After nearly 16 years of writing and editing site pages on my Macs, uploading HTML files to a server, and doing most site updates manually, Low End Mac is moving to WordPress. WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that is often used for blogging, but I want to make it clear that we are not changing Low End Mac from a full-fledged website into a blog.
What’s the Difference?
Wikipedia typifies a blog as something usually maintained by an individual with entries displayed in reverse chronological orders – that is, with newer posts listed above older ones. By that definition, Low End Mac could be called a blog. One person has maintained site entries since we launched in April 1997, and we have always listed new content in reverse chronological order.
But that doesn’t make this a blog, a term that didn’t even exist until two years after I launched Low End Mac. Although the first “weblogs” were begun in late 1997, what typified early blogs is that they were the work of a single person without a separate editor or proofreader, and while we have since seen the development of group blogs, Low End Mac is something different.
Low End Mac began as a personal website with hard facts, profiles of 20-some Macs introduced from early 1986 through early 1993. That was it. Just profiles of what I considered the most useful old Macs that weren’t receiving adequate coverage on the then-new World Wide Web.
My first article was an attempt to explain the two competing 56k modem protocols, published sometime in June 1997. The first editorial content on Low End Mac was published in mid-July 1997: Can You Plug All Types of People into One Type of Computer?, a critique of a Microsoft print ad, and Gil Amelio: Facts & Speculation, which examined the details surrounding Amelio’s departure from Apple.
Low End Mac remained a one-man project until January 1999, when Evan Kleiman came on board with a series of articles about Apple’s relatively new iMac line. Charles W. Moore and I had worked together at the MacTimes Network. After it fell apart, he joined Low End Mac in September 1999 starting with an article about the 13.3″ display issues plaguing the WallStreet PowerBook G3.
Since then, we’ve had many staff writers, and every article we publish has been proofread, edited, and tweaked to match house style. These are not steps you usually associate with blogs, which are often rife with misspellings, punctuation errors, and poor grammar. We think you, our readers, deserve better.
The biggest change to moving from individual HTML pages to a CMS is that every article will no longer have to be proofed, edited, and uploaded by me. Writers will be able to submit content online, proofreaders and editors will be able to do their work online, and writers will be able to update their own articles. If they want to post something when I’m at work, over the weekend, in the middle of the night, or when I’m on vacation, that will be possible.
We have plans beyond that. The first is to begin bringing our user forums, which began as email lists 15 years ago, to lowendmac.com and no longer use Google Groups for that. After that, we’ll be looking into adding comments to some of our new articles, and we hope to eventually add a classified ads section to replace LEM Swap. It’s possible that someday we’ll even have an eBay-like auction section. Time will tell.
A final advantage of using a publishing system is that it will be much easier to adapt our content to mobile devices, especially smartphones with their tiny displays, and if you’ve got an iPhone, Android smartphone, etc., you can see our WordPress content using a mobile design that we’ll tweak at a later date.
I’m very excited about the year ahead as we move from our old fashioned manual system to something significantly more automated.