Thursday, November 19, 2009

How and Why the NT Gateway was Rebooted, Revitalized and Relaunched III

This post continues the series on the changes at the NT Gateway (I and II).

I was walking from Sarah P. Duke Gardens to my office one day about eighteen months ago and listening to the Whocast, one of my favourite podcasts, all about Doctor Who. The presenters, Paul and Seb, announced tearfully that they were going to have to stand down because other projects were overwhelming their ability to keep up. But the Whocast would continue with new presenters. The transition happened, and the show went from strength to strength. I thought to myself, "This is what I need to do. I simply must find someone to ease the burden". But who would do it? Who could I trust?

I had talked already, in my CARG presentation of two years ago, about the idea of bringing others on board. My idea was to make the site more of a team effort. I would edit, advise, consult, but others would bring along their ideas and content. The difficulty, though, was that the site's structure was clunky and old-fashioned, its CMS (content management system) simply a matter of my editing and uploading individual HTML pages, with some basic stylesheets. I was still working the same way that I had worked in 1997. This was hardly conducive to a collaborative effort with multiple contributors. What I needed was not only a new team, but also a new CMS.

I experimented myself with a new template, using blogger, and I talked about it at the CARG two years ago, with this page of The Greek New Testament Gateway. This, I explained, would allow me to manage the site more easily, and to collaborate with others. I must admit that I was pretty pleased with what I came up with, but as the months rolled by, it became clear that there were insurmountable problems that I had been ignoring in my naïve optimism. Blogger is simply not designed to do the kind of work I was trying to make it do. I had to go on all sorts of run-arounds to make it work. And once again, the daunting size of the job of transferring content to the new CMS was making the project completely unmanageable.

What then to do? Late one night I had a revelation. The thought just popped into my head: why not ask my friends at Logos? I had visited them in Bellingham in June 2007, and we had often chatted, though without having hatched any kind of plan with respect to the NT Gateway. I sent Mike Heiser an email in the autumn of 2008 asking for his thoughts on our working together on the site. To my delight they said yes, and we worked out a deal.

It is a partnership that has completely transformed the NT Gateway. It has placed it on a new, firm footing. It has made it more than manageable. Its future is now secure, and the prospects are better than ever. In the next post, I will explain what has changed and why, and how this has improved the site.

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