Over at anndbang, we build content-heavy websites. When clients come to us, they rarely have enough content to fill a proper blog, much less a targeted social media strategy. As designers know, you can’t really design anything without knowing what it is you’re actually designing. This key piece is often what clients are missing when they come to us.
We’ve developed a process to help clients develop content while we develop the site. We use tumblr to build content AND community, which helps us understand our clients target market and places clients in multiple Google search rankings. It’s really quite cool.
The caveat is, while tumblr is a great platform with a simple interface (great for clients who can barely send attachments with their emails – we love y’all!), clients don’t own it. Ownership and its many gray areas is central to anndbang’s values, so while doing content development, we would publish blogs on a self-hosted WordPress platform and use a plugin to push posts to tumblr.
But what about the other way around? Tumblr is waaaaaaay easier to use than WordPress and we like that for clients who are not tech savvy. The process of pushing posts from tumblr to WordPress involved a series of exports and scripts that was way too inefficient for our little agency that could (and does!).
Enter If This Then That, stage left. I just figured this out this morning, so it might be a bit glitchy. IFTTTis a service that creates recipes out of major web company APIs and essentially lets them talk to each other. GENIUS. Okay. So! The recipe:
If I post anything on Tumblr, send an email from Gmail to my email that sends posts to WordPress.
Super simple, right? Well… almost. This assumes you have a self-hosted WordPress installation (although IFTTT does connect to the WordPress.com, it doesn’t serve our purpose here). You also have to set up your WordPress installation to listen for incoming emails.
But does it work? I’m glad you asked! This post was published on simplyann.tumblr.com and pushed to simplyann.net. Fancy, right?
via Tumblr http://simplyann.tumblr.com/post/27139107593Posted in Web | Leave a comment
Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2012 10:07:05 -0700
Michaela DePrince was little more than a toddler when she saw her first ballerina—an image in a magazine page blown against the gate of the orphanage where she ended up during Sierra Leone’s civil war. It showed an American ballet dancer posed on tip toe…
via Tumblr http://simplyann.tumblr.com/post/27130266445Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
I love hymns. When I was younger, my mother would leave our radios tuned to 1280AM while we slept. I’d wake up several times during the night to the hums of melody and harmony of the nightly worship programming. The dusty old hymns have wrapped themselves around me so that I find comfort in the rhyming rhymes and symmetric melodies.
John Waller sings a modern hymn, reminding me that while I am here in this space, I will serve the Lord.Posted in Faith, Personal | Leave a comment
A while ago, I wrote about the void I felt creeping in my awareness. I am now fully engulfed by it and it has a name: liminality. It seems there are many people who have experienced this, too. The internet makes one feel less and less alone.
Modern liminality rests on the idea that we can, at times, occupy a space in between binaries. As I shift about within this liminal space, I find it is bottomless and vast. I don’t know whether I am moving forward or backwards, fast or slow, or if I am simply standing still. It’s almost as terrifying as standing in an empty, wide, white-walled room.
Stephanie from The Little Way captures the exact way I feel when she writes:
You realize you are in liminal space when you have left something behind, but you haven’t entered into something new yet. You find yourself sitting, cross-legged, on the threshold of life. It’s not that you wouldn’t move forward, if there was something to move into. There just isn’t another door, another road, another ship. It’s just you and the moment you’re sitting on.
It’s heady stuff, this liminal space: a bit like being under water, except there is no pressure of the wet to remind you that you exist. It’s easy to get breathless and overwhelmed by the feeling of somethingness.
While searching around for somewhere to place my foot, I realized I’ve always dwelt in this liminal space. This time around the awareness is magnified by experience, but when I look at marginality as a form of the liminal space, as George P Hansen writes in “Ghosts and Liminality: A Brief Introduction“, I understand I have always dwelt in the margins. I have always been slightly outside of everything, an observer and sometimes even a mere subject allowing things to happen to me because I could not find solid matter to form my own existence.
And that’s the terrifying moment in all of this. In this liminal space, between what was and what is, there is the possibility of what can be and that is everything. All of the utmost and purest good in this world exists in liminality along with every unmitigated evil. And even the ambivalent mix of the two exists in its own recursive liminality.
For a long moment, it becomes difficult to breathe.
When I begin to make form, what will I create? Where will I end up? And when?
Stephanie’s blog post is reassuring. “Dream holy and terrifying dreams,” she writes. And I have. And I will.
“For now, embrace it. Know that God is in the waiting.”
And so, let us wait.Posted in Life, Personal | Leave a comment
I have discovered, again, Boom Clap Bachelors. It’s as if their music unlocks my spirit and stills it. Stillness, in this fast-moving world of social and media, is a rare moment.Life, Personal | Leave a comment
I can’t remember the first time I stumbled upon echoica.net, but that magic moment is pivotal to where you are today. Yes, if you’re reading this on simplyann.net, it’s because of the mysterious echoica.net. When I saw the pixel trickery Michelle made with her designs, I knew I had to conjure my own brew of visual goodness. Even from the beginning, my brew was distinctly brown. I scoffed at the term white space and flew on my own, made-up sense of brown space. I never had much in the way of content, maybe a few poems I posted to deviantArt and lost years ago, but the thrill of pushing pixels and casting lines of codes to create this space that was mine was contentment enough for me.
echoica.net also introduced me to Lamb, and the many wonders of trip hop. Lamb, with Lou Rhodes on vocals and producer Andy Barlow, was another kind of magic altogether. I took them as a whole and for granted, without even bothering to know who Lou and Andy were until very recently. The tracks Gorecki and Gabriel had this power to unlock all of my creative energy and would propel me into unending nights of web mastering, learning how to manipulate the highest levels of programming even before I graduated high school.
It’s been nearly ten years since I bought this domain. I can’t even remember where I first hosted it, but there is a faint memory of the thrill I felt after those buttons were clicked and I had this precious dot net. In those ten years I have designed thousands of web things, bought dozens of domains, much and many of which I’ve left incomplete. This non-linear journey finds me rediscovering Lamb, tucking my nights into their bass and picking up lost lines of code.
It seems the one I was waiting for is actually this version of me. This threshold into the next phase of being is remarkably similar to the last one, yet much more amorphous. I can feel change happening with every moment. My trajectory is set even amidst ideas converging and diverging daily, wavering in spaces between confidence and confusion. They say black girls are from the future and I wonder if we have always been forever.Posted in Internet, Life, On Stories, Personal | Leave a comment
Sometimes the English language is limiting. I find my many selves erased from the constructs of words that should describe me, but, in any given context, are not likely to. The word ‘woman’, for example, might conjure up a White woman, a Mexican woman or my mother depending on who’s using it and where it’s being used.
We take context for granted in our every day lives. That’s why I’m training as a designer and a writer. To look at context and explore how words and concepts receive meaning from context is a challenging endeavor, a gift and a curse. A designer’s language extends far beyond the clumsy performance of the English one, but like that FedEx arrow, once you start to see it, it’s everywhere.
I’m abstracting my thoughts as a way to look at the conversation around diverse spaces in technology, specifically this baby profession called web design and development. On twitter, I often comment on The Overwhelming Whiteness of things such as the staff page of any given design agency. And, like a migratory pack of birds, the web design and development community at large circles back to the question of Where are the [insert minority group here] in [insert your tech profession here].
Both my comments and that question are exercises in futility if we fail to examine the contexts that produce them. What happens before technology comes into play is far more important than technology itself. Here, the medium is a distraction from what’s really going on in cities all around the United States.
Ah the United States of America: a nation built on stolen humanity by a very specific set of humans who happen to be dominating the technology space today. It’s not a coincidence at all. It’s a very clear trajectory from the beginning of this nation to now. It has seeped into the fabric of our political, judicial, educational, financial and now technological institutions.
Technology isn’t special. It’s just louder than most other media. We haven’t figured out how to, erm, cover our asses as well as the financial and educational institutions have. We thought, naively, it would be the great leveler of proverbial playing fields. Context is history and it tells us that we are fated to repeat ourselves over and over again.Posted in Design, Education, Internet, Web, Work | Leave a comment
I remember a younger me, reading the book of Romans, desperately trying to understand my purpose as a good Christian in this world. I’ve since found my purpose and while I couldn’t tell you why in the world I thought I’d find it in the book of Romans of all biblical places, I can tell you it’s a powerful thing, this purpose thing. It infuses every project I undertake and dictates which projects I reject.
On one of those projects, I’m collaborating with a marketing genius on laying the groundwork for his non-profit. He showed me a video (embedded below this post) of Simon Sinek’s TED Talk about “how great leaders inspire action.”
Sinek posits that it’s the why that drives the how and the what of what we do. He applies it specifically to innovators and companies, but I offer that it can be applied to our individual lives as well. I often tell people to live their purpose and, if they haven’t figured that out, then their purpose is figure out what their purpose is.
Convoluted, but crucial.
So why am I here? I am here because I believe in the beauty and brilliance of brown people. I believe that images and other media we consume transform the way we think of and see ourselves. I believe the way we think of and see ourselves determines how great we become (and what we deem ‘great’). Therefore, I am invested in making and celebrating media about, for, with and of beautiful, brilliant brown people.
That’s why I am here.
Why are you here?
i’m interested in the development of the internet particularly because of the history of disempowerment underrepresented communities (poor, minorities, etc) have in America. on the surface, the internet can be used to sort of level that playing field a bit.
but as i dig deeper into the history of the internet and the way it intersects with public policies, social movements and other integral parts of our past, i find that our lack of ownership doesn’t exist in a vacuum. i’m filled with a sense of urgency to bridge this gap in America, because if we don’t, we will get pushed out of access to critical information faster and faster.
many non profits provide all sorts of services for economically disadvantaged communities. my experience has taught me to take them with a grain of salt, and to look more at the impact they’re having within their respective communities rather than their bold mission statements.
i wonder if, for developing these underserved areas, we might move from a non-profit only model to a more agile asset development model that leverages the existing resources within a community in order to create the environments needed to accelerate growth and ownership of 21st century platforms, namely, the internet.
these are just some thoughts i have as i shift gears in my professional endeavors thus far.Posted in Innovation, Internet | Leave a comment
Something is missing. Or rather, something has left me. Life has been a whirlwind of change this past month. I’m still settling from travelling for two weeks and now that I’ve sort of gotten into a routine, I’m finding there is something… gone.
At first, I thought I’d left an item in the hotel in Cape Town, but I remember the methodical packing I employed to make sure I didn’t. Mentally, I’ve gone through every room in the hotel – the bathroom, the bedroom, the spacious living area – nothing. So, it isn’t anything material that’s gone missing, then. But why can’t I shake this feeling?
I’m shifting. It’s a particular type of change, shifting. It means “to put (something) aside and replace it by another or others,” according to Dictionary.com. If only I knew what that “something” was!
I want to say that it’s the fear that’s left me. But as I type this, I’m in the middle of a very political fight to hang on to a very contentious community space in Los Angeles. There is a lot of fear in this fight. Will they take our ideas for their own? Will they railroad our contributions? Will our voices be heard? Will we get to keep the space? Fear, in this case, is an indicator that we’re on the right path, pushing the right buttons.
Okay, then. It’s not fear that’s left me. What else?
Perhaps it’s dread. Dread is a particular type of fear. It’s “terror or apprehension as to something in the future,” according to Dictionary.com. I know it is the constant sinking in my chest that comes every now and then when I realize I’ve not paid a bill, or I’ve disobeyed my parents by mistake, or I’ve let God down.
Yes, I’m getting a bit closer to naming this void. It’s not a bad void. It’s just a void. I run my mind over it like one would run one’s tongue over a missing tooth, just to check to see if it’s still missing or if there’s some new growth pushing at the gum.
I guess I’m writing this in search of that new growth. This void is a bit uncomfortable and I’m very curious to see what life will fill it with.
Onwards!Posted in Personal | 1 Comment