Embracing the NaPodPoMo challenge a second time - 30 podcasts in 30 days

Napodpomo-2019There's something about November that seems to encourage people to take on challenges. Maybe for people in the Northern hemisphere it is because November is the grey, cold, rainy period between autumn and winter. Maybe the timing is just random... but in any event some people grow a mustache for "Movember" in support of various men's health efforts. And since 1999 there are hundreds of thousands of people who try to write a 50,000 word novel as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

For those of us interested in audio, there is instead "National Podcast Post Month" or "#NaPodPoMo" as the hashtag appears on many social networks. The goal is to produce 30 podcasts in 30 days, and hopefully to have some fun along the way.

With my "The Dan York Report" over on Soundcloud, I tried - and FAILED - to do the NaPodPoMo challenge back in 2017.

I only made it 11 episodes before fading out. :-(

As I explained in TDYR 347 on December 4, 2017, life caught up with me and while I had great ideas I didn't have the corresponding planning and research. I said that for me to do it again, I would:

  • Map out the month of episodes in advance
  • Prepare evergreen / backup episodes in advance, for when I'm unable to record
  • Do research in advance

Two years later I'm ready to give it another try! This time I've done all those things. I have 30 episodes at least planned out, and in some cases researched. I'm going to be doing recording in advance, and I'll have some backup episodes waiting in the queue.

I'm doing this just as a personal challenge because I enjoy working with audio so much - and I just need to get out there and DO IT!

You are welcome to follow along over at soundcloud.com/danyork/ It will be a mixture of topics. Some about podcasting... about Internet technologies... about how our society is changing... about some work topics... and so much more.

Let's see if I can get to doing all 30 days! 🙂

P.S. today's episode is already out...


"Hipster Ipsum" may be my new favorite Lorem Ipsum generator

Hipster ipsum

I may have just found my new favorite "Lorem ipsum" text generator - HIPSTER IPSUM!

https://hipsum.co/

For the longest time, my choice when I just needed some columns to fill in with filler text[1] was Bacon Ipsum, which is always fun. The companion to that is of course Veggie Ipsum

But now I think I may indeed use "hipster ipsum". I mean... I just smile when I read through the text. :-)

P.S. I noticed in searching today that there is a WordPress plugin (of course!) called "AnyIpsum" that lets you create your own lorem impsum generator.


[1] Why do I need filler text? When I'm working on a web design, it is often helpful to have some text in the columns and text blocks so that you can see what they look like with text in them. You can of course read more about the history of "Lorem ipsum" on Wikipedia.


Watch: the 2018 "State of the Word" from WordCamp US

Tonight in Nashville, Matt Mullenweg delivered his "State of the Word" presentation at WordCamp US. Not being there in person, I watched the live stream. The recorded stream has about 28 minutes of various quotes that were displayed. Matt starts at shortly after the 28-minute mark:

He shows some very cool ways that Gutenberg can work. Starting at around 54 minutes, Matt moves into showing what the next phases of Gutenberg will be. In a "Phase 2" during 2019, more of the admin interface will be moved into blocks. Phase 3 (2020 at the earliest) will be about collaboration, multiuser editing and workflows. Phase 4 (later) will be about having an official multilingual interface.

And then around the 1:12:00 mark, he mentions a fantastic statistic that over 57% of WordPress sites were using HTTPS (i.e. TLS):

Wordpress and https

Matt goes on with much more information about the WordPress community, more developements - and then finally concludes "The State of The Word" at around the 1:21:00 mark and moves into questions... of which there was about another 45 minutes of long discussions and questions.


Initial Thoughts on WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg

Wordpress 5 0

Yesterday (Dec 6, 2018) was TheBigDay when WordPress 5.0 with the Gutenberg block-based editor landed in all of our WordPress sites for upgrade. Some of the places to learn more about the launch include:

Changing the core editor over to Gutenberg was a massive effort over the past two years - and the launch this week was both an amazing accomplishment... and a very divisive event within the WordPress community.

I was very much hoping to be down in Nashville for WordCamp US this weekend, where parts of the community will be gathering. I expect it will be quite a passionate weekend! (Unfortunately some family medical issues kept me closer to home.)

I *really* like Gutenberg...

My initial reaction was... I really LIKE Gutenberg!

Now, I've been playing with it for much of the last year, and the more I work with it, the more I like it.

It really DOES enable more beautiful and powerful publishing with great ease.

I'm looking forward to doing even MORE with it and learning how far we can go with using Gutenberg.

... but it needs to work! :-(

However, after the upgrade to WordPress 5.0, the Gutenberg editor didn't work on all my sites. For several of my sites, I had NO PROBLEM after the update. It "just worked." I was immediately able to go in and start editing with Gutenberg.

But on a couple of other sites, when I went in to edit an existing page or post - or to create a new one - I made all my changes and pressed the "Update" or "Publish" button and...

Gutenberg updating failed

"Updating failed" in a big red bar across the top of the screen!

Amusingly to me, some searching on the web brought me back to a Github issue I had opened back in August 2017.

All I had to do to "fix" the issue was this:

  1. Go to Settings -> Permalinks, and change it from "Month and name" to "Day and name" and press "Save changes". I received the message "Permalink structure updated."
  2. Change it from "Day and name" back to "Month and name" and press "Save changes". I received the message "Permalink structure updated."
  3. Switch back to the tab where I was editing the post and had the error message. Pressed "Update" and.. ta da... the updating worked perfectly fine.

I had to do this on two different WordPress sites (both running on the same WordPress multisite server). Strangely, other sites on the multisite server were fine.

While the fix was easy, it concerns me that I had to do this and that I didn't really do anything. But somehow my act of changing the Permalink Settings did SOMETHING internally to make things work.

That concerns me.

Now, someone in that ticket or elsewhere suggested that this particular issue was NOT a Gutenberg issue, but rather an issue with the REST API, which Gutenberg uses.

Regardless, my point was that I couldn't use the editor to make changes on my site.

And beyond my own issue, I see many other Gutenberg issues piling up on Github. Now, yes, these may be initial launch pains for launching such a massive change.

But I do hope the team of developers can fix these in the 5.0.1 release that I'm sure will come quickly.

I really DO like the Gutenberg editor - and I look forward to seeing all we collectively can do with it!


P.S. This post was NOT written using Gutenberg because this Disruptive Conversations site is sadly still over on TypePad. I look forward to migrating it some day so that I can use Gutenberg!


Have we given up on personal blogging? (In favor of social media)

Cemetary keene

Have we given up on personal blogging? Are we instead doing that all writing in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and similar services?

Is the personal blog dead? [1]

I had lunch this week with a friend who, like me, has been online since long before this thing we now call the “Internet” came into being. We were having one of those “back in the old days” conversations where we talking about the discipline that came from programming in assembly language, the challenges of early computing and networks, how the programmers these days no longer need to understand how things really work, how they write bloated code, etc., etc.

Along the way we talked about the changing nature of the Internet and the growing consolidation / centralization of so many key services. We talked about how so many people no longer host their own web servers (both she and I do (for some of my sites), but talked about the issues with that and how attractive it is to look at hosting options)… about how many people no longer run their own mail servers (I don’t, but she does)… and how people have just generally given up running their own services because the hosted services are just so incredibly convenient and useful. And somewhere in there she just tossed in a comment along the lines of:

“… and then we’ve given up on blogging in favor of Facebook…"

It was just a throwaway comment in the midst of a longer discussion that went on into the rise of CDNs, overlay caching networks, cloud computing and more. (It was a great conversation!)

But that comment stuck with me… and as it rolled around inside of my brain, I sadly had to conclude that for the most part[1]...

she’s right.

My Own Example

I look even at my own writing. Despite my post in September about “Returning to POSSE - Writing on my own site, THEN on Facebook, Twitter, etc.”, the truth of the matter is that I haven’t been writing on my own sites.

If you take a look at my danyork.me aggregator site, you’ll see that I’ve been writing for the past week, but if you go back beyond that, or use the little calendar on the right sidebar to look at past months, you’ll see there is very little activity.  And what there is of my writing is most often on the Internet Society websites, rather than my various personal blogs.

For example, when I wrote on my Disruptive Telephony site on Monday, it was my first post there since March 2017 - that is 21 MONTHS!

Some of my other sites are worse.

Now, you could argue in my case that this just a matter of changing priorities. I don’t work as much with voice-over-IP or messaging, and so NOT writing on Disruptive Telephony makes sense. The site chronicled by activities in the VoIP world when I was active there. Now maybe it’s time to just park it and leave it alone. I could make similar cases for why I haven’t written on other sites.

And this may just be the consequence of my choice many years ago to spread my writing across multiple topic-focused sites, instead of just writing about a wide variety of topics on a single site such as danyork.com.

And it may be that it’s just me with everything else going on in my life over the past year.

The Directory Dilemma, Again

Or maybe not.

My lunch companion mentioned the challenge of finding where companies have their main information. Are their hours of operation most accurate on their website? Or on their Facebook page? 

And the same is true of personal blogs and sites. 

How do I find where people are writing?

Back in the early days of blogging (mid-2000s), of course,  many of us used RSS readers and got our feeds from sites that way.  We found new feeds from references, from searches, from different directories. But while I’m still one of those dwindling number of people who use a RSS reader, the vast majority of people do not. 

How do you find writing?  Well, usually through mentions in social media. It’s the “syndication” part of POSSE.  

But if you are using social media to distribute and promote your writing… it’s not a huge step to simply just write in the social media platform because it’s so easy and distribution is automatic. I know people who have moved all their writing to LinkedIn, for instance. Or people who are writing long threads in Twitter now that the site supports longer tweets and threading.

It’s another version of the Directory Dilemma - it’s easy to find content within those nice hosted walled gardens.

Running Servers Takes Work

And let’s be honest - running your own personal website can be a bit of a pain. If you use a self-hosted content management system (CMS) such as WordPress (as I do), you find yourself pretty much constantly needing to apply updates. Updates to the core… updates to the plugins… updates to the theme.  And then of course possibly updates to the underlying operating system if you are running the CMS in a virtual machine.

And then if you want to set up TLS certificates to support HTTPS, that can be a whole adventure! And if you mess it up, your sites are offline.

It’s enough to make you say… "<expletive> it, I’ll just go write on Medium!” … or hosted WordPress.com … or… to just write inside of Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn.

After all... I just want to write! 

Every minute I spend doing system admin or applying plugin updates is a minute I could be doing more writing.

Add in that all of those social sites have very easy-to-use mobile applications. It makes it so easy to just start writing inside those pretty walled gardens.

In contrast, many of the blogging and website hosting services have a less-than-stellar mobile UX. WordPress does a nice job with its mobile apps... but others? Not so much.

So is personal blogging dead?

Wellllll... no. There will always be some of will write on their own sites.

And I'd like to hope not for the larger independence of the Web. I'd like to hope many people will continue to embrace the “POSSE“ content publishing model from the “IndieWeb” movement:

Publish on your
Own
Site,
Syndicate
Elsewhere

I am going to continue to try.

But I also understand why some give up on it. The sweet convenience, ease-of-use and simplicity of the social networking platforms is extremely seductive. And they encourage consumption of content (because that helps get them the ad eyeballs they need to get paid) - and finding the balance of consumption and creation is hard!

What about you, dear reader? Have you given up


[1] Realizing that there will always be outliers in terms of very active personal blogs - and people who just choose to write on their own - but are personal blogs no longer of interest for the vast majority of people?

Photo: an image I took in the Woodlawn Cemetary in Keene, NH


WordPress 5.0 now targeted to launch on.... Thursday! (Dec 6)

Printing blocks unsplash raphaelphotoch

The news out of Matt Mullenweg last night was...

THURSDAY!

That day, December 6 (2018), is the next target release date for WordPress 5.0.

If you have been paying attention to WordPress, or listening to any of my reports into the For Immediate Release (FIR) podcast over the last, say, year or so, you would know that WordPress 5.0 is a huge departure from all previous WordPress releases. The big change is the replacement of the default text editor with the new "Gutenberg" block-based editor.

Personally, I'm rather excited about the change. I've been using Gutenberg on a number of my sites and really like how much you can do with it.

But... reaction within the WordPress community and ecosystem has been decidedly mixed.

Matt's post has more info.

We'll see if it happens! But if you are a WordPress site operator, get ready! 5.0 is coming soon!


Photo by Raphael Schaller on Unsplash

WordPress.com Offering free .Blog subdomains for new sites

 

The good folks over at WordPress.com are doing something interesting - they are giving free .blog subdomains for any new sites created on WordPress.com.

Now, to be clear, this is not ANY subdomain under .blog. For instance, I was immediately curious if I could get “danyork.blog”, but no, they are giving away for free third-level subdomains under the following second-level domains:

  • art.blog
  • business.blog
  • car.blog
  • code.blog
  • data.blog
  • design.blog
  • family.blog
  • fashion.blog
  • finance.blog
  • fitness.blog
  • food.blog
  • game.blog
  • health.blog
  • home.blog
  • law.blog
  • movie.blog
  • music.blog
  • news.blog
  • photo.blog
  • poetry.blog
  • politics.blog
  • school.blog
  • science.blog
  • sport.blog
  • tech.blog
  • travel.blog
  • video.blog
  • water.blog

So I could possibly get “danyork.tech.blog”, “danyork.news.blog”, “york.family.blog”, or “Vermont.travel.blog”. Basically, a free domain underneath that set of domains.

When you create a NEW site (and that is important because this is currently NOT available to existing WordPress.com sites), you will have a chance to claim one of these subdomains in this process.

Now, for most of us who are more serious about this, we may already have a domain. Or at least will want to get our own.

But for someone just starting out, I could see this being a useful way to get started without having to buy a domain, get it set up, etc.  Cool move by the Automattic team behind WordPress.com!


How to Run WordPress in a Docker Container, Part 1

Wordpress docker installation

Here is a quick 3-step process for launching WordPress in a Docker container. You can use this to easily launch a new WordPress instance on your local system to test out new versions, new plugins or anything else.

First, though, you need to have Docker installed on your system. The simplest way for Mac and Windows users is to install Docker Desktop. This desktop download also gives you Docker Compose, which you will need. If you are running Docker on a Linux system, you will need to manually install Docker and Docker Compose.

To run WordPress, you also need a database running. The steps here use Docker Compose to launch TWO containers: one for WordPress and one for MySQL.

Three steps

Step 1 - Create a directory (a.k.a. "folder") and install the docker-compose.yaml file found in this Github repository. You can get the file three ways:

The key is to have this all in a separate directory because your WordPress installation will store some plugins there (see the notes below).

Step 2 - In a terminal window[1] type 'docker-compose up

This will launch the two containers and link them together. You will see logging to your terminal window. You can press Ctrl+C to stop the containers and get your command prompt back. To launch the containers in the background add a "-d" option:

docker-compose up -d

Step 3 - Connect to your new WordPress server at http://localhost:8080/

That's it!

Wordpress installation 660px

Now you simply go through the normal WordPress installation process and within a few screens your new site will be fully active.

Next you can update WordPress to the latest version, install whatever plugins you want, etc.

For example, I installed the WordPress Beta Tester plugin, went into its settings and turned on "Bleeding edge nightlies", performed an upgrade... and now I'm running the very latest WordPress 5.0 build. Perfect for the testing I want to do.

Credit for the simplicity of this approach is due to Github user "wglambert" who answered a request I made about help using the WordPress Docker container. Thank you!

Notes

  • Stopping the containers - do 'docker-compose stop'. This will stop the containers from running. Doing 'docker-compose start' will start them up again.
  • A 'wp-content' directory is created is created inside the directory in which you put the docker-compose.yaml file. Any plugins or themes you add will be stored here. This allows you to do a reinstallation and have all the plugins and themes available.
  • WHEN YOU ARE DONE and want all this to go away, just type 'docker-compose down' and the services will be stopped and the containers removed.

There are many more things you can do with docker-compose. The command-line documentation can help you learn more.

Next parts

I labeled this as "Part 1" because I'm planning to write about my own ongoing testing with Docker and WordPress. In future parts of this series, I intend to cover:

  • How to load in an existing site for testing
  • How to save your changes in a Dockerfile (so you don't have to start at the very basic installation each time)
  • ... and other things I learn along the way.

I also expect I may update THIS article over time as I do more with using WordPress and Docker.

I hope you found this helpful. Please feel free to leave comments here (unfortunately I have to moderate due to spam, and so comments will not appear immediately).

I also welcome pointers to other "WordPress and Docker" tutorials that people have found helpful. If you want to follow along with some of my other experiments with Docker and containers in general, I'll be writing about that over on Code.DanYork.com.


[1] or "command shell" or "powershell" or whatever you call it...


Returning to POSSE - Writing on my own site, THEN on Facebook, Twitter, etc

Sheriff posse flickr tom kelly

Over the past few weeks as I’ve been grappling with colon cancer, it has been soooooooooo tempting to just pop open the Facebook app, write a story in the box and press “Share”.

Simple. Easy. Done!

Or inside the Twitter app… or LinkedIn… or… or...

But here’s the problem with that...

All the stories get LOCKED INSIDE A PLATFORM!

They are there living on the platform’s servers, inside the platform’s systems.  Maybe they are visible publicly, maybe they aren’t.  Maybe they will be around in two years, maybe they won’t.  Maybe people will find them, maybe they won’t.

The future of your stories is entirely at the whim of the platform.

As I wrote about on the Internet Society’s blog earlier this year, one of my own guiding principles is “POSSE“, a content publishing model from the “IndieWeb” movement:

Publish on your
Own
Site,
Syndicate
Elsewhere

And so over these past few weeks, I tried really hard to do that with my journey through cancer: the diagnosis, followed by the recovery, followed by the results.

But it’s HARD. It was so insanely tempting yesterday when I got the great news just to pop open Facebook and share it with everyone.

But when I do that… it’s shared ONLY within Facebook’s shiny “walled garden”. It’s not shared with people I know who choose NOT to use Facebook. It’s not shared with the communities I’m in on other social networks.

The “open Web” on top of the “open Internet” is really the only way to do that. But it’s hard. There’s extra steps involved for me right now with the way my various blogs are set up.  I want to work to make that easier and simpler… but doing so will take time… which is challenging to find.

But if we don’t find ways to OWN OUR OWN STORIES then they will stay locked away in closed, proprietary walled gardens.  And maybe that’s fine for some of those stories. Maybe they are small and mundane… “in the moment” stories that we don’t really care about. But even so, we feed the platforms. We help them to grow.

 I’ll keep trying to follow the POSSE rule… and I’ll be writing more here about that.


Image credit: Tom Kelly on Flickr CC BY NC ND


Revisiting a Not-So-New Rule - No Social Media Usage Until I Have Created Something New

Being a writer not being distracted

I woke up this morning frustrated that I simply haven’t been writing across my various sites. In theory I am a “writer”, but I haven’t been writing! And as I wrote in My 3 Words for 2018: “because if I don't write... the stories build up inside of me until they want to explode like a pressure cooker without a relief valve. Writing is my relief valve. I need to do it.

So I said to myself- I know, I will impose a new rule on myself... no social media usage until I publish something new! A blog post, a podcast episode (such as my The Dan York Report short audio segments), an article on some site (ex CircleID), a longer update on a social site... something.... anything.... BEFORE I get sucked into the vortex of social media updates. 

And I will start with a blog post like this one...

Except... I discovered I WROTE THE EXACT SAME POST TWO YEARS AGO! July 24, 2016, to be precise.

And... I noted that on day #2, July 25, 2016, I had already failed. ☹️

So this morning’s great idea turns out to be nothing new. 

In fact, I can go back 10 years ago, to a post in September 2008, where I wrote about Jeremiah Owyang’s “Pay yourself first” philosophy. Or may many other posts about struggling with consistent writing.

Now, maybe this rule is like the “no sweets today” diet rule that turns out to be an aspiration that just doesn’t happen. And maybe EVERY day is too high a goal. Maybe every other day. But I have to do something, or consumption will win over creation. 

Unless, of course, I want to reframe my own perspective and think of myself as an “occasional writer”... and just accept only writing now and then  

I am not quite ready for that. Let’s see how I do this year!

 


Heading to Belgrade This Week for WordCamp Europe 2018 (WCEU)

Wceu 2018

If any of you will be at WordCamp Europe 2018 this week in Belgrade, Serbia, please do say hello. I'll be there starting this afternoon and am greatly looking forward to learning from many of the people involved deeply in the WordPress community.

In particular I'm looking forward to the Developing for Privacy and Data Protection session. Based on the work done in the community to help website operators comply with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), this workshop will look at what comes next. I'm personally very interested to see where this will go.

I'll also be going to some accessibility workshops and checking in on topics such as caching, security and mobility that are always of interest. I also have some meetings with partners and others.

Anyway, if you're there at WCEU 2018, feel free to drop me a note.


Beginning NaPodPoMo - 30 Podcast Episodes in 30 Days

NationalPodcastPostMonth NaPodPoMoCan I publish one podcast episode each day for the month of November? That's the premise of "National Podcast Post Month" or "NaPodPoMo". Similar to the idea of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where writers sign up to write a novel in a month, NaPodPoMo is a way for podcasters to get in on the action for the month of November.

For me, I decided to do it just as an incentive to see about getting back into more content creation. As I explained in The Dan York Report episode 333, the last 10 months of my life have been focused on the launch of the Internet Society's new website. That's consumed a HUGE amount of hours... and left me with very little time for all the normal writing and audio production that I've done.

The Internet Society website launched on September 14, and in that TDYR episode 333 I naively thought the work was close to done... and that I'd have more time for content creation.

The truth is that there's been a great amount of work still to be done on the website - and so I have NOT been able to return to creating content.

But now we're getting closer... and my internal NEED to create content is driving me crazy.

So this NaPodPoMo is just an incentive to help me get back into the swing of creating more content.

I'll be publishing new episodes at my SoundCloud account at https://soundcloud.com/danyork

You're welcome to follow along this month! We'll see how I do!


Facebook Adds Stories to iOS/Android Apps to Try to Kill Snapchat

Facebook stories

Facebook truly DESPISES Snapchat!

As documented in a blog post today, Facebook has now added "Stories" to their main mobile apps. Just like Snapchat, these stories:

  • expire after 24 hours
  • can be either images or videos
  • have all sorts of filters and effects you can add
    • this includes a "masks" feature similar to Snapchat "lenses" that can change someone's face
  • can also be sent directly to one or more of your friends
    • and just like Snapchat, the recipient can view the photo - and then view the photo once more in 24 hours
  • can be created by simply swiping to the right to rapidly access the camera

If you reload your iOS or Android app today, you should see that the top of the app has changed. You now have:

  • a camera icon in the upper left corner that lets you open the camera
  • a "Direct" icon that gets you to images or videos sent directly to you. (Yet another messaging inbox.)
  • a bar of icons of all the friends who have posted Stories so far

And, as mentioned before, you can now swipe to the right to access the camera. If you don't have this feature today, you should within the next day or so.

Cloning Snapchat again and again...

Adding "Stories" to the main Facebook app comes as no surprise. It's been clear for a while that Facebook was jealous of all the people using Snapchat and wanted to bring them back inside Facebook's shiny walled garden. Facebook had already rolled out "stories" in their other Messaging apps:

  • Instagram Stories
  • WhatsApp Status
  • Facebook Messenger "My Day"

Of these, Instagram Stories has been viewed as successful. The WhatsApp and Messenger launches have been very recent and so it's not clear how many people will use them.

How will Facebook differentiate from Snapchat?

In their blog post, Facebook notes that:

Over the coming months, we plan to introduce new ways for the Facebook community to create their own frames and effects that can be used on any photo or video created with the new Facebook camera. Our goal is for the camera to be a home to hundreds of dynamic and fun effects that give you new ways to connect with friends, family, and your community.

We hope that with the new Facebook camera, Stories and Direct, it will be easier than ever to see the world through each other’s eyes

While it is possible in Snapchat to create a custom "geofilter", this teaser from Facebook sounds like a great bit more.

Facebook, of course, has a huge userbase. As I wrote in my "Directory Dilemma" post a few years back, users will use an app for messaging if the people they want to communicate with use that app. And the reality is that Facebook is the center of many people's communication.

So on one level, Facebook doesn't need to differentiate from Snapchat. They simply need to provide this functionality... and hope that this keeps people from opening up the yellow ghost app.

And of course, Facebook still supports regular text posts, photos, links, all of which last longer than 24 hours. They also have Facebook Live video streaming.

This is just really a way to bring "ephemeral messaging" (messages that disappear after a period of time) inside of Facebook's walls.

How many places can people post "stories"?

The question to me is really:

how many places can people realistically post their 24-hour "stories"?

Right now people have at least FIVE major options:

  • Snapchat
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Facebook Messenger
  • WhatsApp

... and any other apps that are copying Snapchat right now.

The reality is that users won't post to all of them. They'll choose one... maybe two... and that will be it.

Many people will probably choose to stay right inside of Facebook's walls and use that. Or, if they are already using Instagram Stories, they may stay there.

But what about Facebook Messenger?

One curious aspect of this announcement is bringing direct messaging BACK INSIDE the Facebook mobile app.

Facebook has spent a couple years now moving messaging OUT of the "Facebook" app. They have forced people to use Facebook Messenger to send and receive direct messages on a mobile device.

Now using the "Direct" inbox, we can send and receive messages inside the Facebook app again.

Granted, the messages can only be viewed twice within 24 hours - and they are in the form of images or videos. But we do have messages in the Facebook app again.

It will be interesting to see how Facebook evolves these many different messaging and "stories" channels they have.

Which will YOU choose?

If you have read this far... do you see yourself using the Facebook Stories?

Or will you stay with Snapchat? or Instagram Stories?

Or are you using WhatsApp Status or Facebook Messenger "My Day"?

Or do you just wish this whole "Stories" format would go away? ;-)

Please do leave comments here or wherever this article appears on social media.


P.S. There are many other stories about Facebook Stories appearing today.



Big News! 360° photos now available for any WordPress site via JetPack plugin

360 photo

For those of us experimenting with "360-degree photos", last week's announcement of Jetpack 4.5 had a hidden but awesome feature: you can use a shortcode to embed your 360 photo or video into ANY WordPress site (that uses the Jetpack plugin).

Here is why this is so huge - up until last month, the only sites that would display 360 photos were either:

  • Facebook
  • Google StreetView

That was it. Two effectively closed walled gardens of content.

As I mentioned in my reports into a couple of For Immediate Release podcast episodes, my concern was that only Facebook users would really get this benefit. I wanted the ability to display 360 photos on any website.

On December 15, 2016, WordPress.com announced that all hosted sites could embed 360 photos or videos. This was a great step forward in bringing 360 photos out to more sites.

Then just last week version 4.5 of the JetPack plugin was released and, somewhat bizarrely, while the announcement contains no mention of this awesome new feature, an Automattic staff person confirmed the inclusion of the support in a comment.

You can read all about this new capability here:

Now, since this Disruptive Conversations site is sadly NOT on WordPress, I can't show you the features directly here. However, I've gone ahead and embedded 360 photos on two WordPress sites I have:

Those were both taken using the Google Street View application on iOS. (And yes, sometime I need to write or record a tutorial about how to do this.)

I have included the shortcodes in the blog posts so that you can see how easy this is to do. You just:

  1. Take the 360 photo using the Google Street View app on your smartphone. (This will save it to your camera roll on an iPhone.)
  2. Upload the image to your WordPress site.
  3. Use the appropriate shortcode in your blog post.

That's it!

Of course, you need the Jetpack plugin installed in your site, but that's all.

Many thanks to Automattic's Jetpack team for bringing out this capability so that we could set our 360 photos free of the walled gardens and bring them to any WordPress site!

What do you think about this? Will you try some 360 photos now?


FIR Episode 68 Available Now - Artifical Intelligence (AI), fake videos, PR trends, blockchain and much, much more

Fir68 shel 660px

Yesterday I had an incredibly fun experience starting off 2017 - and now you can share in that: For Immediate Release (FIR) episode #68 is available for listening or download at:

http://firpodcastnetwork.com/fir-68-us-actually-say/

Host Shel Holtz (in the big picture above) brought in C.C. Chapman, myself and former FIR co-host Neville Hobson as the panelists and we had an outstanding conversation that ranged widely. As noted in the show notes, the main topics included:


  • The incoming press secretary for President-Elect Donald Trump has warned us not to expect business as usual when it comes to the administration’s relationship with the media. What does that bode for the press’s ability to hold the administration accountable — and will the philosophy extend beyond the White House to business?
  • Some businesses have begun preparing for unexpected criticism from President Trump while others have already had to respond. Crisis experts are advising companies to add presidential jabs to the list of potential crises for which they must prepare.
  • Five industries are under threat from technology, according to the Financial Times: travel agents, small component manufacturers and distributors, auto insurers, financial advisers, and auto repair garages. How can they prepare (or can they)?
  • Artificial Intelligence will soon make it possible to create fake video with little effort. Think fake news is a problem now? Just wait.
  • Edelman Digital is out with its 2017 trends report. Among the issues the report raises, the panel was particularly interested in bots and conversational experiences, blockchain, and over-the-top entertainment.
  • Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asked users what they wanted to see Twitter improve or create in 2017. He got answers (including one from longtime social tech leader Anil Dash). In the meantime, does Twitter know yet what it wants to be when it grows up (and will its recently announced live 360 video make a difference)?
  • Apple has published is first Artificial Intelligence paper.

It was fun to be part of the panel participating live versus the usual "tech reports" that I record each week for FIR episodes. And it was fun to have the kind of dynamic exchange that Shel, C.C., Neville and I all had. We've all known each other for a long time and so it all flowed quite nicely.

Speaking of a long time, this episode also marked the start of the 13th year of the FIR podcast! That's a remarkable bit of longevity for any podcast - and congratulations are really due to Shel for keeping it going as long as he has.

Next week I'll be back to presenting my tech reports. I continue to enjoy doing so and will keep at it in the years ahead.

Meanwhile... please do give this episode 68 a listen - and please do send in any comments to the show.


Will Facebook Live Audio be good for podcasting? So many questions...

Facebook live audio

Will "Facebook Live Audio" be good for podcasters? Will it help us engage with our audiences? Will it compete with SoundCloud and other similar platforms? Or will it pull people away from traditional podcasts to keep people within Facebook's shiny walls?

On December 20, Facebook announced the impending release of "Live Audio", initially with five partners and then "early next year" to more people. There's been a great amount of discussion but as of yet I've not learned of anyone who has seen/heard one of these new Live Audio events. Here is the info I've seen so far or can speculate on:

  • Users will be able to go live with audio in a similar way to going live with video.
  • Live audio content will go out in News Feed.
  • Listeners can ask questions and leave reactions in real-time during the live audio stream.
    • Presumably listeners will also be able to leave comments and reactions after the event is no longer live. Will Facebook differentiate as they do with comments to Live Video events? (Comments during the event have a red dot next to them.)
  • Facebook users can easily share the Live Audio streams to their own feeds and friends.
  • Listening will occur inside the Facebook mobile application. There will be an important distinction between iOS and Android listeners:
    • iOS users will only be able to listen while the Facebook app is open (and the phone is not locked). The users can continue browsing through Facebook while listening.
    • Android users will be able to listen in the background while using other apps.
    • To me this means that Facebook has not yet integrated with the audio interfaces within IoS that allow other apps to play in the background or on lock screens.
  • Techcrunch reports that Live Audio streams will have a limit of four hours in length.

As far as a motivation for launching Live Audio, Facebook mentions the feedback that some publishers prefer audio as a format. They also mention that some people are in areas where Internet connectivity is too low to support Live Video. Writing over on The Drum, Sean Larkin notes that Facebook needs new advertising formats and points to a recent study from The Trade Desk showing that advertisers are looking to increase their spending on audio advertising. Audio streaming and podcasts were highest rated in that survey.

In many ways this seems a logical extension of Facebook's desire to be THE place where people spend their time on the Internet. Given the explosive growth in interest in podcasts, it seems to me only logical for Facebook to try to bring some of that attention inside their walls.

Granted, it seems Facebook's initial focus is on the audio version of "live events" versus on podcasts. But to me podcasts are an obvious extention of this tool.

My Questions

Given that we can't see the Live Audio streams yet, or the tools to produce them, I find myself with the following questions:

  • Will users be notified with special "Dan York is live" kind of messages? (I suspect yes.)
  • Will Live Audio streams show up in the new "Live" tab in the mobile app? (as Live Video streams do now?)
  • What tools will be available for streaming audio? For instance, will there be anything to help with audio levels?
  • Presumably we will have to use the Facebook mobile app to stream the Live Audio streams. Will it be able to work with any other mobile apps?
  • Will we be able to bring in intros, outros, bumpers and other audio effects? Or will it truly be raw, live audio?
  • Will Live Audio streams also be accessible outside Facebook's walls to traditional podcasting apps? i.e. would there be a RSS feed that could go into iTunes? Or will it only work inside of Facebook?
  • Will Live Audio be a place to host a podcast? Or will it be another distribution channel?
  • Will Live Audio help spread the interest in podcasts and audio streams? Or will it impact the usage of traditional podcasting apps?
  • What will the impact be on SoundCloud? Many of us have found that platform useful for quick, fast podcasts.
  • And on a techie note, could you start out in Live Video and when connectivity drops, could you drop to Live Audio? Or will they be two separate event types that need to be started separately? (I suspect the latter.)

So many questions!

Given my interest in using SoundCloud for rapid creation and distribution of podcasts, I'll be curious to see how well Facebook Live Audio might work for podcasting. It might be good... it might be too constraining.

What do you think? Are you interested in Facebook Live Audio?


P.S. Another interesting aspect - over on The Verge, Casey Newton notes the potential of Live Audio for "witnessing" events: "Live audio of police confrontations might be less conspicuous, and thus easier, to broadcast than video streams."


Twitter Launches QR Codes on iOS App - But.... Why?

Apparently seeking to keep up with Snapchat's Snapcodes and Facebook's Messenger Codes, Twitter has launched QR codes in at least the iOS app. Here are two examples of how the codes look for me (it seems to change color each time you go into the menu option):

Twitter ios qr codes

I learned of this ironically from Krishna De over in a Google+ post. I can't find any mention on Twitter's blog or website.

You get to it by going into the iOS app, tapping on "Me" in the lower right corner and then on the gear icon in the top middle to get into your Settings. You then have "QR Code" as an option:

Twitter qr code

I did try the "QR Scanner" button on the "QR Code" page and it works pretty much exactly like the equivalent function in Snapchat and Facebook. When I pointed it at Krishna's QR code in her G+ post (as displayed on my Mac's screen), the app showed me her profile and let me know I was already following her:

Twitter qrcode 4

So it works.

But I share the same question Krishna has in her G+ post: WHY is Twitter doing this?

I'm not really sure why I would promote this as a way to have people connect to me. Twitter already has the "@" mentions such as "@danyork" that easily allows people to connect to my page. It's not entirely clear to my why this is needed.

Perhaps Twitter sees this as a way to help people more easily connect. From the "QR Code" page I have the ability to tweet the photo of "Share via..." and send it through other means.

But given that the QR Scanner is buried through several levels (Main page -> Me -> Settings -> QR Code -> QR Scanner) I don't see this really being any easier than simply typing in the person's user name in the app - or sending someone the URL for my Twitter profile.

I thought about the physical printing of one of these QR codes as a way for people to get to my account, but again, with the current level of steps you need to go through it seems to be more work than most people are going to want to do.

Perhaps this is just a case, as Krishna wonders, of Twitter wanting to keep up with Facebook and Snapchat. They all have codes, so Twitter needs a code.

Or maybe this a preview of features yet to come.

What do you think? What value (if any) do you see in these kind of QR codes? Would you use it?


Writing Every Day of November - the NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo Challenges

NaNoWriMo NaBloPoMo 2016

Today is the day! Every year on November 1 some number of writers across the world challenge themselves to write EVERY SINGLE DAY in November.

Some amazingly choose to focus on writing a novel. They go the "NaNoWriMo" route, a.k.a. "National Novel Writing Month"... where "national" is really any nation in the world. Best place to learn more is the simple address: nanowrimo.org

Given that the target of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000+ words, that's a serious commitment!

Others of us, and I'll add myself this year, choose to focus instead on writing at least one blog post every day as part of "NaBloPoMo", a.k.a. "National Blog Posting Month".

NaBloPoMo started back in 2006 and since 2011 has been championed by the BlogHer community. BlogHer is supporting NaBloPoMo again in 2016, but it wasn't clear for a while if they were going to do so. Meanwhile, another group at the "Cheerpeppers" site started a "blog once a day" challenge under the name "Nano Poblano".

Regardless, the point is to challenge yourself to write every day.

And of course being in our social world, you can follow along at the hashtags #NaNoWriMo and #NaBloPoMo - and also now #Nanopoblano (the hashtags all link to Twitter here but you can find them used on other social networks as well).

For myself, I am going to give it a try. Writing (and publishing) every day. As I recently wrote, I'm struggling to write consistently... so this provides a goal for me to strive for.

Now, I won't be writing here on Disruptive Conversations every day. My personal goal is publish some article across all my various blogs each day of November. That includes the blogs at the Internet Society, my employer.

You - and I - will be able to track how I am doing at my danyork.me site where I aggregate all my posts across all my sites.

We'll see how I do!

And best wishes to everyone else who are pushing themselves to do one of these challenges this year. Let's see the writing happen!

P.S. I haven't signed up for either the BlogHer or Cheerpeppers challenges. I'm just doing this for me right now.


Facebook Says: Get Your Site Mobile-Friendly Or Your Ads Will Suffer

Fb mobile performance

If your web site isn't "mobile-friendly" yet, and you do any advertising on Facebook, well... you better make your site mobile-friendly very soon! Facebook said on Wednesday that websites will be penalized in Facebook's advertising network if they are NOT mobile-friendly. The Wall St. Journal covered this news as did a number of other sites.

I completely understand Facebook's logic here. As they say at the beginning:

Has this ever happened to you? You tap a link on your mobile device, only to have the website take so long to load, you leave before you even see it. You’re not the only one. As many as 40 percent of website visitors abandon a site at 3 seconds of delay.

People are spending more and more time on mobile—consuming content, interacting with businesses and making purchases. However, since it’s a relatively new channel, many businesses haven’t optimized their website for mobile yet and still have very slow loading times. This can lead to negative experiences for people, and problems for businesses such as site abandonment, missed business objectives and inaccurate measurement.

I agree. I abandon visiting sites on my mobile phone all the time because the sites take a long time to load.

Of course, for me, I'm following links from posts inside of Facebook, not ads, but the principal is the same.

If you haven't optimized your site for mobile yet, there are plenty of resources available. Here are a few:

Beyond Facebook ads, of course, Google announced way back in 2014 that they would be penalizing sites in search result ranking that were NOT mobile-friendly. This news this week is just another reason to get this done!

Have you made your sites mobile-friendly? If not, why not?


An audio commentary on this topic is also available:


Ello Introduces a "Buy Button", allowing creators to sell their work

Ello buy button 660

Remember Ello? The social network whose beta version happened to launch in September 2014 when everyone was upset with Facebook? With a commitment to not selling your data and not having advertising, it was a breath of fresh air coming out of Vermont and Colorado.

For a few months, many people jumped on board and tried it out.

And then the "directory dilemma" took over ... people found that the people they regularly communicate weren't on Ello... and so many people drifted back to Facebook, despite the advertising and other concerns.

However, a strong community of people did stay (and continue to join) and Ello evolved over time to position itself as "the creator's network" with a strong emphasis on art, graphic design, photography and more. (In full disclosure, I do occasionally post to my account on Ello, although not as often as I once did.)

To help support that creative community - and ultimately to hopefully help support Ello as a platform - the Ello team introduced the "Ello Buy Button" that anyone can use to sell their products through Ello. As noted in their introduction post, usage is a few easy steps:

  • Upload an image of your product
  • Click the $ icon
  • Add a link to the product in your store
  • Publish

Once you do that your image will have a green "$" icon that, when clicked/tapped, will take the viewer over to your site where they can purchase the product.

In scrolling through my feed on Ello, I do see a few of these buttons starting to appear from a few users.

In conjunction with that news, Ello also announced a "Shop" category of the Discover section of the site where you can now see and search the products for sale. (If you are logged in to Ello it is at the easy URL of https://ello.co/discover/shop.)

I am intrigued by this move, particularly because there seem to be no restrictions on the URLs you use. You seem to be able to point to any site from the image.

Now, I think this will only really work for the artists / designers / photographers who have built up a following on Ello. I've seen some beautiful artwork displayed on Ello, and this now gives people the option to obtain that artwork for themselves.

We'll have to see... the question will really be to check back in after a number of months and find out how many purchases were actually made. (Although that might be hard to gather...) Meanwhile, kudos to the Ello team for introducing this option as a way to potentially help support those who create art.