Excuse the Dust

Screwing Things Up

Hi folks. As you may have noticed, I’ve been tinkering with the design of my site. I got tired of the fact that my blog had become dominated by links from my Delicious account and embedded videos, so I decided to revamp the structure of things around here. I also felt like freshening things up with a new theme choice. I hope you like it.

Some of the changes were more drastic than others. First off, I deleted all of the posts that were nothing but digests listing my Delicious activity. Although it was nice to have some of those links front-and-center, you can get the same effect by viewing my page on the Delicious website. I decided it was a bit redundant to continually post those links to the front page here. However, they are included in the sidebar in the Lifestream section, along with events from a number of other social websites.

As for the video posts, they’re still here, but I’ve decided to treat them more like a sideblog instead of the major source of content they had become. The most recent video I’ve come across will always be at the top of my sidebar, and any older posts are available on the Watching page.

Part of what this new version of my site means is that the front page may not be updated as often, but when it does get an update, I’m hoping that the posts will be more full of content instead of the shorter posts that have become the norm around here.

A Blog in Miniature

As you may have noticed, in the last week or so my blog has come back from near rigor-mortis to being chock full of super-short posts. To put it simply, I’ve been inspired by some web 2.0 goodness, and it feels great!

It all started when I signed up for a Twitter account. I discovered pretty quickly that the 140-character limit encourages regular off-the-cuff updates, much like a Facebook status feed, but with way more flexibility. I started posting cool links and random thoughts and it actually felt like updating a website regularly could be fun again.

It still didn’t quite feel like I was updating my blog, though – Twitter lived only in the sidebar of this site when I first started using it. After chatting with a few folks about really enjoying Twitter, Mark recommended that I check out Tumblr.

The interesting thing about Tumblr is that its seems more like a blogging mindset than anything tied down to a specific service or tool. I’ve never used the actual site itself, but I’ve taken what I perceive to be the Tumblring principles to heart.

Basically the impression I get is that a Tumblr blog, much like a Twitter, is all about short updates, but in a more multi-media fashion. Instead of status updates, you post that cool picture, video, song, quote, link, etc., that you stumbled across, mostly in the name of sharing, and generally with little or no commentary. The basic principle is the same, though – breaking free of the constraints of essay-style blog posts and just putting your thoughts and interests right out there.

I also came across a post where the author explained how he had configured del.icio.us to regularly update his site with daily digest posts full of his newest bookmarks. I’ve used del.icio.us intermittently for a few years now, but I’ve been thinking lately that I really need a good way of storing all the cool links and articles I get sent during the workday.

My problem with del.icio.us has always been that I tend to bookmark articles as “toread” and never come back to them. So far I’ve found that adding the links to my blog as a digest post helps me remember to watch the videos I save for later and read the ten-page articles I barely have time to skim at work.

Overall I’m pretty happy with my blog “makeover”, although I may continue tinkering. For anyone interested, here are the WordPress plugins and scripts I used to revamp my site:

Twitter Tools for regular Twitter digest posts and built-in posting from WP, and a mash-up of twitter.js and an existing Twitter Widget for my sidebar widget

QuickPost for the Tumblr-style posts, just because it automates a lot of the post creation and automatically sticks your entry into the appropriate category.

Postalicious for the del.icio.us digest posts. Highly customizable, and much better than the built-in options on del.icio.us (which I couldn’t get to work).