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Welcome back Webmonkey

19 May 2008

Webmonkey logo

Isn’t it nice to get reacquainted with an old friend?

This morning, the fine folks over at Wired relaunched Webmonkey. Somehow, they managed to pry it out of the dying hands of Lycos and revive it as a collaborative site based on MediaWiki. I couldn’t be happier to see the site come back; I’ve just spent a nostalgic afternoon digging through everything that’s there.

The original site was founded at HotWired back in 1996 by my friend June Cohen. She pulled a small team together and started publishing tutorials, news, and opinions about how to make the web. They asked me to write a column, which I did for a couple years, and eventually I joined them to redesign the site. I loved that project – it was one of the first sites we built that was dynamically driven through templates rather than as static HTML files – a real separation of content and presentation. It was a big deal for us back then, and it influenced a lot of my future work.

The new site is equally dynamic, but in a much more contemporary way. As a collaborative wiki, it embraces openness in a way that really resonates with the original mission of Webmonkey. The team wrote about it in the new site’s introduction:

When Webmonkey debuted in 1996, the site was sort of a soapbox for HotWired’s engineers and designers — a place for them to evangelize emerging web standards, rate the newest browsers and demonstrate their bleeding-edge code hacks. Those engineers also produced stacks and stacks of tutorials on all aspects of building for the web. […]

Faced with the prospect of going back into the archives to continuously update and rewrite the older articles, we decided to turn Webmonkey into a collaborative project. It was an easy decision.

I completely agree. And I’m thankful that we have another chapter to follow what really looked like the end.