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On the subject of news...

On the subject of news...

Sat Dec 29 22:45:27 2012

           MDK in SteamPunk visage

So I have a personal bugbear,[1] about news pages on company web sites. My issue is that they are often woefully used, in fact one might say rarely, or never, used. So you go to a site for a company you have no knowledge about and you look to their latest news or blogs to see what they do, what they are interested in, what they follow and support and you are presented with virtually nothing. It irritates me, actually that's too strong, more peeves, yes a pet peeve, is more suitable. I want to know something personal about the company.

At this point you may be thinking that the problem is that a company needs formality, rigour, to show a serious face on its corporate presence so that it might separate itself from the social presence that should be maintained separately with an agreed focus and strategy. So its news pages are reserved for the most salient facts of company goal or achievement.

If you are thinking that, stop it, we could have a discussion on the shifting nature of companies in the light of the apparent 'social revolution'[2] but I am not doing so here except to discuss from the perspective that we need to integrate a social presence into our company identity that is how we stay relevant in a system that is becoming increasingly focussed on social interaction.

In 2007 when we launched the second generation of our company website I decided that this would not be the case with our site. I made the effort to make sure I posted news to the site as often as I thought relevant or possible. This was sometimes sporadic, sometimes efficient and mostly a long way better than a good percentage of other sites.

But it wasn't quite good enough...

At the start of 2012 Matt and I decided to re-vamp the current SC site and build Generation 3. For this it would have a new look, we would be shifting our tagline message, adding different content, and Matt also decided to totally re-write the engine that powers the system.[3] This process is still on-going, we knew that the evolution of the site was going to take at least 24 months to complete as there were a lot of components to change and a lot of testing to get done.

One thing I was convinced of however, this year I would make the effort to write a news article every month. I was aggreived that although I had made sure there was always news on the site, there was no one year where there was an article every month and this was a source of perturbation. I decided that 2012 would be different. That we would try to do something every month, even if we just reported the social aspects of the company.

Shadowcat is a company that is happy with its community presence, one would go so far to say that it is formative to our identity as a company. So finding a news article each month actually proved to be easy enough that I could be consistent.

In August I decided that I wanted to see how this year stacked up against the other years of our site history from 2007, so I constructed a small spreadsheet and kept a tally going and we have done enormously well. The figures are so good that it will be hard to maintain the same impetus next year, but I will once again be attempting to make sure there is news in each month. Here are the graphs, with a pretty chart or two to help you digest the numbers:


News Item by year, tabular data


Chart of percentages of news items in each year


At least I can go into 2013 feeling a lot less peeved...maybe.



[1] "What, no, really?" I hear you all cry with mock sincerity.

[2] Socialution - the social revolution; Socevolution - the social evolution.

[3] Yes we let him loose with a chainsaw again.

Mark Keating is: Managing Director of Shadowcat Systems Limited
Director and Secretary of Enlightened Perl Organisation
Chair of the Marketing Committee for The Perl Foundation
Co-Founder/Co-Leader of North-West England Perl Mongers
Work Blog: Mark Keating on Shadowcat
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Mark Keating is the organiser of the London Perl Workshop (since 2008), has joined the organising team for the QA Hackathon in 2011, the TPF GSoC Mentors/organisers 2011, the Dynamic Languages Conference 2011. Mark is a member of the Board for the YAPC Europe Federation (YEF) and a member of the Perl Community Advocacy Group.