Posts from Weblogs

A WordPress Plugin For A Books List?

The Gotham Gal moved to WordPress this week. I mentioned it in a post mid week.

She maintains a book list on her blog. She’s a huge reader, at least a couple books a week, many times more than that.

And she lists her favorite reads for all to see. It used to be a TypePad widget on the sidebar but in the new UI, it’s an entire page linked to off the main header.

On TypePad, she could enter a book name, an ASIN, or an ISBN and the book and link to Amazon would automatically be added to the list (with her Amazon Affiliate ID attached).

I spent about an hour yesterday trying to replicate that functionality on WordPress via a plugin. I tried about five or six plugins without any success.

Has anyone come across a WordPress plugin that does this? If so, we’d love to know about it. Thanks.

 

Gotham Gal 3.0

The Gotham Gal has followed me from TypePad to WordPress and given her blog a refresh. Check it out here.

We both use the same designer, Nathan Bowers, so our blogs have always had a similar look and feel. They look even more similar now, particularly on the phone.

I love the elegance and simplicity of both blogs on my phone. It has become my primary reading device and it’s where I read AVC and Gotham Gal (and comment) most frequently.

I think Gotham Gal looks particularly good on the tablet. I’m a bit jealous of that. I may have to talk to Nathan about that :)

Anyway, we have both now gone through the typepad to wordpress conversion and all that entails, we’ve got new his and her blogs, and we are pretty happy about all of that.

Thanks Nathan.

Some Thoughts On Tweeting Vs Blogging

I thought for a second on April 1st about writing a post that said I was giving up blogging in favor of tweeting. I held back because its closer to the truth than I want to admit. And one should not dance too close to the truth on April 1st.

Tweeting is easier than blogging. It was that single insight that led me to email Evan Williams back in the spring/summer of 2007 and ask him if he’d allow USV to invest in Twitter. Thankfully he responded to that email and Ev and Jack did allow us to do that.

I had been blogging for almost four years at that point and was completely sold on the huge benefits that come from publicly sharing your insights, opinions, and decisions. I would advocate blogging to everyone. And folks would try it. And that vast majority of them (way greater than 90%) would not be able to sustain it. So when tweeting showed up, I thought “well this has most of the benefits of blogging but is at least 10x easier”. And then I wrote the email. Most good investment decisions are not more complicated than that.

So why have I continued to blog every day when plenty of people have moved to tweeting and get similar benefits? Well for one, I am a creature of habit and routine and hate breaking things that are working for me. And second, I like to work things out on the page. It’s a puzzle to me. 140 characters is a challenge but ten paragraphs is a bigger challenge. And finally, because you can express yourself more fully in a blog post than a tweet (or a tweet stream).

I see blogging as fodder for my twitter activity. I write the post, tweet it out, and, just like the comments at the end of this post, stuff comes back at me. Like these from the past week:

and

 

and

 

I really like feedback and discussion. When I give a talk, the first thing I do after the talk  is look at the tweetstream to see what resonated with the audience. It’s like a comedian working out her best material. You get immediate feedback on what was good. I always assume the rest was not.

So I could move from blogging to tweeting. And god knows I’ve been tempted many times over the years. But I don’t think I will, at least anytime soon. I’ve come up with a mechanism to make both work for me, together, and I think that combination is more powerful than using either of them solo.

AVC Downtime?

I’ve been hearing reports of AVC being down here and there over the past few days. I’d like to ask a few questions of the regulars.

1) Have you experienced downtime/unavailability on AVC since the cutover from typepad to wordpress?

2) if so, can you recall the error mode? was it a cloudflare error page? was it a 404 page? was it something else?

3) how frequently does this happen?

Finally if you experience this issue going forward, I would love a screenshot of the error page. You can email it to me via the contact link at the bottom of the About page.

Thanks everyone. I am trying to make AVC as reliable as it can be and downtime is something I want to get to the bottom of.

Feature Friday: disqus.com/home/

This is a risky post since I am not sure this feature has been rolled out to everyone. But I have it and so does the Gotham Gal, so I am hoping its rolled out to everyone here at AVC.

For the past few months, Disqus has been iterating on a service for regular commenters. It has been in each user’s dashboard at Disqus.com, but recently they moved it to disqus.com/home.

The idea is essentially to showcase all of the great content that is carrying a disqus powered comment stream to regular disqus users. This should drive more discussions, more discovery, and more activity for both publishers/bloggers and commenters. It should drive the discussion more broadly.

I do not think Disqus is finished iterating on this and of course it needs to be on more than the web in an age where half or more of all of our activity is on mobile. But I think its starting to come together nicely and thought I would highlight it today on feature friday.

Check it out and let us know what you think.

Embedding Getty Images

A few years ago the senior team at Getty Images asked me to attend a strategy session they were having. I came and talked about open platforms and how they create more reach, engagement, and ultimately value. They thanked me and asked me if there was an image in their library that I wanted a print of. I chose this image of Roy Hibbert and Steph Curry when they played against each other in the NCAA Midwest Finals in 2008.

roy steph

As an aside, the CEO of Getty, Jonathan Klein, who is a friend of mine, asked me “are you sure that’s the photo you want?” He mentioned that there are photos of Presidents, Generals, Movie Stars, and many major historical moments in their library. I told him I was sure. He got the photo signed by Roy and it hangs in my son’s bedroom. We love Roy and Steph. It’s a shared thing we have between us. This print remains my favorite gift I’ve ever gotten for a speaking gig.

Note that this photo is watermarked. I did a screenshot of the photo from Getty’s website. That’s what bloggers do when they want to showcase a photo they find on the web. But it is not what is ideal. What is ideal is to get some embed code from the website and post it legally and cleanly.

Well Getty Images has made exactly such a thing available for many of the photos in their library. Sadly not that one of Roy and Steph, yet.

But this one, from the same game, is now available for embedding.

All I did was find the image, click on the embed icon, grab the code, and place it here. Easy, simple, awesome.

Getty has done a big and important thing here. They have opened up their platform. This will lead to reach, engagement, and, I believe, more value for them in the future. Well done Getty.

Fun Feature Friday: Featured Comments

Some of you may have noticed that Disqus rolled out a feature for publishers/bloggers sometime in the past ten days. It is called Featured Comment and it allows me to feature a comment above the comment box. I’ve done it once or twice and Daniel did it once on my blog without me knowing as a way to roll it out here.

This is a feature I’ve wanted for a long long time. There are awesome comments here every day. The best you can do is get upvoted to the top of the thread. Now you can get some more recognition by having it featured. I would love it if a blogger could opt to have the featured comment get onto the main page and above the comments link. That would be even more recognition.

So we are going to have some fun with this feature today. I can feature and un-feature a comment. So I will start doing that today as the comments roll in. I don’t have a ton of free time on my calendar today but I plan to try to feature a few of the best comments for a few hours at a time throughout the day. Feel free to comment about anything you want. This should be fun.

Feature Friday: Tech Circle and Editorial Assistant

Some of you noticed that Zemanta Tech Circle did not make the cut in the new AVC redesign. That’s sort of true and sort of not true.

Zemanta’s oldest product, the one that got me to invest in the company, is a compose window assistant that they now call Editorial Assistant.

On Typepad, I used a broswer plugin to get Editorial Assistant. On WordPress.org, it’s available as a WordPress plugin.

So the way I am bringing back tech circles as a default feed in my Editorial Assistant. You will see thumbnails at the end of the post with related links.

Most of the time, they will be tech circles bloggers with related content. Occasionally I will mix in other bloggers if their related content is highly relevant.

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The New AVC

As I promised to do months ago, we have moved AVC from Typepad to WordPress.org. We is Nathan Bowers with some direction from me. We also did a redesign which you are all seeing in action. The goal of the redesign was to optimize for mobile, clean up the page, and make the content and comments front and center and eliminate everything else. The only widget that survived was the usv.com widget which is now placed between today’s post and yesterday’s post.

We moved search back to Google site search because it simply works better for me. And I am sure I search AVC more than anyone else. We’ve added a table of contents for MBA Mondays to the Archive section and improved that a bit too. I made some changes to the About page, and Subscribe Via Email is no longer buried so deep it’s remarkable that anyone ever found it.

AVC is now just one column. That works best for mobile and mobile will soon be the way most of you access AVC. We’ve also eliminated the <div> element that made Disqus work poorly on mobile for all of you. I’m sorry it took me so long to fix that.

I am sure there are some things that aren’t working right. Please let us know what they are in the comments and we will fix them. And I am sure many of you will dislike the redesign. Feel free to tell us that too, although I don’t expect we will fix that.

I have wanted to move off of Typepad for many years. I was hesitant for a whole host of reasons, a few valid and most not. I am really happy to have finally made the move and now I can work with an open source CMS that has plugins galore and is evolving and improving constantly. It was long overdue. I want to thank Nathan for making this move easy on me and getting it done.

You Can Turn Off Comments, But You Can’t Turn Off Discussions

I saw this on usv.com today:

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Popular Science has decided to turn off comments. They aren’t the first and they won’t be the last.

As Adrian says in the usv comments:

Let’s face it – dropping comments on PopSci isn’t going to stifle societal debate. There are more than enough places online to debate the impacts of science.

There are so many places on the web to talk about stuff. There are the blog communities, like AVC and many others, and there are the link sharing communities like Reddit, Hacker News, and USV.com.

The web (and increasibly mobile) is a great place to talk about stuff that matters to you. It always has been and it always will be. Some publishers will foster those conversations on their own domains. Some will let the conversations happen elsewhere. I am not particularly concerned about who does what.

I am concerned that we keep talking and I am not the least bit worried that we will continue to do that.