Mobile Monday Site Update Notes


So I finally got around to updating the site - I've been promising to do it for almost a year now, so it's nice to get it moving. I announced the changes in general over at the new Mobile Monday Silicon Valley Wordpress blog and on the mailing list, but I wanted to write a bit more about it here.

So some history first, in case you haven't heard it before. The idea is that at the end of 2004, I saw a video of a really energetic Mobile Monday meetup in Japan and thought "that's perfect!" and unilaterally changed the name of the bay area mobility meetups we were having to Mobile Monday USA because it was so cool and, honestly, in order to help quell the constant moaning about what time during the month to hold the event (it worked). It's a catchy name, so within a month or so, we started getting great attendance. I then bought the .com domain from a domain squatter because I thought the original MoMo organization in Helsinki with the .net domain wasn't doing much (otherwise why hadn't they bought it? I thought). I had already registered the .us and .info TLDs but I wanted to have the "official" domain. Of course soon after the original guys in Finland popped up and said essentially, "Hey! We're still around!" But instead of being upset that we had grabbed the name and domain, they came by our meetings, helped us out with advice and were generally excited to see the concept start to get traction again after the dot-com bust had taken a lot of the momentum out of it. Very cool.

The great thing is that the "natural" way of organizing the meetups for us here in the Valley - a blog, Yahoo! group and Flickr photos - turned out to be a great way in general to organize and promote these things. We ended up being at the lead of a revival of Mobile Mondays around the world. There's now 18 chapters from Singapore to London, and most of them have weblogs and mailing lists bulging with members. This has all happened more or less organically. Though last May, the MoMo guys flew Mike and I out to Finland where we met a bunch of the other organizations and hatched great big world domination plans for the group - starting with a re-focus of the .com domain into a sort of information hub for MoMos around the world, after we came back I just never got around to it (of course). I even put off updating the template of our site because I knew I wanted to do bigger/better things with it. So over the past year, our original MoMo blog has gotten shabbier and shabbier. During the meantime, the other guys have created great looking weblogs for their orgs making ours look horrible! I was amazed to see how nice Melbourne and Japan's looked the other day when I was checking out the sites. How embarassing!

So! After meeting with the MoMo guys again at 3GSM, I finally put a few hours in to the sites to update them and get them started on their way to bigger and better things. (I'm going to dive into the technical details here for a sec...)

There was a bit of Yak-shaving at first, as I had to recompile PHP in order to include the curl libraries that WordPress 2.0 needed in order to import the old blog from Blogger. It took me a bit to work out which version of what was downloaded (PHP didn't like my Debian version of curl, it turns out, so I had to remove that and make/make install curl from source first). Thank god php_info() gives you the config options you used right at the top, otherwise I would have never remembered what I had done when I first got PHP working however many months ago. Once that was done, it was smooth sailing, actually - WordPress does a great job of importing Blogger entries (though it did skip a few images for some reason). Then I then separated the virtual domains of .com and .us and popped in some .htaccess rules to permanently redirect the feed (there weren't a lot of people subscribed, but still), created a custom 404 error page for the permalinks, set up a new .com home page, and then tweaked the design of the WordPress blog until I was happy.

For the first time I'm using WP Links, and I was happy to see that WP 2.0 has an OPML output, so I don't have to maintain the list in two places. This is where PHP shines once again - I'm really learning to love how quick it is to slap stuff together with it - as Simple_XML is perfect for snagging and parsing the MoMo blogroll OPML file to display on the .com home page, and now I don't have to worry about syncing those lists. I also looked out on the web for a basic RSS news aggregator which could understand RSS and Atom and all that, and found Rippy, which is all of one PHP page. This is perfect for snagging the latest headlines from the different MoMo blogs. Then I threw some Flickr Javascript on the page and poof! A basic Global Mobile Monday dashboard with links, updates and photos.

The WordPress blog will be great to have as well in that we can start adding permanent pages for the meetups, and not just blog posts. We're constantly getting questions about how the meetings are organized, what the speakers should talk about, who to talk to about speaking, etc. So being able to write up a few FAQs and post them will be perfect. Oh, and a list of upcoming topics would be good too. And we'll also be able to throw in external feeds as well - I'm thinking events about Mobility for example. Lots of options now that we're in control of the code.

Eventually, the goal would probably be to install Moveable Type on the .com site since it supports multiple blogs, and invite all the different chapters to move their blog to the main server, so that there's not so many different URLs, and there'd be a chance to integrate a forum and a single log-on, etc. Since I'll be handing off the .com domain entirely at some point, actually I didn't want to get too crazy right now, but that seems to be the way to go forward. Then there could be one main template, and new features like calendars or what not would be available to everyone at once.

So positive steps. A lot more work to be done for the final vision for sure, but I think this is a good start. Look for more changes as the months go by - and hopefully some big news around May 6-8th when the next Mobile Monday Global Summit happens again in Helsinki.


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