Letters Project Becomes the PenPals Project

I spent some time over the last week (and a lot today) reworking the Letters project into the PenPals project. I was inspired by Kev Quirk’s organization of his emails back and forth with readers (like yours truly!) on one page. Since the project really is about the conversation, it made sense to have all the letters live together and bring some cohesion to the project, rather than have them spread across many blog posts.

As for those old blog posts, I didn’t want to remove them from the site. Instead, I employed ChatGPT to help me write summaries for each partial exchange as teasers for the full conversation and updated each post with them. Here’s an example from one set of letters with Jason Becker. I’ll probably do the same thing going forward, that way each new update can still have a blog post announcing it in the feed and archive, but the conversation will reside on that specific person’s page. A living document, if you will.

Getting this all put together was a larger hurdle than I expected. First, I experimented with the CSS, which is heavily inspired by Kev’s design on his site. Then I had to go back through each blog post, copy and paste each email into its own <div>, generate and edit the summaries, update all the links from letterspenpals, write up a little blurb about each correspondent, and then, finally, check each one. Hopefully, I didn’t make any goofs.

But now I’m all caught up and am really pleased with how they turned out. Here’s Robert Silvernail’s page. And now that I’ve got templates made, each future exchange should be much easier to manage.

Speaking of which, I’m wide open for 2024 if you’d like to be my penpal for a month. You can read the guidelines and all the previous letters right here at /penpals to get an idea of what it’s like. I’d love to talk with you!

Oh, and why PenPals” project? I think the term describes what’s happening here a little better than Letters” project. And because I’m a sucker for alliteration.

Hope to talk to you soon,



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