This post was originally published on the now-retired Make & Meaning blog on May 21st, 2010.
I can't think of any crafty projects I've taken on in the last few years that I didn't document online in some way. I realized the other day that I have a pretty solid toolkit for immortalizing* my work on the intarweb, so I thought I'd share it. I'd love to know what's in your digital toolkit, too – let's have a share-fest in the comments!
- First thing first: I take photos. I've recently misplaced (oh, the PAIN) my Nikon d40 digital SLR. My back-up is my handy, wee Canon Powershot. I never use the flash. Ever. If that means I have to wait many hours or a couple of days before I can get an acceptable photo in natural light, I wait.
- I manage all my photos in iPhoto, and rarely edit them beyond using the basic editing tools iPhoto comes with. Most often, I crop and I adjust the white balance. Adjusting the white balance is something skilled photographers do before they start shooting, but the rest of us can fake it pretty well after the fact. It's an important step that makes whites look crisp and bright, and that results in colours being fairly true.
- If I'm working on creating graphics beyond photos, I use a program called Acorn, for the Mac. It's quick and streamlined and simple to use.
- Flickr. In my opinion, Flickr makes the world go 'round. I host all my crafty photos there. I add them to crafty groups I like (I love surfing around all the crafty groups on Flickr for inspiration), and I use their embed code to insert photos into my blog. I license most of my photos with Creative Commons (the exceptions are the ones that have people in them; I'll only license those under CC if the people give consent). This allows anyone to use the photos without asking me permission, within certain parameters.
- Ravelry. I keep track of all my knitting and crochet projects on there. Can't be beat.
- WordPress. I've used WordPress for years and it keeps getting better – more powerful, more feature-rich (with the right kinds of features), and more straightforward to use. My blog is the hub of my online network, so after I upload the photos to Flickr I write a blog post about them. (I don't blog about every project; ones I find less word-worthy I just leave on Flickr and Ravelry.) Sometimes I upload photos directly to WordPress, but usually I just stick with embedding them from Flickr. I use a bunch of very useful WordPress plugins, and I hope you'll share which ones you like, too.
- About Me 3000 makes it simple to put an about me section in your sidebar, complete with Gravatar.
- Apture lets you insert contextual rich media right in your post, so a video you want to link to will pop up when a reader clicks the link, making it super easy for them to watch the video but not lose track of reading your post.
- The del.icio.us plugin displays the most recent links I've bookmarked on Delicious, right in my sidebar.
- Disqus is a fabulous commenting system. Using it on WordPress (you can also use it with blogs on other systems), it replaces the default commenting system. In my experience, it facilitates way more discussion on my blogs.
- Feedburner Feed Replacement easily replaces the default blog feed with the one you track on Feedburner. (Feedburner is a Google service that collects stats about the number of people who subscribe to your feed, etc.)
- Flattr is a new beta program I'm really excited about. When you set up an account, you add a bit of money to your fund. When you encounter content you like and the website uses Flattr, you can click the Flattr button and a proportion of your fund will be allocated to that site at the end of the month. Not many people use it yet since it's so new, but I hope it catches on. I'd love to be able to turn my appreciation into actual money (however small an amount) for the creators whose work I most enjoy. As a blogger, I'd love to receive some of that monetary appreciation. Duh.
- Tweet Blender lets me show my own recent tweets, along with tweets to me, in my sidebar. Easy peasy.
- WP Greet Box shows a different message to readers depending on where they came from. You can configure the different greetings to encourage visitors to take some particular action, like subscribing to your feed, sharing your link via a tweet, etc.
- WP to Twitter automatically posts to Twitter when you publish a blog post. You can configure what info goes into the tweet, and you can also write a custom tweet for each post. It's very flexible, and when I remember to actually use it, I think it's way better than having to rely on Twitterfeed.
- WPtouch iPhone Theme formats your site for viewing on an iPhone or any other touch-screen smartphone. It's amazing.
- Twitter. Not only do I announce my new blog posts on Twitter, I chat with lots of crafty people on there, and I tweet about projects I'm working on if I think it'll be entertaining or if I have a question I think people can help me with.
- Tumblr. I love Tumblr. I use it for any old thing, but I'll be using it more for crafty stuff once I remember to really start doing that.
- YouTube. I recently started doing more than just watching videos on YouTube when I started documenting the Mighty Ugly project. I really wish I'd had ideas for video projects a long time ago! I feel like a dinosaur just getting into YouTube now, but who cares?
Ok. That's a way longer list than I'd thought it would be when I started writing! What digital tools do you use in your crafty life?
* Let's not kid ourselves. One day if the electromagnetic pulse destroys our network, we'll want some hard copies, now won't we?
Unfortunately, all comments were lost when Make & Meaning was taken down. Don't hesitate to repeat yourself here, or to join in on the new conversation!