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Ax-yZ

The editorial staff sends out a big 'Welcome!' to all of our subscribers.

13th of May, 2017

April was a truly hectic month as we got ready to launch the website. You can read all about why we created it in the first place in this issue's lead article 'Genesis'.

May has barely begun and yet it has been even more manic than the previous month! The goal was set of launching the website on the 1st of May. We knew from the beginning that the site wouldn't be 100% finished at launch. Even accepting this, we always knew that 4 weeks to launch a reasonable first offering from a standing start was going to be tight. Too tight, as it turned out. Intrepidly, on the eve of launch day, we removed the BETA preview version and uploaded everything we had achieved so far. Proudly and confidently, we hit the refresh buttons on all our test devices and browsers. The blood drained from faces as we gazed aghast at the jumbled mess that presented itself. Something had gone wrong and the site was unusable! We immediately took it down again and hurriedly put the BETA version back up. We had to be something on the server for launch day! It took us about a week to find the error. Way down in the guts of our coding a single comma had been misplaced. On the 6th of May we finally replaced the BETA version with the now fixed and freshly uploaded launch version. Since then we have been mostly catching our breath. However, there is still a lot of work to be done on the website. Not only do we need to keep improving the user interface and functionality, we need to start looking forward and begin the long term process of content building. Speaking of which.....

Though rough and ready the website is by no means an empty husk. At launch we already have about 16 thousand words of public and freely accessible content to read. Put in context, that's about a quarter of a full length novel. Not bad for one month's work, especially when you consider that much of it was written 'in-line' as the site was being coded. You can find an overview of the content so far further down in the Stats section of the newsletter. We have also included a list of featured projects with a brief introduction to each. We look forward to adding to this list in future newsletters.

Whilst we are on the subject of future newsletters. Alongside the 'What's new' section we look forward to including 'Letters to the editor' in each issue. Obviously, this won't work unless there actually ARE some letters to the editor. Until the comments and email functions get set up we shall be responding to comments and questions left on our various social media accounts. So get busy and send us all your feedback. If you want to say something but don't want others to see it, just send us a direct message and ask us to keep your comments anonymous.

We hope that you enjoy not only this newsletter but also future issues. To this end we wrap up the newsletter with a look ahead to the next issue.

Finally, and most importantly of all, we look forward to welcoming you back as you visit us again and again.

Charles Gull

Genesis

An Interview with Charles Gull

[gjh]

Ax-yZ: Charles, hi and thanks for this opportunity to chat about your brand new website.

Charles: Hello and your welcome.

Ax-yZ: Before we start chatting about the website, could you tell us a little bit about yourself? You know the kind of thing, background, experience motivations and so on.

Charles: Sure, I was born and grew up in London but as an adult I have lived and worked in many places throughout Europe. I began my career as a mechanical engineering in the automotive sector and later I moved from technology to commerce and have been in B2B sales for many years now.

Ax-yz: So, a mechanical engineer and salesman. It's quite a jump from there to launching an internet website project.

Charles: I am a firm believer in the benefits of stepping out of the comfort zone occasionally.

Ax-yz: So the project is all about being uncomfortable? Is it working?

Charles: [smiles ironically] So far? A little, yes.

Ax-yz: Well, with that in mind let's talk about the source of the discomfort. What is Ax-yZ exactly?

Genesis

An Interview with Charles Gull

[gjh]

Charles: At the most basic level, it is best to think of Ax-yZ as a display cabinet.

Ax-yz: A display cabinet? How can the readers best visualise that? Is it like a shop window? What's on offer?

Charles: Well, it is not quite like a shop window because nothing is for sale, not yet anyway. The things on display are not being actively marketed by us. It is more like a museum or library except that, instead of dusty old objects, everything we have on display is brand new, fresh and original.

Ax-yz:So like an artist's portfolio then?

Charles: Yes, a bit, except that instead of successful projects that have already been finished, this is about projects that are still in the act of creation. It is an opportunity to show off things that might become available for purchase or funding at some later stage. Think of it like a pre- sales platform, an early opportunity for a creator to test out the market and get initial feedback from the public about an original creative project.

Ax-yz: And then, if it's positive an artist can sell the piece on the site?

Charles: The inclusion of sales and maybe even cloud-funding functions is one of the possible directions the platform could go in the future, but it will take a while before we get to that stage. To begin with, the site is focused on being a neutral platform for trying out creative ideas. There should be no pressure to sell or fund. If a creator actually receives money as a result of showing their project on our platform, then that is great for them. We are not asking for a commission or fee of any kind, an acknowledgement or mention that we were part of the process would be great, but other than that the win is all theirs.

Ax-yz: That's all quite philanthropic sounding, why did you create the site? What's in it for you?

Charles: No need to be suspicious, I am definitely in it for personal gain. My own creative projects are amongst the content so I hope to be one of the creators that benefits from using the site in the future.

Genesis

An Interview with Charles Gull

[gjh]

Ax-yz: So this is all about your own art work? Why'd you go to all the effort of creating the platform, why not just create a dedicated webpage for each of your works of art?

Charles: Before I answer that I just want to clarify one point. I know we compared the site to an artist's portfolio earlier but that is not a very accurate model. This is not just a gallery for art work. I am always careful to talk about creators rather than artists. My origins in engineering design mean that I have a much broader definition of creative work than just art. Along with the traditional creative arts like painting or sculpture there are so many other creative acts, such as writing, skilled handwork or design and innovation, that need support and acknowledgement. We even have some 'Performing Arts' projects in the mix. This site is for all kinds of creator and creations.

Ax-yz: You sound quite passionate about it.

Charles: Yes, I am, very much. Now back to your question. In many ways the genesis of Ax-yZ can be thought of as a perfect storm. Just like a storm, there were many sources that all came together with great energy all at the same time. Some of them were personal. I mentioned stepping out of my comfort zone before, I realised that I was suffering from stagnation and needed to take on a fresh big challenge, something to get my pulse racing again, reawaken my passions.

Ax-yz: Sounds a bit like a mid life crisis.

Charles: [laughs] Yes, it does a little. However, rather than destructive re-action, I am a firm believer in positive action: move forward, learn, create, build, provide and teach.

Ax-yz: It's getting all philanthropic again.

Charles: Philanthropy is itself a selfish act. A philanthropist hopes to gain something for themselves be it a clear conscience, a cleansed soul, peer acknowledgement or maybe even just a tax break.

Ax-yz: And now philosophy?

Genesis

An Interview with Charles Gull

[gjh]

Charles: Yes, I tend to ignore fences, contravene borders and enter forbidden lands a lot.

Ax-yz: Is that the reason you chose to create the website, an act of invasion?

Charles: In this case it has less to do with crossing borders and more to do with breaking rules.

Ax-yz: How's that?

Charles: I am a bit of a rebel by nature and decided to rise up against the injustice of accepted wisdom.

Ax-yz: And now your talking like a freedom fighter! What exactly is your cause?

Charles: Well, the accepted wisdom is that success comes from qulification. You have to learn to do a thing well BEFORE you can start doing it successfully. You have to be somehow 'qualified' to do a thing. Qualification consumes time, money and many other resources. I decided to show that you don't need qualification to achieve something, you just need passion and determination.

Ax-yz: So you decided to try and succeed at something you're not qualified in, isn't that just called 'learning on the job'?

Charles: True, if you are simply missing qualification then it can be called learning on the job or self-teaching for that matter. I decided to go one step further and take on something that accepted wisdom considered me positively DISQUALIFIED to succeed at.

Genesis

An Interview with Charles Gull

[gjh]

Ax-yz: Disqualified! How?

Charles: If you were to list all the things that are considered important for a successful internet project, I have none of them. I have no formal training or experience in IT, service provision, coding, media production, language, journalism, publishing or even blogging. Neither am I some handsome kid straight out of college that can give it a random shot and then walk away if it goes wrong. I was born and grew up before the digital revolution and now have the full list of commitments typical of midlife: marriage; children; a mortgage; auto finance; a pension fund etc... My network of professional connections are in a totally different business area and I don't have the safety net of a benevolent benefactor or the sponsorship of a family member. Basically, I am a middle aged guy with no clue what he is doing. As far as accepted wisdom is concerned, that's about as disqualified as you can get. Start something completely knew, at this stage of life? Forget it! The standard advice is to just knuckle down at the day job and stick it out until retirement.

Ax-yz: But you didn't follow that advice.

Charles: No, I didn't. I couldn't. It is not who I am. It is not how I think about myself. I chose not to just role over and accept that I had missed the opportunity to do this. I took it as a challenge to be attacked head on. I was passionately determined to demonstrate that passion and determination are enough to succeed whatever project you take on.

Ax-yz: Now you've succeeded what's next?

Charles: It is not a success yet. A lot has to happen before that can be said about it. Nevertheless, it is not a failure either. We have made progress and reached our initial goals. Right now the most important thing is to keep up the momentum and keep the site growing. We need more functionality and a lot more content.

Ax-yz: Speaking of content, where's that coming from at the moment. Do you already have loads of contributors?

Charles: Right now, there is neither the user interface nor the back end infrastructure that would enable visitors and creators to contribute content on-line. Until that is in place, all content is being generated off-line and in-house. That said, it is important to understand that we are not just padding out the site with 'Lorem Ipsum' or other meaningless repetitive boiler plate. It is all real content of the quality we want to have as we grow the site going forwards.

Ax-yz: Did you force staff to start projects just so they'd have something to write about on the website?

Genesis

An Interview with Charles Gull

[gjh]

Charles: Everyone working on the project has an innately high level of creative energy. Every creative project featured at launch had already been started before the website was conceived, in some cases decades before.

Ax-yz: And how'd you get everyone on-board? Are you paying well?

Charles: Actually, with no cash stream coming in, we have nothing to pay people with for the foreseeable future. For the moment, everything is being done on a 'pro bono' basis. Everyone is very excited about turning an idea into reality and they are very motivated to make it happen. It is really humbling to see how much time and energy people are finding outside their normal work schedules to contribute to the website.

Ax-yz: With that thought in mind, it's a good point to wrap the interview up and let you get back to it. Thanks again, for taking the time to chat with us about the Ax-yZ Creative Projects Platform and I'm sure I speak for all the readers when I say we are all excited to follow progress from now on.

Charles: It was my pleasure and we look forward to getting lots of feedback from all subscribers, guests and visitors too. Right from the very beginning, that is one way that people actually can participate and make a real contribution.


Visit the Website project page for more information (http://www.ax-yz.mobi/index_website.php/)

Overview and Statistics

The project in raw numbers

Visitors: 21

Page views: 212

Page Count: 15

Content: 16k Words / 2Mb

Number of featured projects: 13

Visit the Website project page for more information (http://www.ax-yz.mobi/index_website.php/)

What's new

Latest Content and features

Basically everything! To provide an overview we have listed here, in no particular order, the projects so far with a brief summary of each:

Website - The Creative Projects Platform itself. Here we track the development and growth of the website.

Orb - A multi-book Sci-fi / Fantasy cross-over saga. Everything from greek gods and dragons to time travel and deep space miners.

Burger'n'Fries - A collection of autobiographical anecdotes collected during the adventures of the author's lifetime.

Hyperphysics - Studying and analysing the fundamental principles and mechanisms governing the nature of the universe.

Photo Book - A private project to develop a family photo archive. There is going to be a visitors demo version with publicly viewable pictures.

Auk Word - A storytelling project based around video and audio recordings of books from a range of epoch and genre.

Health - Tips and tricks for physical and mental well-being and a log of the author's (mixed?) success at following his own advice.

Design Theory - A study of the theories and techniques of design as applied to engineering and technology along with a practical example of putting it into practice.

3D Animation - Short films telling short stories using computer based 3 dimensional animation and rendering.

Wonderment - Re-capturing childhood wonderment about the world around us by taking a completely new look at the commonplace and mundane.

Mathuitar - If you can't beat em, cheat! Using mathematics to create a 'better' guitar that is 'easier' to play.

Transportation - A wacky(races?) mix of designs, inventions and imaginings based around transportation and mobility.

Hotels - A photo and video tour of hotels that have been stayed at during business and private journeys around the world.

Letters to the Editor

Ax-yZ how you see it

'What I like is the clean minimalist layout on the pages. What I'm not a fan of is the navigation. Not like what you get in other places.' - Kathy B., Facebook

We have heard this a few times now. Yes, navigation is a little different to many other websites. Ironically, our intention was to create something that was more natural and intuitive. Though we remain convinced that it is a good solution, we have to acknowledge that some people find it difficult to adjust. We have now decided to include a short tutorial that explains the basics. You can find it at 'http://www.ax-yz.mobi/index_navigation.php/#Landing'. We would love to hear if this has helped.


'The website shows a lot of promise but it is missing a few important features. I think the most important addition would be a site map' - Paul T., LinkedIn

You raise a very good point. A site-map adds a great deal of value. Not only does it help visitors find their way around, it is an important aspect of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Despite all the good reasons for including one on the site, we simply forgot to do it. This is definitely an error we want to correct in the near future.


'Great project! Where can I sign up?' - WritersCramp1970, tumblr

Thanks for wanting to get involved. It is great to get such an enthusiastic response. If you are interested in signing up to the newsletter you subscribe on the website 'http://www.ax-yz.mobi/index.php/#SubscriptionDropdown'. If you are more interested in contributing, then send us a direct message with an outline of what you would like to do. New staff contributors are always welcome.

Coming up next issue

What's to look forward to next time

Next issue's lead article focuses on the 'Auk Word' project. We shall find out more about the motivations behind this project and the learning curve that had to be climbed to get all those birds in the air.

That just about wraps it up for this issue. It only remains for us to say, we very much hope you enjoyed the newsletter and are looking forward to the next issue. In the meantime don't forget to visit the website and give us all your comments and suggestions.


Charles Gull

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