The Year Without Pants

Scott Berkun’s enjoyable memoir of a year without pants.

The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work (Jossey-Bass, ISBN 978-1118660638) is the latest book by Scott Berkun, a former project manager at Microsoft and author of another great book, Confessions of a Public Speaker. After several years working as an author and speaker, Mr. Berkun decided to return to the front lines by working at WordPress, the organization that creates software that powers “nearly 20 percent of the websites in the world, including half of the top one hundred blogs on the planet.”

The Year Without Pants book cover

I had two ambitions in reading The Year Without Pants. First, my own blog is powered by WordPress and I knew I would enjoy an inside look at how the popular blogging platform was created. Second, in a model similar to WordPress, I work for a company where employees spend most of their time working from home and away from a centralized office environment. The author had similar ambitions:

This book has two ambitions: first, to share what I learned as an old dog in a futuristic workplace and, second, to capture the behind-the-scenes story of a good team at a fascinating company.

Scott Berkun
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The Year Without Pants

I learned that the book’s mildly provocative title and cover photo will certainly encourage conversation if you read it in public. Like his other work, Mr. Berkun skillfully combines practical advice— in this case about the future of work— with engaging storytelling about his personal experiences at WordPress. What you won’t find is a prescriptive (or boring) how-to for creating a futuristic workplace, complete with project plans and charts. It’s easy to dismiss the WordPress work environment with “that would never work here.” And indeed, perhaps much of the advice wouldn’t work in your current office setting. The model at WordPress works because its founder, the youthful Matt Mullenweg, has created a culture that supports the work environment.

[ youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jjv2fm7CMgE ]

If you’re interested in working remotely, you’ll want to read The Year Without Pants along with Remote: Office Not Required (see related book review). I found the two differing perspectives helpful. But The Year Without Pants is also important reading if you’re a software developer or a WordPress user that wants to see how the sausage gets made.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book and did not receive it free from its publisher. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

WordPress for Business Bloggers

WordPress for Business Bloggers, from Packt Publishing, is a single, comprehensive resource for writers like me who want to create their own business-focused blog.

Editor’s Note: An updated edition of WordPress for Business Bloggers was released after this review was published.

I recently relocated my blog from Google Blogger to WordPress hosted on my own domain. As an IT consultant, I’m used to getting under the hood and mastering new concepts. However, when it comes to blogging, I really just want to focus on writing content, not endless tweaking and maintenance. I was intrigued by the title of Paul Thewlis’ book. WordPress for Business Bloggers (Packt Publishing, 2008, ISBN 978-1847195326) is a single, comprehensive resource for writers like me who want to create their own business-focused blog.

Not limited to just WordPress, Paul additionally delves into related topics such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, and monetizing your blog. I’m usually very skeptical of books that choose to go down rabbit trails that are best left to separate titles, but Paul covers these topics well. Paul uses a fictional blog to illustrate the concepts throughout the book. Curiously, his own personal blog isn’t updated very frequently. Paul must be a busy man.

The biggest benefit I personally obtained from the book was the author’s usage and endorsement of various WordPress plugins. There are frequently many plugins for the same task, such as blog rolls, Twitter feeds, etc. The book helped me narrow down some options and also helped me see the value in adding plugins that I had not considered, such as a Google sitemap plugin.

The book uses WordPress 2.6 and I’m currently using WordPress 2.9, but the minor differences do not take away from the usefulness of this guide. WordPress for Business Bloggers is still the only WordPress book on my shelf.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web

The New Community Rules is invaluable reading for individuals and organizations dipping their toes in the waters of the social web.

I’ve been blogging about SAP BusinessObjects and business intelligence for almost two years. Over time, I’ve started using other social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. And just this month, I became the proud owner of an Apple iPhone 3GS. So this week during a vacation, it made perfect sense for me to read Tamar Weinberg’s recently published The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web – on my iPhone.

The book begins with “An Introduction to Social Media Marketing”, which is helpful when you’re an IT professional and not a marketing professional. Next, Tamar gives pointers for developing your social media goals. She proceeds to give detailed information chapter by chapter on using specific social sites using blogs like Blogger and WordPress, microblogs like Twitter, social networks like Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn, informational networks like Wikipedia, and social bookmarking sites like Delicious, social news sites like Digg and reddit, and social media sites like YouTube and Flickr.

The New Community Rules reinforced why I’ve already started using the social web to build my “personal brand”, helped me set new goals, and exposed me to sites that I’ve never considered using before. What I most appreciated about the book were the case studies – real stories about real people and organizations using (and sometimes abusing) social media. In addition to building my personal brand, I will be using this information to help my employer engage clients via the social web over the next few months.

Because I read the book on an iPhone, reviewing the reading experience is just as important as the book itself. I’m definitely a geek, but still unwilling to pull the trigger on a Kindle purchase (see related article, SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 for Kindle). While I’m still not sure that iPhone is the ideal platform for reading every book, it was certainly the perfect device for pool-side reading. Given the subject matter of The New Community Rules, Tamar has included extensive web links to additional resources – which is probably the coolest reason to read it on a web-enabled device like an iPhone.

Ten years ago, we were fixated on search engine optimization for search engines like Excite and Alta Vista (remember those?). We didn’t know we couldn’t live without sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. Only time will tell if we will still be using these specific social web sites ten years from now. But I’m sure organizations will continue to use the world wide web to find new ways to connect with customers. The New Community Rules is invaluable reading for individuals and organizations dipping their toes in the waters of the social web. It is available now from the iTunes App Store or in a more traditional format from book resellers like Amazon.com.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”