Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Renovating The Mighty Corrente Building [update] 

The obvious solution to blogger's massive suckitude would be to move to a new platform that has features like enabling reliable posting, and who knows what else?

Herewith, some responses to the last comments (for the background, see the below and the associated comments).

Column count Alert reader Tom DC/VA "tolerates" the three-column layout at Atrios, and recommends First Draft and comments:

Let me expand a bit. I'm a wee bit nearsighted (step -5.0 if you're wondering), so the more space for content, the better it is for me. Zoom the text to 150% or 200% in Netscape >7.1 to see how I see things.

I just looked at First Draft; it looks to me like they have a smaller default fontsize than Atrios or Corrente do, so at 150% it looks good, and at %100 much more of the entire layout is visible. First Draft has a lot of functionality in the non-content area of their screen, which is what we will need. If I can use First Drafts basic layout, and get the functionality required, two columns is fine.

Simplicity Alert reader Tinfoil Hat Boy writes "Keep it as simple as possible." However, as Einstein said: "As simple as possible, and no simpler. Right now, Corrente is shrinking relative to the expanding blogosphere. So, to keep the influence we—and you—want us to have, Corrente has to change. We have to remodel The Mighty Corrente bulding. Alert reader Beth wants to K.I.S.S by eliminating the news feed ([8]) and the latest links to Corrente ([9]), while noting the omission of the blogroll. As far as the news feed ([8]), perhaps it could go at the bottom. It would help me as a blogger, to. Also, I really like the idea of combining a "Christian" news feed and Buzzflash. As far as the blogroll: Ours is huge, compared (say) to First Draft's. I had thought that a combination of the reciprocal links ([9]) and a separate links page (maybe even with feeds from the linked-to blogs) wouyld be a better use of the real estate.

Note also that one of my design goals for the remodelling is to make it possible to build a bigger group. (Corrente has always promoted from within, and we need a bigger within). That's why teasers at [5] instead of complete posts.

So moving the group blog more in the direction of a community.

Not—I repeat not—a humongous thing like Kos. More like South Street in Philly&mdashllots of funky little bars and shops, each one with it's own character.

Herewith a wireframe of one design for the main page.

The basic concept is that The Mighty Corrente Building has one Great Hall, which is where readers enter. This diagram is of The Great Hall. There are also "wings," like the wings in a museum, that are connected to The Great Hall.

Here are the comments that go with the numbered callouts (e.g., "[1]") in the diagram:

[NOTE: Sorry for the accidental post. Family emergency. Now, the real post.]

The detail:

[1] The "Corrente" logo, motto, and masthead.

[2] Alert. Breaking news or imminent event. Conceptually like a CNN crawl, though doesn't have to crawl graphically. Links out to Corrente, or elsewhere, as long as the link is hot, current. Could be tied to location: Philly, the Rez, Tennessee, etc.

[3] Campaign box. "Campaign" as in the campaign to unionize WalMart; the campaign to get that woman who was fired for supporting Kerry her job back. Links out to information for activists about the campaign.

[4] Contributors box. Stacked teasers from each contributor. Links out to the contributor's posts, in that contributor's wing. Currently, Corrente has 7 (seven) contributors ("the blog of seven"), therefore seven wings. One object of this exercise is to create a scaleable platform where more contributors (i.e., promoted alert readers, like all of us) can post.

[5] Teaser. The top post(s) by each contributor. Links out to the post. Structure: Any metadata (subject: "Election Fraud 2004"), the post headline, a "snippet" (likely first para) from the post. Metadata links to all posts with that metadata (i.e., all "Election Fraud 2004" posts).

[6] The tip box. What it says. All tips are plowed back into content generation.

[7] Latest of ongoing series. For example, farmer's posts on Falangism and the malAdministration. Called out here, with link to the latest post in the series.

[8] Latest links. Who linked to Corrente.

[9] Various feeds. For example, Buzzflash headlines. Heck, "Christian" right headlines. Why not?

[10] Explains itself. Yes?

Once again, the model: I'm seeing The Mighty Corrente Building as having a central Great Hall, which is the diagram you see above. Readers enter through the Great Hall.

There are also many wings, as in the wings of a Museum. Each wing is curated/edited/written/managed by a contributor: The Leah Appett Wing of the Mighty Corrente Building; the Lambert Strether Wing, etc. And wouldn't it be great if the wings were endowed....

By having the wings managed by a person, I hope (1) that the content )and tone) of the wings will end up being differentiated by the topics (and rhetoric) that each wing's contributor favors. I also hope (2) to avoid the gaming that goes with rating posts, reputation systems, etc.

What connects the wings? Topical organization (like the map of a museum that tells you which exhibits are where). So, for example, "Bush torture policies" would bring up all the posts on that subject, from all the wings.

That is, topical organization will tell you where to find everything about (for example) "Bush AWOL," whether a farmertoon, a thoughtful post by Leah, an acidulous rant by Lambert, a historical note by Tom... (Yes, I know topics will have to be easy to enter and to use).

Anyhow, these are my first thoughts. I will post a second diagram of the wings in the near future.

Alert readers! Does this make sense to you? How would you improve the ideas? Can you give us links to similar community/group blogs, so we can see what they have done? What are the features you wish you had that blogger can't give?

NOTE: An alert reader (shystee, I thought, but a search of my mail yields no hits) lost a bet to Corrente, which he or she was to contribute to the server fund. Instead, it might be the first tip in the tip box....

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