Think that Robert Shvern is only a force for evil in the Williams community? Untrue! Thanks to his legal shenanigans, we are preparing alternate hosting arrangements. As all good Eph technologists know, backup is your friend. A side benefit of that effort is that we can try moving from Movable Type to WordPress. Why do you care? You don’t! Unless you want to suggest new features for EphBlog or share with us your experience with WordPress. Ramblings below.

1) We have discussed WordPress in the past. It seems like the obvious choice going forward. It is free, open source and has an active user/developer community. All the cool kids seem to use it.

2) We want to integrate multimedia features more easily. Note how easily this audio interview with Ethan Zuckerman ’93 is presented and played directly from the web page. (See the comment thread for the details of how that works.) We want this. At some point, we will have our own collection of Eph podcasts and videos.

3) We want an easier mechanism for handling our Eph Blogroll and Eph Planet. These are important services that get a lot (?) of use. (Perhaps Eric can comment on whether or not that is true.) But they are a major bother to maintain. For example, I need to modify the html template by hand in order to include, say, Daniel Ohnemus ’04 excellent blog in the blogroll. But that does not provide for automatic inclusion in Eph Planet. Eric needs to go modify another template by hand to make that happen. There must be a simpler way.

4) By the way, EphBlog is always looking for volunteers. Interested in helping out? Please let us know. For example, it would be great to have someone else take care of the blogroll, as well as writing entries which highlight new and interesting Eph blogs.

5) We need more flexibility in dealing with categories. For example, some categories should be sorted in chronological order, others in the reverse. It would also be nice to have a way to rearrange categories more easily. (Although maybe categories aren’t used very much and we don’t need to worry about them.)

6) We need a notion of different “views” onto EphBlog. For example, I (and classmates) will be blogging a great deal in preparation for our 20th reunion. Some of our classmates will want to read only about class of 88 news, not about Nazi-hunting and the like. We need a URL which gives them that view. One way to do this is by having a 1988 category (sorted in reverse order). They could then just click on

That’s not a bad answer. But an even better one would also show them a different sidebar, with class of 1988 specific links and the like.

7) It would also be cool to have user-defined views. Let’s say that a couple classes (say, ’58 and ’88) are blogging here. Someone in the alumni office might want to see posts from both classes, but nothing else. If there isn’t a category for this, how can she roll her own?

8) We need better mechanisms for drawing people’s attention to high quality writing. Which was the best post on EphBlog in the last month? Which was the most widely read? Since fewer people read the comments than the main page, how can we bring high quality comments to everyone’s attention? For example, Jonathan Landsman often writes thoughtful comments far down in the thread, where few see them. I sometimes copy and paste them into a new post. I often try to cajole/pressure him into placing them on the main page himself. But there must be an easier way. We need to give readers the ability to “digg” a comment or a post and then provide everyone links to the most interesting stuff, ideally with some sort of context.

9) Discussion forums are a whole other topic. Does anyone have experience with forums which work well with WordPress? I am still hoping that Evan Miller builds the necessary infrastructure at Ephtown. A blog thread, while fun, is not the best way to organize a useful conversation. What would a decent platform for cross generational learning look like? I’ll save that for another post.

To our readers: What do you want to see in EphBlog 2.0?

Print  •  Email