Aside Archives

One of my favorite essays of all time is by David Ramsey in Oxford American on Lil Wayne, called I Will Forever Remain Faithful. I’m used to movies, books, even songs making me tear up occasionally, but not essays, but this one does every time. It’s worth Googling the songs mentioned and quoted in the headings, it gives an interesting soundtrack to the writing and after listening the essay is worth re-reading. I miss that old Lil Wayne, too.

I don’t think I’ve said it publicly before, but Ramsey’s essay was actually the inspiration for my 1.0 Is the Loneliest Number which is one of the most popular pieces of writing I’ve published.

We’re organizing an exciting new conference series focused on blogging, called Press Publish. The speaker list has some really awesome folks on it, and will include notable WordPress bloggers telling their stories as well as Automattic employees teaching tutorials and workshops. Plus, WordPress.com Happiness Engineers will be ready and waiting to help people one-on-one with their blogs.

The first two events are in Portland on March 28 and in Phoenix on April 18, and if you register with this link in the next week or so you get a discount, special for Ma.tt readers.

There’s the smart publishers, and then there’s the ones going out of business. WIRED is one of the smart ones, and just launched an awesome redesign on WordPress. From their editor-in-chief:

Back in 1994 we launched Hotwired, the first site with original editorial content created for the web. It was a digital home for reporting on the future of science, business, design, and technology. You’ve come to trust us over the past two decades, but our growth online has sometimes come too quickly and with some pain. When I took over as editor in chief in 2012, WIRED had an archive of more than 100,000 stories. That’s good! But they were spread out over more than a dozen different databases, sections, and homepages tenuously connected by virtual duct tape and chewing gum. The cleanup process—onerous and without a shred of glamour—took almost 15 months. But finally, last year, our engineers rolled out a newly unified site architecture built atop a single streamlined WordPress installation. And you didn’t notice a hiccup. Maybe you saw that pages loaded a touch faster. Stories looked more WIRED.

The story of the engineering behind it from Kathleen Vignos is also cool:

The redesign gives us the third incarnation of our Curator application, which started years ago as a separate Groovy on Grails application maintained by a single Java developer. Curator once consumed articles from 35 different blogs for curation on our homepage. When we migrated our 17 active WordPress blogs into one WordPress install, we also rewrote Curator in Cake PHP to match our WordPress PHP backend. After this, anyone on our team could maintain Curator—but the architecture remained the same and lived outside of WordPress. Using this version of Curator, our web producer team manually constructed the homepage throughout each day as various stories were ready to be promoted.

Our new and improved Curator is now a custom WordPress plugin—and it’s artificially intelligent! This allows our homepage and section landing pages to be both automated and curated at the same time. Stories flow through automagically based on editorial criteria, but editors can take control of the flow by locking stories in certain slots in our card system. This means our homepage and section landing pages are constantly changing with new stories all day long.

Curator sounds cool, as does the coming “longform feature article builder.”