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).

6 Responses

  1. not only beautifulamazing!I
    not only beautiful


    I quickly clicked into the educators’ section and am excited to see the theme-based units as well as some recommended stories.

    This site shall not go unexplored.
    Wonderful work. Hope the site stays intact for the next 6 years or so – enough to watch my daughter get through High School English with such a site for accompaniment.

  2. BeautifulIt looks great,

    It looks great, Levi.

    Now, I hope you realize, it will become increasingly difficult to find people willing to fight wars against people they share literature with.

    At least, I hope so.

  3. Really good siteI poked
    Really good site

    I poked around in some of the writing and it is really top notch. I’ll be stopping by here quite often. Good work on the flow of the site.

  4. Congrats!Best of luck with

    Best of luck with the site! I will be reading regularly!

  5. By the way, it’s so strange
    By the way, it’s so strange not to think of you as Levi Asher.

  6. Bill, please DO think of me
    Bill, please DO think of me as Levi Asher. I put a lot of thought into that name, and it’s the only name I ever chose for myself. As I’ve said before, I believe everybody in the world deserves the right to choose the name they want to be called by.

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Litkicks is 26 years old! This website has been on a long and wonderful journey since 1994. We’re relaunching the whole site on a new platform in June 2021, and will have more updates soon. We’ve also been busy producing a couple of podcasts – please check them out.

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