Break Time at the Ol' Lemonade Stand

Internet Culture Litkicks Personal

I'm off for a month of rest and rethinking. As I've mentioned before, Litkicks is going to go through some changes before it returns in early September. The main goal of the redesign is to enable a more natural flow of content on the site, and to allow the site to do more of what works and less of what doesn't. I'm still sketching out the basic plan, but here's a slightly more detailed breakdown of the changes I have in mind:

Literary news and essays. This will remain the primary purpose of the site, though we'll be posting shorter pieces at a faster rate on the new version, along with the regular stream of longer pieces by myself and excellent contributors like Michael Norris, David Richardson, Claudia Moscovici, Alan Bisbort, Garrett Kenyon, Dan Barth, newcomer Tara Olmsted and hopefully other new voices too. The main change in this area will be a bifurcated design for content: there will be one stream of short, newsy blasts and another stream of more substantial writings. I think this will help the site a lot. As for the style and sensibility of the literary coverage, that will stay exactly the same: opinions, observations and research.

Philosophy Weekend. We're keeping it. I think it's going very well. Have I mentioned that the book Why Ayn Rand Is Wrong (and Why It Matters) has now sold over 1700 copies on Kindle, iBooks, Nook, Kobo and paperback? I definitely plan to keep building on the interest that readers are showing in this kind of subject matter, and I will be putting out more e-books under the Literary Kicks imprint.

Action Poetry. We're keeping it, but I'd like to do something new with it soon. This poetry graffiti board has been running since 2001 (before the current version, it was a message board) and I am consistently amazed by the talent, craftsmanship and originality of the short poems that appear there, and by the friendly openness of the group. Still, I'd like to inject some new life into the feature, and I KNOW I need to update the software. (I'm thinking that this would make a great iPhone/iPad app. Any thoughts on that?) Action Poetry will need to evolve to stay relevant, and it may take some time before I figure out the next steps. But we'll keep it running, and I think I'll even keep the stream alive during most of the site downtime in August (though I will have to take it down for at least a week or two as I physically switch the site platform over.)

Archives. Of course. The Literary Kicks archives has been growing since 1994 and we haven't lost an article yet. (The fact that I have been able to port these archives to numerous formats over the past 18 years without data loss or formatting problems is proof that I'm a damn good techie, if you don't mind me bragging a little ...)

Social network integration. I'm looking forward to "realigning my social graph", as the pundits say. It's been a bit of a mess up to now, and I've taken the first step towards better social network integration by finally launching a Literary Kicks Facebook page. I'll use this to keep in touch with readers about the site -- please visit and like it today, and then you'll get a notification when the new site launches in a month.

Visual sense. I'm very proud of the graphic designs that have appeared on this site, and I don't plan to change much about the site branding and imagery or editorial graphics. I will, however, be redesigning the layout and navigation of the site, so this may take some getting used to once the new version launches. As for our mascot, Paul "Blue" Verlaine and his glass of absinthe ... I think we'll keep Paul around.

Taxonomy. We'll continue to maintain and develop a taxonomy of topics, genres, themes and literary eras. I will also be experimenting with the semantic web features of Drupal 7, for whatever synergy this may create.

Me shooting my mouth off about politics. Oh, hell yeah.

That's about it -- I'm outta here till September! If you miss me that much, you can always check out my father's site, Eli Stein Cartoons (he's running a cartoon caption contest right now). Don't forget to hit us up on Facebook, or you can check out my Twitter to hear me complain about Drupal migration headaches (and other things) as the redesign progresses. Have a great August, literary peeps! See you soon.

9 Responses to "Break Time at the Ol' Lemonade Stand"

Wherever you take the site, I'll be right there in the wake, waiting to see what you come up with. I am shamefully uninvolved with all of the other wonderful areas on this site, but have loved Action Poetry since I was "lisajude" and there was a flamewars board. So I definitely want to see AP progress (an app with challengish push notification would be so cool: "your move, terry collet, mssilver has just responded to your poem").

... At any rate, you are ever the innovator and I'm sure we'll all be happy witnesses and honored partakers of your Litkicks evolution

by Steve Plonk on

Hopefully, Levi, you'll keep the Action Poetry as a sidebar on this site as well as whatever phone "apps" or "iPads". I don't have these items & can't afford them...

I really like your Action Poetry on this site. I also don't tweet, nor use facebook...

I occasionally post comments on book reviews, politics, & philosophy...I appreciate you keeping the sidebar of Action Poetry running mostly through August...Let us know when it is going down for the two weeks...on the sidebar, of course...Everyone needs a break..

Please promise to do more of the rest and less of the thinking.

That will often give you the best ideas...

I'm eagerly awaiting what's to come...

by Claudia on

Levi, I like what you propose to do and am particularly glad to read that Litkicks finally joined Facebook. It's about time! Social networking is a key element of enabling readers to find you easier. I'll Like the Litkicks Facebook page right now. Add me as a friend:)

by Charles J. Shields on

Levi,

You sound weary of fiction. Is fiction for young people? My mother, when she reached 60, said, "I'm tired of hearing about babies." Perhaps, when we are middle-aged and older, we no longer want to read novels about marriage, careers, stalled professorships, affairs, missing children, crooked corporations, and all those things that tantalize adults just starting out. These "portraits of a hangnail" didn't use to be stuff of novels, but what can you expect from 200 MFA programs?

by Steve on

Levi, if you are going to create the Action Poetry app - which I think is a fantastic idea - can you please make a Droid version available?
Who wouldn't want poetry on the go!

by Levi Asher on

Charles -- well, I wonder if the syndrome can be framed in a more positive way: as we get older, maybe we learn to love non-fiction more. This is definitely true in my case. I was always fascinated by world history, for instance, but as a younger reader I was often stymied by a sense of unreality about what I was reading. How can a teenager make sense of something as thoroughly illogical and counter-intuitive as, say, the Second World War? Only as a more mature reader have I been able to develop enough of a firm understanding of the world as a whole that I could begin to put everything I've been reading into context. This makes me much more attracted to non-fiction than I used to be, and perhaps I am less interested in fiction only because of this. I wonder if this is a universal phenomenon in any way.

I must take a refresher course on reading comprehension. I had the impression you were closing Lit Kicks for good. I'm glad you're not.

As my old school teachers used to sing to me at the end of every school year "See you in September..."

by wjwiippa on

i would buy the philosophy weekend compilation as an e-book. i want to read your rand book as soon as possible

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