There’s so much to catch up on. There’s Simone de Beauvoir’s butt (via Maud). There’s a new Charles “The Graduate” Webb novel out that David Ulin of the Los Angeles Times doesn’t like one bit. There’s an amazing year (unfortunately, the year was 1963) at New York City’s 92nd Street Y (I sometimes go to literary events at the Y; the best ever was probably John Irving with John Leonard and film director George Roy Hill in the mid-80’s).
There’s also an illustrated new T. C. Boyle short story called I Dated Jane Austen (via Knowledge Problem). I’m dying to read Oil!, the 1927 business novel by Upton Sinclair that is the basis of the new film There Will Be Blood, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (when Paul Thomas Anderson makes a movie, I’m interested).
But I can’t catch up on any of this today, because I’ve been busy geeking out with poetry software. It’s hard to explain why I have had to work so long on the LitKicks technical overhaul that’s been going on since December of last year. I know many people who enjoyed the old Action Poetry pages on LitKicks are wondering why I had to take the old software down in the first place. Basically, the old software was written in Java, as the entire previous version of LitKicks was, and I’ve now migrated the site to PHP (using the excellent WordPress content delivery system and a few other open source packages). This involved a physical move to a new server in December, and once this move was complete I had to throw away all my old Java poetry code and begin rewriting the whole thing in PHP. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past several weeks.
I’m also adding some features to the poetry platform, like (sneak preview) member profiles listing all of each member’s poems, a rating system (which I’m not ready to show you yet) and a new page layout/design that will hopefully break less often than the old one (old-timers know that Action Poetry wasn’t always smooth sailing over in Java-land).
It’s an interesting fact that until last month’s switchover, LitKicks was one of the very few literary blogs or websites that did not run on PHP (a language that emerged along with blog culture, and is most remarkable for its simplicity and powerful ease of use) or Perl or other “scripting language”. Java is an older and more complex programming language that’s widely used by companies and organizations around the world. I wrote the original Java version of LitKicks myself of course, back in 2000, and back then I assure you my homegrown Jive-based Java-based content delivery system was some damn well-written state-of-the-art software. I still write Java code for a living (as do many of my techie peers, since Java work pays better than PHP work), but even an old school Java guy like me has to admit that PHP, not Java, is the best language for content-rich web applications. In fact, I’ll break ranks with my Java peers and admit straight out that many companies in the financial, legal, health care, government and other industries pay too much to build applications with Java that they could build more simply in PHP and AJAX (I always like to toss a heavy dose of AJAX into my web applications, which you’ll hopefully be noticing once the new poetry software is up).
So, am I geeking out enough for you? Now that I’ve joined the PHP flock, by the way, the only outlier I can think of in the literary blogosphere is Mark Thwaite’s Ready Steady Book, whose URLs reveal it to be a Microsoft .NET based site. I’ve also done some work in .NET (specifically C#, which is a lot like Java), and I can confidently say that PHP is better. I hope Mark Thwaite’s having an easier time with his .NET based blog than I did with my Java blog, though. Another literary site with an unusual technical foundation is Michael Orthofer’s Complete Review and Literary Saloon, which appears to use very simple flat HTML. This is not a highly scalable approach, but it’s got something to recommend it (LitKicks was also flat HTML-based before I created the Java version in 2000).
Anyway, speaking of Java, I would like to thank the company that hosted LitKicks.com for the past seven years, Servlets.net. If you ever need expert Java hosting, Servlets.net is the place to go. I’m now running LitKicks on one of the major PHP hosts, but let’s give it a few months to see if I ever start thanking them.
I was hoping I’d be able to re-launch Action Poetry today, but I’m not there yet. Very soon, however, I will place a notice on the top right panel (where it currently reads “Tech Notes”) asking members of the old Action Poetry site to re-activate their memberships on the new site. Shortly thereafter, I’ll be inviting anyone and everyone to create a login on the new site, and then we can share some poems. Thanks again for your patience, and I look forward to getting back to a focus on literature, not technology, here on LitKicks.