Web sites, 2008: hits and misses
For my Web site work, this year has been filled with ups and downs. It marked the beginning of one new Web site which I created, the further development of another one, a political dispute over control of a third one, the temporary suspension of a fourth one (for related political reasons), and the sad demise of a fifth Web site that had been very near and dear to my heart. What follows is a summary of my time-consuming (but very rewarding) Web site activities, in the same order as above. (This does not include the course Web pages I designed at Sweet Briar College, where I taught during the 2007-2008 school year.)
Augusta Bird Club
At the request of the Augusta Bird Club, of which I have been a member for more than six years, I launched the augustabirdclub.org Web site in February. I tried to maintain a certain degree of continuity in appearance from the club's previous Web site, which was not updated very often. The new site is fairly simple in design, but it does have a few special features such as an interactive page that helps people find the location of various bird-watching "hot spots" in our area. It also has a special box that features news alerts about rare bird sightings. The bird club members seem pleased with it, and that is gratifying.
I continued to improve the Emmanuel Episcopal Church during the year, and in July obtained the emmanuelstaunton.org domain name, to make it easier for people to find. One aesthetic feature that would be of special interest to ritual-bound Anglicans is that the background color for all of the pages is changed according to the church season: purple for Advent, white for Christmas, green for Epiphany, purple for Lent, white for Easter, and green for Pentecost. In September I went to Roanoke to attend a conference on the new Web site system that the Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia is setting up. They are envisioning some very sophisticated features, so it may be a while before our congregation moves to adopt all of them.
The bitter disputes within the Republican Party had a big impact on my duties as local GOP Web master this year. It would take too long to adequately explain all this, so for now suffice it to say that by late 2007, stauntongop.org, which I created in March 2007, was no longer functioning as the Staunton Republican Committee's official Web site. In spite of pledges to cooperate, another dispute ensued in May, and I relinquished authority over that Web site to another committee member, but not to the committee per se, whose leader, the members of our faction felt, had grievously abused her position and violated norms of civility and truthfulness during the previous year. We did not want to see more of the smearing and falsehoods that had been perpetrated during the Hanger-Sayre primary race of 2007. (No names for now.) During the summer, a new [official] Staunton Republican Committee blog was created, stauntongop.wordpress.com. In late September, my suggestion that, as a gesture of cooperation, traffic to the introductory page of stauntongop.org (index.html) should be automatically redirected to the new [blog] was approved by the other members in "our" faction. This took effect as of October 1. Inasmuch as there were no updates to [the new blog] after September 17, however, this gesture really didn't matter.
Meanwhile, the augustarepublicans.com web site, which I created at the request of the local Republican elected officials and candidates for public office during the Fall 2007 campaign, remains "in hibernation" for the time being.
American Red Cross
The most painful turn of events came in June, when the redcrossblueridge.org Web site, which I totally redesigned in early 2007, was terminated -- "erased from existence." Well over a hundred hours of volunteer work that I had done was in effect rendered null and void. This happened because of a budgetary crisis in the American Red Cross: The Blue Ridge Chapter, where I had been a volunteer for a year and a half, was consolidated with the Central Virginia Chapter, which is headquartered in Charlottesville. The former offices in downtown Staunton were closed, and a new, smaller office was opened in the Augusta Government Center in Verona. I was going to help out in redesigning the latter chapter's Web site, but I have failed to follow up on this, being otherwise occupied.