Monthly Archives: March 2012

What I’ve been reading

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Pinboard.

What I’ve been reading

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

  • cpsrenewal.ca by Nick Charney: Mapping Internal Policy to the Hype Cycle – "I've been thinking a lot this week about how organizations issue policies to govern the use of new and emerging technologies."
  • The BBC Micro can still teach us a lot – "The BBC Micro taught a generation of teenagers the joys of programming. It's time to re-engineer such a revolution"
  • Amazon v. Apple « LRB blog – "Readers might be revelling in the lower prices they find on Amazon, but if the books they’re buying are ever less worth reading, it doesn’t seem much of a bargain."
  • What is Dart? – O’Reilly Radar – "Dart [is] an open-source project that aims to enable developers to build more complex, highly performant apps for the modern web."
  • MIT App Inventor – "To use App Inventor, you do not need to be a professional developer. This is because instead of writing code, you visually design the way the app looks and use blocks to specify the app's behavior."

You can find all my bookmarks on Pinboard.

Some useful BuddyPress plugins

BuddyPress is a plugin for WordPress that turns your site into a simple social network. It’s a remarkable thing, but I think it is fair to say that while it makes creating a social network easy, creating a good social network is still hard.

At Kind of Digital we’ve built a few BuddyPress sites recently, and we’ve found some other plugins that make life a bit easier, so here’s our list.

If you have any other suggestions, feel free to pop them in the comments!

1. BP Group Management

Enables an administrator to manage groups within BuddyPress by banning, unbanning, promoting and demoting current members of any group, adding members to any group, and deleting groups.

2. BP Profile Search

Adds a configurable search form to your BuddyPress Members directory, so visitors can find site members searching their extended profiles.

3. BuddyPress Extend Widgets

Adds a BuddyPress specific element to all widgets you use on the site. You will be able to select on which users profiles or groups pages you want to display a widget on and so on.

4. BuddyPress Group Email Subscription

A really important one this – it allows users to sign up to email notifications of activity within groups, and also to choose between instant updates, or daily or weekly digests.

5. Buddypress Humanity

A downside of BuddyPress is getting non-existent spam member signing up, who just want to post loads of links to your community and generally ruining it. This plugin adds a Turing type test to new member signups to make it harder for this to happen.

6. Buddypress Sitewide activity widget

Adds a widget you can place in a sidebar or other widgetised area on your site that displays a handy list of the recent activity on your network. If you’re struggling for space on your homepage, this is particularly useful.

7. BuddyPress Topic Mover

Another behind the scenes plugin – this lets administrators move discussions from one group to another. Dead handy if a user has started a conversation in the wrong place.

8. Custom Profile Filters for BuddyPress

Out of the box, BuddyPress automatically turns some words and phrases in the fields of a user’s profile into links that, when clicked, search the user’s community for other profiles containing those phrases. When activated, this plugin allows users and administrators to have more control over these links.

I find these really useful for profile fields that link to social networking profiles.

9. oEmbed for BuddyPress

This enables users to easily share rich media content like YouTube videos on their walls.

10. Welcome Pack

Great for community management activities, this plugins sends new users a welcome message when then join, adds them to groups and sends friend requests – making them feel at home right away!

Options for curating online content

Curation is an answer to the problem of information overload. There’s so much stuff online these days – how do you read it all? Or rather, how do you decide what’s worth your attention?

A way for an individual or organisation to build a community or network digitally is to become a trusted curator – in other words, getting popular by sorting the wheat from the chaff on other’s behalf.

There are quite a few tools out there to help you do it. Here’s a few.

1. Social bookmarking

I use Pinboard, but there’s also Delicious and Diigo, amongst others. You see a site or page you like, so you save it to your bookmarks usually using a button on your browser. You describe the link, tag it with keywords, and it joins a public list that others can browse.

I also republish all my bookmarks as occasionally posts here on the blog – I doubt if anyone ever actually looks at my Pinboard page.

2. Storify

Storify is a neat tool for bring content together in a single place around a certain event or topic. So whether it’s photos, videos, tweets, blog posts or whatever, every type of content can be added to a single page, making it potentially the top destination for someone wanting to find out about that topic.

3. Pinterest

A pretty new site this, and still invite-only I think. Pinterest is all about visual stuff, encouraging users to ‘pin’ images and videos they see on the web to their own ‘boards’ or group boards along shared themes.

There’s a big social element to Pinterest too, with users encouraged to ‘repine’ things they’ve seen on others boards to pass them on to their friends, and so on. Bit like retweeting I guess.

4. Paper.li

Paper.li is an automated curating thingy that pulls tweets and stories linked to in tweets together for you, publishing them in a daily ‘newspaper’ of useful content. This is all based on your own followers’ activity, so hopefully all the content ought to be relevant and interesting.

It’s good because it’s automated and you don’t have to do a lot to make it work. It’s bad because it’s automated and you don’t have a huge amount of control over what it publishes.

5. Tumblr

As well as being a blogging tool you can use to publish your own original pearls of wisdom, a lot of people use Tumblr to curate, by ‘reflagging’ stuff they’ve seen elsewhere. Again, Tumblr makes this easy by using a button in your browser. Increasingly popular amongst young people who wouldn’t normally be seen dead doing something as dorky as blogging, Tumblr’s a huge and growing network of people sharing, resharing and reresharing content.

It’s also home to some hilarious themed sites – like Glum Councillors, for example.

That’s it

There’s five from me – any more?

What I’ve been reading

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Pinboard.

What I’ve been reading

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Pinboard.

John Naughton on the iPad

So true:

The iPad is great for some things, but hopeless for others. I’ve had one since its launch in 2010 and I use it every day. It has a terrific battery life, springs instantly to life when opened, is robust and portable and, when fitted with a sim card, provides good connectivity on the move. One could, I suppose, try to write a book, edit a movie or build a big spreadsheet model with it – just as one could, in principle, dig the garden with a teaspoon. But you’d be mad to try. The truth about computing is like the truth about steeplechasing: it’s always horses for courses.

Creative Technology Day – 17th March in Louth

As part of an EU-funded bit of work we are working on with Lincolnshire County Council, we’re running an event in Louth next Saturday to demonstrate a whole range of useful and innovative technology that people working in the creative, cultural and heritage sectors would find especially cool.

You can book your place here. The blurb follows:

Kind of Digital, in co-operation with Lincolnshire County Council are holding a one-off digital demonstrator day for the Arts, Creative and Cultural sector in East Lindsey.

This one day event in Louth offering you the opportunity to connect and participate in some great digital technology demonstrations with top technologists, future-forward practioners and thought leaders.

Get hands-on with cutting edge equipment such as 3D scanners and learn how they can benefit your business.  We want you to leave this event, inspired, connected and clued into what digital can mean for your business.

The event will also kick start our consultation into the development of Creative Hubs across East Lindsey, leading to the implementation of new digital technologies to grow local infrastructure, networks and great creative business ideas.

This is part of a series of events in the DigitalLincs programme focused on the development of East Lindsey’s creative industries infrastructure.