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The BEBEPOOL.COM Birth Story

Published 2008-07-11 00:54

First, introductions: I'm Micah Wittman, the creator and administrator of

Here's the story of it came to be leading up to the birth of our first son. This would be the year 2000, or in Internet Years: about the Iron Age (I wasn't on Bronze-Age dialup any more!).

I was inspired by my good friend, Dana, who wrote a simple baby pool application (built with Active Server Pages—"Classic ASP") for his "baby website" (also for his first son, as it turned out).

My first implementation was no more than a form-to-email ASP script. I'd receive a guess by email, then manually update the static html in the ASP file.

"Guess Table" – the Proto-Bebepool

Proto Screenshot

It was an exhilarating experience—taking the <_spoken with Grand Canyon reverb_> world wide web into my own hands, and helping my family and friends come together online to celebrate and anticipate the birth of our first child. You could feel the power of the internet as communications tool chipping away at the geographic barriers between us and our immediate families, which in our case is thousands of kilometers (sorry, don't have the conversion to furlongs for those desperate for imperial units of measure).

Message on original "Guess Table"

This page was designed to give our family and friends--you--an opportunity to take your best guess at some soon to be discovered statistics about our baby. Everyone's predictions will be shown in the table below. I must mention that this page is inspired by the Aldom's site (friends of ours).

A snippet of information that might be helpful: The due date is November 17th.

(For those with a competitive bent, stay posted for an official guess analysis. The person with the highest score* will be appropriately credited on this page).

*The panel of judges, I and Laura, will calculate the score based on the following rules: each question is worth one point; each question is in the form "Multiple Choice" or "Closest Answer Takes All". The nature of the "Closest Answer" form is that only one person per question can score the point--the answer nearest to reality (at the discretion of the panel) takes it. Exciting stuff, eh!

While this was great and all, there was manual work to transcribe and update, but more than that I wished it could be real-time: you make a guess, you see it on the web page moments later.

The Late Iron Age

During the months before our second son's birth, in 2003, I discovered and utilized an open source web application called, at the time, phpSurveyor (apparently, now LimeSurvey). It worked not badly - it was a full-fledged system that allowed one to build custom online surveys. It did the job, and even provided basic statistics for you; it was also not hard to hack in a few simple customizations. I even setup a couple surveys/pools for friends who were expectant parents at that time.

This got me thinking about building something from scratch, putting in features I thought important, but not available elsewhere (like 'comments') or only available if you pay ('PDF printing'). I imagined it to be a multi-user, self-serve application dedicated to running baby pools. And so, the coding began (in PHP).

The Roman Era

When son number three was on the horizon, in 2005, I had a working and put it to good use. I opened it to the public—every bit of it free, and still is— and it's been going ever since.

If you like statistics, read the next part, if not, please feel free to stretch you legs and retrieve a cold beverage to enjoy – we'll be right back.

Rate of New Pools Starting

# of New Pools – Year to Year Comparison

2007 compared to 2006⇧ 43%
Jan–Jul 2008 compared to 2007⇧ 131%

We're only half-way through 2008, and activity on the site has never been more bustling.

Wrap This Bebe Up

The phrase It's a privilege can sound trite, but I'll risk it here: It is a privilege to help others create a social web experience surrounding such a profound event as welcoming a new son or daughter into one's family.

Thank you to everyone who gave a spin, and certainly those who stuck around to really made it your own micro-community for a time. I hope you'll be back as you're family tree grows.

Your feedback is absolutely welcome—comment (below) on the content of this post, and/or any points of discussion on aspects of the site you like/don't like. Ideas on how to make a better place?—would love to hear from you.