Welcome!

Hi! You have reached the online home of Michael McCallister. I write about technology, software, and the Internet in a variety of venues. At this site, you can learn more about me and my life, buy my books, find where you can see me at any given moment, and read some thoughts on the writing life. My main blog, Notes from the Metaverse, continues on at WordPress.com.

This site is not-so-new anymore, but you’ll see changes in it from time to time, with a big one coming down the road.  Watch this space! I built this site myself, with the incredible assistance of the global WordPress community. Any errors on this page are mine alone. Spot something? Contact me.

By the way, if you’re looking for the former CEO of Humana Health, that’s someone else. I’ll stop there.

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Creative Commons Halloween Lantern by Jimbo Wa...
Creative Commons Halloween Lantern by Jimbo Wales … Spoooooky!!!! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My latest post on the WPMUDev blog is up: A Guide to Sharing Your WordPress Images with Creative Commons.

A vector-based version of CC_SomeRightsReserve...
CC_SomeRightsReserved.png, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You’ll learn a little about what Creative Commons is, how to find the right type of CC license for your content, and some reasons why you should do this. It’s all pretty easy, and helps make the web a friendlier place.

Writers: I’m really interested in knowing the extent of Creative Commons remixing of text. Have you ever “remixed” or repurposed Creative Commons content? What did you do, and what was the goal? Any interesting responses, from the original creator or your readers?

Other questions: When do you insist on reserving all your copyright rights? When is it right to share your words, as well as your ideas?

Go read my piece, and if you have answers to the questions above, respond in the Comments below.

Adding Medium’s Most Popular Features to WordPress: New at WPMU

I’ve got a new post up at the WPMU blog: How to Add Medium’s Most Popular Features to WordPress. In this story, you’ll learn about themes and plugins that can make your WordPress site look a bit like Medium, and aim to replicate some of their sharing features. Medium itself offers a WordPress plugin that will allow this post to appear on its platform (click the link below to see it). You may see more of those tools, or at least the effects of same, here in the coming weeks.

Logos for Medium.com

It seems like I’m now on a tear comparing these two platforms (see my last two posts). But this is a pretty important issue, to my mind, for the reasons laid out on those last two posts.  But then there’s this idea of Medium’s being just easier than WordPress for everyday, non technically oriented writers. That’s not entirely wrong, but perhaps the real consideration is that Medium isn’t sure what their future looks like, either. That’s the nature of a for-profit startup that doesn’t make money.  As free software effectively owned by its community, WordPress’ future stretches as long into the future that people want to use it.

You have to make your own decisions, of course. If you have questions, feel free to comment here, or fill out the contact form for a private conversation.

What do you like about Medium? What do you like about WordPress? Is there a love/hate relationship with either site (or both)? All worth thinking about — and discussing.

Followup: Decentralized microblogging, and owning your space

Reece Manton's Indie Microblogging project
Manton Reece’s Indie Microblogging project is a big success on Kickstarter

As I was starting to write the last post, WP Tavern published this piece about Manton Reece’s successful Kickstarter campaign  to support both his new book, Indie Microblogging, and its associated micro.blog service. I thought this was pretty cool at first, but looking deeper, I’m even more excited. You see, Manton Reece thinks a lot about the web, and along the same lines as I do. He also posted comments on the news of Medium’s economic troubles. The money quote will sound familiar if you read my post:

The message is clear. The only web site that you can trust to last and have your interests at heart is the web site with your name on it.

Reece’s plan is to help get the web back to its basic principles, allowing anyone to claim a space of their own to communicate with the rest of the world, find an audience, or a tribe. Depending on their motivations, they can be laid-back conversationalists, or folks who want to band together to change the world.

A diagram of Zooko's Triangle - a theory of th...
A diagram of Zooko’s Triangle – a theory of the qualities of naming systems (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, most online conversations take place on Twitter and Facebook, properties of corporations big and small, funded (as Ev Williams of Medium noted yesterday) by other corporations using advertising to achieve their own ends. Like the Web luminaries that organized last year’s Decentralized Web Summit, Reece thinks we need to get back to the Web as the most important communications tool ordinary people have ever had access to.

A quick summary of the promise of Reece’s idea: The Micro.blog project focuses on giving people ownership of the kind of messages now seen on Twitter. It doesn’t seek to replace Twitter, as it allows posting to both your website and other sites. At the same time, if Twitter filed for bankruptcy tomorrow (a realistic possibility, judging from the occasional gloomy forecast of the tech press), you’d still have your tweets.

I really look forward to seeing the results, and learn more about this project. Check out the links, and consider supporting the Kickstarter to get your own e-book.