Mobitopia Redesign


I just updated Mobitopia with a whole new look based on this blog's underlying code and new graphic design (derived from Kubrick). It's been a long time coming, actually. For a while I had refused to do anything more with Mobi (as we affectionately call it) because I wanted to try to get the other 20 people involved to put a bit more effort into it, but it was one of those tragedy of the commons things where week after week the site just sat there slowly growing dustier and out of date, none of us having time to put it into it. Mobitopia desperately needed a refresh, and I finally broke down and gave it one.

Being one of the original mobile-oriented weblogs (of which there are now many, many) Mobitopia still gets a lot of respect and linkage when one of us does happen to get around to posting to it. And the name is great, and the group we've built around the weblog is incredibly strong. We have an IRC channel on called #mobitopia and it is *never* without someone in there chatting away as we have members from all four corners of the earth passing off the guard as the sun works its way around the globe. The Sun Never Sets In Mobitopia.

That being the case, it's a shame to let the inspiration for such a tight community - the weblog - wither and die. So I did a major refresh tonight and I have more changes planned. It's not just a redesign, the focus of the site is changing 180 degrees. Mobitopia was designed originally to be a separate weblog from all of our personal weblogs focusing on mobile-technology analysis. But as time went by, postings started to diminish in frequency, and the posts that were added were usually cross posted from our personal weblogs and Mobitopia started losing it's reason for being.

Back in June 2003, however, we started the IRC chat channel and within a few days someone ran a "Chump Bot" which listened in on the channel and copied out the links that we were passing around with mobile news and other URLs that mattered to mobile geeks like us. Within a few months Erik created the Mobibot in Java and I used its XML output to create a new IRC Links page and RSS feed up on the site. This quickly became the most useful, if hidden, part of the weblog. And thus it's remained for almost a year.

In the meantime, popped up on my radar and demonstrated how tags can be used to organize all those links out there into a very useful site. This sort of functionality would be perfect for Mobitopia! Not as an open communal bookmarks site like, but as a closed-group linkblog where we could automagically add links in the IRC channel and from our browsers, and give them tags etc. Not just for news, but for all those tons and tons of mobile-oriented pages out there that people have a hard time finding. So as more weblogs add analysis and news, Mobitopia can find new life as a hub for finding all that mobile-oriented content out there.

So this is what's coming next. For now, I've simply moved the links to the front page, and shunted the articles down below. I've got a ton of work left to do to try to get the old permalinks working and adding a "users" page for all the Mobitopia contributors, so they can change passwords, etc. Lots of stuff, but the main work is done. Gone is the "miniblog" code from 2002, and in comes the JSTL-based Notebook code I've been using on my personal weblog for over a year. Now that the big move is done, it's a much cleaner codebase and it'll let me crank out new features rather than dreading the initial work.

Stay tuned, more cool stuff in the pipeline.


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