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Open Shelf Evolves

While it’s a cliché to say something is a” work-in-progress”, this couldn’t be more true of Open Shelf. And our readers agree. The poll that is currently running on our homepage sums it up:

[Full Disclosure: as I was writing this the poll widget stopped functioning and I couldn’t retrieve the latest data. Sigh. Grin. It’s back now.]

Excellent: 35%
Needs Work: 23%
Very Good: 19%
OK: 13%
Fail: 10%

Sometimes that 10% is a bit hard to take.

However, elsewhere I’ve talked about how failure is the best strategy for success (“Open Shelf is a Failure“). Putting something out as quickly as possible and then refining it later is far better than trying to achieve a fully finished product at launch. The perfect is the enemy of the good. And after all, we’re a magazine; lives are not at stake here.

Permanent beta isn’t a buzzword, it’s a way of life in the digital ecosystem. We are all evolving and changing as the environment around us morphs. I used to get into trouble for saying:

“if it ain’t broke, push it off the table.”

These days I’m clearing the deck all the time. It’s not disrespect for the past or for important traditions, it’s an acknowledgement of extraordinary opportunities to do things differently and, most critically, better.

And we need to do a number of things to make Open Shelf better:

  • stabilize the hosting environment (some “issues” here)
  • work on the performance issues (yes, it can be slow)
  • make the homepage more functional (navigation is a challenge)
  • get the right balance of article length (how much will you read online?)
  • explore more media (we need to move beyond text and image)

and most of all, expand our perspective to include as many new and different voices as possible.

We’ve got some new columns about to launch and some fascinating feature articles in production. I’m also hounding everyone I know to write something for us. That’s your cue to think of how you could contribute. Open Shelf runs on your input. Contact us.

Cheers, Mike Ridley
Editor-in-Chief, Open Shelf

From the Editor is a regular column from the Editor-in-Chief of Open Shelf. The views express here and throughout the magazine do not necessarily reflect the views of the Ontario Library Association or its members.

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