Archive for the ‘Accessories’ Category

New Theme: Goran

We have a new free theme to announce today: Goran!

Goran

Goran: Front Page

Designed by yours truly, Goran is a functional, responsive, multi-purpose theme that’s a perfect option for your business website.

Goran: Responsive Design


Learn more about the free Goran theme at the theme showcase, or preview it by going to Appearance → Themes.

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Projects Around the World

We’re inspired to see bloggers doing things they love and using this platform to make their voices heard. Here’s a look at some interesting projects around the globe.

Russell Chapman: Telling the stories of Syrian refugees

Last year, photographer and writer Russell Chapman documented the conflict in Syria and spent time in Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. His book, Syria: Refugees and Rebels, compiles images of his time there. Russell is currently working on a project to tell the stories of Syrian refugees rebuilding their lives in Jordan.

Image by Russell Chapman
Image by Russell Chapman

Shannon Galpin: Empowering cyclists in Afghanistan

Cyclist, women’s rights activist, and TEDx speaker Shannon Galpin — named a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2013 — is the founder of Mountain2Mountain. Using the mountain bike as a vehicle for social justice in Afghanistan, she works on projects like supporting the national cycling teams, donating bikes, and training female cyclists. Her book, Mountain to Mountain: A Journey of Adventure and Activism for the Women of Afghanistan, will be released on September 16.

Image by Deni Bechard
Image by Fatima Haidary

Mark Deeble: Documenting endangered elephants in East Africa

Filmmaker Mark Deeble has been making wildlife films in East Africa with his partner, Vicky, for twenty-five years. Currently in Tsavo, Mark is focused on following and filming elephants in Kenya, and has most recently written about Satao, the beloved tusker killed by poachers earlier this year.

Nancy Linthicum and Michele Henjum: Mapping Cairo’s literary scene

Map of Cairo’s bookstores and publishing houses, via CairoBookStop.

Looking for a book in Cairo? Two scholars, Nancy Linthicum and Michele Henjum, want to make it easier for bibliophiles and booksellers to connect, and for scholars, visitors, and residents to find the literature they’re looking for. They created CairoBookStopa site with a growing list of booksellers and publishing houses, and the basics on finding books in the city (including the book stalls of Soor el-Azbakeya and the Cairo International Book Fair). Read M. Lynx Qualey’s Arabic Literature profile on the projectand take note of the Arabic version of the site, too.

Pie It Forward: Serving pies across the US

In 2003, Sarah and Chris of Pie It Forward traveled across the United States, covering 12,000 miles and giving away pies to spread a message of generosity and kindness. They bake out of different host kitchens, and collaborate with people who donate pie pans and other supplies. Now, they’re working toward establishing a donation-based food service, and securing a vehicle they can use to travel throughout Michigan.

E-nabling the Future: Creating prosthetic hand devices for people in need

In 2012, two strangers — Ivan Owen and Richard van As — created the first working prototype for a Robohand design of finger replacements. To date, more than 200 devices have been fitted on people all over the world, giving access and opportunity to those not typically able to afford prosthetic devices. The network at E-nabling the Future creates open source designs for mechanical hand-assistive devices that can be downloaded and printed for less than fifty dollars.

We hope you’re just as inspired as we are by these projects! 

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Ferguson: Ten Bloggers Speak Out

Many details about the violent death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, remain unclear. What is beyond doubt is the intensity of reactions to this story — in the media and in neighborhoods all over the US (and beyond). Here are ten personal perspectives on this event and its aftermath, from writers representing a diverse cross-section of the WordPress.com community.

 

Gukira

Writer and scholar Keguro Macharia reacts with his usual incisiveness to one of the signature chants of post-Ferguson protests :

If “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” is an expression of “humanity,” as one tweet has it, we must ask for whom that humanity is available. In fact, the insistent repetition of “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” by black bodies across the U.S. might offer a less promising narrative: it might suggest the banality with which black life forms can never gain access to the vernaculars of the human.

hands up, don’t shoot

myrivercityblues

Many commentators on the violence in Ferguson have focused on the dangers of using a militarized police force to contain civilian protests. But how militarized is law enforcement in Ferguson? In a comprehensive, illustrated piece in The NationLyle Jeremy Rubin, a political blogger and former Marine, guides the uninitiated through what he calls “the arsenal of racial oppression.”

Afroculinaria

Michael W. Twitty usually blogs about food cultures — especially those of African American communities. The events in Ferguson have prompted him to write a moving personal piece, “#Ferguson: My Thoughts on an American Flashpoint,” where he recounts his own experiences of discrimination and racial profiling.

 

Dissonant Winston Smith

A blog by an anonymous police officer currently on duty in Ferguson, Dissonant Winston Smith reports on the challenges of wearing the very uniform that has come to represent violence and discrimination to many in that community. He writes, for example, on being the object of media scrutiny:

If police try to clear the media out before using gas they’re accused of trying to suppress the media’s freedom of the press. If police let them stay, they’re gassing the media which is apparently also evidence of media suppression.

In reference to media suppression

Dan Gillmor

Writing from the other side of the police/press divide is journalist and media expert Dan Gillmor. He has recently published a piece in The Guardian about the power of citizen-journalists, in Ferguson and beyond, to expose inaccuracies (and, at times, outright lies) in official narratives by law enforcement agencies.

Two Point Ommen

One of the biggest stories coming out of Missouri is the central role of social media — especially Twitter — in keeping the world informed of the violent clashes between protesters and police. In “The Digital Mosaic Public: Twitter and Ferguson,” blogger Brett Ommen takes a more skeptical position, pointing to the limitations of social media in bringing about change on the ground.

 

tressiemc

Atlanta-based sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom offers a more affirmative angle on grassroots media and their potential to empower members of marginalized communities:

Digital media appealed to blackfolks for the same reasons that any innovation appeals to us. It is a chance to up-end legacy structures and institutions that have shut us out.  We are early adopters not to be cool but to survive.

“What Is Left to Say?”

beccyjoy

Language and the way it can camouflage bigotry — both conscious and not — is a topic that blogger beccyjoy addresses head on:

By saying, “you do not have all of the facts” we are essentially saying “I don’t believe that you are smart enough to know what is happening right in front of your face.”

By saying, “this isn’t a race issue” we are saying “I know more than black people about what it feels like to be black.”

You might want to rethink that comment you are about to post about Ferguson, MO

Being Shadoan

How do notions of complicity and privilege play into tragedies like the one unfolding in Ferguson? In her provocatively-titled post, “I am racist, and so are you,” writer Rachel Shadoan offers a panoramic view of the history of institutional racism in the US, and tries to find ways for individuals to help dismantle its heritage.

 

ThinkBannedThoughts

The violence in Missouri caps a summer full of bad news, from the Middle East to Ukraine and beyond. Feeling deflated and powerless, writer Bree Ervin has consciously decided to disconnect from events over which she has little influence.

In a thoughtful piece, “Retreating toward Happiness,” Bree explains that her decision doesn’t mean she no longer cares, but rather that her energy is better spent within her local sphere:

I know it seems like the world is burning, and some of us are in places where we can help put those fires out, but for the rest of us, maybe the best thing we can do is stop adding fuel to the fires, maybe the best thing we can do is practice peace.

We wish you all a safe, sane weekend — and if you have another story related to Ferguson you’d like to share, please feel free to leave a comment.

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Early Theme Adopters: Isola

Whether you’re a personal blogger, a designer, or an artist, Isola gives you a bright, clean space to showcase your work. Its minimalist design stays crisp across devices and screens of all sizes, with generous white space to keep the focus on your content.

Isola, a free theme, comes with numerous customization options, from featured images and custom header images to sleek post formats. Let’s take a look at three sites that are already using it to great effect.

Design_That’s_It

Screen shot 2014-08-19 at 12.58.27 AM

Leon Scott, who writes thoughtful posts on design and technology on his aptly-named blog, makes the most of Isola‘s out-of-the-box look. He kept the layout simple and clean; all the widgets are tucked into a panel off screen.

Many of Leon’s posts — like the one shown above — include featured images, which establish their tone and also add a welcome burst of color.

Beyond the Black Mountain

Screen shot 2014-08-19 at 1.00.51 AM
The environmentally-conscious blogger who writes at Beyond the Black Mountain focuses on the intersection between fashion and eco-friendly living. Her site’s vibe echoes her approach elsewhere, with a stylish, spare look. A moody custom header image coupled with a retro serif font (Ambroise, which is available with the Custom Design upgrade) personalize Isola even further.

a dimpleate blog

Screen shot 2014-08-19 at 1.04.28 AM

The blogger behind a dimpleate, based in Northern Virginia, has created a photo-heavy lifestyle blog that still maintains an airy, clean feel. She uses Isola‘s image and gallery post formats to highlight the beautiful images, linking them to her Flickr galleries for visitors who wish to explore more of her work.

Have you also customized Isola? Is there another theme you’d like to see featured here? Let us know in the comments.

Filed under: Customization, Themes
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Ten Illustrators To Follow Now

From sketches to digital art narratives, here’s a visual journey into the worlds of ten illustrators on WordPress.com.

Brad Young

The drawings at Brad Young Art capture life’s little moments. From pen and ink to watercolor, and gardening to food to neighborhood spots, it’s easy to get lost sifting through Brad’s mix of doodles and sketches.

Sarah Goodreau

Sarah Goodreau, an illustrator living in Amsterdam, has a distinct style marked with the warmth you’ll find in children’s picture books, as well as the mystery of surrealist landscapes. In addition to illustration, Sarah is interested in video and stop-motion animation.

Marc Taro Holmes

At Citizen Sketcher, Montreal-based artist Marc Taro Holmes chronicles his location sketching, travel drawing, and plein air painting. His work-in-progress is refreshing, from airy landscapes to spirited pieces full of movement. When viewing his work, you can picture his hand moving across the page.

Drew Dernavich

Artist Drew Dernavich works on a number of projects, from New Yorker cartoons to art for musical projects. At Words, Pictures, Humor, you’ll find highlights from his professional work.

Robert M Ball

London-based illustrator Robert M Ball shares a range of work on his blog, from his “Beautiful Death” series for HBO’s Game of Thrones to his new book, Dark Times

Lorna Alkana

Los Angeles artist Lorna Alkana experiments with multi-layered digital media and visual essays. It’s fun to read about — and see — her process of image manipulation.

Pete Scully

Urban sketcher Pete Scully organizes monthly sketchcrawls in Davis, California. An avid keeper of sketchbooks, he’s constantly doodling, bringing the world to life with his colorful, lighthearted illustrations.

Anna Totten

Just Look at My Face is Anna Totten’s virtual lost and found of doodles and illustrations. Playful and colorful, Anna’s work will put a smile on your face.

Slightly Chilled Porcupine

It’s easy to scroll through the black-and-white illustrations at Slightly Chilled Porcupine and lose track of time — at first glance, the drawings are simple, but the messages, while often quirky, are not to be dismissed. (Also, who doesn’t love porcupines?)

Danny Gregory

Award-winning artist Danny Gregory has written numerous books on art and creativity. (Fun fact: Pete Scully, mentioned above, is featured in one of them: An Illustrated Journey.) On Danny’s blog, you’ll find drawings, illustrated journaling, and essays. Be sure to also check out Sketchbook Skool, his six-week online art course.

"Let Them Draw Cake," Danny Gregory
“Let Them Draw Cake,” Danny Gregory

Want more? Browse some of our favorite art and design blogs, or explore the illustration tag in the Reader.

Filed under: Community, WordPress.com
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New Theme: Sketch

Today we’re happy to debut a new, free portfolio theme, Sketch!

Sketch

Sketch WordPress Theme

Designed by yours truly, Sketch is a clean, modern theme for showcasing your best visual works. Whether you’re a professional illustrator, an aspiring photographer, or a painter, Sketch will ensure your portfolio looks stunning no matter the device or screen size.

Sketch Responsive Design

Further customize your site with a logo, showcase your favorites with a Featured Content slider, or spruce it up with a Custom Background or Header.


Take Sketch for a spin — visit the Theme Showcase to learn more, or activate it on your site by going to Appearance → Themes.

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Longreads’ Best of WordPress, Vol. 3

We’re back with another edition of Longreads’ Best of WordPress: below are 10 outstanding stories from across WordPress, published over the past month.

You can find Vol. 1 and 2 here — and you can follow Longreads on WordPress.com for all of our daily reading recommendations.

Publishers, writers, keep your stories coming: share links to essays and interviews (over 1,500 words) on Twitter (#longreads) and WordPress.com by tagging your posts longreads.


1. The Great Forgetting (Kristin Ohlson, Aeon)

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Why do we suffer from “childhood amnesia”? We lack the ability to recall memories from the first three or four years of our lives, and we have “a paucity of solid memories until around the age of seven.”

Read the story

2. The Mecca in Decline (Jordan Conn, Grantland)

Why doesn’t New York City produce elite NBA talent like it used to?

Years ago, New York’s playgrounds and high schools served as the most fertile breeding ground for the game’s elite. Today, you’re just as likely to become a star if you’re born in Los Angeles, Toronto, or Raleigh.

Read the story

3. Documents of Our Common Ground (Anisse Grosse, Brooklyn Quarterly)

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An interview with writer Rebecca Solnit, who has edited two atlases of American cities, on how maps can reflect a city’s culture:

It was so satisfying to make a map of [San Francisco's] Mission District in 2009 with life stories, gang territories, churches, soccer fields, remittance shops—to indicate where immigrants move money back to their homelands, a map that shut the f–k up about food and shopping. Maps can be mirrors of the expected and familiar, or the opposite.

Read the story

4. A Raised Voice (Claudia Roth Pierpont, The New Yorker)

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The story of Nina Simone — her career and her involvement with the civil rights movement — and the furor over a forthcoming movie biopic.

Read the story

5. The Thin Purple Line (Patrick Michels, Texas Observer)

“After a controversial raid on a West Texas smoke shop, nothing is hazier than the truth.” On synthetic drugs, federal muscle and the limits of freedom.

Read the story

6. The Book I Didn’t Write (Elmo Keep, The Awl)

Elmo Keep on the book about her father that she decided not to write:

“I didn’t write the book because the thought of it made me feel vaguely ill at all times. Even when I wasn’t thinking about it directly I was thinking about it. None of the thoughts were good.”

Read the story

7. Disenfranchised (Timothy Noah, Pacific Standard)

Inside the increasingly difficult business of running your own franchise — margins get tighter, and vendors assert even more control:

Franchisees don’t enjoy the market powers and economies of scale of their parent companies. Rather, they run small businesses with narrow profit margins, high failure rates, and plenty of anti-corporate grievances of their own.

Read the story

8. The Fasinatng … Frustrating … Fascinating History of Autocorrect (Gideon Lewis-Kraus, Wired)

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The story of how a Microsoft employee working on the Word team invented autocorrect:

Some of the calls were quite tricky, and one of the trickiest involved the issue of obscenity. … Microsoft was sensitive to these issues. The solution lay in expanding one of spell-check’s most special lists, bearing the understated title: “Words which should neither be flagged nor suggested.”

Read the story

9. From Botanical Gardens Intern to Anthony Bourdain’s Assistant: A Job History (Laurie Woolever, The Billfold)

Woolever documents her entire career, with some important lessons along the way:

“I took out a loan and did a 6-month professional course at the French Culinary Institute, while continuing to work part-time for the family for a few months. I soon learned that I was poorly-equipped to be restaurant cook. I’m rather lazy, I loathe noise, heat, and teamwork, bore easily, and crack under pressure.”

Read the story

10. Pink Collar (Jennifer Pan, Jacobin)

“When writers attack bad PR, the un­spoken heart of their criticism is the failure on the part of the publicist to adequately conceal that she is performing emotional work for money.” Jennifer Pan explores the gendered nature of PR, and other industries requiring emotional labor.

Read the story


Photos:

happykiddoforever, Flickr

Moyan Brenn, Flickr & WordPress.com

davecito, Flickr

scarlatti2004_images, Flickr

Neal Jennings, Flickr

Eléonore Hamelin, The Big Roundtable

Filed under: Community, Writing
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Field Notes: BlogHer ’14

Automatticians, the people who build WordPress.com, participate in events and projects around the world every day. Periodically, they report back on the exciting things they do when not in front of a computer. Today, Michelle Weber — one of a group of Automatticians offering real-life happiness engineering at BlogHer ’14 — reports back from the popular women bloggers conference.

BlogHer is an amazing organization created to support and lift up women bloggers. They’re home to blogging communities close to our hearts, like NaBloPoMo, and their conferences are among my favorite blogging events to attend.

Meeting the bloggers who take WordPress and infuse it with their words and images is rewarding, educational, and just fun. This year’s annual conference was no exception — the WordPress booth included a Happiness Bar for on-the-spot troubleshooting, ample hangout space, and, of course, a comfy couch for much-needed conference breaks and blogging tête-à-têtes.

Bloggers talking blogging at BlogHer.
A weekend's worth of mini-workshops and panels.
Carolyn and Daryl, ready to engineer some happiness for WordPress users.
A post-panel pic with A'driane, Emily, and Kylie.
Sara Rosso talks social networks while the booth hums around her.

This year, we also added a series of mini-workshops on the topics bloggers most often ask us about — domains, plugins, social media, copyright, and the different flavors of WordPress — along with mini-panels with some of the outstanding bloggers selected as BlogHer’s 2014 Voices of the Year.

Being at BlogHer isn’t just standing behind a counter talking about widgets. There was great discussion. There were hugs. There were selfies. There was a little crying, and a lot of laughing. After three days doing everything from having in-depth conversations on how to find your blogging voice to helping a new blogger learn to highlight text and create a hyperlink, I was a little tired and a little hoarse — but also full of ideas to take back to work, inspired to do some blogging of my own, and richer in friendship than I was three days before. What more could a blogger ask for?

Thanks to the Voices of the Year-winning bloggers behind Butterfly ConfessionsC is for CrocodileGirl BonerNaptime WritingThe Life of Kylie, Hacker. Ninja. Hooker. Spy.Baddest Mother EverThe Waiting, and Jamie Krug: Author for taking the time to sit down with me, and for everyone else who came by to get help, talk WordPress, or just say hello. I hope I see y’all in 2015!

Filed under: Community, Events
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Introducing: Comment Likes

I’m sure we’ve all experienced this — reading through a comment thread, and seeing a particularly well-written comment, whether it be informative, insightful, or just plain funny. You want to show the commenter that you appreciate their work, but don’t have a reply for them, so you just move on. Well, those days are over!

Comment Likes are now available on all WordPress.com sites. We’ve seen how much you enjoy Post Likes, and want to bring that kind of love to comments, too. When you enable Comment Likes on your site, you’ll see a small Like appear below all the comments on your site, just like this one.

You and all your readers can click it to show your appreciation!

If you prefer to read in the WordPress Android or iOS apps, we’re working hard to bring Comment Likes to both of them as well — stay tuned for upcoming releases.

To activate Comment Likes, head to Settings :arrow: Sharing in your dashboard, or check out the Comment Likes support page. Don’t forget to show some love in the comment section below!

Filed under: New Features, Social
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New Theme: Celsius

Today I’m happy to announce a new, free theme to spruce up your site!

Celsius

Celcius Celsius provides a pure, white backdrop for your writing, photography, or videography. With a design that looks great on any device, large or small, this theme supports several popular post formats, slide-out navigation and widget areas, and bold featured images. If you want to clear out the clutter and let your content speak for itself, give Celsius a try!


Celsius is a free theme. Find out more at the theme showcase, or preview it on your blog by going to Appearance → Themes.

Filed under: Themes
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