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Raising a glass to old projects….

Ideas are wonderful things, particularly when you do something with them. You can end up loving them as much as friends or family as you try and turn what’s in your head into something wonderful that others can share in. But like some relationships, there’s also a time when you have to admit it’s better to let some of them go…

Which is a melodramatic way of expressing how I feel at the moment. We’ve been putting in a lot of work into the new TheWayoftheWeb.net, which is slowly taking shape in between client work. Having set ourselves an unrealistic deadline we considered keeping it hidden until it was perfected to the same level as the work we prepare for clients – but then said screw it and decided to reveal all publicly as a way to keep ourselves evolving it, and not leaving it to gather dust due to our ever-increasing client work…

That’s involved doing a bit of an audit of current and past projects, deciding which of our own projects should continue or be revived, and which ones just don’t make sense to keep pursuing in the future…

It means a final teary goodbye to 140char.com, which I started back in 2008 (All the content is currently archived on TheWayoftheWeb, so I can see the original post on June 4, 2008).

The idea was simple – ‘microblogging’ had just started, and I wanted to write about all the exciting new startups in that space. Not just Twitter, but Plurk, Jaiku, Pownce, and Identi.ca to name a few. Plus the great new tools and developers – this was when Tweetdeck was first arriving, Seesmic was pivoting, and every week saw someone doing something different and amazing with APIs, hashtags and ingenuity.

I remember writing about the earthquake which shook England – which I reported on before it was confirmed by major news channels due to widespread accounts on social networks, showing that particularly reserved English panic as walls began to shake. I sadly also covered the use of Twitter during tragic events in Mumbai, but had happy experiences interviewing developers, attending conferences like the first Media140, talking about Twestival, and meeting a lot of great people.

It wasn’t a bad idea – close rival and friend Shea Bennett’s Twittercism ended up being acquired by MediaBistro in 2011. But despite amazing links from some very prominent bloggers, and massive traffic from sites such as Gizmodo and Mashable, it never quite got to the stage where I’d nailed a big enough audience to make a living, or figured out the right alternative way to get the revenue to work on it full-time. And with the convergence of so many tools, and closure of so many alternatives, it feels like the growth time for both sites and coverage has really ended… Like any good SEO I’ve had redirects in place to the new content on TheWayoftheWeb, but after almost 2 years of inactivity, the traffic and links have well and truly aged…

I’ve thought about bringing it back in various formats, but I think this is an occasion where I’ll be letting go…

By the same token, Jodanma.com was a great idea – a small agency that would use online collaboration to deliver projects more efficiently, and really focus on core open source technology.

The idea has really morphed into the present strategy for TheWayoftheWeb, but despite having talented people involved, Jodanma stumbled for a number of reasons, particularly when I had to adjust from being an individual freelancer to attempting to co-ordinate a group of people, which was a harder challenge than I anticipated. Particularly as the early stages of any business are so tough when you are finding initial clients and waiting for the first cheques to clear.

It’s why I’ve been a lot more methodical about TheWayoftheWeb, and at the same time, I’ve brought in people who have much more experience in operations and project management.

So it was a massively valuable learning experience, but again, a name and idea which won’t be returning in that format…

I’ve also shut some of the videogame websites that came about from a desire to expand before getting the core of my own projects right.

So that leaves me with a small group of projects. TheWayoftheWeb is the main focus and business that feeds me and several other people. OnlineRaceDriver and FPSPrestige are both in the process of being revamped and overhauled, while I’ve taken a far more backseat role in Rescogs.com and PatchworkKitchen.com.

Which only leaves Digital People in Peterborough languishing a little at the moment – but we’re working on it….