Leaving Hemingway

So I’m thinking about swapping the Hemingway theme this site is styled with for another. Don’t get me wrong: I think Hemingway is one of the only interesting things to happen to blog design in about five hundred years, a fairly serious aesthetic and conceptual advance.

The trouble is that I don’t like the way Hemingway is configured on WordPress-hosted blogs, one of which this happens to be. You don’t get nearly as much flexibility as the theme is actually capable of offering – e.g., neither the line length of the two lead stories, nor the way they render tags when displayed on the front page, can be customized. And that results in an unacceptable user experience.

By contrast, Hemingway in other hosting environments is far more flexible, and it results in better-looking sites. It can be hacked and tweaked like any other skin, and in the hands of someone with a discerning eye, the results can be lovely: look at what Christina Ray and Joey Roth did with theirs.

If I can’t do something like that, I’d rather at least offer Speedbird in a wrapper that doesn’t impose quite so many constraints. So I’d like to ask you to nominate a few WordPress themes you think might suit. And we’ll take it from there.

In other WordPress news, I figured out how to disable the Snap preview that was driving me crazy (and apparently all of you as well). Enjoy!

And finally, while we’re doing meta, I wanted to welcome a comparative flood of new readers to Speedbird: my bike messenger piece from the other day got picked up by SF Fixed Gear and Bike Forums, from which I got a ton of traffic. (If you follow the links, you’ll see what happens when a dense piece of writing meant for a very few people is encountered by an audience equipped with bullshit detectors locked on “high.”)

OK, that’s enough from me for right now. I’ve got a pile of work and writing to get done before heading to Geneva for LIFT next week. Have fun, and stay warm.

6 responses to “Leaving Hemingway”

  1. Benedict Eastaugh says :

    The limitations imposed on themes when they’re hosted on WordPress.com is frustrating for plenty of theme authors, myself included. The version of Tarski available here is a pale shadow of the real thing, bereft of a vast array of options and potential customisations. Plus, of course, hosted blogs can’t take advantage of improvements, bug fixes, and so on.

    I can understand why these limitations are in place, of course, just as I can understand why people like a hosted blog that they don’t have to install and configure themselves, but the potential for modification, personalisation and improvement will never be available to the degree that is possible on a personal web hosting environment.

  2. brendon says :

    In which systems is hemmingway more robust? Typo? Textpattern? I’m curious because I’ve had problems with hemingway in wordpress (particularly, no textille or similar markup processing on the home page) and curious if I’d have better luck in another system. Any comments? Thanks…

  3. Stephan Hügel says :

    I found the small, white-on-black text jarring at the standard MacBook Pro resolution; This looks much nicer. That having been said, I read Speedbird in NNW (If I recall, newsreaders were (are?) a pet peeve of yours) so the text wasn’t a huge problem, I just found myself being occasionally blinded when I clicked through to read comments. I liked the layout and feel a lot though, can you point in the direction of some Hemingway-centric discussion?
    The courier article was excellent for a number of reasons, not the least of which were those low-profile black shoes in the SFGate slideshow (seventh pic) which I now covet.

  4. speedbird says :

    A. “MacBook Pro,” eh? Aren’t we fancy?
    B. You might try here or here for Hemingway chatter. Mind you, I’m excited about where he’s going with the theme and haven’t at all foresworn using it in some non-Wordpress-hosted context.
    C. Those look like standard $5 Chinatown-knockoff plimsolls to me. : . )

  5. six says :

    Hiya Adam, you’re welcome to try sxmpl (ZIP, 100 KB; looks like this) if you’re still interested.

    I’ve worked out most of the Firefox/Safari/IE7 kinks that I’ve found, but it’s still very much a designer’s theme (pretty from the front, but turns out to be patched together with chewing gum and duct tape upon careful inspection) as opposed to a full-featured developer’s theme with widgets and asides and things (which it would support if I didn’t have classes to sleep through).

    But if folks like the general concept, maybe somebody who’s got more wordpress-fu than myself—and a couple hours to kick some CSS around—will take it and make it…you know, ueber-rockin’.

  6. Klintron says :

    Thanks for ditching Hemingway – almost all the wordpress.com blogs I read use it and it drives me nuts! As for an alternative, is k2 available for wordpress.com?

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