BEHIND THE HEADLINE: Heraldsphere

On February 14, 1995, The Brown Daily Herald gave the University a one-of-a-kind Valentine’s Day gift: itself.

It’s been 15 years since we graced the Internet with our presence, first appearing as a long-shot dream called “Heraldsphere.” On that fateful day in February, we received 15 site visits at www.theherald.org — and a legend was born.

The site existed in Beta form for its first weeks and was unveiled to the public on February 27, 1994. Uploaded from floppy disks onto computers in a campus lab, the paper was suddenly more accessible than ever. “It was amazing,” Marshall Miller ’95, former executive editor, told The Providence Journal-Bulletin at the time.

Envisioned by Brian Fisk ’98, the ideal site would have included special features, like profiles of the University president and archived material. “Sadly, a lot of the original inspirations never made it to the Web for lack of time and staff,” Fisk said.

That summer’s issue of Brown Alumni Magazine proclaimed, “Alums who wish to read about what is happening at Brown on a daily basis can also access the Brown Daily Herald’s service, Heraldsphere.”

The site chugged along until 1999, when the outdated programming could no longer adequately serve the paper’s needs. Throughout the spring, a self-appointed redesign team brainstormed, planned and schemed. The site went live in the fall at www.browndailyherald.com, but was without an advertising plan.

A few months later, in December 1999, The Herald signed on with College Press Network, which placed banner ads at the top of the site. The paper also began Heraldmail, an easy e-mail subscription service that brought headlines to inboxes. Over 3,000 people receive Heraldmail daily in 2010.

Over the course of the last decade, The Herald has developed its Web presence and grown exponentially.

In 2001, when controversy over an advertisement placed in The Herald led a coalition of student groups to remove nearly 4,000 print copies of the paper from its distribution points around campus, the Web site demonstrated just how well-used it could be. Heraldsphere temporarily went down because of the “barrage” of hits — coverage by the MIT newspaper, The Tech, reported that Heraldsphere “experienced a 400 percent traffic increase.”

Today, The Herald’s Web empire has expanded to include multiple sites, including www.browndailyherald.com, home of the actual paper itself; www.post.browndailyherald.com, the main site for the sassy Thursday magazine, post-; blogdailyherald.com, the paper’s blog and creative outlet; and www.diamondsandcoal.com, your personal opportunity to air your grievances.

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