At O’Reilly, one of our goals is to identify important and interesting new technologies and uses of technology. I like to think we’ve succeeded in some ways (Ruby on Rails, Web 2.0, syndication and feeds). Always looking in new areas while trying to give existing areas the attention they deserve can be difficult, though.
It’s easy to fall into a rhythm and let a few months go by without realizing it. It’s much too easy to identify something useful and valuable with plenty of opportunities for us to spread knowledge to the world, and then miss good chances to discuss it and explain it and publish about it.
I like to think we do pretty well, but we can and should do better.
Why does this come to mind? We noticed a nice amount of attention focused on a few Ajax articles in the past couple of weeks. We’ve published on the subject and its varied facets for about a year across our sites, but we’ve never really drawn everything together into a single resource that people can explore.
We’ve considered several ideas for improving the way we identify useful areas of publishing and research as well as ways to improve how we publish over the past few months. You’ve likely noticed some changes and will see more. In particular, our increased focus on weblogs (including many new recruits with new voices and different perspectives) is perhaps the most visible.
Our business is to spread the knowledge of innovators. We believe that information has the power to spur further invention and that we can help connect the right people with the right information and with each other.
Is Ajax a topic worth covering in more detail? Perhaps. It’s definitely a question we have considered and will continue to debate as we decide where we belong in the next year and five years and ten years of technology.
I do stand behind all of the information we’ve already published though. Certainly we’re not the only source of Ajax tutorials or tips or tricks (nor should we be), but we’ve done some good work and I’m proud of my fellow editors and authors.
One of those ideas that’s really simple, really useful, and frustratingly obvious when you come up with it is to make it much, much easier to find all of the articles across all of our sites on a certain topic. For example, if you wanted to know everything about Ajax that we do, you’d have to crawl XML.com, Perl.com, ONJava.com, and Java.net — and that’s only to find the articles:
- Using Ajax from Perl
- Is AJAX Here to Stay?
- A Simpler Ajax Path
- Ajax on Rails
- AJAX: How to Handle Bookmarks and Back Buttons
- Better File Uploads with AJAX and JavaServer Faces
Keeping that single list up to date is reasonably easy, but maintaining such a list for each topic and knowing when to create a new topic and organizing a topic when it includes dozens of original articles, multiple weblogs, and plenty of links to other treatments elsewhere is more difficult.
We could do better here.
As usual, without you there’d be no purpose to what we do. We always welcome your feedback and suggestions. How can we make our sites and our business more useful to you? Are we overlooking something? Who should we know that we don’t?