What Lance Means to Us

Lance Armstrong agreed to submit to sanctions yesterday, and will be stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles. He continues to deny the doping charges, and it isn’t clear that he’s guilty. It’s not even clear that stripping his titles is a just punishment: He’s still the best in a cohort where everyone, we are led to believe, cheats, and perhaps some sort of truth and reconciliation process would be more appropriate.

It isn’t even clear to me that doping is all bad. Granted, this is debatable, but I wonder whether performance-enhancing drugs shouldn’t become accepted in our technologically-advanced world, as biological purity begins to look quaint and indefinable. Lance can almost be seen as outpacing outdated rules…

However you see it, we are diminished by this. I’m not an avid cycling fan, but Lance is a cultural hero, popular for his character and his leadership in fighting cancer, and his fall from grace saddens me. He’s one of the very good guys. It’s unclear what it says about me that I continue to believe him, or at least want to, and that I still believe he’s one of our best, even if he is lying.

Lance’s statement is worth reading in its entirety. These aren’t the words of the disgraced. He goes out fighting.

One thing is clear: He’s still a champion.

Jeremy Felt and Meg Hourihan wrote some similar thoughts that inspired this post.

Update: Ben Kunz on Twitter:

“Maybe we all like the idea of Lance Armstrong more than we like Lance Armstrong.”

Managing a business with custom WordPress

We’re building systems on top of WordPress to manage every part of our business at Rocket Lift.

The WordPress platform essentially manages content and authentication for us, gives us frameworks to build custom UI and our own functionality, and offers extra features in the form of plugins developed by a large community. It gives us everything we need to rapidly build our own custom tools that fit our own process, style, and needs.

We’re tackling the low-hanging fruit first: We’re customizing P2 to make our internal discussions less reliant on third party limitations, and we’re building a Parking Lot for action-oriented discussions we’ve identified to iterate on the way we work (We treat our Parking Lot as a sacred commitment that we need to have a conversation soon, even if we don’t have time for it right now. WordPress will help us keep these top-of-mind with simple widgets and other other UI elements to display posts of our custom post type).

We’re also dogfooding tools to tame the content management gremlins that plague our client projects. I believe I speak for all of us when I say we are so excited about these tools, and can’t wait to share then when they are ready. Soon!

And then there’s our roadmap. Which is, you know, only kind of insanely ambitious.

  • A project management calendar, building on the awesome The Events Calendar to add some features we have never seen, desperately want, and believe that you, dear reader, will find killer.
  • Internalize our task management… Basically, we want a place to store “everything I don’t need to focus on right now”, something like Asana but with a saner awareness of task relationships.
  • Dashboards to pull in data from third party services for display in custom at-a-glance views. Individuals will be empowered to build their own dashboards with custom UI building blocks we create, combined with pipes to data from awesome API-backed sources like Pipedrive, Harvest, Github, and &! plus our own WordPress-based data.
  • If Intuit continues to refuse us easy access to our data, then maybe some day in the far future we’ll ditch QuickBooks. And won’t that be satisfying.

This is a lot to tackle, even without that last whale of a wish list item. This approach violates common wisdom in lean startups that says “Don’t build what you don’t have to”. I’m the one driving this; I’m probably crazy.

Yes okay, but we’re taking this one small piece at a time. This roadmap may span years. More importantly, we do custom work with WordPress every day, and have seen its potential as an application framework grow dramatically even in the past year, thanks to the addition of fundamental tools like wp-cli and the positive trend of plugins being architected (in some cases re-architected) for extensibility and interactivity by embracing core APIs and the hooks and filters pattern. WordPress has ripened.

We’re scratching our own itch here, and we’re doing what we can with what we have, where we are. Fresh off the the high of last weekend’s WordCamp Portland, we’re emboldened to push forward with these ideas.

Right now this is just words. Stay tuned to see what we can deliver.

Categories do it wrong

I don’t know what categories are for in WordPress.

I’m currently drafting a post that defies categorization. It draws on a some recent life lessons in self-improvement (Personal) to explain why and how I’m going to attempt to use this website (Meta) as a proving ground for how WordPress (WordPress) can replace Twitter (Technology), which is an incredibly important albeit flawed service (Cyborg Anthropology).

If Categories hold any value, I suspect it is as a tuner into high-level channels, e.g. useful for top-level navigation. As in, are you hear to hear my ramblings on religion? Awesome, here’s a category for you [and link to /category/religion/]. If you know me from WordPress-land, well then here [/category/wordpress/]. But right now, at this early stage, I’m not confident what this blog’s themes will turn out to be.

And furthermore, those high-level channels break down when a piece is about ALL THE CATEGORIES. I don’t expect to frequently write pieces that tie all of my interests together… but I have a hunch I may surprise myself.

The nomenclature and concept of “Tags” make far more sense. I’m never shy to assign a long string of Tags to a post — as many as are appropriate. Although they may not identify high-level themes, at least I know what to do with them.

Whereas, when I’m slapping nearly every Category my site uses (present and future) on a single piece, it feels redundant, wrong, and frustrating.

I’ve been using categories because they are there, and my use has been sloppy. I’m in a pre-paving-the-cowpaths phase. The cowpaths aren’t clear yet — the grass hasn’t even grown up yet to be trampled. High level themes are vague.

So it’s time to stop with the Categories. Tags will do for now.

Todo: Expunge categories from the front-end, and live without them for a while.