Recapping WordCamp Philly and Hacks/Hackers

This week­end I trav­elled to Word­Camp Philly and then headed down to Wash­ing­ton D.C. for a post-ONA Hacks/Hackers meetup. Both were an absolute blast.

Word­Camp Philly had 4 simul­ta­ne­ous tracks of talks through­out the day so while I couldn’t see every­thing I did catch a lot of inter­est­ing sessions.

Tak­ing over the world with cus­tom taxonomies

In the first ses­sion Sean Blanda talked about how to take over the world with cus­tom tax­onomies. Sean is a self-described non-coder and claims Word­Press makes him look smarter than he actu­ally is. He talked about Tech­ni­cally Philly, his local tech news startup, and how they use cus­tom tax­onomies to cre­ate a direc­tory of terms sim­i­lar to TechCrunch’s Crunch­base.

Using cus­tom tax­onomies (and lots of ded­i­ca­tion to go back and tag more than 1000 ear­lier posts) Sean’s been able to cre­ate slick-looking land­ing pages for com­pa­nies, peo­ple, and loca­tions within Philadel­phia. While cus­tom tax­onomies have been around since Word­Press 2.3 recent updates have made things eas­ier to man­age. Sean cre­ated all of this with small pieces of code and the tax­on­omy term descrip­tions are all pow­ered through a WYSIWYG text edi­tor. It looks like a great way to cre­ate a direc­tory with­out a sig­nif­i­cant code investment.

Mak­ing Word­Press work at work

Next up Doug Stew­art dis­cussed how to make Word­Press work at work. Doug has years of expe­ri­ence using Word­Press in behind-the-firewall situations.

After run­ning into many com­pa­nies that rely upon GoLive, Share­Point, Microsoft Word, and home­grown CMSes Doug real­ized that, “most com­pa­nies don’t know how bad they have it.” This means Doug advo­cates an “install first, ask ques­tions later” approach to get­ting Word­Press going at large organizations.

While Word­Press can help lower the cost of tra­di­tion IT depart­ments it is far from a purely tech­ni­cal prob­lem. As Doug men­tioned, if you move to Word­Press it inher­ently replaces another sys­tem that a co-worker now has a stake in. This means that Doug rec­om­mends focus­ing on the con­crete ben­e­fits of employ­ing Word­Press. Things like easy upgrades, multi-site instal­la­tions, and a strong com­mu­nity of plu­gin devel­op­ers can help per­suade an IT department.

Hacks/Hackers

From Philly I headed down to Wash­ing­ton D.C. with Max Cut­ler and Andrew Nacin for the post-ONA Hacks/Hackers hackathon. Daylife was gen­er­ous enough to spon­sor the day and we were put up in NPR’s offices.

Max worked with Daniel Bach­hu­ber, Lau­ren Rabaino, Mark Lavallee, and Greg Linch on cre­at­ing a Crunchbase-style direc­tory for news orga­ni­za­tions. Pulling data from the Daylife API and other sources they cre­ated a basic direc­tory for more than 17000 news orga­ni­za­tions. Ide­ally this direc­tory would be used as a base layer for other forms of data that could be over­layed to reveal rela­tion­ships and infor­ma­tion that would not oth­er­wise be apparent.

Another group used Word­Press and the Daylife API to cre­ate a plu­gin that would rock the world of local pol­i­tics cov­er­age. It cre­ates a cus­tom short­code that pulls can­di­date infor­ma­tion into a side­bar to dis­play per­sonal, fund­ing, and news cov­er­age infor­ma­tion to pro­vide greater con­text for elec­tion coverage.

Nacin and I worked on reboot­ing the links fea­ture in Word­Press. Lever­ag­ing APIs com­ing as part of Word­Press 3.1 we aimed to cre­ate a book­marklet that allowed for low fric­tion link sav­ing. On top of this the plu­gin would cre­ate an inter­nal link wire of all the con­tent saved by site users. Links could be saved as pub­lic or pri­vate and every­thing could eas­ily be selected and send directly to the edi­tor for easy link roundup posts or as notes for longer essays. The recent and pre­vi­ously untested APIs com­bined with our com­bined 4 hours of sleep foiled us this time but you’ll see the plu­gin in a direc­tory near you soon enough.