A Few Key Events

2008/04/30 A Few Key Events

Continuing yesterday's post discussing's history, today we'll mention a few of the key events that have helped shape our first ten years, hopefully including some that are both interesting and not too well known.

Before was even publicly launched, there was a meeting discussing the computer situation in town between then Saugus Town Manager Richard Cardillo and founder Eric Brown. The initial design of was meant to at once be friendly to local government, but at the same time be independent of it to help stave off censorship, and even deliberately allow the different branches to be critical toward one another. offered to provide not just volunteer help to any local government entity looking to initially get online, but also free hosting. would take on commercial clients in order to remain financially independent; it would not require any tax dollars.

When Steve Angelo took over as Town Manager, the relationship got even stronger; he sent out a memo urging all departments to cooperate with to get their information posted. Different departments, commissions, boards, and committees responded in different ways. Some took advantage and made lots of their information public. Others didn't see getting online as a priority and thus didn't bother. continued to evolve independently of the town government, too. The fall of 1998 saw take on two of its biggest annual features: local election coverage and the Ghost Story Contest. The former stemmed from a desire to display and archive detailed precinct-by-precinct election results for every election, even ones that other media outlets didn't think were worth the space (the following year this was expanded to include the ability for all candidates, even ones for minor positions, to voice their opinions publicly prior to the elections). The latter was in part due to the belief that the rise of the Internet need not decrease literacy levels, and that a Web site could in fact help encourage people to be more literate; the choice of Halloween was Eric's. The coincidence of elections and Halloween typically being just a few days apart has ensured that has always been extremely busy that time of year, and the Halloween contest has become our single most popular feature.

1999 and 2000 saw get heavily involved with the production of the book A Gathering of Memories. Two printings of this book have since sold out.

2000 also saw's launch of, a site specifically designed to help local non-profit groups get their information online.

In 2001 negotiated the purchase of a small segment of business from the company It was the Internet shell access business formerly held by TIAC; after several buy-outs and mergers and splits, had acquired these shell user accounts and was planning on dropping them. It would have left many without Internet access (shell account users have pretty specific needs that tend not to be addressed by more typical Internet access plans).'s intervention kept these people online, and ShellTown is still going strong today.

In 2002 took over the layout work of the Historic Saugus Calendar. Two years straight of losing money had nearly made the Saugus Historical Society give up on this popular publication. By moving all of the calendar production back into Saugus, the Society was able to save enough money to keep the calendar afloat.

In 2004 adopted Newton's Library, a source of free e-books. Its former maintainer was unable to take care of it any longer, and with her support it was moved from its original home in Scandanavia to The following year we added full text search capabilities to the site, and the year after that we launched a free browser plug-in that enabled the reading of these e-books without any special hardware. This browser plug-in has since become one of our most popular features, even though most Saugonians don't know it exists.

In recent times we've also been involved with the Saugus Teaching with Historical Places educational program, the book Of Time and the River, and lots of other projects besides. If you look around, you'll see our work here and there.

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