Photo: Skandalon, December 24th, 2010 (CC)
On December 23th, Skandalon celebrated its second year of existence (the very first post was published on December 23th, 2008).
However, as you may have noticed, nothing was published here for the past three months. To make a long story short, the last queue crash messed with the timestamp of all the posts I had stored either in Draft or in Queue. Instead of taking the time to recreate each and everyone of them (I was told to do so by Tumblr’s support team), I decided to work on a project I had in mind for a while: moving everything from Tumblr to a self-hosted Wordpress blog.
Keeping in mind that Skandalon was originally setup to be a usable online archive, I see three good reasons to move away from Tumblr to a self-hosted Wordpress blog: more control over everything, better SEO, better search function. That being said, I see no point at all to launch myself into some Tumblr bashing. I’m still convinced Tumblr is a terrific blogging platform for some users, especially when it comes to its ease of use (it really offers an effortless blogging experience). However, this quality could also be a draw back for some other users.
I’ve read about experienced Wordpress users who decided to move to Tumblr precisely because they were tired of doing server maintenance, dealing with upgrades, struggling with plugins compatibility issues, etc. As it turns out, I’m moving away from Tumblr precisely for the opposite reason: I want more control and I’m more than willing to spend some time coding and fixing things so they fit my needs (and hopefully my taste).
This project is divided in two parts. Part I is all about setting up a self-hosted Wordpress blog, coding a theme and setting everything up to my liking. Thus my first challenge was to replicate as much as I could from what I’ve come to love here over at my new Wordpress installation. I successfully achieve this task during the course of the last Fall season. If you never visited Skandalon (because you’re used to check new posts via your dashboard) you obviously won’t notice anything about the design. For those of you who are familiar with this website, you should feel right at home over at the new blog. If you wish to give it a try, simply visit Aphelis.net
Aphelis is still an online archive and I’m still providing adequate references for each and every post. With Skandalon, the idea was simple: I reblogged content, but doing so I systematically added details about the origin of the content, date and context of production, authorship, URL links etc (that, I would say, is the main difference between a working archive and a place were one dumps things without caring to much about them).
With Aphelis, I’m trying to do a little bit more. Along with the reblogged content, I’ll try to write some notes as often as possible. Why I found the content interesting in the first place? How is it related to the main theme covered by the blog (art, communication, technology)? Is there other related resources online? Etc. As a result, I won’t be publishing as often as I used to do here (around two posts a day for the last year and a half). But hopefully, I will produced more substantial content.
As I wrote above, this is a two parts project. Part II consist of moving every single post ever published here over to Aphelis.net, the new self-hosted Wordpress platform. This is a technical challenge. There are different tools out there built for this specific task. But none of them fulfills my needs. One of the main problem lies in the differences between the two blogging platform. For example, Tumblr does not use titles (except for some specific post types, such as text post, like the one you’re reading now).
Ben Ward, the author of the Tumblr2Wordpress export tool (a fork of Hao Chen’s script), is aware of this issue and working to fix it. While I was able to fix some other issues by tweaking the code of his script, the title problem asks for some advanced modifications (I’m not a programer and I’m not familiar with PHP). Truncating can easily be achieve by implementing a small PHP script within Ben Ward’s script (like this one). However, in order to generate a proper title, one will most probably want to get rid of any HTML tags and special characters within the truncated part of the post. I extensively wrote about this problem on Stack Overflow. Since I don’t have much time at the moment, I’ll wait to see if anyone comes out with a workable solution. Otherwise, I may give it another try myself this summer. Until then, Skandalon will remain as it is. I’ll probably update it from time to time, if only to point out to new posts published on Aphelis.
If I’m leaving Skandalon, does that mean I’ll stop following my Tumblr friends? That I’ll stop reblogging them? Fortunatly (for me and for you), Tumblr is not a gated community and the dashboard is not the only way to follow blogs.
Since day one, I found that “following” many Tumblr blogs –using Tumblr’s “follow” tool– wasn’t doing any good to my dashboard. It would become overloaded with posts and information, making it virtually unusable. So I decided to restrain myself to follow only a dozen blogs or so. However, there are more than a dozen interesting Tumblr blogs out there. The solution was simple: I subscribed to as many RSS feed that I wanted to and follow those from within a feed reader (I’m currently using Reeder for Mac 1.0 Draft 8, by Silvio Rizzi). That way I can follow fifty Tumblr blogs without missing anything. I can even flagged the posts I like while keeping this information stored on my computer and synchronized online with my Google Reader account (to my knowledge, there’s no way to backup of all the posts one “liked” on Tumblr: if one loses its account, one loses the archive of the post he or she “liked” in the process as well).
That’s about it. Upcoming posts on Aphelis include, among other things, a more extensive piece on what I’ve been calling “adequate references”, an interview with American photographer Jason Eskenazi and hopefully some more detailed information about a workable solution to export posts from Tumblr to Wordpress.
Happy Holidays to everyone: enjoy the family, the food and the snow.
• Dec 25, 2010 link notes tagged: