Astro.com Unveils Two New Services
Astrodienst recently unveiled two new services/projects on their website, www.astro.com. The first new thing is that they took my suggestion from a few weeks ago and started offering an option on their site to store more chart files for registered users. For people who reach the 100 chart limit in their registered account, which is pretty much everyone that has studied astrology for more than a few months, you can now sign up in order to store 1,000 chart files on their server for a nominal fee of $10. This new service is still in beta testing, but so far it seems to be working really well.
I think that this is a great move for Astrodienst from a business perspective because it moves them more into the realm of Web 2.0, where other companies like Google have been moving towards and thriving for a while now. Web 2.0 is all about using the internet as a platform and a hosting service in order to store data that can then be accessed anywhere, at any time.
Astrologers need quick access to accurate chart calculation software constantly, so it only makes sense that Astrodienst would want to retain as many people as possible and keep them coming back to their site to cast charts, rather than say, buying some expensive chart calculation software and then not returning to their site anymore. I know that the only reason that I eventually bought some astrology software was because I simply needed to store more than the 100 charts I was allowed on astro.com.
Along those lines, the second new service that they recently rolled out is an astrology wiki, using the same software that Wikipedia uses called Media Wiki. This is kind of an exciting development because this is something that has been needed for years, and it could provide an incredibly useful resouce for astrologers if the project is carried out properly.
A couple of years ago I started a project to improve the astrology articles on Wikipedia, but the problem was that there were two many crackpot astrologers out there who kept messing up the articles, and eventually most of the contributors got disheartened by this and left. It was actually kind of comical because in a number of instances I found myself siding with some of the skeptics and working with them in order to keep some of the astrology articles from getting ruined by these crazy astrologers (not that all of the contributing astrologers on Wikipedia are crazy, but just a few). Before that I was involved in the Astrology Notes Wiki, but that never really seemed to take off due to lack of contributors. At the moment we are using Media Wiki for the Hellenistic astrology translation project, and it seems to be working out quite well.
Astrodienst seems to be playing it safe by having people submit an application in order to be an editor on their wiki. This is a good idea because it will help to avoid some of the pitfalls that we ran into on Wikipedia by flitering out some of the riffraff. While this approach may stunt the growth of the wiki at first, since normally you will get more contributors if people are able to sign up freely, I think that in the long run they will get the number of people they need working on the wiki simply because their site gets so much traffic on its own. This of course will help them to avoid some of the issues that we ran into at Astrology Notes with having a lack of long-term contributors.
Ultimately Astrodienst has been at the forefront of technological developments in the astrological community for quite a while now, and from the looks of things they will continue to be for quite some time to come.