August 24, 2005 04:16 | Confession / WebBlogging / WebTech


I spent the most part of the last... dunno, lost track... 6 weeks? working on the University of Southern California's Interactive Media Division's website, which we launched last thursday morning at 5am EST. (I went on a 4 day celebration tear thereafter. hah!)

It's really more of a publicly-visible yet closed-community weblog aggregator.

Like Soylent Green, it's made of people, mostly. Aside from the "boring static content" ("about us", "contact us", etc), much of the site is pulled together from weblog entries posted by the students, faculty and staff of the division. At entry posting time, the author has the chance to "cross-post" his/her entry to a handfull of sections of the site: the Main IMD weblog (actually, it's an aggregator), the Events Weblog (also just an aggregator really), the Research area weblogs: Games, Immersive & Mobile (oops, these are aggregators too) and also Course specific weblogs (yup, you guessed it, all aggregators).

The entire site is backed by MovableType (3.2 beta 5 baby! living on the edge) and rendered into a site building framework I feverishly developed over a number of years as a rapid prototyping tool, but which has ended up being very useful in actually running productions sites (and thus making me, and at least one other person, some decent money). The above-mentioned aggregators are generated by a handful of hand coded PHP functions and 3 Smarty templates.

The coolest bits are the way the courses are managed by a "hacked" weblog instance (each course is an entry, semesters are categories, etc...) and the cross-posting "slugs" system (heavily modified since) which uses the keywords field and some UI code lifted from

The site is replete with all kinds of MT hacks and tweaks, some of which I was pointed to from the excellent Hacking Movable Type book. Brad Choate's KeyValues plugin is a life-saver and having Jay Allen on my buddy list and be the awesome dude that he is helped tremendously as well. ;)

The site is also riddled with unfinished bits, not-as-good-as-it-could-be UI elements and even a few serious flaws that are potentially real problems... but only to me and I'm committed to fixing them.

I had alot of fun working with the IMD team on this. The uncornerable Justin Hall whose hurricane gales of enthusiasm, energy and humor made my summer fly by without my noticing it. Scott Fisher's intensely focused insights posited quietly and gently, almost innocently, causing me to smack myself and yell "of course! why didn't I think of that!". Marientina Gotsis, my embattled comrade-in-arms who would roll up her sleeves and clean out the httpd.conf or dump the database when such was the need. And of course last but not least Tracy Fullerton who made every effort to reign us all in (Justin and I mostly, really), provided the guiding line and much of the decision making (other than Justin's "FUCK YEAH! FLICK THE SWITCH MAN!" hahahaaa.. good times!)

Ok. :)


"Like Soylent Green, it's made of people, mostly"

ahahah. Do we have the choice of musics and images when the blog dies?

"Yoooouuuuu bastards!!!!"
(while we're on Charlton Heston movies...)