people who know more than they do. Instead of responding like adults – correcting when they’ve made a mistake, engaging when someone raises a sensible point and defending themselves from false accusations – they are whining like children and dismissing technologies that they don’t understand.

    (Hat tip: John Naughton)

  • Who is Drupal's target audience?

    Leisa Reichelt reflects on what Mark Boulton and herself learnt during the D7UX project this summer, and puts her finger on a big issue facing the Drupal community going forward: who is the target audience?

    And so we have this tension. Drupal as a ‘Consumer Product’ and Drupal as a ‘Developer Framework’. Currently, the official direction is that the project is going to attempt to be both. I think this is a serious problem.

    The target audiences for each of these objectives are so far removed from each other in terms of their tasks & goals, their capabilities, their vocabulary, their priorities. An attempt to devise an interface to suit both will result in an outcome that I expect we’ll see in the release of Drupal 7 – that is a compromise to both parties.

    (emphasis mine)

  • The possibility of technological magic

    I always tell people to send me physical things by email as attachments. The pause while they work out whether this is possible or not is a moment of great mechanical wheel turning beauty and highlights a cultural acceptance of the possibility of technological magic.

    - srboisvert in a Metafilter thread about the UK postcode system

  • Interview about the Oxford Flickr Exhibition

    Made In Oxford Poster

    Last night the Oxford Flickr Group launched our own exhibition in local gallery The Jam Factory (I’ll blog about this later, once I’ve caught up on sleep and things have settled down a bit).

    This morning I was interviewed by Phil Mercer on BBC Radio Oxford about the exhibition. My first ever radio interview.

    For your pleasure (and my cringing) here I am in all my stumbling glory (10Mb MP3)

    I blame the fact that it was just after 8am and there was a lot of coffee kicking around my system.

    At least I remembered not to swear!

  • Wait for it…

    Members of Torchbox amuse ourselves at the station whilst taking part in World Car Free Day.

    (the irony of not being able to drive and therefore celebrating this day every day is not lost on me)

  • A better question

    Joshua-Michéle Ross, writing about the demise of the news business, identifies a more fundamental question:

    The failure of newspapers is not a failure of imagination or foresight nor is it a failure of individuals. This kind of failure is the hallmark of all institutions in the face of tectonic disruption. Institutions are a set of agreements that perpetuate a social order beyond individual intention or tenure. Changing those agreements is costly and time-consuming. So when the rate of change accelerates beyond the institution’s adaptive capacity – extinction follows.

    The question is not “what should newspapers do?” but “how can a large institution effectively organize in response to disruptive change?” Taken thus, it is not only the fundamental question to ask of newspapers – but to ask of ourselves in relation to a host of big-ticket game-changers such as peak oil, environmental collapse and climate change that simultaneously require and defy our capacity for institutional response.

    The larger an institution the less able it is to react to change, to the point where it would rather have society legislate against the disruption than adapt it’s ways.

    That’s no good for anyone.

  • Blue

  • Design in the Drupal community

    From a fantastic piece by Christopher Calicott looking at how front end design and development is treated within the Drupal community.

    Having such high standards for writing PHP code while playing so fast and loose with front end code and treating it as though it’s a non-issue, even while the rest of the world does it this way, is not only a gross double standard within the Drupal community, it is currently beginning to get the attention of the Web world outside of Drupal — and not in a good way. We’re positioned in the press to take off like a rocket and gain real longevity, and yet in the web design community – people who talk around the world at conferences, on podcasts, et cetera – are starting to hear that Drupal, despite the good things about the code they’ve heard, makes minced meat of their beautifully executed, semantic XHTML, and there are no plans within the leadership of the Drupal community (yet) to raise the standard for front-end code to the same degree that they have on the backend.

    Firstly, developers take writing code very seriously and have stringent – but ultimately plain and simple – coding style rules to follow with their module development. Designers have the same sorts of practices. It’s what they do and it’s equally as important. It is time that that is fully recognized in the Drupal community and an effort be made to bring this paradigm (elsewhere largely already in practice) into our community. Designers feel just as strongly about a developer playing fast and loose with improperly written, unsemantic XHTML as developers do about designers who make dumb mistakes with PHP or try to talk shop when they are out of their depth. In fact, dare I say it – if you’re writing poor, unsemantic XHTML markup, it’s due to your lack of understanding of what you are doing, at this point. Web standards are widely adopted in the Web world. Drupal ignores this fact at its peril.

    It’s an issue that’s been bubbling under for a while, and this is the best treatise I’ve seen on it yet. Required reading for anyone involved with Drupal on any level.

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