Those of you who hang out with me in real life know I’ve spent the last three months near-drowning in an exciting but quixotic website development project for a non-profit organization that I consider one of the most influential centers of activity on the international literary scene right now. I’m talking about Words Without Borders, and I’m happy to announce that our new totally revamped website is alive.
Our technical goal with this redesign was to enable a smoother content flow and to help readers dig deeper into the site’s considerable archives of modern and classic international literature. I’m really proud of the site we built, not only as a person who cares about world lit but also as a software developer, because it’s probably the most ambitious content delivery application I’ve ever developed.
I make a living building content delivery and search systems, and I’ve worked on some ambitious arts-related projects, including Bob Dylan’s lyric search engine and Pearl Jam’s complete and highly detailed concert chronology. But I’ve never done anything on the scale of the new Words Without Borders system, which cross-references stories, poems, essays, plays and other literary texts from every region of the world by numerous categories including time period, language, country, topic and physical environment. The new site layout also features context-aware tag clouds on every page (that is, unlike most site-wide tag clouds, these clouds change from page to page to represent the context of each specific page).
If it sounds like I’m bragging about my software — well, I am. But software is hardly the point of this site, so I also want to point to the great work of Dedi Felman, Susan Harris, Alane Mason, Samantha Schnee, Caryn Dubelko, Dina Pearlman, Darrian Rodgers, Blake Radcliffe and Jeff Gregory, who have all been a pleasure to work with. I also want to say that I really hope the new site gets through its first week without crashing, and the odds are 50-50 at best (okay, 90-10).
(Note to anyone who reads the thanks message on the current WWB front page: yes, that programmer extraordinaire is me, going by my other name (which reveals me to be the love child of Marc Chagall and Gertrude Stein), as I generally do when I am employed as a techie. Long story, not even worth hearing. Just browse and read through some of the writings on this site, and get a wider view of the world we live in than you had yesterday).