About collaborative writing on the Venus Poetry Project

What the heck is this all about? / What in the world is going on here? / What were you thinking?

Hm... interesting question. Well, this all started when I was playing around with a graphic of Botticelli's Birth of Venus. I started playing with ideas for a website that would have loads of pages hidden behind links that were scattered all over the painting. After a while, the idea of having a whole bunch of poems that people would find by clicking around in the painting just popped in my head, and it immediately trumped all of my other ideas.

It's the perfect mix of two media that complement each other. Looking at that painting, I bet one person could come up with 388 poems. Even if that was all this website did, I think it would be pretty cool. But when you take the power of the masses and give them the ability to collaborate with everyone else who stumbles onto this site, just imagine what kind of works are possible! Now it may be that poetry is kind of a personal thing, and giving others control over your emotional writing won't lead to great writing ... but let's see what happens and find out.

So you've got 388 pages hidden behind a painting and all the world to write it. That's pretty much it.

How does it work?

Simple, really. You click on the painting to find one of 388 pages of poetry. Once you're there, you will either see a couple of lines on a page that hasn't been started or a poem that someone else (or many people) started. Feel free to start a new page or edit someone else's work if you have something to contribute, but please do it thoughtfully.

Technically speaking, the site uses JavaScript and AJAX to manipulate the page and send edits to the server. The server runs the open-source PHP programming language and a MySQL database to manipulate and store information. In case you'd like to learn more about web design and development, check out my web design blog. The web is a powerful medium, and you don't need to be an expert to get started. Best of all, you can learn everything you need to know for free!

Why are you doing this?

That's a hard question to answer. I am a web developer, and I'm always coming up with fun ideas for sites. Some actually get built. I thought this would be a great site to see working because the internet can be such a powerful tool to bring people together. I thought, what if it could bring people together and let them work together on some shared project at the same time -- how great would that be?

Like all of the sites I design, I hope this one can bring in some profit so I can afford to keep making new ones. Ideally, someday I'll have enough profitable sites built so I can quit my day job. But I'm not here just to make a profit -- there are easier ways to make money, TRUST ME. Don't feel at all compelled, but if you'd like to make a small donation, click on any of the "donate" links around the site. I have some messages on the bottom of pages that compare other inexpensive pleasures with the time you spend on this site because, really, if you like something, don't you usually enjoy giving something in return? One meal at a restaurant costs ... $15? $25? $40? How does this site's entertainment value compare? Really, this site is free, but if you can help, why not help?

Where do you go from here?

What happens to all of these poems is still up in the air. It all depends what kind of response the site gets, I guess. Should the site ever end? Or should the poems continue to evolve indefinitely? I thought about putting together a book of all the poems if it ever got to that. Maybe there could be volumes of books periodically, like snapshots of the site to see how it used to be. Again, I'm open to suggestions. At the very least, I hope people enjoy the time they spend here, no matter what happens in the future.

Here's my email, in case you want to drop me a line: poet@venuspoetry.com. I'll wade through the junk mail and read yours, I promise.