By Dan Haley
It was a little stressful here at the Journal last Tuesday and then into last Wednesday as we readied the launch of OakPark.com, our new website. You'll be surprised to hear that everything did not go perfectly.
It was like writing a term paper long into the dark night. Like waiting on a birth that fought before it wailed. Like working a jigsaw of a thousand million pieces. Like, well, you get the idea. It was hard. And the clock was our enemy. It was like all those black and white movies where the months flew off the calendar, and then the days flew off the calendar, and then the face of the clock went all haywire and the hands started spinning like mad.
There were just a small handful of us who could do any of the work, the actual programming that would make our small dreams of building the world's best ever community portal burst into pixels. The rest of us just paced and peered helpfully. I'm sure it was helpful.
Then just a couple of hours late, the switch was flipped. Lights throughout the offices dimmed and flickered as all the building's energy was summoned to shoot our creation out through the cable, across the back parking lot, juicing into the telephone pole wires and seamlessly, then, onto the World Wide Web. At least that is how it was explained to me.
We went, each on our own, to our computers and voila, OakPark.com was right there. And mostly it worked! There were stories and pictures and ads and all of our 17 bloggers had posted, and the hundreds of resources and directories and calendar items were plain as day.
Now all of those things didn't exactly connect to each other as we had planned. And some of the graphics weren't exactly right. There were, you see, and as we expected, a few snafus.
One of the things that worked great from the first moment was the live comment feature. I went home on Wednesday weary, a little frazzled, happy and checked the site over and over again. So there I was in the kitchen, checking the site and checking the comments. Maybe I was tired. Maybe the ginger ale was kicking in.
But there was the headline on the comment from SouthOPer. I clicked it. It popped open in just an instant. I read it. And I began to laugh and laugh and snort, sort of, and that got Mary's attention. I couldn't read it out loud, at first, for all the laughing. It was a comment so caustic, so descriptive and, from a certain viewpoint, so dead-on that I wish I'd written it.
"It looks like a clown exploded all over your site," noted SouthOPer.
Well, buster, we got your attention. Yes, the site is colorful. We might tone that down a little in the days ahead. But it is not stripped down to its modernity as some sites are going for at the moment. We've packed the site with information and ways to interact and we're using color coding as a navigation tool. My old friend and critic, David Ristau, commented and said the site was "organized differently" and might take a little time to "figure out how to navigate." Exactly.
We'll keep making adjustments and fleshing out some aspects of the site. You all relax and wander around. The crime blotter is still there (go to the news page, click on articles, crime is listed in the left rail).
And keep those comments coming.