WordCamp Toronto: Day2

WordCamp was very informative  and so the second day gets its own posting.

Plugins are the topic this morning.


TrailMeme Plugin
allows  creating a summary of posts as a Map or Trail to be followed. There is a website called TrailMeme.com and a WordPress plugin called Trailmeme which allows users to create a trail map directly on their blog.

Yes this is a sitemap – but more.

More because you can link together posts  and external links in in a very dynamic way – not restricted by tags or categories; you can jump all over the place among posts if that is the most efficient path or trail through the storyline you are trying to tell.

Think of Trailmeme as an idea mapping program like MindMapper but it uses your blogs posts [and external pages] as a way to setup a storytrail or index to the ideas you are putting together in coverage of a topic or event. Then this storytrail can be displayed as a WordPress Page for your readers to follow. Very nice concept.

I have tried the currently released plugin version and I a getting some anomalous error messages. So I cannot deliver currently a finished product. But the idea is absolutely riveting – this allows  bloggers to highlight specific themes and ideas in their posts and suggest a path  or trail of discovery for blog readers. Very Nice indeed since  you can have the “trail pages” posted on  your blog for quick reference.

The Trailmeme site allows users to expand beyond their own blog postings and add material that is on other websites and URLs. To add to the utility, Trailmeme has different views and the nifty capability of being able to PDF print any Leaf along the trail – this turns out to be very useful when you want take a portion of a trail or ideatome offline and onto paper.  There is a registration required but TRailmeme has strong possibilities for guiding users on how to get at your blog most efectively – what are useful/popular paths or trails.

Our first tests have shown a clean install and working basic functionality – however more extensive testing will be part of another blogpost.

Brad Gosse on Internet Marketing

Internet Marketing is often equated with SEO – Search Engine Optimization – how to get your website or blog noticed at Google, Bing, Yahoo and now the big social media sites like Facebook, Linkln, Twitter, Youtube etc. Brad started off with a list of DON’Ts which, like graphics negative space, was very informative. Brad’s list of best SEO plugins was very helpful.
All in one SEO – gets your posts ready to go
XML Sitemap – prepares your blog and website and all its pages for search engine scanning
SU.PR – allows automatic blog postings to Twitter and Facebook
FeedBurner – takes your posts and auto prepares them for your choice of RSS feeds
Sharethis – gets users to link your posts on sites like reddit, digg, delicious, etc, etc
Disqus – expands comments capability

The last two presentations were WordPress success stories – how blogging helped establish a personal brand and bring service to customers in ways the traditional market was/is not reaching.

Michael Banovsky on the Zen of Blogging

Michael emphasized three points in different ways in examining how your blog in effect becomes your public brand and identity. Thus the first point almost follows – blog about what captures your interest, attention and spirit. That should correspond to what you do – or more pragmatically,  want to do. As a corollary, authenticity of voice and story telling comes from this focus and dedication in the topics and posting covered in your blog. Always treat the reader as a valued listener – styling, layout, and even ethics follow from that commitment. Finally, communicate your interests, emotional reactions and love of your topics to your readers – this allows a broader spectrum of writing approaches to stories  instead of just following the classic template: broad introduction -> overview of steps/direction taken -> detailed exposition ->analysis and review -> summary/conclusions or lack thereof and why.

George O’Neill and Real Estate Success Through Blogging

George has brought blogging, social media and video together to the world of real estate delivered in a tight package using WordPress blogs. And yet those blogs have to be good to gain attention. Again three important points that your   blog  must make to its readers were crucial to George. Communicate these ideas boldly in your blog:
1)Who Am I – and what value do I bring to my readership/clients;
2)From that follows what media and means you should select: video, images/maps/charts, stories, etc;
3)From the value proposition and media comes the commitment to a branding message – why and how I am going to be able to serve you, my clients and customers better. All the supporting social media like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook should stay on message – here is another way I serve you.
It was a simple story – and George could easily prove that it had been a success.

Summary on WordCamp 2010

WordCamp is a success because not only of the speakers but also the audience it attracts and the overall  continued commitment  of the blogging community to its roots – free, open, transparent,  and helping. So encouraged by WordCamp  Major Domo Matt, attendees did network and told stories – after all that’s the business most are in and they are pretty good at it. The second idea that came through in many of the presentations is that WordPress is still one of the best value propositions in Web development – with a very rich set of free themes and plugins which are ever more easily installed and managed.

Interestingly, what was missing was a briefing on how the upcoming WordPress 3 is going to bring that value proposition even more in favor of WordPress over the other two major blogging  CMS – Drupal and Joomla. WordPress 3 is due out in May-June time frame and will deliver major improvements and enhancements.

WordPress MU [Multi-User] and Buddy Press[think BBS like features]  are very capable  forks out of  WordPress in the past 2-3 years. They are being brought back into the mainstream WordPress and will offer users more options in serving their readers while making [and breaking] a lot of themes and plugins that are currently out of reach to MU and BuddyPress installations. As well, there is a pumped up dashboard and new menuing system to help developers deliver  better websites to their customers. And I have just scratched the surface.

The third idea that permeated the presentations was the importance of using social media as part of the total blogging package. It appears that most presenters a)use social media extensively in delivering and supporting their blog message and b)the informal  ranking in  social media is Twitter on top, Facebook next followed by YouTube and then a host of followers such as Digg, LinkedIn, Reddit, More, StumbleOn, etc.  Planning a strategy to use these media was still in the formative stages. But as noted in yesterday’s posting,  social media can have mixed success rates. WordCamp attendees that came due to Twitter, Facebook, and Google ads summed to zero –  not very effective. So the social media baking is still in the oven.

The fourth idea that came across loud and clear
was that WordPress plugins were vital parts of the blog’s value – very similar to the iPhone/iPad’s apps customizing advantage. Time and again speakers had a custom set of plugins that were vital to their promotion and delivery to readers. But here again is a burgeoning  topic=> use of mobile devices in the WordPress  context [and vice versa] that simply did not get enough attention at WordCamp. Also it would have helped to have a quick demo of exactly how some of the plugins were used.

Finally, one of the best part of the conference were the 5 minute WordPress success stories that lead in to some of the major lectures. Think of them as  Tweets on how WordPress worked for me. Very engaging and helped to identify people worth networking with.

In sum the people at WordCamp 2010 made this conference work. Give full credit to the lecturers, through the generous sponsors to the management/organizing team – and most of all the committed attendees.

2 thoughts on “WordCamp Toronto: Day2”

  1. Thanks a lot for the shout out and test drive. Couple of points:

    1. Right now the plugin can only do trails based on blog content… it can’t mix in external links because there’s no way to really do that since people would wander off your domain and not be able to get back (we are testing a solution that will be implemented in future versions). Trailmeme.com can go all over the Web, but the navigation would be via an IFRAME or firefox toolbar. What I often do is build a trailmeme.com trail and use a blog post as an anchor.

    2. Email me if you want any help withe anomalous errors. We’ll be glad to help out.

    3. Print is only enabled for the plugin-level trails. Trailmeme.com trails aren’t printable (both because it is technically harder, and because copyright bundling issues are involved when doing this on trailmeme.com…). We are working on that problem as well.

    Venkat (@vgr and @trailmeme)

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