Deep Thought #453: Porting the ELS Blogs WPMu install to a new domain

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“Without order nothing can exist – without chaos nothing can evolve.” – Unknown
Picture used courtesy of Ivanomak

I spent most of the last two days (and all of today well into this evening -meaning now) finishing up a transfer of almost 80 blogs from one domain running WordPress Multi-user using subdirectories to a new domain using dynamic subdomains. The details are many and varied, and I would be more than happy to discuss them with anyone who is going through this process (but I don’t have the stamina to document them all here -sorry). In fact, this post isn’t necessarily about the technical details, its more about some preconceptions and my recent push towards centralizing things in my head. Ever since I have been waxing vulgar about using WPMu as a university-wide authoring platform for students, professors, courses, etc. (it’s been going on almost a year now) I am just awaking a bit from my monomaniacal trance. Now don’t get me wrong, I do indeed think WPMu is the cat’s meow when it comes to a distributed space for authoring, feeding, and sharing work, as well as allowing students to take it with them when they go. Fanboy ’til the end!

But I have been stressing for the last week or so, and as a result refusing to do anything else until summer session ended and all the “old blogs” on the ELS Blogs multi-user site are ported over to the new UMW Blogs site. Why? Jerry and Martha astutely asked me this at Wednesday business meeting and I came up with some half-assed answer about needing everything in one place, directory structures (when I start talking tech it is a sure fire sign somethings amiss), and management concerns. What? Management concerns?! “Come on, Jim -get over yourself.” I couldn’t manage my way out of a wet paper bag. So, why the need to port these blogs, spend almost six hours re-configuring sql queries and re-encoding text (things i am terrible at) when so much of what made the ELS Blogs an important and forwarding-looking space was the conversations, pings, and trackbacks so many students shared there. in fact, when I did a full port (I left the original ELS Blog site untouched and it remains up and running) I realized just how many of those connections might be severed by my push for order and everything that is holy. So, in the end, I think Jerry and Martha’s question about why I’m doing this was good one, and I still don’t have a good answer. So, rather than playing WPMu admin god boy -I’m gonna send out a nice little e-mail to everyone with a ELS Blog and say the following:

After struggling with my own sense of ownership, power, and technical Napolean complex. I decided that I am gonna shut down ELS Blogs and kick all you freeloading squatters out because you’re lazy, dirty and you have no proper place in my domain.

Actually, no, I’m not gonna write that, I’m gonna write something more like this:

Hey guys and gals, we have a new Multi-User space for blogs, classes, and independent studies and such. If you want to bring your blog over (for most of the work we do with WordPress will be taking place in the new space from here on out) here’s how. If not, that’s fine, I still love you and ELS Blogs will be trucking along for as long as you need it. Enjoy.

I really don’t want my zeal for all things WordPress to get in the way for what’s best for a virtual learning environement. ELS Blogs is an amazing intellectual ecosystem, why do I have to “develop” it into something it’s not for my own sense of challenge, order, and pseudo-mastery? I don’t know, but all I can say is that the funk is officially gone and the port has been abandoned for the time being because I don’t want to destroy the trackbacked connections that so many students and professors have spent countless hours of building, fostering, and cultivating. OK, this all stands until I get the directive to do otherwise, or I have yet another idea for delaying the inevitable fact the WPMu is a few steps closer to being institutionalized at UMW -why does that scare me so. I think Jerry understands…

Finally, the hubris on my part -did I even ask Gardner, his students, my own, Terry’s, or anyone else about this transition and what it might mean to them? Although, not to toot my own horn or anything, but I did get it to work for what it’s worth, and I even discovered a way via the forums to have a single wpmu account spread across several different domains -next project?! ;)

Original post by jimgroom

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