Facebook, The Kansan, and Django

This is still a bit hard to believe, but I no longer work for the Kansan. With that in mind, I just did a bit of work for the Kansan.

Confused? I know I am.

I hate confusion. Let’s clear it up. After the launch of Facebook Marketplace, I wrote a bit about the impact it would have on college newspapers. Following the launch of Facebook Platform, I delineated some steps a paper like the Kansan could take to use Facebook to grow its online student audience.

The Kansan agreed, and wanted me to help out. So as of last Thursday, the first day of classes at KU, the Kansan has its very own Facebook application.

What does it do?

Nothing terribly complex, yet. Earlier, I called for college newspapers to integrate their classifieds with Facebook. That hasn’t happened for the Kansan yet, but they now have a great starting point.

We decided to start with the most interactive element of the print Kansan: the Free for All section. The Kansan describes it like this:

Free for All callers have 20 seconds to speak about any topic they wish. Kansan editors reserve the right to omit comments. Slanderous and obscene statements will not be printed. Phone numbers of all incoming calls are recorded.

Basically, people get drunk, dial a number, leave a message, and the Kansan prints a bunch of em.

Sounds a lot like Facebook wall posting, right? So, we combined the two. KU students that have added the app (more than 450 after a week and a half) can go to kansan.com/facebook, be redirected to the application, and get something off their chests.

The app spreads via news feed links when friends add the application. News feed items also appear whenever a friend posts to the Free for All, declaring “Ryan Berg had something sweet to say in the Kansan Free-For-All,” or “Logan Collins had something peculiar to say in the Kansan Free-for-All,” each time changing the adjective. Several remarks have been written to the Free for All now requesting specific adjectives.

Of course, integration comes full circle with for the application as comments are taken from it and placed into print. Also, stories pulled from Kansan RSS feeds appear on top of each application page.

To recap: We started with the basics. From here, once the audience on campus is captured, there’s a lot more cool stuff that can be done.

How does this Facebook application work?

Step 1: Django.

Step 2: FBML

Step 3: There’s no step three!

</cliche no step three list>

It’s just a small, quick, Django application sitting on the same server as hawkchalk.com and kansantrivia.com, hooked up to the Python Facebook API. Templates were done quick and dirty, using FBML, to look like a Facebook application and respect the environment.

This was a really fun project on which to finish my involvement with the Kansan, and it’s really cool seeing so many KU students using it. The Kansan is in great shape, and now in the hands of a genius named Logan, the man behind Schoolhouse for Mac OS X. Good hands, indeed.

Link to this comment

Wow, that's great news about Logan and kansan.com. He had quite the buzz going at Apple for his Schoolhouse app. Good hands indeed!

August 27th 2007, 4:35 p.m. by Wilson Miner
Link to this comment

He's obviously a talented programmer, but also a really great guy. I think I might have found him via a link to Schoolhouse from your site.

Logan's already doing some cool stuff. Makes it much easier to let go of the projects I learned from and labored on for over two years.

August 27th 2007, 4:42 p.m. by Ryan Berg

Comments are disabled for this item