We opened up 43 Places to the world today. I have a lot of doggedly-offline friends to whom I'm always trying to make analogies between software development and other creative endeavors, and one direct analogy is between the nervous excitement we experience on launch day and the same feeling artists have on their "drop dates." Audiences, chalking it all up to some sort of magic, tend to underestimate how much work - from hours of open-ended brainstorming and debate to hours of detailed, sometimes menial labor - goes into producing an album or a film or a zine or a theater production...or a web site. It takes a lot, and it's universally exciting to see people finally experiencing something you've spent weeks or months creating. On 43 Places, people are now writing about and tagging the places they're passionate about. They're making plans to visit new spots in their own hometowns or around the world. And we're enjoying it. The best part about web development versus all those other endeavors (including other forms of software development) is that a website is a dynamic thing that has no hard deadlines, no physical street date. It's never "finished." What we're excited about launching today will undergo much improvement over the next few days, weeks, and years. We'd just gotten started with 43 Things, after all. Now we have two kids to nurture.
But, as if I haven't made it abundantly clear, all that's too difficult to write about effectively, so I'll just jot down a handful of things that have been entertaining me during day one.
- At the time of this writing, the state of Oregon has three tags: hippies, no tax, strip bars.
- A part of the site we found compelling, but didn't necessarily believe the users would find immediately compelling, is the Other Places "continent", in which people can create content around fictional, spiritual, and extra-terrestrial places. Heaven and Hell were obvious contenders, but I personally did not anticipate the appearance of Funkytown, Memory Lane, and Where the Streets Have No Name all by the end of our first day.
- The sparse, white-washed, nerd-infested room we call the Robot Co-op Office is the most popular destination in all of Seattle. (We know this won't last, but by damn, we'll bask in it while we can.)
- Clearly, the grandeur of South Dakota's Corn Palace is wildly exaggerated in its own wide-spread advertising campaign.
- 43 Places itself has already been represented as a virtual place, featuring both a cartoon data model and a mocked up, recursive screen shot. Apparently, early adopters of our site are not of the doggedly-offline variety.