skip to main bit
a man slumped on his desk, from 'The Sleep of Reason Produces



they shoot deadhorses, don’t they? plus, blogher

So, I finally put my old hand-crafted blogging software, deadhorse, to rest and moved over to WordPress. I’m sure I’ve put something out of place, but now you have comments in which to tell me how badly I’ve screwed up. Enjoy your new powers while you can, earthloids.

My switch over was really helped by careful cross-examination of the attendees at BlogHer, which I’ve been sculking around for the last couple of days. I spoke at their final day conference, answering (in a non-lawyer, hand-waving way) questions about blogger’s legal rights. One of the things I’m realising from these conversations is that a lot of people don’t realise that EFF has a finely-honed referral service for online folks (especially bloggers) who worry they might be in legal trouble, or are facing a DMCA takedown, or some other out of context legal problem . Eva, our referral co-ordinator, has an incredible amount of resources to hand, and while EFF itself doesn’t take on every case, we often know the right person to put you in contact with. E-mail if you need help.

Anyway, in turn, I shamelessly the other  BlogHer’s attendees advice on how to set-up and run a blog.  These are women here who scale across from casual bloggers to folks running sizeable businesses from their blogs, and have vast spanning networks of information and influence that I don’t usually come into contact with. I definitely think that’s a product of the conference continuing for a few years, and generating its own web connections. I remember someone I knew attending a few years back and saying that they recognised the excitement of a new generation of bloggers arriving, but felt a bit alienated by it. That’s understandable, I guess, but the organizers seem to have spent a lot of time moving on from that early excitement  to ensure it didn’t fossilize into an “old girl’s club” of the same few figures. I get the impression that they really go out of their way to find new people (and of course they have a very wide brief to do so). When you work on deliberately maintaining that diversity for a few years — and yet you still have some binding quality to hold the whole thing together — the coverage and breadth of your attendees really helps drive the thing.

It made me think about the vague rules we had for Extreme Computing, which became OpenTech. Back then the idea was to “cross the streams” — force together geek clans that hadn’t really met, but we thought would be interested in each other’s work. The standard example I’d use was that roboticists would really like to hang out with amateur rocketry enthusiasts, even though there was (at that time) no real world venue for them to do so. Maker’s Faire does this very well, almost literally fulfilling the prophecy. The challenge is coming up with an umbrella that everyone likes the idea of standing under, without it just being restricted to people you already know. Dale and co’s genius of combining the craft and construction communities under the banner of “people who make” was brilliant in that direction. I think that rather broader, omnidirectional mini-conferences like Interesting08 work well, too.

I’m such a sucker for quixotically attempting to transplant things across the Atlantic that I shouldn’t even be considering this, but a British BlogHer or She’s Geeky would be so good. A few friends and I were idly kicking around a list of awesome women speakers; we came up with dozens who we see speak too rarely. It would be such a good excuse of an umbrella to get them to all speak in one place.

4 Responses to “they shoot deadhorses, don’t they? plus, blogher”

  1. Lee Maguire Says:

    WordPress can use sqlite – which I suppose removes one of the objections I used to have with database backed blog software waaay back in the .php3 days: why would I need the overhead of a persistent database process if I don’t expect anyone save googlebot to actually read it.

  2. dannyobrien Says:

    That’s good, because I soon as I’d switched over to WP, my server went crazy, the MySQL tables got corrupted, the entire home network started dropping connections in a really weird way, I had to reboot, and bats started flying out of the fridge.

    Relational databases are the devil’s work.

  3. Rod Says:

    “deadhorse”. Like it! My homebrew blog software is “threequarters”, after noted diarist Master A. Mole.

  4. dannyobrien Says:

    Sometimes a name for a coding project is all you need. I really want somebody to write an “distributed aversion control” system. Maybe that’s what will be…


petit disclaimer:
My employer has enough opinions of its own, without having to have mine too.