Come November, I will have been at the J-School for five years. I remember thinking when I started that setting the school up with a modern site would be one of my first tasks. Things didn’t quite work out that way. Spent a couple of months whittling the site down to essentials (it was over 90% orphans, and contained gigabytes of uncompressed images and video when I inherited it). Then the school needed an intranet, so I built that. Then they needed a jobs database, an alumni database, a multimedia tutorials collection, a spam-proof email contact form system, a brochure request system. An events publishing system. Integration with FileMaker databases. A webcasting system. A system to gather and post links to published student and faculty stories. An integrated mailing list system. A search interface. A courses and class scheduling database. An equipment checkout system. A staff and faculty calendaring system. Discussion boards. Weblogs. Lots and lots of weblogs. An online quiz system. A publishing system for the writing-intensive J-200 courses. And then there were the classes — co-teaching in multimedia skills, schlepping projectors and cameras around, helping out here and there. Doing desktop support for faculty and staff. Helping an unending parade of students with misc tech questions. Last summer was spent helping the entire school convert from Windows to Mac OS X. Spent most of this summer helping build a content management system for News21.
And so it goes. Days turn into weeks turn into months turn into years. After enough time had passed, I entered a state of resignation, accepted the 1997-era web site as a fact of life, and kind of stopped seeing it for what it was. I couldn’t find two-hour blocks to take care of all the small stuff, let alone find the hundreds of hours it would take to completely replace all the plumbing. But over the past year, working in the margins, I was able to secure funding for a new design, doubled up on my quota of interns, and slowly chipped away at it in the background.
A few weeks ago I wrapped up the work on News21 and have been going full-tilt boogie on getting the new site ready for launch. And now we’re on the brink. Take one last look, because tomorrow night this old jalopy goes bye-bye. If you read this after Tuesday night, the screenshot above will be all that remains.
Never thought I’d say it, but I’m going to miss the old dog. Kinda.