Dan Gillmor makes the switch to Drupal

Dan Gillmor gets DrupalProlific author and blogger extraordinaire Dan Gillmore has packed his blog and moved it to the bayosphere, a new site dedicated to citizen journalism in the SF Bay area:

I’ve moved my blog to Bayosphere, where I’ll report and comment on the Silicon Valley technology community — and a whole lot more including my observations about the burgeoning arena that’s variously called citizen journalism, personal publishing, grassroots media and a lot of other things. They all have something in common: the read-write Web.

The coverage has been interesting as usual, with posts on Drupal, Slashdot and an explanation on the Bayosphere about why they chose Drupal

…and for some reason I was given credit for getting Dan to make the switch! While I did work with him in the initial part of this project, that work didn’t make it into the current iteration. In fact, Dan even came up to me during the PDF and asked me dryly, “So what’s this about you convincing me to go with Drupal?” In any case, I’ve now been in touch with both Dan and Jay Campbell (who set up the site) and we’ll be finding time next week after I return to the Bay area to discuss this project further. But I should make it clear… I don’t feel like I deserve all that much credit for doing any convincing. I may have been one of many putting a bug in his ear, but if Drupal weren’t really the best choice, I don’t think he would have gone with it, regardless of anything I might have said.

With that, I welcome Dan to Drupal and hope he’s got a lot of gripes that I can go to town on!

*P. S.* Turns out Moby uses Drupal too. Who knew!
*P. P.S.* See? We can get along! Matt calls the Bayosphere One of the best uses of Drupal I’ve seen.

It’s been one hulluva week

One of those weeksWhat can I say other than it’s just been one of those weeks? I can’t even characterize it so much as sense the depth of the changes happening in and around me. Nor can I chalk it up to any singular thing, there’s just a lot goin’ on!

So first off, lemme give props to Matty Mullenweg, for topping 200K downloads of WordPress, the software the powers this very blog. 200K. That’s just friggin’ sweet.

Moments before and in no way diminishing Matty’s accomplishment, Firefox hit the big 50 mil. Even if the quality of design at Spread Firefox seems to tanking since I left, I’m really proud to have been part of the effort to get the word out about the Fox. And having a hand in the launch of the rather successful syndicated download counter thing feels pretty tasty too (to use an Ericism.) Oh, and it seems SFX just hit the 99,000 member mark. Day-mn…

Ok, so other schtuff.

Well, I’m deep into rewriting my CivicSpace themes from the ground up, gutting all my previous code and aiming at a consistent codebase. I still don’t know how big a project this is and I’m having some trouble keeping focus on it. The good news is, this overhaul will have very positive results, both for CivicSpace, Drupal and, I hope, themers in general. We shall see.

In other news, my nascent work on SpreadOpenOffice seems to have suffered a bit of a blow, with one of the originators of the project being blown off by the OOo proper folks. I mean, it never makes me happy to see people fight, and it makes me even less so when having seemingly silly disputes over apparent falsehoods. I mean, Charles Schulz’s line “It is a very smart attempt to fork the community.” just seems preposterous. In an all the discussions about this effort I’ve been privy to, it’s never seemed like an effort to fork anything… The way I see it, if the OOo community doesn’t develop a way to harness the efforts of its grassroots supporters, there’ll eventually be more forks than a UN dinner party anyway…

So while I have a few other related projects going on, none warrant much discussion… except the nascent SpreadCC discussion and SpreadButter

…which is, mind you, yet another CivicSpace site. Speaking of… this week was probably one of the most tumultuous for us so far. But I’m not too worried; from adversity and conflict usually springs innovation and clarity, which is precisely what we’re in need of. I’m willing to give it some time and see what happens, but between balancing theming, module improvement, Drupal development, relationship building, promotional efforts, and business model planning, it’s been a helluva week.

Oh, and in the meantime, the Web 2.0 arrived. Backpack, Rojo, and hmm… something else… all launched… Firefox got SVG, Tiger finally dropped and… oh yeah, I moved (which has nothing to do with anything).

I forget what I was going to write next. But oh yeah, it’s really been one helluva week.

Passing the torch

SFX TeamIt’s time for me to move on from the Spread Firefox admin team. I’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks considering this decision, and the time has come. I’ve weighed my interests and where my passion lies with what I can offer the SFX community and my effort is better spent hacking at the systemic problems and challenges in organizing, leveraging and empowering grassroots and open-source communities than in simply spreading Firefox.

I intend to stay involved as a contributor since my next project will be directly beneficial to and influenced by the Mozilla community, but I am no longer interested in the day to day operations of SFX. I simply do not have the same enthusiasm for the project that I had when I volunteered over seven months ago and think that the community would be better served by someone with fresh ideas, new motivation and more time.

The community has and always will mean a great deal to me and the fact that my work has been received so well by so many people gives me a wonderful sense of pride and purpose. I’ve been a volunteer from the beginning and I have great hope that I can channel my experience towards the greater purpose of spreading open source principles and culture beyond the Firefox community and focus my efforts on building tools that empower and encourage individuals.

To be clear, this was wholly my decision motivated by the direction in which the team has been moving lately. When it became clear to me that Spread Firefox was to be 100% about spreading Firefox and less about spreading the open source ideals through lifting up the whole open source community, I knew I had to give serious thought to how to I could continue to be an effective advocate while remaining consistent and authentic with my true hopes and aspirations.

Harrison Bergeron as the personification of the internet child

Where's your free will at?When I was in Mr. Duffy’s high school English class, he assigned a short story that altered the course of my life forever. Harrison Bergeron it was called, written in 1961 by a witty old fart, Kurt Vonnegut.

You see, at the time, I had been growing increasingly skeptical about whether any of my peers had free will. It concerned me that it seemed somehow that I was the only one in my whole high school who could manage an original thought in his head.
Continue reading “Harrison Bergeron as the personification of the internet child”

The death of a software developer

It was with great sadness that I learned today of the death of a very excellent person and software developer… someone who I had never even met but with whom I had exchanged a few brief emails about regarding his iTunes software project, which he called Sofa.

Sofa ImageIt was with great sadness that I learned today of the death of a very excellent person and software developer… someone who I had never even met but with whom I had exchanged a few brief emails about regarding his iTunes software project, which he called Sofa.

What strikes me as so unfortunate and sad about this passing is… well I don’t know really. I guess that this is the first time I’ve ever experienced an “internet death” I guess. I mean, I knew Cédric through his work, through interacting with him on his forums… talking about his project, beta testing his software. I didn’t know him “offline”. I didn’t know what he looked like, how he talked — I only knew he spoke French.

But yet, when I received the mass email from his family, I was really taken aback. In broken English, they informed the huge community that knew Cédric that he had taken his life:

the Cédric Menard’s family and their friends have the terrible dirty of informing you that Cédric has left our world. He gave death to himself on sunday the 13th of february 2005 at 6:30 a.m Please, have a friendly thought to him………..

And because it was so raw and terse… so unexpected and yet so authentic — I couldn’t help but feel instantly involved, like a part of a great extended family to whom Cédric’s passing is indeed a tragedy. And indeed it is…

Au revoir, Cédric Menard, et adieu.

Flickr built my hotrod

It strikes me that my late entry into the written blogosphere has to do with two primary issues:

  • First, that I’ve been hyper-sensitive to my potential audience (which, I admit, will probably only ever hover around one or two lost souls per month).
  • And second, which is actually of more interest to me: that I haven’t felt confident with any of the blogging tools that have been available… thus far.

My Flickr HotrodAnd I’m not talking about WordPress (though the 1.5 nightly I’m running is admittedly the best blogging tool I’ve seen so far). Rather, I’m talking about Flickr.

Flickr is a phenomenon of the highest order. Its popularity, reputation and user dedication surely make other photo sharing sites drool. But while that’s interesting as well, what’s most significant about my use of Flickr is that it’s responsible for getting me to start this blog!

How’s that you ask? Well, it’s simple. I would posit that my Flickr page served as my first real blog; this site is merely a supplement to it, like directors’ interviews on DVDs.

Though that may change over time, I felt compelled to get this blog up to explain in greater detail the ideas, images and concepts that I’ve been posting on Flickr! There may be fewer words, for all intents and purposes, my first entry into “visual blogging” took place on Flickr.

That it is so simple to post to Flickr (using drag n’ drop tools like 1001) encouraged me to be very free with expressing my ideas at various stages of refinement. So despite the fact that I’ve dreamed of writing a blog for a long time, I’ve not done so for fear of publishing incomplete ideas… to my relief, my experience with Flickr changes all that!

Now all I need to do is get better at expressing myself in words as well and as efficiently as I do in images! <<sigh>>

Chris Messina meets WordPress

It’s somehow fitting that my first personal public blog post would not only be made using WordPress software, but would also be about WordPress!

Indeed, I’ve taken the WordPress plunge, which is significant not just because I’ve been meaning to get a blog going for ages, but because I work for a competitor… of sorts.

I do hope though, as I join the community of bloggers, it will become clear both why I’m using WordPress and why I don’t really think that it’s a problem that I’m not using CivicSpace for my personal blog. In fact, I think that CivicSpace and Drupal are a little too powerful for this kind of thing, so I’m following my own advice by steering clear of the 800 pound gorilla when all I need is a spunky monkey.

…or something like that.