For the people

I’m starting a new job today as an Enterprise Growth Engineer on the WordPress VIP team at Automattic.

I’m a little bit excited.

If you know me at all, you know that no matter the title, my job in news has always been to evangelize for new technology to serve journalism. As a reporter, an editor, a product manager, a team leader — I’ve tried to give journalists the tools and training they need to successfully reach (and move! and impact!) their readers, while growing their audience and building sustainable models for the future.

WordPress has often been a part of that equation for me. I suppose my first of many CMS migrations was the move of my own blog to WordPress from Blogspot, even if it was only a few weeks after I started writing here. Later came a WordPress theme for the blogs at what was then Inside Bay Area (in the 19th iteration since, it’s  currently the East Bay Times but has somehow maintained the stories I wrote as an intern in 2006), then a move of all the Santa Cruz Sentinel’s blogs from pMachine (an early Expression Engine product IIRC) to WordPress, plus a couple Joomla (and Mambo?) verticals, too. I used WordPress as a platform for podcasting, for daily video newscasts, for blogs, naturally, and even once drafted plans for a university journalism department website, among other non-news odds and ends.

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When I left corporate media for the nonprofit news world in 2015, it felt like I was starting a tour of duty. I had heard the same phrase used by people taking government tech work at places like 18F, and it fit the way I felt at the time. Would I stay in the nonprofit world for good? What would I learn, and how would I use it in the future? Would I look for another nonprofit role when the first one ran its course?

In the end, this move is personal. I decided to look for a role at an organization that was remote-first. I wanted to try something new, outside my usual routine of journalism product management (although you should totally keep doing that, please), and I wanted to be in a position where I could focus on The Work for a while, rather than The Work About The Work, although it will always interest me, too.

So. If you hate your CMS, hit me up. And. AND! If you lovvvvvve your CMS, I want to hear all about that, too.

Oh, and, of course, Automattic is hiring.

 

 

 

Elsewhere, recently, blogging

Remember when I remembered blogging? Hard to believe that was almost four months ago, but there it is. Meanwhile…

Here’s what I did after I posted that real live actual blog post on my blog here at ryansholin.com:

  1. I wrote a Medium post from my phone. It was about Sleater-Kinney and writing and content management systems. And about writing on phones. (Not too long after, Medium updated lots of features, including their mobile writing/editing screens, so some of this was happily and quickly made totally invalid.)
  2. I wrote a Kinja post from my phone. It was about tacos and emoji and terrible garbage data. And writing on phones.
  3. I wrote a Tumblr post from my phone. It was about beach vacations and long books and reading habits. And writing on phones.
  4. That aforementioned Medium update happened, and in the process of trying it out, I wrote a “brief” guide to things like Apple News and Facebook Instant Articles and Google AMP and the stuff Medium was launching and it was “fun,” but also actual publishing labor. I can’t remember if I drafted any part of this on my phone, but maybe.
  5. Writing in Medium was remarkably pleasant, and they’re proving to be a really powerful platform for driving engagement with push notifications, at least until everyone gets annoyed and turns them off, and also we’ve been listening to the Hamilton cast album non-stop (get it?), so I wrote a thing about what Product Managers can learn from Hamilton the Musical. And that really was fun, no scare quotes.

An aside: ALSO OTHER THINGS ARE HAPPENING.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been writing about. More to come. Medium has been fun.

One new development related to all these thoughts about content management systems for actual writing: WordPress is doing something lots of people are doing, moving to fancy modern node.js frameworks for publishing tools, not just for what I would usually call reader-facing UX.

As a matter of fact, even though I don’t quite understand how this works, I’m typing this very blog post in what I have to assume is the new node.js powered framework on WordPress.com, which hopefully is going to publish as intended on ryansholin.com, which still runs using the standard latest dot-org build.

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Daniel’s status treatment

I really like what Daniel is doing with his “statuses” in WordPress. Assume this is a custom post type. I think he started blogging these while taking a(nother) break from Twitter.

In his RSS feed, these show up with a plain title of “Status” — I find this to be sort of amusing.

Reintroducing Newstangle, or How I learned to stop worrying and love my blog

Let’s skip the usual rambling, expository introduction and get to the lists:

  1. Delicious is dying. Or it isn’t. Or it is. Depends on who you ask, I suppose.
  2. I like saving and tagging and sharing links. You may have noticed I worked for a company that made some tools to do that sort of thing.
  3. I’m having a hard time trusting any of the also-ran social bookmarking sites with my data.
  4. For a long time now, I’ve had intentions to implement some form of WordPress “Asides” on my blog, to use in conjunction with the “Press This” bookmarklet for light linkblogging.

The desired outcome:

  1. A handsome little way to display Asides on my blog. For the sake of this discussion, let’s just call all the “Asides” posts something like “Newstangle.”
  2. All of my Delicious links, minus some outdated stuff, imported to WordPress as posts with their tags intact.
  3. Some light repair and merging of tags.
  4. A page displaying all my Newstangle posts and tags in some sort of useful, browsable way.
  5. Perhaps a search box just for the Newstangle content.
  6. To send out automatic-ish tweets when I post a Newstangle link that lead to the link in question, and not my blog post about it.
  7. To point Newstangle.com at the Newstangle links over here.

So far: I’m done with steps 1, 2, 3, and 7. Halfway done with 4, really.

Not bad for an over-coffee-and-breakfast project, right?

Ingredients:

  • AsideShop for a pretty easy way to implement a version of Asides without messing around with templates. I’m a sucker for any plugin that lets me use tokens like %post_permalink% with my own markup, rather than getting too deep into PHP copy/paste missions.
  • The particular Delicious to WordPress Importer I used was an updated version of this one, and predated this other one, which even comes with a handy theme to make it more like Delicious. Your mileage will definitely vary.
  • Batch Cat to help clean up some of the damage I did importing more than 2,500 links to my default post category, which I actually use.
  • Tag Managing Thing, an oldie-but-a-goodie plugin for editing, merging, and deleting post tags.
  • And when I get around to adding some interesting tag listing ont he Newstangle category page, I might use some variation of the cool back-of-the-book index-style Archives template that came with my new Basic Maths theme.

It remains to be seen, of course, if I can stick with it, posting short links and notes on a regular basis, mixing in longer posts — perhaps about something other than this blog at some point — more frequently than I have of late.

Now then. What’s all this I hear about Flickr?