The first newsletter has been sent
If you’ve been unsure whether to sign up for the ooh.directory email newsletter, now’s the time – I’ve just sent out the very first one, which you should receive when you subscribe.
You could read it on the web but that seems to defeat the point! I doubt I’ll blog about all future newsletters so do subscribe if you want to know about future ones.
Here’s the newsletter:
Hello and welcome to the very first newsletter from ooh.directory.
I’m not sure what format this should take, how often it should go out, or how it should differ from the site’s blog, or its Mastodon and Twitter accounts. Let’s figure it out as we go. Thanks for being here.
This time around, keep reading for:
- Site status update – how is it?
- Some good blogs – things to read!
- The suggestion pool – it’s big!
- Language problems – what about non-English languages?
- Some more good blogs – more!
- Can you guess? – can you?
1. Site status update
The site currently has 1,017 blogs available, having tipped into four figures at the weekend. Amazing.
It sounds grand to say I “launched” the site – I only tweeted and tooted about it – but as launches go it went well, with coverage on Hacker News, Boing Boing, Waxy.org, Web Curios, MetaFilter, ResearchBuzz, Clive Thompson, and Daring Fireball among others. We had over 200,000 unique visitors during the first week.
The site held up fine through all that, only having a few wobbles when I tried to move another website to the same server. This was too much and I had to pause the fetching of blog posts until the server gained more memory. I don’t have a very good feel for that murky backend of websites but hopefully it will be OK for a while now.
2. Some good blogs
Here are some interesting blogs I’ve come across while updating the site recently:
- Contemporary Art Daily – Every day a collection of photos from an exhibition currently on somewhere in the world. Strange and wonderful art from the comfort of your chair.
- The Beauty of Transport – Essays about, and photographs of, interesting stations, car parks, bridges, signs, etc. Yes, “interesting”. Not updated frequently but worth waiting for.
- Binocular Shot – As the maintainer of my own very specific and occasional Tumblr (Crazy Walls) I appreciate the focus (aha!) of this “tribute to movies with inaccurate binocular shots”.
- Aegir.org – Some blogs are worth the effort of clicking through from your feed reader. I love that every post here has its own gorgeous colour scheme.
3. The suggestion pool
I honestly didn’t anticipate getting many suggestions for blogs, and assumed I’d spend happy hours surfing the web finding interesting sites myself. But we now have 1,449 blogs in the pool of suggestions!
I’m publishing them slowly – up to 20 or so per day – because I want to give anyone visiting the site frequently, or following the “Recently added blogs” feed, a chance to glance at them. It also takes some time to review each one, check that it updated recently, decide on a category, find a description, etc.
I also want to ensure that the site, and the front page, contains a good mixture of blogs. A large proportion of the suggested blogs are about technology or writing code. Which is fine – I blog about code myself sometimes – but if I published suggestions in the order they were received it would be monotonous. So if you’ve suggested a blog, be patient. Very patient if it’s about computers.
4. Language problems
When making and populating ooh.directory I didn’t give much thought to the languages blogs were written in. I knew I was only adding English-language blogs, and that a future problem was “What do we do about other languages?” but I didn’t worry about it too much.
Now that people from around the world are visiting the site and submitting blogs I am thinking about it. But I’m not sure what to do. Here’s some thinking out loud:
- I can’t add many non-English blogs myself because I barely speak any other languages, and I want to be sure that it’s not spam and isn’t offensive, and that I add it to the correct category.
- If the conclusion of that is that I need people to help review and add non-English blogs, that’s a lot of organising people from around the world that I’m not sure I can handle at the moment (assuming there would be volunteers).
- If non-English blogs are added, how does that affect the user experience? You could, perhaps, choose the language you want to see, but if you choose “Finnish” and there’s only one Finnish blog on the site, that’s not much of a directory.
- So should there be entirely different sites for different langauges? How would that work?
No need to volunteer to help at this stage, but I’m open to any ideas.
5. Some more good blogs
- Thomas Guignard: Libraries – I wasn’t expecting to find photos of libraries fascinating but these, from a man who’s visited more than 300 of them, are great.
- Weird Universe – This blog’s been going since 2008 and I feel I should have seen it before now. Peculiar photos, articles, videos, and adverts from the past.
- Poemas del río Wang – Even older (starting in 2007), an absorbing combination of travelogue and history, from unsuual (to me) locations.
- TYWKIWDBI (“Tai-Wiki-Widbee”) – Also dating from 2007, a continuing collection of very interesting things from all over the web.
- Kottke.org – He’s back! After a sabbatical Jason’s returned to his great blog, which is lovely to see. Thankfully he appears flattered by my inability to think of a better name for the “Uncategorizable” category in which his blog lives on ooh.directory.
6. Can you guess?
Can you guess the most popular day of the week to start a blog?
I’ve kept a record of when most blogs’ first post was published, so we’ll be able to see which day is most popular.
Don’t send me your guess, but wait until next time to see if you’re right…
That’s it from me. I’ll probably be back with more bloggy stuff in a month or so.