Media, Technology, and Education
IndieWeb

Indie Web Camp West 2020 Project Update

 

I attended the virtual IndieWebCamp West meeting this weekend. Yesterday, I listened to people talk about their web sites and how they did what they did on them. It was inspiring. Today, I worked on my own project to implement something I wanted on my web site. My project (not finished) is related to the photograpy portion of my site. Here’s what I did and what I still need to do.

I have been engaged in a daily photo project for over a year (454 days today in fact). I post a photo a day online, mostly on Instagram. I always want to post these photos to my own web site and have had a number of ways to do that, all of which have broken down after a time. Today, I implemented a quick fix for being able to view these photos on my site and I planned a work flow for a longer term fix that I just didn’t have time to implement today.

First the background: all of the photos are on Instagram. In the past, I have used OwnYourGram to get the photos posted on Instagram to also post to my own site. This was a very convenient work flow but at some point OwnYourGram stopped working because of changes on the Instagram end. Then I developed a workflow (less convenient) where I would upload the photos to my own site first using the mobile WordPress app and then I would post to Instagram. This was kind of a pain but I did it for quite a while until I ran out of storage space on my web hosting site so that I could no longer upload new photos. I could have purchased more storage space but I have lots of storage space in a variety of places already (most notably Dropbox) so I was interested in finding a solution that would allow me to use the space I already had. But we were in the middle of a pandemic and so I didn’t have time to think about how I might do that so I simply removed a bunch of photos from my web site storage so that I could continue to use my blog with featured images and so on and didn’t post new photos on my web site.

For the quick fix, I created an account on juicer.io and connected it to my Instagram account. That creates a feed of my Instagram posts. I then installed the juicer plug-in on my site and added the following shortcode to one of my pages: juicer name='cathieleblanc'. (The actual shortcode has square brackets around it [] but adding those square brackets embeds the feed in this post so I’ve left them off.) This works really well as you can see on my daily photo page. But I’m relying solely on Instagram for serving up my photos.

For the longer term fix, it helps to understand what my ideal work flow looks like. I have a separate WordPress installation for my photo page (mainly so that I can use a different theme for my photos than for my mostly text based posts). I would like to be able to add my photos directly into that site and, ideally, have them automatically added to Instagram (or some other photo sharing site). To get closer to being able to add photos to my photography WordPress installation, I added the SPLOTBox theme to that installation. This theme allows contributors to add photo, video, and audio files to a site. It creates a Share page (a part of which can be seen in the featured image on this post) through which a contributor can either specify a URL for an photo, video, or audio file or directly upload one of those file types. The photo, video, or audio file is then added to the page specified by the owner of the site. So how will I use this in my workflow? Here’s how I hope it can work.

My daily photos come from my phone. I either take the photo with my phone or I take it with another camera and then store the photo on my phone using different work flows for different cameras. I do this because the primary place where I share my daily photos is Instagram and it is easiest to post to Instagram using the mobile app. There isn’t a mobile app for a computer. So the photo is on my phone, most likely in my Photos folder. I will set up a shared Dropbox folder and I will move or copy the daily photo from my Photos folder into the shared Dropbox folder. Each file in that Dropbox folder will have a URL. I will copy that URL into the form on the Share page of my photography site. This will embed the photo in a post but keep the image file stored on Dropbox so that I shouldn’t run out of storage on my web page hosting site. I will then upload that photo to Instagram. Like I said, it would be ideal for that upload to Instagram to happen automatically but right now that’s not possible (as far as I know).

I hope the longer term fix works the way I envision it to. And I hope to try it out soon!

Image Credit: Screen shot of part of the Share page of my photography web site.

Article written by:

I am currently Professor of Digital Media at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH. I am also the current Coordinator of General Education at the University. I am interested in game studies, digital literacies, open pedagogies, and generally how technology impacts our culture.

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