A series of learning events, or, keeping up with the past

Dave’s Whiteboard marked its fifth anniversary last month.  (No, I didn’t notice, either.)  You might not think it, given my recent output, but my Whiteboard means a lot to me — so much so that whenever I think about changing the theme (the package of files that controls the appearance) I end up considering one that looks much like what I’m currently using.

Looked real good at the timeSticking with what I’ve had has more and more often meant I run into technical problems.  My current theme is out of date in several ways–for example, it’s not widget-aware.  That means is that I can’t take advantage of simple ways to customize and control the appearance.

I’ve occasionally written several posts on a single topic (a series of posts).  At the time I used a WordPress addon (a plugin) that automatically added previous/next links so that a reader could work through a series without worrying about date or about intervening but unrelated posts.  That same plugin created a table of contents as well, so you could tell where you were in the series.

That plugin stopped working a few months back; I have no idea why.  The effort to manually input the links–to hard-wire them, so to speak–was more than I was ready to expend.  Still, I plan to write a series or two in the coming months, and I wanted to have a low-maintenance way to present all my series.

So this past weekend I started experimenting with the Organize Series plugin. I tested to see if it could link the three posts in my series about the book Improving Performance, by Rummler and Brache.

And it could.  What’s more, with a $15 add-on, I’m able to use a little bit of code and automatically generate a list of posts in a series, like this:

Improving Performance (the book)

[post_list_box series=65]

I had to do some tinkering, and I had to purchase a $15 add-on for the plugin, but I’m content so far: I’ve accomplished my short-term goal of making each of my series work like a series again–without a lot of hand wiring.

That list of posts in the Improving Performance series, for instance: to make it appear here after installing the Organize Series plugin and the add-on, I inserted the following code into my post:

[ post_list_box series=65 ]

Enough WordPress mumbo-jumbo.  I’m going to revisit this from the perspective of learning on the job.  My hunch is that there’s a kind tradeoff that a person’s willing to make when he has a problem to solve (or an opportunity to seize).  What going into figuring worth is the amount of effort expended, and the value of the results… as seen by the person with the problem or opportunity.

CC-licensed photo by Craig Bennett / theclyde.