Our redesigned beta site is open for ESPN Insiders today, but if you aren’t an insider here’s a little taste. It feels good that to know people can finally see it after months of grueling work. The new look goes live in a month or so.
Update: The beta site is now available to the general public at http://beta.espn.go.com.
Warning: This post is slightly sentimental and self-congratulatory. Please forgive.
Bringing a nation’s dream to fruition was one of the many themes on display in tonight’s (this morning’s actually) Olympics opening ceremonies in Beijing. Since July 13, 2001, millions of Chinese have waited for this moment when the world’s eyes would be focused on the Olympic Games in their nation. The artistic and technological achievements that went into tonight’s ceremonies are astounding and certainly something for the Chinese people to be proud of. I’m even more excited for these Games now, after that performance.
I thought it was worth noting that tonight also brings to fruition my own Olympic dream. In the fall of 1999, two year’s before the IOC awarded Beijing the 2008 games, I was a 14-year-old novice Web developer. I noticed a request for volunteers on the official Sydney 2000 Olympics site, which included positions on their Web site. So I naively sent them my name and a link to my Web site at the time, Steve Online. Unfortunately, the organizers needed applicants who were at least 18 years old and lived in Austrailia. They did send me a very thoughtful e-mail though, saying they liked my Web site and encouraging me to continue with Web development.
I forgot about the whole episode until I discovered a printout of the e-mail while cleaning my bedroom last summer. Eight years later, I was getting ready to move to Bristol, CT to work on ESPN.com. Now I’m a 23-year-old professional Web developer and I had a principal role in building our Beijing 2008 Olympics section. I did it with the support of a number of other developers and designers as well as ESPN’s army of writers, editors, and photographers. I think the final result is something we can all be very proud of and it appears to be resonating with our fans.
It’s been a grueling month and a half of work for me, including a lot of stressful days and crazy hours. I came home tonight feeling mentally and physically exhausted, as if I was actually competing in the Olympics rather than covering them. And the Game are only began tonight, so there will be more to do in the days ahead. So its nice to remember that as a boy 9 years ago, I dreamt of doing exactly what I’m doing right now. Its little things like that which make me realize how blessed I am. Thanks to everyone who has supported me along the way.