Right Back Where I Started

When I first began blogging four years ago, when blogging was just getting started, I started with [WordPress][wp]. At that time, the name of my blog was *foobawooba* — based on a traditional song with that title that I liked a lot — and I blogged about everything. I ended that blog in a fit of pique — long story untellable on-line.

I have, in the interim, wandered the blogging wilderness in search of an application that would do everything I wanted it to do: offer me the control I wanted, the user interface I wanted, and the URL structure that I wanted. I found it in a couple of [Rails][rails] applications, [Mephisto][] and [RadiantCMS][], but both got broken when my shared hosting provider upgraded some Ruby gems without much warning. I was willing to fix Radiant, but the fact of the matter is that battling FastCGI errors was not how I wanted to spend my time. I am committed to learning Rails and Ruby — more on that in a moment — but I don’t have time right now to fix [what ails Rails when it comes to shared hosting][dhh]. And I don’t have a good enough reason to spend the money on a dedicated hosting set up that would allow me to run Rails using a native web server.

So here I am back to using WordPress, which has grown up quite a bit since last I used it. In particular, the admin interface has gotten a lot less crowded and a lot of the functionality that was missing is now available through a wealth of plug-ins. How weighty and creaky all this is going to get, I don’t know. WordPress is certainly the 800-lb. gorilla in the blogosphere these days — why [TextPattern][tp] looks positively svelte by comparison — but it does seem to be what everyone is using, and like Microsoft Office, ubiquity has its advantages:

1. First, it means there are a lot of people coding additional functionality in terms of plug-ins, widgets, and themes. One doesn’t have to code it by hand — which is a good thing because I hate PHP.
2. Second, it means that a lot of shared hosting providers tweak their servers to make the welter of PHP scripts which are the muscle, sinew, and bones of WordPress run smoothly. My experience is that being a user of a minority application means you don’t get that kind of tweaking at all.

[wp]: http://wordpress.org/
[rails]: http://rubyonrails.org/
[Mephisto]: http://mephistoblog.org/
[RadiantCMS]: http://radiantcms.org/
[dhh]: http://www.loudthinking.com/posts/21-the-deal-with-shared-hosts
[tp]: http://textpattern.org/

“Unstructured” Question about Innovation

I came across this website called Unstructure which describes itself as “an open discussion platform for business professionals, bloggers and contemporary thought leaders to discuss and debate action ideas that would aid the evolution of business.” On the front page are a handful of questions, one of which is by a Harvard Business School professor, Linda Hill, who asks the following question:

Can the true innovation potential of your employees, only be unlocked outside the ambit of their job?

What follows is the usual business-school-ese, but what’s compelling is that there is this forum for asking questions, for testing hypotheses and assumptions, available to folks doing business research. Yes, a number of questions seem more like marketing come-ons, written by consultants who obviously have an answer awaiting the unsuspecting correspondent, but that shouldn’t stop us considering what kinds of fora we could create to ask other kinds of questions.