WordPress is Your Digital Hub

This post continues on from a previous post: Where is Your Digital Hub/Home?

In a previous post, I talked about POSSE and PESOS, and publishing on your own site vs other platforms, syndicating content back and forth and content ownership. I mentioned that I’d opted for the PESOS approach, and that I was publishing content on other platforms, then syndicating it back to my own site. Let’s take a look at how that happens.

First of all, I’m running WordPress. Since I’ve been working with WordPress for years, and since my full time job has me working with it as well, this made a lot of sense. Even without those motivators though, WordPress has a huge community, is open source, is a really solid publishing platform, is built from the ground up to be completely customizable through plugins, and has an incredibly powerful themeing system (which basically allows you to do whatever you want).

One of the other things WordPress has going for it is a long history of providing data import and export tools. You’ve always been able to get data into and out of WordPress with relative ease, so it seemed like getting a bunch more data in there would be a reasonable goal. With the advent of Post Formats (in WP 3.1), WordPress also has a native way of hinting at how different types of data should be displayed, plus Custom Post Types (since WP 3.0) mean that if you really want to get crazy, you can step completely outside of the normal “Post” model and get really custom.

One of the things that got me started down the road of actually getting control over my content was “The Great Twitter 3200 Tweet Debacle” (I made that name up). Because of technical constraints, Twitter only allows you to access your most recent 3200 tweets. I’ll give you a few seconds to let that sink in. Twitter. Only allows you to access. Your most recent 3200 tweets. Your own tweets. Has that hit home yet? Here you are producing all this stuff, thinking it’s yours, and Twitter actually decides what you can and can’t access. Before I hit that 3200 mark (I was up to around 3100 at the time), I vowed that I’d get something figured out to get a copy of all of my tweets stored somewhere that I controlled.

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WordPress Authentication Framework: Keyring

Keyring: An authentication framework for your plugins

Quite a while ago (like, in at least 2009), I started thinking about regaining control of all the content I was producing online. I was posting photos to Flickr, saving bookmarks to Delicious. I started Tweeting. I was checking in. All fun and games, and all of those services offer great tools for interacting with them (let’s face it, tools that are much better than WordPress’, because they are focussed on one thing). So I figured, why not write importers for these services and pull my content back over to my WordPress. And keep doing it periodically, so that I could keep using those tools. I want WordPress to be my “home on the web”, my digital hub, but I want to use these neat tools with their fancy apps and what-have-you.

Very quickly, I realized that if I was going to do anything useful on most web services, I’d need to be able to authenticate with them. No biggie, right? I know my username and password… Oh. Right. OAuth. Turns out that most web services use OAuth (or something similar) to authenticate, and it turns out that that’s actually a bit of a bear to implement, when all you want to do is write a simple little Twitter importer. And then again for a Foursquare importer. And a Flickr importer.

What I needed was a shared, generic authentication framework that would do all the heavy lifting for me. I would tell it I wanted a connection to specific service, and if it didn’t have one, it’d walk the user through the process of getting one. It’d give me a standardized format of authentication credentials and abstract out all the complexity of making authenticated requests against those services. Then it would make me a coffee*. What I needed, was Keyring.
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Web Service Authentication APIs

For a project I’m working on, I’ve been looking at a lot of web service authentication/verification APIs lately. I thought folks might be interested in the results. Here are the methods available for a variety of web services/applications online, with links to their appropriate docs:

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Interesting Addition to Flickr

In their continued integration with other Yahoo! properties, Flickr has added a ‘Find Similar Images on Yahoo! Image Search’ link to their tags pages. What interests me is the search string that is automatically built into that link.

Looking at the tag page for ‘san francisco’, the link doesn’t go to the Y! Image search for just that tag, it is an automatically-built complex query (san francisco california OR bridge OR goldengatebridge OR goldengate OR alcatraz) which appears to be created using Flickr’s automagical tag-relations building feature. It’s calculating that those other words are related, so it’s including them in the search to broaden the result-set. Pretty cool!

Flickr Playing Along

Those crazy kids over at Flickr are playing along with all the gossip going around about them being bought out – check out the logo that they have up as of right now. Even better – the file is called ‘gossipgossipgossip.gif’ – I love it!