A data schema for meta

Generally, I’m very supportive of adding more structured metadata around data in WordPress. I’m also not a huge fan of P2 discussion threads (because P2 kinda sucks), so keep that in mind if I forget to reply to a comment / don’t get an email notification about a comment.

I think we should follow JSON Schema unless we make a deliberate, and intentional, reason not to. Following JSON Schema gives us access to all of the validation libraries already written, clients that can interpret it, etc. etc. Not following JSON Schema invents even more work for us, makes WP incompatible with existing tools that use JSON Schema, means we have to create a translation layer between this and the WP REST API, etc. etc. The mock code provided appears to mostly follow JSON Schema with a few unintentional (?) departures.

More specifically, type should always be one of a fixed set of values. The wp-image type would be more correctly expressed as type=>integer,format=>wp-image. Or, we could define our own relation attribute.

The options attribute has an equivalent in JSON Schema: enum

Lastly, repeatable appears to be functionally equivalent to type=>array,items=>.... I suppose we could include it as a utility attribute, but doing so adds complexity.

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Also worth mentioning: the problem of defining an application’s data models is one I’m sure many other CMSes, frameworks, etc. have worked on. It would be really good to apply their learnings and (try to) avoid their mistakes.

From “A data schema for meta“, aka a very important conversation on WordPress architecture.

The two defining talks of Webstock

Now a few days later, I’ve realized there were two talks at Webstock that made it for me.

The first was Clay Johnson’s “Industrialized Ignorance,” a look at the current state of the media. Clay argues that, much like how industrial food production gives us food that tastes good, but isn’t necessarily good for us, industrial media focuses on producing content with entertainment value, instead of informational value. To combat this, we need to launch an equivalent “whole food movement” for information.

I like the metaphor, and maybe the solution can be reapplied too. For all that the government has done to improve diet (e.g. not much), I believe the greatest successes come at the individual, family, and community level. Food is very much tied to physicality.

On the web, geography matters less. We’re equally as influenced by the people around us, but we have choice in who we follow, friend and subscribe to. In this way we can, figuratively, pick out the fruits and vegetables we’ll be choosing from for our meals later in the week. The first step to take, though, is to start cooking for yourself.

Not checking email before writing 500 words is a simple hack I’d like to take to heart. Instinctively, I reached for my phone this morning as soon as I opened my eyes. The phone went into low battery mode before I made it to the mail app. I took that as a sign today was the day to start.

“Oh, I’m too busy to spend write 500 words every day,” one might think. Or, “I have nothing to write about.” As WordPress’ distraction-free writing says, just write. The words will come to you.

The second talk that really hit home was Karen McGrane’s “Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content.” Yes, it does sound like it’s about responsive design. Instead, she promoted producing content independent of platform. If your content is well structured, Karen argues, you’re in a much better position to reflow it into a variety of platforms.

This sounds familiar. In fact, it sounds like what many of us have been promoting as the future of journalism. Stijn wrote about it in 2010. Adrian wrote about it in 2006. In the last year, the conversation has all but died.

Personally, I’ve found enjoyment in more mundane projects, generally falling under the “improving administrative tasks in content management systems” category. Reinventing the entire content creation process is an unknown, nebulous challenge.

It was nice to be inspired to think big again. We need to bring some of that discussion back. And, while we’re at it, open standards too. Remember those?

434 words. I’ll take it.

Webstock: Karen McGrane, Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content

This week I’m at Webstock, a lovely conference in New Zealand. I’m doing my best to write little blog posts about the amazing presentations. Please forgive any typos, etc. If you’re here too, come write a haiku at Automattic’s booth.

Karen McGrane has made a career of dragging media companies kicking and screaming onto the internet. She’s helped with projects like a redesigned NYTimes.com, Atlantic Media’s web properties, and TIME’s new responsive redesign. “It’s tempting to think that mobile is a design and development problem,” but the real challenge of mobile is content.

Continue reading “Webstock: Karen McGrane, Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content”

Greg Linch on “quantifying impact”

Currently, works of journalism (articles, videos, galleries, graphics, etc.) no matter what subject (news, sports, entertainment, business, features, investigations, etc.) are quantitatively measured the same. An investigative piece that might be nowhere near as popular in pageviews across a mass audience (yes, sometimes, they can be) is quantitatively measured the same way a celebrity death story is. Either story could make a sensational splash, truly connect emotionally with readers, or both. Each has value, but there are different kinds of values across different subjects journalists cover.

If we value impactful accountability journalism, why are we quantitatively equating it one-to-one to entertainingly impactful news? For example, when an investigation is published that saves taxpayer money or even human lives, we should instead try to measure these in a more multi-dimensional way — instead of merely the simplistic ones — and measure them differently from journalism works that have different goals. We should do this not just because the quantification would be more accurate (again, still imperfect), but because it would be a better model of the complex real-world response.

Greg Linch — Quantifying impact: A better metric for measuring journalism.

Taxonomies don’t matter anymore

What is more frustrating to me than a lack of solid content categorization is that there is no single CMS out there that allows you to indicate follow-ups, updates, series, retractions, corrections and responses. Now that would be interesting metadata and it’d really allow us to keep readers in the loop and give them updates to stories they care about. Much more useful than telling me that this story is an education story and that that story is about air travel.

Stijn Debrouwere — Taxonomies don’t matter anymore