Thursday 30/1/2003Congratulations to our comrades over on, who have just launched a major revamp of their service.

Thursday 30/1/2003
Congratulations to our comrades over on, who have just launched a major revamp of their service. We know how much blood was spilled -- we had to change the sawdust in the server room more than once a week at one stage -- and we look forward to snaffling as much of their brand-new sparkling code as we can get away with. I've been working in online journalism now for almost exactly half the time I spent in print, and the differences still intrigue. When we started out, we thought that online publishing would be so much more flexible, responsive and immediate -- and to some extent, it is. Matt Loney got a huge story up about SQL Slammer from his home on a Sunday morning, and it was around the world in less time than it takes to shout "Hold the front page"! But in other ways, online is nightmarish: if you want to try something radically new in print, you do the layout, write the words and... well, print it. With online, you have to work out whether your existing systems can support it, and if so how you configure them. Then you have to work out how it'll interface with everything else, such as the search, the archiving, the page rendering stuff. Then you have to find a techie with some spare time to actually do and verify this stuff (stop laughing at the back there). Then you get to lay it out and write it. I still love online publishing, and feel more than ever that it's just at the start of a few decades of planet-changing wonder. But there's so much work to be done in making the infrastructure promote, rather than limit, imagination and invention.