Experimenting with Better Content: A Hiatus

This is the (non) follow-up to the earlier post, whereby I embarked on the exercise to make use of web technologies to enhance the form of content (in this case a short story by myself), and thereby, in a way, make it better.

And I did work on it, for a few days after work. The result, after 5 over hours, is this:

Screen capture of the first 5 paragraphs
Scrolling through the first 5 paragraphs

If I may say so myself, this ain’t too bad at all. Especially given that I was merely throwing things on the page and haphazardly testing ideas out. I would eventually have to standardize the typography, use a grid to make the layout consistent, improve on the images (e.g. I was planning to skew the mirror in the second paragraph to give it a more surreal look), and so on—in short, this is a draft that has the potential to look way better.

And that, too, is the problem. To realize its potential, this story, this page, will require more dedicated efforts.

As a professional frontend web developer, I know too well just how much more work I need to put in to actually complete this exercise. First, I’ll need about an hour to each paragraph—which can potentially mean another 20 hours—just to extend the current concept to the rest of the story. And then I’ll have to add the grid, clean up the typography, revise each of the paragraph, test the story on a variety of screen sizes from tablets to mobile phones as well as on older browsers (to ensure that people with older machines can still view the story somewhat). I’ll also need to rewrite the code a little to make it accessible to sighted readers (who will be listening to the story), and as more effects are added to the story, to review and clean up the JavaScript code…

It is a demanding exercise, and frankly quite impractical, given the amount of work required for a single short story.

Of course, in the event that the story has an existing audience of about a million, who would pay for such an exercise (directly or through ads), then yes, it probably can be a feasible and profitable exercise.

As of now, though, without a single paying reader, it is hard to carry on with this exercise, not without feeling a dreaded sense of futility. I’d love to say that money isn’t a problem, and that I can spend my hours after work, and on the weekends too, just to make this happen. But then what next? Who’s actually reading it? And who is it going to benefit?

At one point, I was going to give up completely on this exercise. But then I looked at what I’ve got so far, and I decided: I have to finish it up, if only to find out for myself what the completed work will be like. I may, at the end of it, come up with the same conclusion that such an exercise is futile and impractical to put into practice, but at the very least I would have known what this completed work can be. If anything, it can be an interesting item to be added to my professional portfolio.

But for now, with quite a bit of backlog on my professional front that I’d like to clear by the end of the year, it seems like I’ll have to take a break from this exercise. In all likelihood, I’ll resume it again next year, perhaps as yet another weekend distraction or excuse to try out web technologies and methods.

Until then, I’ll continue to blog about stuff, from working as a frontend developer to my thoughts about using Twitter (that’s my next post).