Now in the year 2011, everyone is using social networking websites to keep in touch with each other. I don’t socially know many people that prefer to use their own blog instead of Facebook, and a lot of people I know socially would only use Facebook. In fact, most of my friends wouldn’t know how to contact me by email (even though you could Google search for “Tom Bammann’s email address” and find it) let alone by postal mail, but they’d have no hesitations in going straight to Facebook to get in touch with me, I’m sure. So, why do I still use my blog? Because, Facebook could pull the plug at any moment. Admittedly, they probably won’t do it for quite a while, but remember MySpace? That died, and soon at any time, Facebook may decide to cash-in, start charging money for each Facebook message you send or receive, or make you pay for server space/bandwidth. My prediciton is that the next cool method of social communication will be postal mail, the old school style. After that, the next cool thing will be postal mail with hand written caligraphy. Sending a post card or a seasonal letter would mean a thousand times more than a Tweet to someone or a Facebook Like, and this is my aim for 2011 – to send some snail mail! We might even do Christmas cards. After my prediction of the postal mail comes back comes into fruition, my next prediction is that self-hosted blogging will be the next biggest thing. Those that have written their first self-hosted blogging entry using WordPress.org version 1.5 in 2005 or earlier will be considered demigods of keeping in touch with their friends. They will also be the ones that are most able to look back on their lives and remember what key events happened, and when.
Advantages of WordPress.com cloud hosting compared to WordPress.com self hosting
My friend Ben has been using WordPress.com, the ‘cloud-hosted’ version of WordPress which has a really neat email subscription service so that people that don’t know what RSS is (i.e. normal people) can keep in touch with that blogger. Cloud-hosted WordPress.com also provides the ability to subscribe to comments. If you leave a comment on a blog post, then you’re not going to want to have to manually check back later to see if there was any response to your comment. Blogs all over the world are all integrated with features to share the content via other social networking sites. My self-hosted blog that I started in 2005 had none of these features, so I decided it was time for a big overhaul and refresh. All of my old plugins that the author hadn’t updated in over 365 days – DELETED! All of my plugins that had been superceded with better newer plugins – DELETED! I had updated my blog to be almost as good as Ben’s. However, the plugins I used for various features, such as a post and comment subscription and Facebook integration, all had interfering effects with each other, and didn’t look particularly polished.
Jetpack.me has levelled the playing field
Each night after work I did more and more research, until finally last night, I discovered Jetpack.me. Jetpack is the creator of WordPress’ efforts to bring the features of the cloud-hosted WordPress.com to users of the self-hosted WordPress. Coincidentally, it was released only 24 hours before I found it, which would explain why I couldn’t find it when I searched for it the day before!
Self-hosted WordPress.org blogs are back, and they’ll be as polished and feature-packed as cloud hosted WordPress.com blogs have ever been.
Jetpack has initially been launched with eight features, effectively eight plugins that have been rolled into one. Each of the features I’m using have been working perfectly, and it looks as if it is intended that another four features will be released in the near future, as they have left room for another four features.
So far I am extremely impressed with the five features that I’m using from it (Stats, Sharedaddy, Gravatar hovercards, spell checker, and shortcode embeds). They have really helped me to polish up my blog. However they still don’t provide the comment and post email subscription functionality.
I predict (and hope) that the next four features that Jetpack will release will include allowing users to subscribe to content and comments via email notifications. I think the next version of Jetpack will also include the default Akismet. Either way, Jetback has allowed me to do away with five plugins just with its initial feature set. I recommend to anyone with a self-hosted WordPress.org blog to install the highly polished Jetpack plugin pack immediately, it will de-clutter your blog backend, and save you some CSS coding stress!