lgSHOUT! is another little service I have put together for local government, following on from LGSearch, which went a little way to fixing the problem of getting relevant search results. lgSHOUT! tries to do something about communication.
The idea behind it is that it’s a Twitter for local government types. People can easily sign up and then post short messages to the rest of the community using a box on the home page, so no need to mess about with complicated blog editors and the like. People can respond to others by directly commenting on a shout, or by posting a shout of their own. Everyone can have an avatar and at the moment that’s handled by Gravatar.
So what sort of things might people want to use this service for?
- Posting interesting links they’ve seen on the web
- Yelling for help on something
- Sharing good practice
- Having a bit of a chat
It’s built on WordPress and the Prologue theme, and as such took about an hour to put together. The biggest problem was getting URLs that were pasted into the box to be parsed into clickable links – in the end I found this plugin. Bits of work to do include:
- Trying to get it to work with TinyURL like what Twitter does
- Giving the option of hosting avatars at lgSHOUT! as well as using Gravatar
- Tidying up the design a bit
So, I hope it’s useful to local gov folk. If you’ve got any queries about it, or fancy having something similar for another sector, just let me know!
Simon Dickson points to a new theme that turns WordPress into a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. This confirms to me something that I have been thinking for a while that WordPress is no longer a blogging system, nor a content management system, but actually a platform upon which applications can be built.
Let’s take the evidence:
- CommentPress turns WordPress into a super consultation platform by allowing readers to comment paragraph by paragraph on documents presented as posts on the blog
- Prologue turns WordPress into a Twitter clone, allowing users to post very short messages as a cool way of keeping people in touch with one another. If you want to engage with Twitter-lke technology then this is a great way of being able to do it on your own terms
- Now WPContactManager, as I mentioned above, turns WordPress into a CRM.
This is the advantage of open source software, of course, that because people have access to the innards of the system, they can understand how it works and put it to innovative uses. Of course, the flexibility of WordPress certainly helps, with themes and plugins being used to achieve much of these innovations.
It will be interesting to see what other applications based on WP start to emerge.
Matt Mullenweg has announced over on the WordPress.com blog that Automattic, the company behind WP.com, Akismet and the driving force behind WordPress development, have created a new theme for WordPress. Whoopie-do, you might be thinking. But this theme is more than just a look and feel for your WordPress blog. This theme clones Twitter. To quote the post:
Basically how it works is when someone has the ability to post to a blog they see a short form at the top of the home page with a post box and tags. There they can post short messages about what they’re doing.
Below the posting box is a list of everyone’s latest tweet or message, with their Gravatar next to it. You can click on an author to see all their messages, or a tag to see all of the messages in a given tag (which we use for projects). There are RSS feeds for everything: the entire prologue, each author, each tag, and even combination or searches can be subscribed to in your RSS reader.
How incredibly excellent. I’ve been after a clone of Twitter for a while, and to be able to combine it with my beloved WordPress is just awesome. I’m already putting something together to make use of this!