One Two… One Two…

Is this thing on?

Hmmm. Thought I might try a bit of blogging again, seeing as Twitter seems to be slowly heading down the tubes since yer man Musk took over and Mastodon doesn’t appear to be a particularly appetising replacement.

So what have we been up to since we last had a chat?


I could just do a kind of summary listicle sort of thing, but that might be a bit dull and in any case it would exhaust all my material pretty quickly. So I think I’ll take things one at a time and just to be slightly perverse, I’m going to talk about something that isn’t directly related to writing, although it is very much to do with WORDS.

If you’re on twitter, there’s a pretty good chance you will have come across my chum Lev Parikian’s “World” “Cup” of “Random” “English” “Words”, an insane year-long search for the most popular word in the English language via the medium of Twitter polls. Even if you’re not on Twitter, you may have seen mention of it in the Times and even briefly on Global News, like this example:

Shame they didn’t get Lev’s surname quite right, but you can’t have everything I guess.

Anyway, back in the middle of 2022, when Lev was still bogged down in the 1024-group first round, he dropped me an email asking if I fancied helping out with a bit of web stuff to (a) add the capability to let people sponsor words for charity and (b) display the results? I’d previously assembled Lev’s website, but this was a little more challenging, which is why I obviously leapt at the opportunity.

The JustGiving stuff was quite fun to put together, being based (as so often) on a defunct no longer supported semi-official API, but it largely did what it was supposed to do. The results page was an equally interesting challenge and involved hunting around for a suitable Javascript API. I’m quite pleased with the way it turned out (scroll right to see the eventual winner).

But the bit I’m most proud of were the pages for each individual word, where I suddenly realised that there had to be a Wiktionary API, right? Talk about added value.

I also added some rudimentary stats – although I expect the real fun will start very soon, now that I’ve added a page where anyone can download the raw data in CSV form to play with it to their hearts content.

Anyway, it’s all been a lot of fun and I’ve learnt so much about web development from it. It’s also great to ride on Lev’s coat-tails and be a small part of something that so many people have enjoyed.

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