I tried really hard, really hard, to turn make cleaver use of Maslow’s Hammer as this post’s metaphoric title

“if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”

And if you read this blog you will see my endless focus and writing about SPLOTs. No they are not the answer to anything or maybe actually very few things, and it’s not necessarily the tools I’ve built that matter. It’s the power of knowing how to wield them, and the underlying WordPress platform that power them, to do what you want without relying on third party platforms that suck your data or later just suck away all you’ve made when they close shop.

Okay, Alan, back up.

I read this request from David Theriault, a crazy creative high school teacher I’ve crossed paths with for long enough not to remember (check out his Idea Farming site, I might not see you for a while)

Lots of suggestions came in, all of them doable. Google Slides/Sheets. Adobe Spark. Padlet. Wavelet. I’m not sure how I landed in the twitter canoe, but my paddle was moving.

What do these tools all have in common? Your content, your creations sit in someone else’s site.

My first thought was a reflex, it’s exactly what the TRU Collector SPLOT was built for. Don’t take my word, see what others have done with it.

I was ready to let go at that, especially as I am pretty sure David saw this SPLOT at the 2017 DML Connected Courses Staking Your Claim Workshop where we met for the first time in person. But when he pulled out the whale…

I knew what I had to do. Stop tweeting and build something.

So I spun up my Reclaim Hosting Cpanel where a fully built out TRU Collector is a one click cpanel install. I had a new site ready to start making a demo for David.

The reveal thing he asked for had nothing to do with the SPLOT but more knowing how to use WordPress. All it would need is to use the WordPress Reading Settings to display a static page on the front of the site (rather then newest content) and create an internal page to show the “blog” (which provides a secret way to share the entries).

Front page of demo site made for David

It simply has some kind of prompt and a link to the form to add stuff (I removed all other menu links to see content).

The form for adding to the collection is kept lean (made possible by new theme options)- a title, image, author name (optional) and rich text editor for the story.

I have the TRU Collector options set to publish right away (I could have made it moderated), so the submitter can see what they posted. Because again of knowing some WordPress, I did not want them to be able to use the navigation buttons to see previous posts, I added some Custom CSS (via the WordPress customizer) to hide the buttons:

When David wants to do his reveal, he only needs to return to the Reading Settings, and revert to the normal approach of the front of the site showing the latest posts (and also undoing that custom CSS to make the navigation appear).

So give it a try- upload a picture of something mysterious, and write a story. You can see the “sneak” view of what others have shared at https://lab.cogdogblog.com/mystery/sneak.

While I was building this, I realized that the sidebar of the theme displays a count of the number of “items” in a collection; it’s hardwired into the theme:

Screen shot of TRU Collector site with below the title the text "86 total items collected"

I can do better than that! The latest version of the theme has an extra Customizer section where you can change the name used here- for the demo site I changed the display to be “stories” rather than “items”:

WordPress Customizer showing section to enter single and pliral name for the things in a collection, and an arrow showing how "stories" entered for plural is used.

So no, I don’t think everything calls for a SPLOT-but I sure see quickly where one will work. David is planning to use this site for a workshop coming up, I hope to hear how fabulous it works out.

(I did not even mention the ability to set up an email address that you can use to allow share to a Collector by sending an email).

SPLOT the web! Reclaim it! Wield the SPLOT hammer!


Featured Image: Pixabay Image by Stevepb shared into the public domain using Creative Commons CC0 enhanced with the official SPLOT logo

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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