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I Love Hospitals With WiFi, or Twittering Childbirth

When we were looking for hospitals and doctors offices for little Athena, wifi wasn’t really on the list so much as reputation, compatibility with our insurance, and other concerns.  In retrospect, though, thank goodness Stanford Hospital and Palo Alto Medical Foundation have wifi.

We live more than 2,000 miles from most of our family.  Not all of them could make the flight to California for the birth.  We also have too many friends around the country to possibly make all the phone calls we’d have liked to have made that night.  In addition, we had several thousand people all over the world wondering which name we would pick for our baby.

Because of internet connectivity, I was able to do a fair job of including all of them in the process:

1) With my iPhone, I was able to take and post photos during labor and delivery.  Photos of my mom’s new granddaughter were available for her, on Flickr, within minutes of birth:

Wrapped and swaddled

I’m not sure I can properly express here how much it meant to her and the rest of our family to be able to see Athena so quickly.

2)  Using the Twitterific App on my iPhone was was able to post updates to Twitter throughout the whole labor.  This is a perfect example of what Twitter is good for.  Liveblogging while my wife endures the pains of childbirth would be ridiculously insensitive, but there were always minutes of downtime here and there to tap out a few words describing what’s going on.

live-twittering

3)  Using the Twitter App for Facebook, my updates showed up on my Facebook status as well.  This was a big help, since so many more friends and family use Facebook than Twitter.

A fourth option, which we didn’t use but might have had the labor been longer, was videoconferencing with Skype.  We’ve been using Skype to keep in touch with family for some time.  It is currently my grandmother’s favorite thing to do.  Since we’ve been back home Athena has become the star of many family video sessions.

One final thing I have to mention is YouTube – we certainly weren’t going to share the gooey miracle of life with the world in streaming video, but my wife followed the videos fo several other women during pregancy up to and including labor.  We don’t know a lot of other couples having kids right now, so that gave Ann a personal connection with their stories and helped her through some of the tougher times during the last 9 months.  She could see that other people were going through the same things she was and that was an important comfort.

The common theme here, which I think goes a long way toward explaining the growth of the internet as a whole, is communication.  Because of almost universal connectivity, we were able to turn a deep personal experience into a social experience as well.

Internet, I’d Like To Introduce You to Athena Marie Morrison

Hello World!

Oak Creek, Nov 22, 2008

Thanks to the well over 10,000 people who voted in our baby name poll, we’ve chosen the perfect name for our new baby – Athena Marie Morrison.

Those of you who have been following this story might be a bit surprised at the name choice, since Olivia was leading the poll for girls’ names.  But the very, very few readers who managed to make their way through my boring (but educational) statistics posts will remember that Ann and I controlled for popularity, hoping to pick a name that was loved by our voters but still reasonably unique and interesting.

We took three names that our voters liked better than could be explained by general popularity in 2007 – Cassia, Ada, and Athena – and waited to see which name would fit her best.

Since our baby was born with her eyes open, perceptive and looking very thoughtful, we thought it was appropriate to name her for the goddess of wisdom.

Thanks again to all the family, friends, Googlers, and random internet strangers who voted.

If you’d like to keep following Athena’s first days on the planet, you can follow me on Twitter.

For photos (a few now, and hundreds more as soon as we get home), feel free to friend me on Flickr.

If you’d like to read more about web design, usability, and doing crazy social experiments with the internet, please subscribe to my blog feed or subscribe via email.

Oak Creek, Nov 22, 2008

Use OpenId in your WordPress blog for comments and your identity

Worn old welcome mat The web has evolved into this amazing place filled with user-created content, blogs, wikis, photo sharing sites, and users can enter comments on just about all of them. But there’s a problem – commenting in Blogger, Flickr, and some random self-hosted WordPress blog requires you to create user accounts or type in tedious contact information separately in each one.

As a user, you probably want to spend your time commenting rather than remembering usernames and passwords.  As a blogger, you no doubt want to make it as easy as possible for your readers to comment on your posts.  What we need is some really powerful identity management system to make this all possible.

OpenID is an attempt at creating such a system that seems to be growing quickly.  Instead of hundreds of usernames and passwords you have a simple URL that you control.  I just added it to my WordPress blog to see if it’s helpful, and I’ll walk you through the steps you need to take to use it and allow your commenters to use it too.

How to use your blog as your OpenID

First off, you need to get an OpenID.  Luckily, you probably already have one.  Major sites like Blogger, LiveJournal, Flickr, and Yahoo are supporting OpenID so you can just go with what you have.  You can also go with a specific provider.  Which one should you use?  It doesn’t really matter, since you can use your site’s URL as your OpenID and switch providers whenever you want.

Now that you have a URL, you need to use delegation to allow your site’s URL to stand in.  In WordPress, this means opening up the header.php and adding a few lines to your <head> section.  If you’re using Google’s Blogger (like me), the links would look something like this:

<link rel=”openid.server” href=”http://draft.blogger.com/openid-server.g” />
<link rel=”openid.delegate” href=”http://blogname.blogspot.com/” />

One side note – if you view the source of this page, you won’t see these lines.  I’m using my root domain instead.

For more information, see this post by Sam Ruby.

How to use OpenID for comments in WordPress

This part is simple – like everything else you want to do with WordPress, there’s a plugin.  Just download and install the WP-OpenID plugin and activate it.

You should notice a little OpenID icon in the fields for the comments below this post.  Go a head and test it out.