My web philosophy
It seems these days that in order to 'be anybody' a company must have a web presence.
For commercial enterprises with money to burn and an idea that the Web is a cheap form of advertising, that makes some sense, but let's face it, for a small non-profit company, like a radio hobby club, that makes less than no sense.
Of course, there are the 'bragging rights' associated with being the first on the block to have a web page, but frankly, MARE isn't that kind of club -- we're far more interested in getting together and having a good time at a meeting, restaurant or DXpedition, than we are in 'impressing' anyone.
That means that, consistent with MARE's 'corporate personality', these web pages are meant as a way to introduce radio hobbyists to us (and the general public to the radio hobbies). But this resource is primarily meant to help MARE members stay in touch with each other and with the hobby in general.
I have also done some thinking about the nature of cyberspace, what computer nets are good for and what they are not good for, and tailored things accordingly.
I found myself nodding a bit when reading Cliff Stoll's book Silicon Snake Oil when he describes cyberia as an 'impoverished community'. To quote him:
"One without a church, cafe, art gallery, theatre or tavern. Plenty of human contact, but no humanity. Cybersex, cybersluts, and cybersleaze, but no genuine, lusty, roll-in-the-hay sex.
Well, maybe Cliff's wrong about that one.... : ) (Radiodiffusion Televisione Italiana has one of the best interval signals, no?)
And no birds sing."
Indeed this is all true, but MARE isn't like that. We are about DXpeditions, station tours, picnics and afternoon bull sessions. We go out to dinner together, order pizza to be delivered to a cabin during a DXpedition, and otherwise engage in what Cliff would describe as 'real life.' And yet, primarily because we share a common interest rather than close geographic proximity, the Internet, e-mail and this web page are a vital part of what the radio hobbies and MARE are all about -- and they are a wonderful way to introduce people interested in radio hobbies to the real personal face-to-face aspects of local clubs like MARE.
In brief, I guess all that verbage means: I see Mr. Stoll's point about how unimportant cyberspace is to most of life, but I disagree that things have to be that way.... In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that cyberspace is more important in a mobile society than many physical community institutions because it allows us to remain connected to our roots even when we become uprooted. Bahh, I'm waxing too philosophic!
At any rate, with all that in mind, I've designed this resource primarily to get people away from the eye-candy of the web and into something substantial like interacting with each other and the broadcasters or, (gasp!) maybe even get them interested enough to read a book or magazine or three (or, what the heck, become a MARE member and get the best of all these things!)
The web is a means to that end, and we wanted something simple, clean and most of all low-bandwidth that would get those ideas across.
That also means we've done a few things differently than a lot of web authors out there. This page is largely HAND CODED so that it will retain its functionality with text based browsers like LYNX. Many people can't afford the kind of bandwidth (or just plain hassle upgrading equipment every two days) Internet Destroyer er Explorer requires, and for them, there is nothing more irritating than a [ISMAP] tag or a 'your browser doesn't support frames' message. I've been there, and even though I have a 'broadband' connection at home and at work, I still use LYNX a lot, and I don't want to have a snobbish page! It was recently pointed out to me that this has the side benefit of also making the page more comprehendable to those who use a voice interface with the web. I hadn't thought about what this meant to the blind before, but I feel even better about this philosophy knowing that it makes things easier for them too. Shucks, who said unintended consequences are always bad?
But get to the point Ken, do I hear you saying? OK, OK already....
The real trick has been how to do what we want (with the above limitations in mind), and do it with a limited staff, limited budget and recognizing the reality that we'd rather be listening to the radio than maintaining computers!
The answer for us was to find some 'free' space on the web (that meant fostering a relationship with a Freenet before all those seemed to dry up, and now trolling for 'free' pages avaialble from places like TriPod) and use the Mac to design the pages. "Computer jocks" we are not and if we had to fight with IRQ conflicts and bad config.sys or .bat files, or deal with an 'important security patch' every other Tuesday, we'd have pulled what little hair we have left out by the roots a long time ago.
Mac's ain't 'easy' but even after the evolution from WIN2k to XP to Vista, they are still a good bit more friendly than any other system out there, and with OS X's stability improvements, we don't even have to restart our computers every four hours to keep them running smoothly either! I smile every time I get an error message like 'Printer is out of paper' instead of 'general protection fault' (or my long-time favourite DOS error message:
"Keyboard not connected, press F1 to continue" -- isn't that precious!)
and wonder what makes otherwise rational people want to use Windows systems. I guess PT Barnum was right...
If you have comments, suggestions, criticisms or whatever, please feel free to
Check out the links listed below for more helpful suggestions and ideas ... and 73! //kv zichi (MARE's Web-meister)
<--Info on publicizing Macs on the Web
<-- the latest news from Apple