Bookmarks for August 18th through September 8th

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

  • Civic Commons code-sharing initiative bids to reduce government IT costs – "Around the United States, city governments have created a multitude of software. Unfortunately, most of the time the code from those projects is not shared between municipalities, which results in duplication of effort and redundant, static software."
  • Anonymity, trust and openness on the social intranet – "In some organisations, the cloak of anonymity could help to establish the first part of that trust relationship, and reassure colleagues that leaders are, in fact, really listening; once it exists, it’s easier to step out of the shadows with a greater degree of trust and openness."
  • The end of history – "History will, of course, look after itself. It always has. But the future history of our time will be different from our histories of past times, and that will not be because we have an eye to the future, but because we are always relentless focused on the present."
  • Why aren’t we all working for Learning Organisations? – "…the authors suggest a way for managers to switch from a ‘command and control’ to a ‘systems thinking’ mindset in order to achieve genuine organisational learning."
  • Quixly – Cool way to host and deliver paid-for content, such as e-books.
  • Understanding Marin County’s $30 million ERP failure – It's not just UK government that cocks up IT projects.
  • Google Wave open source next steps: "Wave in a Box" – "We will expand upon the 200K lines of code we've already open sourced (detailed at to flesh out the existing example Wave server and web client into a more complete application or "Wave in a Box.""
  • Should Governments Legislate a Preference for Open Source? – "It's easy to legislate a preference for Open Source, and difficult to implement a level playing field upon which Open Source and proprietary software could compete fairly. Thus, a number of governments have enacted the preference as an easy-to-legislate way of solving the problem, but I submit not optimally. Having a preference gives proprietary software an opening to portray themselves as the "injured party", when the reality is that historically there has been a preference for proprietary software in both legislation and internal process of government purchasers, and this still exists today."
  • Wiki life – "The point, in the end, is that Wikimedia by its DNA operates in public and benefits accrue — not just as product and engagement and promotion and distribution but also as strategy. That’s the next step in creating the truly public company or organization."
  • First Impressions: VaultPress (WordPress Backup) – Nice summary of the premium backup service for WordPress (sadly just in beta at the moment).
  • Sink or Swim – Donald Clark on the birth of Learning Pool and why the public sector needs it more than ever.
  • Damien Katz: Getting Your Open Source Project to 1.0 – Great notes on successful open source development.
  • Harold Jarche » The Evolving Social Organization – "For decades, organizational growth has been viewed as a positive development, but it has come at a cost."
  • O’Reilly, Open Government and the Ingenuity of Enthusiasm – "It is quite clear that performance management and procurement, as well as many other government processes, need to be revised, reformed or radically changed. But this won’t happen unless we recognize that government and its employees need to remain in charge, need to stay as the custodians of neutrality and transparency, and we, the people, developers or users, can just help them do a better job but not replace them in any way."
  • Research findings and recommendations for Councils – Some fantastic shared learning here from Michele.
  • sigil – "Sigil is a multi-platform WYSIWYG ebook editor. It is designed to edit books in ePub format."
  • Enterprise 2.0 Perceived Risks: Myth or Reality? – "…security is a personal thing, a personal trait that everyone needs to nurture and treasure accordingly."
  • Using Free, Open-Source Software in Local Governments – "…how is it that local governments have failed to capitalize on the cost-saving and productivity-enhancing benefits of using open source software, especially given the budget crises they face?"
  • Open Government Data – "This event will bring together movers and shakers from the world of open government data — including government representatives, policymakers, lawyers, technologists, academics, advocates, citizens, journalists and reusers."
  • WordPress › Email Users « WordPress Plugins – "A plugin for wordpress which allows you to send an email to the registered blog users."

You can find all my bookmarks on Delicious. There is also even more stuff on my shared Google Reader page.

You can also see all the videos I think are worth watching at my video scrapbook.

10 different ways to post to your blog

One of the great about using a blog as a publishing platform is the flexibility of it. Every blog platform worth its salt has a editor built into it, a place online where you can type your stuff and hit ‘publish’ to get it out there onto the web. But there are many other ways of getting content onto your blog. Let’s have a look through them.

1. Built in editor

The is the boring standard one. For various reasons (see 2…) I spend most of my time in the default WordPress editor. It certainly has its advantages – as long as you are online you can access it from any computer, and you know your formatting shouldn’t come out screwy when you publish. In fact, the full screen option on the WordPress editor makes a tremendous difference: it’s a lot easier to write when you aren’t being distracted by all the other options!

The downsides are that it isn’t available (yet) when offline, meaning you have to start typing in something else, then copy and paste it across. I also often find myself feeling rushed when typing into a box on a webpage, even though I know my broadband is only there. I wonder if people who have come to the net relatively recently, and therefore weren’t exposesd to the horrors of pay-as-you-go dial-up, have these problems…

2. Desktop application

One of the other main ways to post to your blog is to use a dedicated blogging application. Yes, such things do exist. Essentially, these are like stripped down word processors, which allow you to do stuff like tag your posts, categorise them, add pictures etc, and then post directly to your blog by hitting a button.

There are a few reasons why you might like to use an application like this:

  • They work when you are offline: type up your blogposts on the train, then as soon as you get some wifi, you can publish them with one click
  • They help you take your time: for some reason using something other than a browser means I’m more relaxed about what I am writing
  • Sometimes they are just better: the interface on some of these applications is more intuitive and easy to use than what the blogging engines offer

So, if you want to try a desktop blog editor, where do you need to go?

Personally the best application of this type I have used is Microsoft’s Live Writer – praise indeed as I try and avoid MS stuff like the plague. I wish they did a Mac version…

3. Browser plugin

If you use a decent browser, like FireFox say, you’ll know that you can make it do some groovy extra things by installing plugins. There are some plugins which turn your browser into a blog editor – not the same as using the online web-based editor that comes with your blog, but extending the functionality of the browser itself. This means that they can work offline, if you want them to, but also that they integarte nicely with your browser, for instance making it an absolute doddle to link to webpages you currently have open, or by copying content from a webpage into your post.

Two example of FireFox plugins that act as blog editors are ScribeFire and Deepest Sender. I’d probably recommend the former, as it has quite an extensive user community, having emerged from the Performancing bloggers’ community.

Another alternative in this space is Flock. Flock is a browser in its own right, based on FireFox but with loads of extra features built in to help you interact with various social web services. Part of that is an inbuilt blog editor, which works rather nicely.

4. Flickr

If you want to quickly post your photos straight to your blog, you don’t have to write a post, embed the photo, and then hit publish. Oh no. Flickr can do all that for you. It takes the name of the photos to be the title of your blog post, the description becomes the text of the post and the photo is sorted for you too. All the details on how to do it are available on the Flickr site.

I’m sure other photo sharing sites do this too…

5. Delicious

Delicious is a social bookmarking site, allowing you to keep an online, public note of cool websites you have spotted. If you want to point these out to your blog readers too, you don’t have to laboriously copy and paste them over every day. Instead, you can configure your delicious account to send a daily posting to your blog with a bulleted list of the links you have bookmarked for that day. Nice one! Find out more here.

Even better, if you are a WordPress user, you can configure this posting to a much greater level by using the Postalicious plugin.

Again, I am sure this is possible with other social bookmarking sites, too.

6. Twitter

If you like, you can share all your ramblings on Twitter with your blog readers too. Well, you can if you blog with WordPress, using the TwitterTools plugin. Like the delicious one, this regurgitates your tweets on a daily basis into a list in a post on your blog. Do bear in mind that a lot of your readers will follow you on Twitter too, so you might be in danger of boring them witless with this.

7. Email

Most blog platforms allow you to send in posts via email. It can be a bit tricky to setup (it’s a nightmare in WordPress unless you use the Postie plugin), or in the case of Posterous, blogging via email is what it’s all about. Email blogging is a quick and easy way of blogging on the move, via a mobile phone, say. But if you are using a webmail interface on a computer, why not just load up your blog’s inbuilt editor?

8. Online word processor

Both Google Docs and Zoho allow you to send a document to a blog. So, if you are more comfortable using one of those tools than your blog’s editor, why not give this a try?

9. From Word

Apparently this is possible with Word 2007 for Windows. Quite a few people write their posts in Word before copy-and-pasting them across to their blog editors, so this at least cuts out the middle man, I suppose. No idea how well it works though.

10. Some other tenth thing

OK, OK so I am a pathetic fraud. I couldn’t think of a tenth option. Anyone else?