After such a transporting experience, even in spite of my sobriety (well, someone had to help navigate the dinghy through a maze of hundreds of yachts), it was tough to feel up to jumping back into the pace of New York City. I chose my first foray for Wednesday, January 6th, when I ventured up to the Lubin House at 11 East 61st Street for the WWWAC Writer's SIG. Starting the year off to a new start, SIG co-hosts Robin Schatz and Mark Perton decided to have open-mike night for writers to show their stuff. Show and Tell night included demos from Gerald Regan (www.thewildgeese.com), Nick Fracaro (www.whirl-I-gig.com), Adrienne Matt (www.abcnews.com), Mitch Lemus (pages.prodigy.net/mlemus/mafiaweb.htm) and yours truly. Starting off the evening, Gerald Regan spoke eloquently on the site he and his partner had developed and worked on for over 1 1/2 years. Rich in content and stories on Irish history and the American Civil War, TheWildGeese.com is truly becoming a portal (albeit small one currently) for Irish diaspora and reenactment enthusiasts alike.
I followed on his heels and hawked my wares to a warm and encouraging audience comprising some familiar faces like Mirsky (of Mirsky's Worst of the Web), Angel Riggins (of Disney Online) and Patrick Casey (a long-time WWWAC member). Some new faces including Josh Karpf, Michele Marrinan (freelance writer and editor), Mat Zucker (Blue Marble) and Kieron Murphy (EarthWeb Inc.) were friendly too. Nick Fracaro expounded on his theatrical non-linear database-driven website. With no hierarchy and no AUTHORity (i.e.: authorship is "hidden," until you click to find out the "source") the site catalogues articles from a variety of theater publications and posts on their listserv. Fracaro claims the journalist of the future will be a disinterested cataloguer, taking ideas from sources and putting them into relationship with each other. Whether knowingly or not, he recalled a statement Jerry Michalski made during a WWWAC presentation in '96 saying "it's all about the hyperlink." After all, that little < a href > tag is what drives this machine, no? The clean interface displays a list of keywords (about 120 total in the database) that related to the pull-quote on the page. By clicking "Next" you get another related quote, "Source" takes you to the full text the citation came from, and one of the keywords on the side takes you to another citation from a different but related article. He also referenced Plumb Design's Visual Thesaurus, which is also a wonderful example of words and ideas relating to each other in a non-linear fashion. C'est tres interessant!
From the slightly esoteric niche to broad general interest categories, Adrienne Matt stepped up to the plate and pitched (or highlighted) some of the dynamic features of ABCNews.com's website and their coverage of the battle in Iraq. Maps, charts, video clips all accompanied original articles written by teams of interactive journalists and graphic artists in the New York, Seattle and Washington offices. Using software by Starwave called Big Top they input data into a template-driven website. Their coverage of the Iraq and initial impeachment stories apparently drove traffic to the site that "out hit" CNN and MSNBC. The feature Adrienne thought was most interesting and unique for their coverage was the analysis of the battle and how much it is costing us. Yes, how much exactly is this thing costing anyway....
Rounding out the evening in a humorous tone was Mitch Lemus's tour through his website "Reputed Links to Organized Crime. The Online Resource for Wired Wiseguys." In about three weeks he researched and wrote this site with sections on Products, Tools and a Survey. Using frames, the Products section links to sites like Cadillac, Staples (how Organized Crime stays organized), a jewelry reseller (for pinky rings) and other useful things potential criminals might want. A question shot out, "isn't it unethical to link out to other people's sites?" to which Mitch replied, "hey, it's the Mafia site! Unethically linking to other people's sites is right in keeping with the theme." Wanna find out how long before a friend or foe gets out on parole? Check it out at the "Parole Watch Database." Use the Loan Shark Calculator to figure the best vig you can get, and read all the actual documents from a famous Mafia boss trial at "The Smoking Gun," get some good recipes and a tour of Little Italy, check out a map of Secaucus, NJ and get acquainted with a popular funeral home (for when you have to do the job). Growing up in a Mafia Wanna-be school in Brooklyn, Mitch had lots of opportunity to learn about this "sorely underserved community on the Internet" as he explained it. He's obviously filling a need as in 1 1/2 years he's received over 45,000 hits (no pun intended.)