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Where's the beef?

Discussion in 'General WCHA Business' started by MGC, Apr 7, 2021.

  1. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Has anyone else noticed that the WCHA website no longer contains any information about the history of wood and canvas and wooden canoes?
    Are you looking for the Old Town information that was once easily available? The project to catalog the Old Town serial numbers was WCHA funded. It's gone.
    Are you looking for a way to date your Morris canoe? The tables that were once on the site and the related links and discussion are gone.
    Would you like to try to sleuth the name of the builder of an acquisition? The images of decks and decals are no longer present on the site. The knowledge base no longer contains content.
    Where are the names and contact information for the WCHA historians that the uninitiated could contact if they are researching an old canoe? Gone.

    Has WCHA become WCA? Perhaps the focus has shifted to calendars, assembly and Wooden Canoe?
    Many of us have been active through the peak of wooden canoe interest. We have researched the builders, worked with some of them, documented and shared information and also attempted to piece together what little history is left about that short window in time when America and Canada loved canoeing and canoes. For quite a few years WCHA members used this site to share their knowledge and research. To some extent that still happens in forum discussions. What is absent (here) is any attempt to structure or organize the information.

    If you want information like this colors.gif (919×435) (wcha.org) to find it's way back to this site, say something. If you care about the H in WCHA, let the board and site managers know.
    Yes, there is work being done to preserve the history of our canoes, Home | Wooden Canoe Museum . Frankly, I'm considering allocating my WCHA membership dues to WCM. My interest in the history is far greater than photo ops and calendars.
     
  2. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    It does appear that the Knowledge Base didn't make the transition. Hopefully the information still exists somewhere...
     
  3. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Few things on the internet ever really go away. The Wooden Canoe Museum (WCM) appears to currently have everything that used to be in the Knowledge Base on the old WCHA site and more. It would seem silly to duplicate that information so maybe the WCHA could simply add a link to the WCM site. The WCM site already has a link at https://woodencanoemuseum.org/basic-page/further-explorations to the WCHA site and many other great resources.

    Benson
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2021
    Michael Grace and David Satter like this.
  4. OP
    OP
    MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Actually things can vanish on the internet. Just ask all of the Mossberg hobbyists about what happened to the wealth of private information when the owner/curator unexpectedly passed away. Almost all of the years of research and documentation are lost.
    Dan has chosen to share information from "his personal collection" and research that he has done in the more than 40 years he has been involved with canoes. At present his canoe museum is the only easily accessed and well structured internet resource for researching things related to North American canoes and their manufacture. If I called it a labor of love I would probably not be far off the mark. It's Dan's (one of several) passion.
    What happens if Dan loses that passion or falls on hard times and can no longer afford the server farm that his hobby is shared from? What happens to the contents of his "personal collection" after Dan is no longer the curator of it's contents? What happens if Dan decides he no longer wants to share?
    Dan is not "an organization dedicated to preserving, studying, building, restoring, and using wooden and bark canoes, and to sharing information about canoeing heritage throughout the world". That is (supposed to be) the WCHA. We can certainly content ourselves with the fact that Dan has filled the void but we should not presume that is a lasting solution. Preserving Dan's work (and yours, and Rollins and and and) should be a priority and needs a plan. That plan for preservation should not rest on one persons shoulders....in my opinion.
     
    Dan Miller likes this.
  5. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Yes, some things will occasionally vanish from the internet, especially if someone dies unexpectedly. However, many old web pages can be retrieved with things like the Wayback Machine at https://archive.org/web/ and other archives. I have made copies of much of Dan's information as he has posted it on the WCM site and Dan has copies of a large swaths of my information.

    A bit of my old information is still hanging around on the old WCHA web site as you have discovered, even if it isn't linked directly. I started the page at http://wcha.org/catalogs/ for the first version of the WCHA web site in the 1990s. Several of the links are now broken, some of the people mentioned have died, the design is woefully out dated, but much of the information there is still useful, so it has been left in place.

    I have sent an email to the new webmaster, Colleen, suggesting that a link to the WCM page from the WCHA page could be helpful and referenced this discussion. It would be great if the WCHA could be the keeper of a grand canoe information archive some day but that is probably a much bigger curatorial problem than they could reasonably assume any time soon.

    Benson
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2021
    Michael Grace likes this.
  6. Michael Grace

    Michael Grace Lifetime Member

    Mike Cyr -

    The kind of content you reference, just like the WCHA’s physical library, has come and gone over the years; it is not a product, as you suggest, of switching (necessarily) to the new website. Some of it was unavailable or difficult to find in previous iterations of the website.

    I completely agree that such content would be valuable on the site, and people can certainly ask or make suggestions... or perhaps the choice would be to make a snide, accusatory post and threaten to quit membership without offering anything productive.

    Colleen Hovey volunteered to build a much needed new website at no charge and I for one am extremely grateful for her hard work and selfless dedication to the WCHA, just like so many others who give without taking and who remain positive even in the face sometimes of unwarranted and unreasonable negativity.

    Rest assured that however the “suggestion” was made, it will make its way to the board and site manager. Thank you, Benson, for the excellent suggestion that a link be added from our website to the very helpful WCM. That too will be relayed to the webmaster.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2021
  7. Colleen Hovey

    Colleen Hovey New Member

    Mike thank you for the excellent suggestion to include this information. Had I realized it was a part of the old site it would already be a part of the new one, but in our many drafts it was overlooked.

    It's unfortunate that you weren't able to just send me an email and let me know, without going through all the effort of writing a rather scathing review. The website is now, and will always be, a work in progress. I knew it wasn't perfect when we decided to go live with it, but after well over a year (more than 500 hours) of work on it the decision was made to transition to the new site and improve as we go.

    In future I would love the opportunity to improve the site and make changes, rather than being publicly berated. You can reach me at any time at webmaster@wcha.org.

    Colleen Hovey
    WCHA VOLUNTEER webmaster
     
  8. Mark Adams

    Mark Adams all wood nut

    The phrase “put up, or shut up” comes to mind.
     
    Blott likes this.
  9. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    Yes indeed - anyone try to access Jack Wagner's old Chestnut site recently? I just tried (I think) and it came back unavailable.
    How does this "Wayback" thing work?


     
  10. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    You enter the web site address (a.k.a. the URL) and it displays the dates when their web crawler found that site (if ever). You can then click on a circled past date from the calendar to see what was displayed at that time. The page at https://web.archive.org/web/19961123170519/http://wcha.org/ shows the oldest version of the WCHA's home page (wcha.org) from November 23rd, 1996 at 5:05 PM for example. Provide the address and date range that you are seeking and I will take a look if this doesn't make sense. Let me know you still have questions. Thanks,

    Benson
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021
    Dan Lindberg likes this.
  11. samb

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    That looks great Benson. Now saved in my favourites.
    Sam
     
  12. OP
    OP
    MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Michael,
    Tying a link to Dan's site is a step that could be taken to help newcomers find their way to a source for canoe related information.
    It does not address the absence of a WCHA specific initiative to "own" or categorize that content. It does not address the concern that the only available resource with a comprehensive overview of the many manufacturers is the Wooden Canoe Museum, a view into a privately held collection. But, if someone does come to the WCHA looking for information about the age of their Morris, some help identifying their UFO. Dan's site is the go to place for this detail.
    From my perspective, passing a new customer through to Dan is a missed opportunity for the WCHA to engage new members. Consider the WCHA promotion that accompanies Benson's SN research responses. People join.
    Having given this further thought, a Harry Smith sort of project to tap into the remaining knowledge and history of the wooden canoe is lacking. Jerry did a fine job of documenting Seliga, Tappan Adney's books sit on our shelves. What is next?
    Dan's collection is a piece of the missing detail and the work that needs to be done. Count on one hand how many builders you know who passed in the last 20 years and consider all of the knowledge they took with them. Then consider the next 20 years and what will be lost. What role does the WCHA plan to play?
    Mike
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2021
  13. Greg Nolan

    Greg Nolan enthusiast

    I suspect that many users of the WCHA website and these forums are not aware of just how much work goes into building a website – or rebuilding an old, technically obsolescent one. But the users of the website owe Colleen a huge round of thanks for volunteering to undertake the enormous task of building the new website.

    It goes without saying that the WCHA cannot operate without the efforts of volunteers, but Colleen's giving for free the equivalent of about 3 months of full-time skilled work to our organization is truly astonishing.

    To put this in terms that even a Mike Cyr might understand, Colleen's volunteer work is the equivalent of a donation of some $7,500+ (applying the minimum wage in my area). And believe me, website designers generally work for a lot more than minimum wage -- something I learned several years ago when, as a WCHA Board member, I was looking into what it might then cost to hire a website designer.

    I took no part in the more recent effort to recruit someone to redesign our

    website. I understand the redesign was necessary for a number of technical reasons if the site was to survive at all. I understand that the Board was getting cost estimates that were just not practical for the WCHA and its fiscal resources. Without Colleen’s volunteer time, effort, and skills (aided by Benson and others), our website simply may not have survived at all.

    And it should be noted, for those who do not remember or perhaps never noticed, that the website now replaced was far from perfect and far from finished when it was rolled out. But the known deficiencies, as well as ones later identified, were generally resolved in due course – and did not cause the sky to fall in the meanwhile. It was determined then, as apparently now, that a new site, even if imperfect, was better than the flawed and deficient one being replaced.

    So Colleen – thanks. Thanks from someone who does understand just what an enormous favor you have done for the WCHA and its members and canoe heritage.
     
  14. shelldrake

    shelldrake LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Thank you Colleen.
     

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