Thank you for the warmest of welcomes, Abuja. I hope to see you again soon. ❤️🇳🇬


WordCamp Albuquerque 2016 talk: Marketing Your Business With WordPress


Thanks so much to everyone who attended my WordCamp Albuquerque presentation this morning on Marketing Your Business with WordPress! If you’d like to see the rest of the presentation, or just want a copy of the slides, here’s the original Keynote:

Marketing Your Business With WordPress

And if you’re more of a PDF person, I’ve got you covered:

Marketing Your Business with WordPress – WC ABQ – April 2016

Wine Tourism Conference Presentation


If you’re visiting my site after attending my presentation on Designing Websites for 2016 and Beyond, thank you and welcome!

If you would like to download a copy of my Keynote, here you go:

Wine Tourism Conference 2015 Presentation

If you’re more of a PowerPoint aficionado, I’ve got you covered:

Wine Tourism Conference 2015 Presentation

And lastly, if PDFs are more your thing, I’ve got that too:

Wine Tourism Conference 2015 Presentation

It was lovely meeting everyone and sharing stories over such wonderful wines and food!


The ‘great and cursed work’ that was the Encyclopédie – Ideas – The Boston Globe


Here’s the great difference between the Encyclopédie and the Internet, between what reading meant then and what it increasingly passes for today. While Diderot encouraged differences of opinion and perspectives among his closest contributors, he knew that all of them — from Voltaire to Rousseau, Baron d’Holbach to the Chevalier de Jaucourt — took the act of writing as seriously as did those who read it. No activity was more noble.

via The ‘great and cursed work’ that was the Encyclopédie – Ideas – The Boston Globe.

Ten Years of Automattic | Matt Mullenweg


I’ll remember the days before I knew everything.

— The Automattic Creed

via Ten Years of Automattic | Matt Mullenweg.

When I was still running my old business, I always had in my back pocket the idea that if I were to ever close up shop and work for The Man again, there would only be one man I’d want to work for, and that’s Matt Mullenweg. I’ve been a WordPress user and fan for years, but I’ve also been kind of a Matt groupie, ever since I read his “How I work” profile in Inc.

It’s kind of weird now to actually be working for Matt, be on a first-name basis with him, and even get to chat with him now and then. But now that I’ve been here for just over a year and have become a part of the Automattic, I’ve come to realize that the WordPress and open source communities are bigger than any one person. While there’s a part of me that will always be a tiny bit starstruck by Matt, I’m in even greater awe of how much this little software project has grown to power nearly a quarter of the Internet. It lets everyone from giant media organizations like the New York Times and Fortune to mom bloggers with hyperlocal audiences have a global platform from which to share their ideas, their vision, their message with the world. And heck, you can even do it for free.

Remember the days when you needed to get the word out about anything, even if it’s just your neighborhood yard sale? Or when beautiful, innocent animals would perish in local shelters, forgotten because they received so little attention, and municipalities and volunteer groups struggled to get any kind of media attention? Now, if you have a message, you have the means to blast it out to the world, and at no cost to you other than your time. I’m still in shock that this has all come about in such a short period of time, but most of all I’m so incredibly proud to be a part of the company driving this forward and inspiring so much change.

We’re celebrating 10 years of being in the biz this week, and I can’t wait to see what the next 10 will bring.

And now for something completely different

Change is good. Good change is even better.

Change is good. Good change is even better.

If you read my previous post — written waaaaay back in October 2013 — you may have caught a hint of the dissatisfaction I was feeling in my life. My writing was beyond neglected. My life had become a roller coaster of activity, crammed with errands, endless to-do lists, money woes, sleepless nights, and this gnawing feeling that I’d lost my way. Somehow, in the previous four years, I’d launched a business, taken on an investor, adopted four dogs, fostered countless more, wrote a book, hired and fired employees, gained a few very unwanted pounds, landed in the ER, and oh, wrote very, very little of that novel that I began in 2006.

In other words, I’d lost my way.

If you read my short bio the left sidebar, you’ll know that things have changed. And if you used to read my blog back when it was hosted at Blogger, you’ll see that I’ve moved, too.

I’m now working at my dream job as Happiness Engineer at Automattic, helping users publish and share their thoughts with the world, and am winding down my marketing agency. I only recently started the job, and already I’m in love. If it’s at all possible to be madly in love with a job, this must be how it feels.

I’ll still write about books, films, writing, travel, and yes, the occasional posts about my family, but I’ll also be diving into the fascinating worlds of open source computing and publishing and the way the world has changed to allow the most ordinary folks in the most ordinary places to have their voices heard. It’s going to be a wild ride, too, but this time, it’ll be both fun and fulfilling.

Photo by emdot on Flickr.

Would you care if your town lost its only newspaper?


Grand Junction has a relatively healthy media community: we have two newspapers, including one daily and one tabloid that publishes three times a week (that would be the Grand Junction Free Press, my personal choice and for whom I’ve written the last two years); a biweekly business tabloid; a senior-news tabloid; a Things to Do tabloid; a student newspaper published by the Mesa State College journalism department; and a gorgeous glossy monthly, the Grand Valley Magazine. That doesn’t include the much smaller community papers, including the Fruita Times and the Palisade Tribune. The Free Press, as many know, went from a Monday-Friday circulation schedule to Mon-Wed-Fri recently, in light of economic conditions that have hit the Western Slope, but it remains very popular and continues to publish the kind of community news and announcements that everyone clamors for.

Considering the relative size of the city, then, Grand Junction’s media community is surprisingly robust. Dallas, for example, has only one newspaper, the Dallas Morning News, and more than one media pundit has predicted that the neighboring Fort Worth Star-Telegram will close and soon be folded into the greater Belo empire. The Irving Daily News used to be published 2-3 times a week, but the Morning News eventually either drove it out of business or took it over entirely; now the Morning News simply comes out with a local edition once a week, distributed only to the subscribers in that area. The same thing happened to a number of other community papers in the greater Metroplex, although a few hearty souls managed to survive and somehow thrive.

You could get D Magazine and its many isotopes (D Home, D Weddings, D CEO, etc.), but they all come from the same small publishing group and share the same staff. There’s the so-full-of-itself-it’s-annoying-but-you-can’t-help-reading-it Paper City, but it’s unabashedly by and about the creme de la creme of Dallas social elite, so the rest of us read it just to be able to lick the pages, so to speak, and wonder what it would be like to be able to wear haute couture.

You could also get The Dallas Observer, the scrappy, award-winning independent weekly whose elegant, breezy, and downright eye-popping prose trumps that of the boring ol’ News anyday. It’s my and B.’s favorite, and we’re so glad it’s still there.

But still, for a metropolis with millions of people, Dallas suffers from a scarcity of great writing and great reporting. The handful of talented writers at the Observer and the News have more than enough to fill their column inches, but the Big D starves for more.

So yes, I’m moving from an amazingly media-friendly community to a shrinking one, and yes, I realize the irony in that statement considering the recent layoffs at the Free Press and the still-ongoing sale of the other paper in town, the Daily Sentinel. Am I going to miss that richness of local content, the gee-willikers tone of reporting and the proud, zealous efforts to elevate that local content above all others?

Hell yes.

Would I care if my town — and even though I’m leaving soon, I still consider it “my town” — lost either of its newspaper? Oh god, yes. I would care if we lost the Sentinel, and I would weep buckets if we lost the Free Press. I grew up at a time when Dallas had not only two newspapers (the Morning News and the venerable Dallas Times Herald) but two editions, a morning and evening. It’s more than mere nostalgia, too. I really do believe that newspapers represent the best and worst of a community, a demilitarized zone where neighbors as well as enemies can bring their grievances and concerns in the most democratic of all institutions and come to civilized solutions. It’s where we go to learn about our world, our neighborhoods and wards and villages, about births and deaths and all the terrible and wonderful stuff in between. Sure, we have the Internet, but with very few exceptions, the really good articles and essays unique to one’s town or neighborhood could really only be found in print. You can find a million people more than happy to sound off on the latest mayoral misstep or the shenanigans at City Hall, but only a tiny fraction will really have something worth reading.

It’s devastating to know that few people would care if they lost their town’s only newspaper, and not at all because I’m a journalist and freelance writer. I’ve had a unique opportunity to contribute to the local news, but it’s unlikely to happen in Dallas, where a kajillion out-of-work, frustrated journalists with far more experience than I are competing for the few remaining slots at the only game in town. But I do care deeply about the newspaper, not the least because — despite what some of the respondents say in the Pew survey linked above — local TV news shows bleed mediocrity. I rarely watch the local news here in Grand Junction, and I’m likely not going to change once I’m back in Dallas.

TV news reporting barely skims the surface of the news, and it certainly never strays beyond offering up the most basic of facts. To really understand the context of what’s happening, I turn to the local newspaper, where reporters and editors cull the sound-bites to uncover bits of the truth. Sometimes they get it right, but more often than not they give the reader more insight than she could ever hope to get from watching a ten-second video on the 10 o’clock babblefest. And with the newspaper, at least you’re spared all the “banter.” Oy, the banter. Is it any wonder that they’re referred to as personalities and not reporters? (I suppose that’s still a step-up from Hairdo, but not by much.)

I remain optimistic that cooler, more practical heads will prevail and that the “death of journalism,” as declared by gloomy prognosticators, will be nothing but a mere bump in the road. I refuse to believe that we are creating a world that will no longer recognize quality writing, critical analyses and solid investigative reporting. I can’t imagine that we will soon live in a society that will rather get crappy content online so long as it’s free, rather than pay for the really good stuff that we used to take for granted. It may be naive of me to believe that such a world couldn’t possibly survive, much less thrive, but I have faith that we’re a lot smarter than that.

Irene Natividad for Wikipedia!


In doing research for a query, I remembered an amazing Filipina-American whose name I read/heard on TV/radio countless times: Irene Natividad. Born in the Philippines but raised in various countries, she’s now the president of the Global Summit of Women, past president of the National Women’s Political Caucus, former National Chair of the AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) for Hillary during the 2008 presidential campaign, and oh, she heads her own public affairs firm in D.C., GlobeWomen. She’s a sought-after speaker, is on several corporate boards, has had editorials published in national newspapers, has appeared on national news shows, and is widely considered one of the most influential women in America.

Okay. I get it. She’s amazing. When I grow up, I wanna be her.

So why is she nowhere to be found on Wikipedia? Justin Guarini, yes. Irene Natividad, er, no? I realize that people are constantly warned never to consider Wikipedia as a reliable source, but I know more than a few professionals — yup, journalists, too — who consider it a valuable jumping-off point for research.

Gotta learn how to contribute to the Wiki.



I used to have my Twitter account set up so that a portion of it would appear on this blog in a little window off to the side, but at the time the service was going through such a rough spot that whenever it was down (which seemed to be most of the time), it would actually hang up my blog as well. So I took it down.

I’ve been a bit more active on it of late, mostly because it’s a fun tool and seems to be an easier way to keep in touch with friends. What I’d like to know, however, is how people who have, say, thousands or even hundreds of people on their “Following” list manage to keep up with all of them. Surely they don’t read them all?

I’ve noticed that, since becoming more active on Twitter I’ve been getting an email or two every day letting me know that so-and-so is now following me. Most of them are people I’ve never heard of, but out of politeness and curiosity I check out their Twitter profile. Invariably these are people in the interactive media/blogging/social media industry, which likely means that they’re anxious to expand their online presence in order to generate the most buzz about their services. I started automatically reciprocating by following their Tweets as well, but recently I’ve become more careful about whom I follow, as inevitably I start losing track of my actual friends as opposed to my new Twitter followers.

Most of them just send out Tweets advertising their own services or pontificating on some aspect of social media marketing…Yawn. Not that I’m not interested — if I weren’t, I wouldn’t be blogging or Twittering — but after awhile all the “commercials” start to get annoying. They’re not conversation, they’re advertising. And that’s just not cool.

Plurk Carnival, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Plurk!


On Monday I wrote about the wonder (and occasionally, frustration) that is Plurk. A bunch of fellow Plurkers and I got together to create a Plurk Carnival, posting on all the things we love and hate and are confused about Plurk. Enjoy!

Allan Cockerill (Ozegold): Why Does My Plurk Karma Keep Dropping? Social media analyst Allan points out an extremely simple yet effective way of earning more Karma points. Wanna know what that is? Click on the link to find out!

Shai Coggins (ShaiCoggins): 10 Things About Plurk. Blogging guru and b5media veep Shai Coggins shares some of her insights on Plurk, namely, 5 things she loves about it, 5 things she dislikes about it, and (bonus!) two essential Plurk tools.

Hope Wilbanks (HopeWilbanks): A Look at Plurk. Hope, a writer and avid Plurker, shares her thoughts on Plurk and offers suggestions on how to make the most of your Plurk experience.

Toni Tiu (macaronigirl): 5 Reasons Why I Can’t Stop Plurking. Toni’s a Philippine-based Plurker and all-around Internet fanatic who’s as addicted to Plurk as everyone else on this list. Find out why on her blog, Wifely Steps.

Meikah Delid (Meikah): Why MamaIsPlurking. I love Meikah’s description of the Plurk experience as being like in a bar, where you can drop in or eavesdrop on random conversations. She shares with her readers why she loves Plurking and her favorite aspects of the Plurk experience.

Sasha Manuel (Sasha): Why Do You Plurk? My favorite Filipina fashionista. Sasha’s a photographer, a part-time model, social media junkie, professional blogger, stylist, and awesome Net friend. She’s obsessed with her Karma, too, apparently.

Melissa Williams (flamehair): Plurk. Melissa, like many others, is discovering how much better Plurk is than Twitter. I agree. Read her blog and find out why.

There you go! As more people participate in the Plurk Carnival we have going on, I’ll post more links here. In the meantime, if you want to add on any of the above folks to your Plurk community, just click on their Plurk nicknames above. And hey, feel free to add me as well!