As most of you likely have noticed by now, polymath.net has evolved into polymath.net(!), and for the record, I’m positively giddy about it. (Yes, the transition occurred a few weeks ago, but I didn’t want to write this post until I had decided on a font for the new logo, which I finally did just a couple of days ago. For those curious, I discuss the font a bit more at the end of this post.)
When I started this site in 2002 I had no idea what I wanted it to be, or what it could/would become. All I knew was that I enjoyed writing (mostly about tech), felt I had something to say and appreciated being able to reference something I’d written so as to not have to explain it over and over again. (I can’t tell you how great it is, when someone asks me an involved question, to tell them to search the site for x, or to point them to a particular URI.)
I’d long wanted to get away from the eponymous domain name I’d been using for almost a decade, but coming up with a new domain name, that I knew could stand the test of time, was difficult, not least because I’m a perfectionist and wanted something, well, perfect. The search took years.
When I announced the new domain name on Twitter, the responses expectedly ran the gamut from, OMG, how did you get that?! Awesome!, to, Huh? What does it mean? Clearly, web geeks understood the significance of the word–HTML, the foundation for this and nearly every other web page on the Internet, stands for HyperText Markup Language–and as you can imagine, I loved this aspect of the name.
I appreciated also the other, more literal meanings of the phrase. To me they fit this site well in that I’ve published a ton of words here (I’ll cross 300,000 with this post), and update relatively frequently.
It’s no secret that I’ve long been jealous of Kottke’s tagline–Home of fine hypertext products–and have for years been trying to come up with something similar for this site, only to never be satisfied with my attempts. Instead, I stuck with Life. Technology. through almost the entire lifespan of the site; a broad, concise, and I think appropriate phrase, but one that’s not particularly exciting.
With polymath.net, I don’t feel any tagline is needed. (And I now get to use a byline!)
I just emailed the previous owner and asked if he’d be willing to sell it. He had owned the domain name for over 14 years, but wasn’t doing much with it apart from hosting an old project in a subdirectory. Understandably though, he just didn’t want to part with it.
Initially it seemed there was no way a deal could be struck, but I kept pressing. We went back and forth for weeks, with him usually taking much longer than me to reply. Eventually, in addition to a not insignificant amount of money, I offered to: 1) host/forward his project indefinitely; 2) buy out his hosting contract for the rest of the year; and 3) give him some percentage of the sale price should I decide to sell the domain in the future.
After we ironed out the details, and the domain transfer was finalized (which took a full week!), it was mine.
What’s happening to polymath.net?
Well, nothing and everything. Initially I was terribly conflicted about exactly how I wanted to handle the transition; the big hang-up for me was my photoblog, which resides at
/photos. Because hypertext really says nothing about photography, I kind of wanted to keep the photoblog at polymath.net.
In an effort to simplify things going forward, I eventually decided to just redirect every request received at polymath.net to its polymath.net equivalent. No, I don’t think it’s ideal for the photoblog, but on balance I think it’s the right decision, and actually, in the past few weeks I’ve come around quite a bit to the reality of the photoblog living at the new domain.
Cypher 5 Regular
You wouldn’t believe me if I told you how much time I spent trying to decide on a font for the new logo. Initially, I was dead set on using a bitmap font (examples), because I love the retro, digital look of them, but after playing around with every bitmap font on the Internet, I just couldn’t make it work with the site.
I knew almost instantly that it was the font for this site. I think it’s a great mix of everything I was looking for: a slight bitmap-y vibe, modern, clean, and I think with respect to this particular site, future-proof.
Despite my knowing in the back of my head that Cypher was the one, I kept slogging away as I’m wont to do, scared that somewhere in the deep crevices of the Internet was an even more appropriate font. After a few days of this insanity I finally had to convince myself that I had reached the end of the Internet, and that Cypher was the only font left standing. (Next, of course, came the super simple decisions regarding size, color, etc., which were a lot of fun! Ugh.)
So yeah, that’s the transition in a nutshell. It’s been a long and relatively expensive journey, but one that’s resulted in, I think, the perfect domain name for me and this site.
Here’s to nine more years of blogging!