Tag Archives: WordCamp

Medium restructuring: Why writers need a homebase

This afternoon, I was over at Twitter spreading the word about WordCamp Waukesha (later this month!) and noticed that “Medium” was trending. Curious, I clicked to discover a bunch of stories in the tech press about the blog site founded by Ev Williams was laying off a third of its workforce! This was a surprise, and I said so (sort of):

The extra commentary that made Medium trending was about what you would expect: gloom and doom for another high-flying tech company. It’s a standard theme in the tech media world: Rises and falls are bread-and-butter stories. The “mogul goes bust” is as interesting as the “making of a mogul.” Since layoffs are still unusual (if not exactly rare) in tech companies, especially smaller ones like Medium, today’s events looked like the beginning of the end to a lot of people.

When the music’s over, turn out the lights … or not?

Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter.
Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter and Medium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Williams’ comment that ad-driven web content was a broken model got most of the attention, probably deservedly so. Not exactly a secret to any publisher these days. Ads never fully supported newspapers, and that whole thing has gotten worse. But as the media industry endlessly consolidates, and commercial television becomes ever more dependent on the corporations who fund them, and so many bottom-feeders and click-bait purveyors dominate the commercial web… well, you’re going to get the kind of content that they want (including dreadfully run-on sentences).

Later, I read Ev’s full announcement. Actually, he described this situation much better than I did (if you ignore the passive voice parts):

Upon further reflection, it’s clear that the broken system is ad-driven media on the internet. It simply doesn’t serve people. In fact, it’s not designed to. The vast majority of articles, videos, and other “content” we all consume on a daily basis is paid for — directly or indirectly — by corporations who are funding it in order to advance their goals. And it is measured, amplified, and rewarded based on its ability to do that. Period. As a result, we get…well, what we get. And it’s getting worse.

What really stuck out most for me were the ones he followed up that quote with (emphasis mine):

We decided we needed to take a different — and bolder — approach to this problem. We believe people who write and share ideas should be rewarded on their ability to enlighten and inform, not simply their ability to attract a few seconds of attention. We believe there are millions of thinking people who want to deepen their understanding of the world and are dissatisfied with what they get from traditional news and their social feeds. We believe that a better system — one that serves people — is possible. In fact, it’s imperative.

So, we are shifting our resources and attention to defining a new model for writers and creators to be rewarded, based on the value they’re creating for people.

Hey, there are still idealists in the world! It will be interesting to see if this happens. As a professional writer, I’m all for paying us what we’re worth (that’s another unusual happening in our corner of the world). I look forward to seeing what Medium comes up with as far as that goes. As I noted, however, there’s a more important lesson here: If you’re a writer (or creative person of any sort) who wants to make a living at this craft, you really need a place on the web that you can call your own.

WordPress: A writer’s room of one’s own

So it comes back to what drove me to Twitter this afternoon in the first place: letting people know about the first WordCamp Waukesha. I won’t be there on Friday, January 27th, but I know that the WordPress community of southeastern Wisconsin is a helpful and friendly lot. You should go if you can.

As I type this on January 4, 2017, I am marking my 11th anniversary as a WordPress user. While I haven’t done much lately at Notes from the Metaverse, I haven’t completely given up on commenting there on tech topics. I use WordPress on this site because it’s a solid platform and easy to use. The fact that it’s free and open source software is important too.

No matter what platform you use, whether you build your site like I have, or hire someone to do it, the real question for every writer is whether you have a place where every bit of content is there because you want it there. And you can keep that content (or toss it) as you wish.

I like Medium, both as a reader and a writer. Heck, you may be reading this post on Medium now! I’ve even pointed to several pieces that help you use Medium effectively as a writer:

I used to say that every time I went to Google Plus, I came away smarter. I didn’t know that Medium had that as a goal, but that’s something I learned today too. But the site still belongs to the Medium Corporation. Today might be a harbinger of eventual doom for the site, or the beginning of a new day over there. But if all your writing is there, think about what happens if doomsday comes.

Do you publish on Medium? What do you think of the changes today? Have you made a firm decision not to have a website? I’d really like to hear your reasons. Comment away!

WordCamp Milwaukee: Learning from WordPress Sites

 

I am excited to report that I will be speaking at WordCamp Milwaukee 2016 next weekend, on Saturday, September 17.

I’m even more excited about my selected topic: Learning from the WordPress Sites. This is an update of a presentation I made at the first WordCamp Milwaukee back in 2012, but it’s far from a repeat.

When you’re first starting out with WordPress, you can be surprised with how easy it is to get up and running. You can also be intimidated with all the power you have at your disposal. One of the best ways to gain confidence with the platform is by spending time learning more about WordPress. WordPress.com and WordPress.org are nearly always the best place to start doing that.

Why I love WordCamps

I love tech conferences for a variety of reasons, and WordCamps are no exception. These are some of the reasons why, in no particular order:

  • Variety of smart, funny and fun people: Nearly everyone is approachable, and WordPress people are communicators. Did I mention the Saturday night party?
  • I can teach and learn in equal measure: While I’ve given a talk at every WordCamp Milwaukee I’ve attended (I missed it last year), I always come away with more useful information.
  • Immersion in WordPress: While you don’t necessarily have to do this at WordCamp, I enjoy spending time thinking mostly about one primary topic.

Why you should come

Tickets for WordCamp Milwaukee are still available. If you’re on the fence, here are some reasons to go.

You think you know a lot about WordPress: There’s always more to learn in the Advanced Track. Maybe you’ll find inspiration for what you want to teach at future WordCamps.

You’re tired of “just blogging”: Find out who you can turn your WordPress blog into a full-blown website in the Intermediate Track.

You’re just starting out: Have you ever been to a home improvement show? WordCamps are like that — you leave with a pile of ideas for what you can do with your home on the web, especially if you follow the Beginner’s Track. PS, if you’re just starting out, you really need to come to my session!

You blog on another platform: You can often learn about SEO techniques that help you find an audience for your work, or a bigger one than you already have. There are design tips galore that apply to any website. OK, you may also get some nudging about why you’re better off on another, more free, platform.

Here’s the full schedule!

Need more reasons? Carrie Dils wrote a WordCamp Survivor’s Guide a couple of years ago that stands up quite nicely.

Hope to see you on Saturday. Be sure to say ‘hi!’

WordCamp Milwaukee 2013 Site is Up!

WordCamp Milwaukee 2012
WordCamp Milwaukee 2012 (Photo credit: teamstickergiant)

 

We’re starting to ramp up the activity for this year’s WordCamp Milwaukee. Our site is up. We’re looking for speakers and sponsors. Get your ideas in so we can make this the Best WordCamp Ever!

 

See you at Bucketworks in Milwaukee on June 8 and 9 (perhaps even at the Beginner’s Workshops on

 

 

the 7th too)!

 

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