A new look (and more) for Media Nation

As you can see, Media Nation took on a very different appearance over the weekend. I hope you’ll find that it’s cleaner and more readable. I thought you might be interested in why I made the switch.

For the past several years I had parked Media Nation at DreamHost, using free WordPress software as my publication tool. It was a fairly complex set-up — I couldn’t even contemplate changing WordPress themes without bugging my friend Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub, who knew how to delve into the CSS code so that my Google ads would show up properly. And such simple tasks as changing the header photo were labor-intensive enough that I would generally decide I had better things to do with my time.

I already had a number of websites (mainly for my students) parked at WordPress.com, a free publishing-and-hosting platform offered by the same folks who provide the WordPress software. I’d helped my friends John Carroll and Marjorie Arons-Barron set up their blogs there. WordPress.com doesn’t allow advertising, but my Google ad income was fairly minimal, and I found that the ads tended to be low-quality distractions. So I decided to make the switch as soon as my annual DreamHost contract was up.

I almost gave up before I started — it turned out that Media Nation was far too large to transfer to WordPress.com via the normal route. I posted a query to a WordPress support forum. Someone at Automattic, the company that owns WordPress, took an interest and did it for me without charge. So huge props to them.

Now all of my websites are consolidated in one place. WordPress.com is slightly limited in comparison to using WordPress with a hosting service. But it’s also a lot easier, which means that, for my purposes, I’ll be able to do more experimenting.

I’m not crazy about the theme, Twenty Ten. It’s attractive, but it’s so commonly used that it’s lost its distinctiveness. If I can’t find something better, I might at least look into messing with the CSS to make the rather enormous body type a little smaller.

The header photo, by the way, is a picture I took at the Eurasian Media Forum in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in April 2009.

10 thoughts on “A new look (and more) for Media Nation

  1. Matt Conti

    Hi Dan, As someone who has sweated theme changes (I use the self-hosted WordPress.org), glad to see the switchover kept it clean and readable. As long as its accessible, it’s the content that makes Media Nation what it is today. Good luck with the new system.

    1. Laurence Glavin

      Still in alphabetical order by FIRST name, so that Charles Pierce comes before John Carroll. I know you said that it’s an imperative of WordPress or something. Still seems weird. But your link to Charles Pierce is better than going to esquire.com, whose home page is very messy, and they moved the News & Politics link from the top to just below eye-level, so you have to scroll down a little.

      1. Dan Kennedy Post author

        @Laurence: Nothing magically evil about WordPress — it’s just that it automatically alphabetizes lists, and it’s going to be by first name unless you enter everything as “Smith, John.” If you look around the Internet, you’ll see a lot of first-name alphabetizing going on these days. For that matter, think about your iTunes list — it’s all alphabetized by first name. It used to bug me, but my sense is that people run into it so much these days that they’re used to it.

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