Category Archives: Social Media

Download My Free Premium WordPress Theme

I rolled out and announced “WicketPixie” a few weeks ago, and was (quite honestly) hoping to have a few more fixes in place before releasing v1.0 to the galaxy. Despite a handful of hiccups, you’re welcome to download and try WicketPixie on your own WordPress blog – provided you have one, or even know what to do with a theme in the first place. All Lockergnome bloggers will have the latest / most optimized version of WicketPixie:

Download Here

I cannot provide support for this particular theme – I don’t have a support team, but am welcoming any kind of community involvement for helping others with its deployment elsewhere. Garry Conn created this nice installation / configuration guide, too. Since this theme is free, I’d suggest making a donation before emailing me with support questions (which I may or may not have the ability to answer).

The following notes assume you’re using WordPress 2.5.1 (or a similar version) and PHP5. Please read this entire post before installing the theme and emailing me questions I’ve already taken the time to answer / address. Please? You might also watch Andrew’s WicketPixie Installation Videocast.

  • You’ll definitely want to edit the home.php file to add your OWN stuff to it – and if you can’t figure it out, you should be able to safely remove home.php and WordPress should fall back to the default (generic) index.php for your home page. Unfortunately, there’s no other way of modifying the home page template at this point.
  • You’ll probably want to tweak the CSS files to suit your tastes. I have made quite a few minor modifications to it for my own use on my own blog.
  • The sidebar widgets are placed as such.
  • To add your social sources to WicketPixie (which you can see in my sidebar and on my “Social Me” page), make sure the WicketPixie Source Manager plugin is enabled on your plugins management page. Once that is done, you should find the “WicketPixie Sources” option in your blog’s “Manage” area. This is where you can add your social accounts at will.
  • Your sources will show up in your blog only after you add the “WicketPixie: My Profiles” widget to one of your sidebars (configured in your regular ol’ WordPress Widgets settings page). If you would like your own “Social Me” / lifestream page, you need only create a new WordPress page and use the “Activity Stream” template for it.
  • You can have your own news aggregator page with WicketPixie, if you add your favorite sites and feeds to “WicketPixie Faves” found under the WordPress Manage menu. Once your feeds have been added, you will need to create a new Page and use the “Faves” template for it. If you wish to remove the default feeds, you will likely have to edit the faves.php template by hand.
  • If you run into random “not writable” errors, make sure the directory in question is writable – which should go without saying, but if you need assistance with this I would suggest contacting your system administrator rather than trying to fix something yourself.
  • They’re not necessary, but I strongly recommend installing the following WordPress plugins: WPtouch, FirstRSS, Chunk URLs, and Admin Drop Down Menu.
  • If you can, please keep the default credit links in place – I’d really appreciate it.
  • You may receive a “Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in activity.php on line 41.” Since I didn’t program the app, I have no idea what’s wrong or how to fix it.
  • If you want more Related Links options, you can move that plugin out of the wicketpixie plugin directory, and into your regular ol’ WordPress plugins directory. If you’re not sure how to do it, please leave well enough alone.
  • It’s simple to change colors, fonts, and the background image for WicketPixie by looking in the Design section of WordPress – “WicketPixie Options” will be found under there.
  • There is a “Share” menu in the top bar that’s hidden by default. You can edit the property for #topbar-share in the screen.css file – change “display: none” to “display: inline” to make it show up. Then, edit the appropriate section in header.php – it’s ready for the ShareThis code, too!
  • If you receive a “Fatal error: Class ‘SourceUpdate’ not found in wp-content/themes/wicketpixie/header.php on line 85” error, it’s because you forgot to enable the WicketPixie Source Manager plugin in WordPress.
  • If you receive the “Parse error: syntax error, unexpected T_STRING, expecting T_OLD_FUNCTION or T_FUNCTION or T_VAR or ‘}’ in wp-content/plugins/sourcemanager.php on line 19” error, it’s because your Web host needs to be using PHP5.
  • The logo at the top of the theme is your gravatar, and you should already know how to make your own gravatar by now (free).

You can read more about this theme or watch the screencast for more information or guidance.

Are Personal Home Pages and Blogs Dying?

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My first home page on the web was through my college. There wasn’t much you could do with a home page back then. In order to digitize photos, you had to actually scan them. No one I knew had a digital camera back then. But, I’ve been building Web pages since the mid-1990s. Even though I’m not Expert at building them, I do have a good idea of what works, and of upcoming trends.

I was reading my feeds the other night, and saw an article written by an old friend of mine, Jeffrey Zeldman. If you’re into any kind of Web design, then you know who he is. His article on April 27th, called The Vanishing Personal Site. I want to share the beginning of this article with you:

Our personal sites, once our primary points of online presence, are becoming sock drawers for displaced first-person content. We are witnessing the disappearance of the all-in-one, carefully designed personal site containing professional information, links, and brief bursts of frequently updated content to which others respond via comments. Did I say we are witnessing the traditional personal site’s disappearance? That is inaccurate. We are the ones making our own sites disappear.

This is a change that I’ve been recognizing and have talked about in the past. When I mention that “brand is becoming increasingly decentralized”, this is what I mean. In my new blog theme, I have a Social Me area, where I link off to other places where you can find me on the Web. That is more important to me, than to you… the people who follow me. I want to archive what I’m doing, what people are saying, and what’s going on in the world around me. This is a great way to archive all of my user-generated content.

As you begin to create more videos, more audio and more text… if you’re not keeping track of your own content somehow, you are not doing yourself any favors. It’s great to have accounts on many different places. But if you cannot at least direct people back to you somehow, by having your own personal space to keep track of it all… you’re potentially losing yourself and your identity.

Registering and hosting a Website these days is easy, and inexpensive. Heck, you can register a site using GoDaddy, and use coupon code Chris1 to save 10%. I use WebAir for my hosting. You can get some good pricing by using my name, as well.

I think that yes, the personal site is vanishing. It doesn’t have to, though. If you’re using a theme or structure that allows you to aggregate all of your social places. This is why I did this for myself… and all of you. Now people will be able to easily find you, and everything will be aggregated into one point.


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Could you Live Without Email or the Web?

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How many people do you believe have used email? If you had to give a percentage off the top of your head of US citizens that you believe have used email, what would you say? According to a survey, about 20% of US heads-of-household have never sent an email. About 18% (20 million) of households don’t have Internet access. Approximately 30% of people have never used a computer to create a document. Wow. I had no idea! I wonder why Internet access isn’t considered almost like a public utility of sorts. Think about it. We have access to the public library, and there are computers there. We have the ability to grab television and radio broadcast signals over the air. We have water and trash services that we pay for as a standard. It just seems like it would be a detriment to any household not to have Internet access today.

If we look at Technology as an enabler, rather than a cost, we may be able to get further ahead as a society. This is what I suggest to people when they ask me about Broadband options. I always recommend that people get online to save money. Imagine saving a portion of your monthly bills. When you start buying things online, you’re no longer confined to the selection on your local store shelves. You can save serious amounts of money on goods this way. You’ll save time, by shopping online or even just to communicate in general. Everything boils down to a cost. What is your time worth?

I look at text messaging in the same way. I could pick up the phone and call someone. What if I just get sent straight to their voice mail? To me, it’s more convenient and time-saving to just send a text message much of the time. I look at paying for that unlimited texting service as a cost of convenience, and of communication. The less communication options I have, the more I feel like I’m just not connected.

If you don’t embrace a new way of communicating because you can’t, that’s one thing. If you don’t embrace it because you won’t: That’s something else entirely. Technology is becoming increasingly pervasive. Email is anywhere and everywhere, literally. It has its downfalls, certainly. That doesn’t keep me from recommending it to literally everyone.

What do you think about all this? Do you think this much of a digital divide should exist, between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’? Is a computer and Internet access so difficult to get? Or, is this more of a fear that people may have? Send me an email to [email protected], or leave me a follow-up comment on this post and let’s hear your thoughts.


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Is your Avatar a Gravatar?

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I know a few of you use forums. Some of you have blogs and other social accounts. Most of these places allow you to set up an avatar. The hope is that one day, you only have to upload an avatar once and have it populate to all places you are on the Web. There is something that may be used throughout any blog that uses WordPress, and that has this feature enabled. For years, the Gravatars have been a plugin for WordPress. Now, the new version of WordPress has support for these Gravatars.

If you’ve commented in my blog in the past, you’ve used an Email address. This is what will allow you to have a Gravatar that follows you around once you register. Your Gravatar will automatically be posted with your comments on any blog you visit, as long as you comment using your normal email address. You don’t have to sign up with my blog, or anything!

Of course, you will need to sign up for free with Gravatar. A gravatar, or globally recognized avatar, is quite simply an avatar image that follows you from weblog to weblog appearing beside your name when you comment on gravatar enabled sites. Avatars help identify your posts on web forums, so why not on weblogs? Setting up gravatars on your weblog is easy, you don’t even need an account! Plugins are available for leading weblog software, and our tutorials will have you running gravatars in no time. To request a gravatar from our servers, you simply add an image to your comments area with an “src” attribute that points to our gravatar image generator and includes an MD5 hash of the commenter’s email address. Since all gravatars are rated with an MPAA style rating, you can restrict your site to show only gravatars whose content you are comfortable with.

You may have more than one email address or more than one avatar that you want to manage. That’s fine, you can do that! You can upload your image, and it helps you crop it down so it fits into an avatar size! It’s super easy, even if you aren’t good with photo editing software.

The challenge now to you is to go sign up for Gravatar, then leave a comment in my blog so that we can all check out your avatar!


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WicketPixie WordPress Theme Screencast

I wrote about it yesterday when I initially rolled out this new WordPress theme, but now I’ve had time to make a very brief screencast that explains a bit more about it. You’ll see that there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. WicketPixie gives you:

  • Your own Activity Stream / Social Graph page
  • Your own Collected Favorites page / News Aggregator
  • An easy ability to change certain style elements
  • A high-quality Web design for your site
  • A clean way to present ALL your social profiles
  • The freedom to donate to future theme development
  • Gravatar support within WordPress v2.5+
  • The ability to use any feed source as a Status message
  • Areas optimized for advertising

Not bad for free, eh? I’m likely to use CC BY-SA 3.0 for the license, with the hope that a small group of enthusiasts can help me maintain and build it further.

Right now, we’re working our way through a few last-minute layout bugs (cross-browser compatibility). I’m considering holding off a public release until it’s been modified for WPMU and implemented for bloggers on Lockergnome – which I don’t know how to do, since I’m not a WPMU guru. If you know any experienced developer who can help with that part of the process, I’m all ears. Until then, this screencast should whet your appetite:

I really want to ask you this, before I make the files available for download: would you rather download the plain version of WicketPixie or the version I’ve tweaked for my own site (understanding that with the latter, you’d have to make more changes to the core templates).

WicketPixie: a Social Media Theme for WordPress

Today, I’m officially unveiling my new theme for WordPress – and in a matter of days or weeks, after a few more tweaks, it will be available for you to download and install for your own WordPress blog (recommended v2.5 or later).

Welcome to WicketPixie – a Social Media theme for WordPress.

When I say this is a “Social Media” theme, it’s not merely because there’s a Twitter widget sitting somewhere in the sidebar. No, it’s a bit more involved than that. You’ll have your own “Activity Stream” page, your own “PopURLs” page, and the social profiles that you import can be used as separate widgets throughout the sidebar. It’s all about helping people discover more about you.

You can call these types of pages just about anything you want to call ’em – I’m going with “Social Me” for my aggregate social graph, and “Faves” for all my favorite Web sites. Of course, you can see all my Web profiles listed in the sidebar – and yes, those favicons were automatically pulled in!

You don’t like the colors or background image of the theme? WicketPixie comes with its own design configuration tool, allowing you to easily change elements and colors throughout the theme. And yes, the theme was designed by the very talented Matt Brett, with app design by the Other Chris.

I’m considering offering two separate downloads: a very generic version of the theme, and the theme as it currently exists on my site (which would require you to replace my own account information throughout the theme with your own). I wanted to tweak certain elements and incorporate my “essential” plugins – not to mention optimize for advertising and SEO. Either way, you’d be on your own for support.

The theme is the app, to me – and I hope WicketPixie will be your next WordPress theme for that reason. Your own blog can also serve as your social nexus, where people can easily find out who you are and what you’re doing anywhere else on the Web. Consider this a v1.0 release:

I ran out of budget, and time, to add more functionality and configurability to the theme – but it’s my hope that we can reach our donation goals quickly to begin work on extending what WicketPixie can help you accomplish (and manage) out of the box. We really wanted to tie in more external social conversations / data, but it wasn’t possible to integrate cleanly without further financial considerations. Still, most of your existing WordPress plugins should work fine with WicketPixie – including Disqus and FriendFeed.

I’d consider this a free premium theme because of its extended capabilities, and if you’d like to help push it to the next level – I’m all ears. I do request that if you change the theme in any way, all credit is pushed forward (and you let me know, please). If you’re interested in helping build ‘er out, we’re off to a running start.

Do you want it?

What are the Implications of using Video Services?

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How do you guys out there watch tv these days? Do you still watch it on an actual television set? Do you watch it through the Internet? More to the point… how do you watch video? I have a question here that was sent to me in an email. That’s why I’m bringing this up. “What is the social and political impact of services such as iTunes and Adobe Media Player?”

Up until recently, we didn’t have much of a choice as to how we watch our content. There’s really no choice for a lot of the programming out there now, with a television. Then again, with content that comes through something like iTunes or Adobe Media Player, is much broader. These ideas are changing the way we access content, and the way those content services exist now and into the future.

Comcast has a service that we love, called “On Demand”. We like being able to watch movies together. So, we’ll pay a small amount of money to rent the movie. With a service like AppleTV, we could download that same movie a bit cheaper. We could also use the video content services on our Xbox 360. So which one do we use to watch that one piece of media? You might argue that you could just use a DVR. But have you ever tried to use a DVR that was designed by someone other than the person who is trying to control the entire experience? It’s a painful experience, to say the least.

We have a choice. Does it matter how we get to our content and information. There’s a huge debate about the value of a connection point. I would hope that in the future, I have the opportunity to just go between any device I choose. Imagine having competing services in the home. Why does it matter which provider I have to use? I should be the one in control… not the big companies. Period. End of story.


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Web Communities and Social Networks Need Transparency

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I need you all to think about your answer to this question I received in an email: “What would be the one fundamental principle every social networking community must have for maintaining its integrity to the people who are using that site?”. To me… the answer is simple. Say it with me: Transparency.

Transparency is the number one underlying principle for any website or network that plans to connect people together. It’s about transparency between the network and the people using the network. There’s nothing special there. It’s open, and it’s honest. If you’re not open with your audience… what are you? If you decide to make a change and your audience isn’t up to speed, they may not like it. However, if you’re open about the entire thing from start to finish, your audience will certainly be much more receptive.

There is such a thing as a degree of transparency. Too much isn’t a good thing. You need to be open just enough. If you aren’t, people will think of you as dishonest or hiding something from them. There are a million and one social networks out there. What’s the value of one over another? That’s up to each individual who uses them. The more transparent you are, the better off you’ll be. The people who will disagree are the one who are used to dealing with public relations’ spins. They tend to deal with creating the illusion of transparency. They always seem to forget how much we can all see right through the illusions.

I’ve been a community leader on the Internet for many years now. I’ve been as open about the process as I possibly could’ve been. It’s difficult to be transparent – make no mistake about it. It’s hard to make mistakes and deal with problems out in the open, and hope that everyone understands. However, it’s usually easier to deal with imperfections when you do so openly. People will realize you’re human, and they’ll open up to you and connect with you on a much higher level.


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