WordPress

Theme Issues

I’ve been noticing issues with the theme I’ve been using at this site which is called Twenty Twelve. The most important issue is that images embedded here at 640 pixels wide are distorting when the site is viewed on an iPad or iPhone in any browser (not just Safari).

I’d like to embed even larger images here and a two column theme makes that tough.

I’ve come across the McKinley theme which looks good to me: simple, free, full width images, seems to work well on iOS browsers (scales properly) and is a bit more modern than Twenty Twelve.

So, I’m going to be doing some construction here in a bit and we’ll see how things work out. If it doesn’t work out I’ll switch back to Twenty Twelve and keep looking. If it does, welcome to a new theme.

Note: McKinley has no sidebar and pushes search, archives, tag cloud and recent comments down in the footer area. Because of this I’m limiting the number of posts on a page to eight for the time being to make it quicker to get to the navigation area.

Note also that I’ve made a new tab called “Curated Posts” where I’m pulling out posts and collections of posts that some of you may have missed.

Thanks for your patience and stay tuned. Your feedback (both positive and negative) is always appreciated.

Chris Wetherell Reflects on Google Reader

Google Reader lived on borrowed time: creator Chris Wetherell reflects

This is a great history and commentary from one of the creators of Google Reader.

If there were things that went wrong, then there is a lot of positive things that came from Google Reader, Wetherell said. He believed that one of the main reasons why Google Reader could exist was because companies and entities with completely conflicting agendas came together, supported RSS and other standards. Google, MoveableType, Blogger, WordPress, Flickr and several other web-apps believed in creating RSS feeds for easy consumption. “In the end it helped the average users,” said Wetherell.

But all that is behind us and we might not see similar altruism again, Wetherell theorized. I agree with him. If in the early 2000s, Web 2.0 companies were building platforms that wanted to work with each other, today, we have platforms that are closed. We live in the world of silos now. Twitter and Instagram have broken up. Facebook is the Soviet Union of the modern web. The new systems don’t offer RSS or feeds.”There is no common language of sharing,” he bemoans. And rightfully so! And unless we have web giants speaking the same language of sharing, there seems to be no future of aggregation.

This last piece is rather depressing and it doesn’t speak well for the future of RSS which will only live on if it has broad acceptance and use.

Tools and attention spans

Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter

Blogs wane as young people figure out it takes work to keep them up, and even more work to read them. Facebook and Twitter lend themselves to shorter attention spans and more easily attained popularity.

Chicken-egg: Are tools like Facebook and Twitter the right tools at the right time for our (TV) shortened attention spans, or, has the use of these particular tools shortened our attention spans (even more than they were already)?

All of us involved in online social networking have experienced the shortening of our attention spans as we scan large amounts of information looking for interesting tidbits. The question is, what do we do with the tidbits when we find them if they’re the tip of a long form article iceberg?

I’m noticing many on Twitter will re-blog this stuff without reading it which is a shame because sometimes their quick executive summary is way off the mark. Couple this with the fact that many on Facebook and Twitter are tracking thousands of contacts (some think more contacts = more popular) and you have a recipe for the dumbing down of information or certainly, the telephoning of tidbits that many aren’t taking the time to dig into and understand.

So, two things are happening that are creating shorter attention spans: Tools like Facebook and Twitter are built for chatter rather than long form writing and reading, and the sheer amount of information that many are tracking is growing, much of it chatter that gets in the way of or interrupts long form reading and more nuanced understanding.

Broadcasting tweets is a great way to build a revolution (Egypt) but it may not be the best way to build a new government and society. For that you need long form thinking, writing, reading, and understanding.