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6 posts from February 2015

Changing My Role At The Internet Society - Content Strategy Across All Areas

Internet Society LogoMonday will represent a big change for me at the Internet Society. Effective on that day I will be moving out of the Technology area into the Communications team with a broader charter to help in the creation of content - and a strategy for that content - across all the areas in which the Internet Society works. I'll still be doing a great bit of writing about technology topics, but I'll now be doing more related to public policy, development (of Internet access) and other topics.

I'm excited about the new role!

It's only 3.5 years ago that I joined the Internet Society in September 2011. To understand why I joined "ISOC", as it is know by some, you need to go back and read my post about the big change then, but essentially, it came down to this:

I believe we are at a critical point where we have before us a choice of futures for the Internet - and we as a society need to understand those choices... and choose wisely!

3.5 years later I believe that even MORE firmly than I did then.

We need to fight for the open Internet! We need to make the right choices that will allow our children to have the "Internet of opportunity" that we've had the privilege of having... and we've got quite a struggle ahead!

Over the past 3.5 years my focus within the Internet Society has been primarily on the Deploy360 Programme, our project to accelerate the deployment and usage of critical Internet technologies such as IPv6, DNSSEC, TLS, and more. It's been an awesome opportunity. I built out the Deploy360 website ... set up all the WordPress-based systems so that we could rapidly create and distribute content... wrote probably 1,000 pieces of content... recorded videos and audio segments... spoke at our ION conferences all over the world... attended IETF and ICANN meetings... and met some of the most amazing and passionate people I've ever encountered!

Along the way, I've wound up doing a great bit of work with DNSSEC, aiming to help make the Domain Name System (DNS) more secure - and I'll actually be continuing all of this "DNSSEC coordination" work on into my new role.

As part of the Deployment and Operationalization (DO) Team, we've been out there telling the story of how these technologies and standards can make the Internet work better, be faster and be more secure. It's hard to know exactly how much impact we've had... but we've received a good number of messages from people thanking us for helping them. It's been great to see!

And it's been great to wake up each morning working for an organization with a very clear mission.

Along the way we've had a lot of conversations internally about how the Internet Society needs to tell its story better. We're a large organization with over 60,000 member and over 100 chapters spread out around the world. We don't have a huge staff (about 90 people globally) but we have a large community and ecosystem of volunteers and members. We have a lot of different parts and pieces (and hey, you can join, too)... and we've been working on a great number of activities around the world.

In 2015, we're aiming to focus a bit more - and to get better as an organization at telling our story and helping people understand the work we do and the challenges that we as a society and world face.

As part of that, we have a new head of our communications team, James Wood, to whom I'll now be reporting, and we have a great bit of other changes underway. It's an exciting time!

Effectively what I'll be doing is expanding my content creation beyond just the technology side of Internet Society work to also write about topics such as public policy - in fact I've already started that with posts such as my one about the fundamental tension between security and privacy and the series of posts I wrote from ICANN 52.

More than just writing, though, I'll be working with authors across our organization to have a better strategy so that we are consistently creating quality content and maximizing the distribution. We produce a lot of content... so this will be a challenging, but interesting, role!

I'll also be working on ensuring we as the Internet Society have on voice on new and emerging topics... being a bit more "forward-looking" than we've been in the past. (Which ties in nicely with my whole "view of the crow's nest" orientation).

And, as I mentioned, I'll still be focused around accelerating DNSSEC deployment around the world... so I'll still have a foot deep in the technology realm!

Content strategy, technology, writing, forward-looking thinking... all in the service of ensuring the Internet remains open for innovation and opportunity!

It's really a dream for me... the opportunity to be even more of a voice for the open Internet... and I'm looking forward to making it happen!

That's the news from here... and I do have to end with thanking my current manager of the DO Team, Chris Grundemann, and also Olaf Kolkmann, our Chief Internet Technology Officer (CITO), both of whom have been incredibly supportive of me moving into this new role. It's been great working for them - and now the good news is that I'll still be working with them!

P.S. And in truth, while the role officially starts on Monday, I'm actually going to be preparing for and then speaking at the NTEN conference in Austin, TX, next week (about our choice of Internet futures!)... and so the new role really won't get underway until the following week!

An audio commentary is also available at:

WordPress iOS App Now Has WYSIWIG Visual Editor

Writing blog posts for a WordPress site on an iPad or iPhone just got a whole lot easier! Or... at least, a whole lot prettier! With the new version 4.8 out this week, Automattic included a new visual editor that can give the "what you see is what you get (WYSIWIG)" experience:

Wordpress 4 8 wysiwig

Here is what it looked like before the change on my iPad - basically, it was just a raw HTML editor:

WordPress ios app before upgrade

There was a preview mode that would let you see what it was going to look like, but all the writing was in HTML. No big deal if you are a long-time HTML coder like me... but probably not the most fun for newer writers - and the HTML markup is also distracting.

Here is what the new post-upgrade view is:

WP iOS app after upgrade

A much nicer view - and also some of the commonly-used features are more accessible. There's also the "HTML" button for those who want to get into the actual HTML code.

The blog post about the new iOS version gets into a few of the other features that the new app has. I do like the updates to the navigation. I haven't yet worked with the new image settings, but look forward to doing so.

Anyway, if you haven't yet upgraded the WordPress app on your iOS device, you may want to do so... and if you haven't tried the app in a while you may want to give it a new try.

How To Turn Off Sounds In The Facebook iPhone / iPad App

Do you want to turn off / disable the sounds that Facebook just added to the latest version of their iOS app for iPhone and iPad? If you are like me and find these kind of sounds associated with actions (such as "keyboard clicks") annoying, here's what you need to do.

1. Go Into The Settings Inside The App - First you need to tap on "More" in the lower right corner of the app and then tap on "Settings":

Facebook ios settings

2. Go Into "Sounds" - Next tap on "Sounds":

Facebook ios sounds setting

3. Turn Off "In-App Sound" - Finally, just tap the slider to turn off the sounds.

Facebook in app sound

Now, maybe you like these kind of sounds... but I personally don't. I'm the guy who turns off "keyboard clicks" because I do NOT want to hear a sound whenever I tap a key.

I don't want aural feedback.

Some of you may... and that's fine. I don't.

Someone at Facebook seemed to think that we all wanted this and so they added it in to one of the recent releases and... ta da... as soon as we updated the Facebook app on our iPhone or iPad we started getting clicks and swishes and other sounds.

This points to one of the larger issues with our new world of mobile "apps":

We are at the mercy of whatever the app developer wants to do.

If this were a browser-based "app" (a set of web pages), we could typically configure the browser to not play any sounds - and then all web pages would be subject to the settings in the web browser.

But we've left that land where the web browser serves as our window to content. Instead we have custom-designed apps where we have to figure out where the settings are in each of the different apps.

For instance, when the sounds first started in the Facebook app, I went into the generic "Settings" app in iOS to try to find out how to turn them off. I looked under:

  • Facebook
  • Sounds
  • Notifications

and couldn't any settings in any of those places to turn it off. Only then did I tap on the "More" inside the Facebook app to see if there were any settings there.

Now... the good news is that at least Facebook gave us a control to turn the sounds off! They didn't have to and could have just made that a mandated part of the app.

But that's back to the point... for the convenience and simplicity of using a mobile app, we've surrendered control to the whims of the application developers.

I'm personally not really thrilled about that evolution of the mobile Internet, but it's hard to see how we walk back to a different path...

An audio commentary on this topic is also available:

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Anyone Else Having TweetDeck Not Show Search Results?

Anyone having trouble with TweetDeck not showing results for some columns? Today 5 of my 12 columns are failing to load with this error:

No recent Tweets.
New Tweets will appear here.

You can see part of what I'm seeing here:

TweetDeck NorecentTweets

They are all columns that are configured to show search results for certain terms. They've been working wonderfully until last night when I opened up TweetDeck on a home computer (an iMac) after being away for a week. I've tried:

  • Closing and restarting the application (multiple times).
  • Changing the search query to trigger a reload of the column.

Nothing works... and I know there are new tweets to show for some terms, in part because I can see them in other working columns... and in part because I have sent out tweets using the search terms.

TweetDeck's Twitter account shows some issues with logging in, but that works fine for me. Tweetdeck is working fine for sending tweets, sending direct messages and for some of my searches... but just not for others.

I've tweeted TweetDeck asking about this, but not heard anything yet, so I'm just curious if others are experiencing anything like this.


P.S. And yes, I know there are now many other tools... but I've been a TweetDeck user since its very early days and have my searches and systems that, until today, have worked wonderfully for me.

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Is It Finally Time To Dump Feedburner? All Subscriptions Go To Zero...

Is it finally time to suck it up and dump Google's Feedburner for RSS feeds?

The writing has been on the wall for quite a long time that Google doesn't really care about Feedburner. There haven't been any substantive updates to the service in years and in fact they've removed services and integrations.

Tonight Dave Delaney posted an update to Facebook that let us know that Feedburner's stats were now showing 0 subscribers for all his feeds. I logged in and sure enough...

My Feeds

I can't find any mention of an outage or issue on Google's pages... and so we have no clue whether this is a temporary transient outage - or whether this is a sign of a further decline in Feedburner's service.

I'm one who has continued using Feedburner for most of my sites, in part just out of sheer inertia (i.e. having many other things I want to do that take higher priority to fixing things that aren't broken) but also because I've liked the service provided by Feedburner, particularly around statistics. I've tried other services (although not in the last year) and hadn't really found anything that gave as good a view into who is probably reading your feed.

Obviously I can just start promoting the raw RSS feeds that are the ones I added to Feedburner... but they don't give a sense of how many subscribers they may be.

But if the statistics are no longer working, then perhaps there is no longer a reason to stay at Feedburner... and so maybe I do have to actually make the time to make the move.

What do you all think? If you used to use Feedburner and don't, what are you using as a replacement?

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FIR On Technology Episode 3 - Understanding Markdown

Firontechnology 300What is the Markdown language all about? How is it being used on sites like Ello, Github and in the Jetpack plugin for WordPress? Why should communicators and others involved in PR or marketing careabout Markdown? How can it help more rapidly create content for the web?

Those are all questions I sought to answer in episode 3 of FIR On Technology with Dan York that I published last Friday. The podcast is now available for listening directly on the FIR website or in iTunes or the podcast RSS feeds.

On the episode web page I also provided a list of links for people wanting to know more about Markdown, which I'm reprinting here: 

I've found using Markdown to be extremely helpful in rapid content creation. I've naturally been using it on Ello (where I also wrote about this FIR On Technology episode) and on Github, but I'm also starting to use it for some posts on a couple of my WordPress sites courtesy of the Jetpack plugin. As I note in the episode, Markdown is not something necessarily new... after all it first came out in 2004... but it has seemed to attract more interest in recent years.

One point I forgot to make in the episode is that Markdown is not the only "lightweight markup language" out there. There are definitely other similar languages, each with their own take on how to make markup simple. An example I've used on several sites in the past is Textile. However, my interest these days has been in Markdown, and there seems to be a good bit of momentum behind the language... and so hence this podcast.

Anyway... I hope you find it useful and helpful. If you do, or if you have other comments or ideas or suggestions about Markdown, please do leave a comment here - or over in the FIR Podcast Community on Google+.


P.S. I also recorded a The Dan York Report episode providing a preview of this FIR On Technology episode:

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