Monday, February 19, 2018

Observations on Feedback and Support

   First off, I want to make a quick statement: don't let the apparent critical side of this post cause anyone undue worry or sadness, OK? I don't mean to put too negative a connotation on the matter at hand. It's all in the perspective which may include a subjective interpretation. In my usual overblown fashion I am here pointing out a sometimes frustrating aspect of writing a blog for well over four years. Some things one can take for granted and should; some things one can do so only at your own peril and the chance of being ignored and relegated in a way that can be quite mystifying; this can be a persistent risk. There is a lighthearted side to things too and I can get a bit over-dramatic at the best of times. A touch of concern and a smidgen of thought is really all I can or should expect by this outreach. The story of these occasional factors inherent in doing a website, or in my case, a blog, is expressed below.

 A Further Reason For This Post:

    One big reason visitors are even reading the post concerns the fact that my 'new' computer is almost as old as the F/WFH blog! Now, it's weird, but within the last month the ol' Acer has been having technical issues with the search boxes, messages and mysteriously jumping to the address bar. A study in frustration in which I've searched around for a solution, but nobody has much understanding of this one, unfortunately. Some forums tend to think this is an after effect from upgrading to Windows 10, while the other conjectures are less certain and involve downloading new drivers and whatnot. A workaround requires me to type into a word document and copy and paste. My technical skill is not necessarily a help to the situation, either. So, you see, of course, one could 'simply' reinstall Windows and all, but that is a last resort comparable to breaking down and purchasing a new computer. Probably, in the first place, many of you will smartly gather that the reason behind the glitch might be that I am working on an older model computer, and you are likely spot on in  arriving with such a judgement. For the time being, I am forced to wait and see if Windows will include an update to fix the problem.

      I've tried many things and they didn't work, but I'm hardheaded enough I haven't given up. Any good ideas for a real solution, do please drop me a line!

    By the way, the next post with either be about-

a.- An insight into more on one of my ancestors,
b.- Some info on one of the regional art clubs in the area,
c.-A surprising discovery on a person related to a famous figure who owned land here.
d.- None of the above; something even more exciting!

   Alright, getting back to the main point at hand, keep in mind, I am not discussing popularity. On the contrary, we are doing dandy in that department, and I have you good folks to kindly thank for that! This is a few observations toward a rather minor given moment in time. Now that the warning is given, please read on.

   A Blogging Mystery

   In writing about various historical accounts I decided to...well, actually it was quite simple, really. Most of the words flowed out onto the word processor explaining in therapeutic style the focus on a rather mysterious observation:

Frankly, that whatever support base existed in headier days past, exactly why the blog felt their unique notice and held it for some time, has basically vanished away faster than an old building near a mill refurbished as a town house, upstream from a few once infamous coke ovens, now overgrown with weeds and brush. Not quite to that extent, but the exaggeration does give the picture better focus! Yes, I noticed over many months, the singular fact that some of my more expressive and meaningful perceptions come willy nilly from out of practically nowhere at all. Bang them out and publish them, I suppose, come ill or high water, or negative reactions. This may have a dash of uncomfortable backlash as you will read below. On the surface, I do hesitate to make public my personal feelings for the usual reasons. See what you think, because your opinions and outlook are all that really matter.  Also, it is to be freely admitted, these type of posts Do Not get a whole lot of Page Views, as can likely be guessed.

   Now, another case in point: although I'm not going to bother linking to these, I have done a couple particular posts sincerely celebrating and showing appreciation for those persons in any real factoring in that influenced the blog, even minutely; whether the connection came about by collaboration, admiration (sometimes mutual), a place or subject we had a common interest in, a shared tidbit, bit of advice or something of that ilk. Most of those that people, bless their hearts, were so enthusiastic in responding in a positive sense, either by email, comment section, or what have you, are almost purposefully, gone.  The small conundrum curiously includes those that by all appearances the blog itself  had a definitely positive effect upon. Regardless, the result is now the same - puzzlement and consternation on my part. Over reaction? Oh, almost certainly so. I've then become a bit of touchy old fool.

   These particularly knowledgeable and perceptive men and women were at one time or another very connected up with aspects of the blog. Naturally, I prided myself in their gracious company. Not that they were expected to always BE THERE. Usually, I just accept that with an oh, so philosophical turn of mind. Shrug it off, like a dog does a flea. It's not that most truly had very much to do with the final and wholesale decisions; in fact, far from it, but there is no doubt I did appreciate their varied input. They still became an integral facet toward flow and feedback from one post to another and I would hardly of considered the possibility their interest would slowly wane. Yet, it is very true, the actual brunt of responsibility for an account for a decent article was on my shoulders alone. That is squarely where it belonged, in my opinion. At least I can take credit in that department.  The funny thing is, I didn't really expect the initial interest that showed. Later, I realized I could of done more to elicit a broader influx of attention from various departments and individuals.

   Probably the only avenue of choice to my style of accomplishing anything worthwhile is to keep a clear focus of the original vision and intent as set out from the beginning. Such an outlook, I felt, would guide me well. That may be a clue to the problem, I don't know. While the blog still receives its share of off and on emails, and this is continually encouraging, I may be a bit late in responding now and again, although mostly in a polite and fairly considerate manner, Yet, the subject can be a head scratch-er for sure. It might not seem such a big deal, but I feel there wasn't any actual "turn off switch" on my part that somehow disallowed their expression from yours truly that I am remotely aware of. Strangely enough, I am left with an abiding impression that in some odd fashion this might be for the better. Go figure that one. I  only a hunch or two to be more detailed in the description of why this appears true beyond going about the job of picking and choosing material to highlight as I see fit.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To...The Lost Support Base

  The occasional emotions evinced that coincide with this slow discovery of outside influences or the lack thereof, borders on the gamut of: disheartening, stressful, perplexed, suspicion, bruised ego, guilt, disgust, insult, lack of concern, and a touch of sadness. A depressing bunch if ever there was, wouldn't you folks surely agree?! But a quite natural progression just the same.There are probably a few others which will come to mind if I think about the idea way too deeply. Oh, yes, there is the substantial feeling of sheer abandonment which I have been struck with on occasion. So, there you go.

   The reasons behind this extraordinary occurrence has been noted by a few admin bloggers and webmasters over the years. Before my involvement, this wasn't taken too seriously on a personal level, of course, yet many of these experiences bloggers have noted which I read with some small indifference have been replaced under later circumstances by others with people even more fervently interested than those early, sometimes lukewarm followers which they were left without. Therefore, the lack was barely noticeable. Funny thing, in my own circumstances with the subject I mainly write about, many of those people tend to be even more fickle with their patronage than the earlier guys and gals.

   I've teased my cynical, convoluted and overheated brain hard to try to figure this one out, but do not and have not come up with any sensible conclusions or satisfying answers whatsoever. Chalk it all up to it being sort of,  just 'one of those things'. Otherwise, there isn't much left for a rational explanation except human nature, or something. If I, myself, was the direct cause, surely these folks would of hinted in some way that I offended them somehow or didn't cater to their whims as inordinately as they so wished.

  To allow the good folks here an enlightening and possibly entertaining peek at the other side of this business, I will give one notable time from back in the days when we were starting to gain a pretty fair readership. I only refer to it publicly because the correspondent in question has not related in any way to the regional history blog in YEARS:

   This rare occurrence was, in fact, primarily about principles. OK, so I'm old fashioned. The situation concerned a really integral and influential lady that knew I was considering a sort of investigative expose of someone 'high up'. Also, a unique person themselves who had originally encouraged me strongly and put it delicately, not very much, on important issues within the space of a few months.  "Why bother?", the lady bluntly stated. That stumped me in my tracks as I felt this had already been thoroughly explained. Without going into an extremely detailed report, I reluctantly had responded to the effect that, well, my ancestry and services were in some ways harshly impinged and in my view it appeared to clearly be a matter of questioning my journalistic qualifications and to a degree, my integrity, in the process. Excuse me, but that was a touchy, even prickly factor to be stuck in through no actual fault of mine. It was obvious this seriously irked me, not just the usual amount which can often be ignored. Yes, indeed, at the time I was sorely tempted to go the route of what is termed yellow journalism. This apparently cooled the correspondent's heels toward me, a real shame.

   Readers need to know, I had to think this through pretty darn deeply before going the high road, when the facts and figures on the low road, so to speak, would easily speak volumes to anyone intimately associated with them, justifying my position. Still, a very successful post would of been the immediate result. It can be assumed I was all too openly and mistakenly offering my opinions to someone considered worthy of inside knowledge, who, I wouldn't of guessed, also had, as coincidence would have it, indirect access through contacts with the person rather 'high up'. Time to learn a lesson, I guess, and, oh I did! Whether the idea had any influence, I am not aware of any such proof, but in the long run, publishing the story might of made enemies, and I obviously wasn't careful enough with being discrete and suffered for it sometimes. In a way, my bad. I even referred to the story in an email with a successful author and collaborator; he also advised me against making waves.

   With this example, in spite of the lack of contact on her part, (I tried to keep in touch with the lady numerous times and finally just the yearly, "Merry Christmas" to no effect, except once when in a few words she said that she was moving on from the subject which seemed a tad unlikely, but may basically be the truth), to this day, I still appreciated her friendship while it lasted, highly respect her knowledge and class, remaining on good terms with the 'high up' party, and think the world of the lady. The lady that stopped having communications with me. Yep. Maybe that helps to give a perspective into the kind of stuff I am relating to here. That is not really the way it is though. Most of the loss of contacts, except in an email folder or a cell phone, were much more inexplicable and unexplained. No one was offended, nothing untoward occurred. Surprisingly, the underlying reality may not matter all that much. A successful blog exists and must be doing something right. And to be fair...not all contacts were completely lost. Some are just too busy, drifted apart and were only concerned with a few posts and will respond at times when we have reason to get in touch. A quick shout out to all you folks!

   One big silver lining on the foreground of this somewhat bleak windswept dark and clouded landscape, is the clear and continuous climb of page views and active popularity of the historical ramifications gathered up and presented here.

   It could be supposed that the matter should be left to the dustbin and ignored as an oddity not worth further mention. In a way, I wish I were that dishonest with myself. SOoo...I only relate one of these side issues because I care about what others think of the blog and its inner workings.

  Where The Big Boys (and Girls) Play

    In another aspect of this causeless neglect, more importantly perhaps, there has often been a barely minuscule response from proper organizations and reputable institutions across the board, even at this point of extended longevity. Jealousy, you say? H'mmm... possibly, although there has been some amount of contact. Did 'they' really notice 'Fayette/Westmoreland Forgotten History' that much? I wouldn't dare make the assumption, yet it is hardly invisible. It comes up fairly well on search engines, anyway. Just a concerted lack of attention. I can't say there has been a slew of concerted attempts to bring added attention on my part. Still that could be a detrimental fault of my own and doesn't completely explain the lack of proper treatment it receives. Certainly, no one could call me out for harassment, and that includes the newspapers, too. After all, it is fairly obvious the credentials are not there. I am not a guy with a Ph. D in history, a teaching tenure, or an historical society president. Not exactly on that premium level, I'm afraid. An outsider in many ways. Neither one that kisses up deeply or frequently with those that could affect or rarely offer a mumble of encouragement. It just isn't done that way here. So be it, friends.

   Frankly, I am getting tired of apologizing in halting, subdued terms for my lack of perceivable and self important influence with the movers and shakers of the archeological world and those sometimes high minded personages of historic preservation that still neglect many out of the way key interests that are 'on the map'. After all, these are documented items, some only given the attention deserved on these pages of fairly solid historical content on the list of meaningful connections in our state and this country. And there are serious repercussions to neglecting the history of this region and others - they are being plowed under and subject to destruction, simply put. We should all find this truly and totally unacceptable.

    Many of those that have resources to take up the cudgel and fight for OUR past and its due recognition blissfully ignore much else but their own pet projects to the detriment of all those that are not on the door step of, say, Philadelphia or Harrisburg, the heavily populated environs, year after year, after year. If the approaching and encroaching on their favorite and coddled turf makes me seem to them disreputable and without merit, someone to be gently nudged out of view, I guess that is just a breath of fresh air in disguise. On the other hand...ha ha, you know I made more friends right there! Stuck my foot in it again.

 I am partly joking though, this well may NOT be properly describing a complicated situation. Don't take those comments too urgently. Some of these 'higher ups' do care, there's just not enough that do anything about it when prompted!

WARNING: Rant On The Way

    While I am in a critical vein, maybe, just maybe, this mood induces me to proclaim the facts as needed. The 'powers that be' should soon open their eyes wide enough and wipe the dollar signs of tourism and cobwebs of highly linked and higher placed vacuous self serving authority away which denudes their path strewn with misinformed assumptions and discover that here in a smaller, less innocuous venue is contained raw, honest to goodness concerns with a good smattering of research that is of a form of quality worthy of the masses.

    Then again, maybe not.

    They own their niche. Many, but not all, brush those like my humbler blog work aside from their conscience as dandruff from a lapel, while a few revel in doing so and could not ponder any other way of looking at things. Thus the lack of time and money are the key components fueling their paranoid nature, to desperately survive at all costs.

    I am also not guiltless when it comes to just not doing enough; there is always more time and effort I should squeeze out of my life to deal with the issues at hand. This is also a situation that concerns the express purposes of all our historical societies and their foundational interests, not always apparent in their fundraising endeavors. Their support of these causes are paramount to success for further activity in the long run. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

    On the bright, sunny side, at least, I am not so caught up in answering long emails, constant comments and phone inquiries about someone's ancestors, best hotels with a sauna, areas I've barely heard of, picking and choosing words very carefully and how fascinating they are in their own significantly fine minds. Consistently being drawn away from the basic intent of a history blog on minor, tedious back roads. There is that to be thankful for. Oh, but what forgotten wonders these back roads lead to!

   Well, whatever is behind the stony and blank facade, that's something I'm use to experiencing by now. I might not understand the implications very well, but will get over it in the end.

   The creative and investigative side of writing these posts are very much enjoyed and I have had plenty of fun coming up with different ideas, though lax in presenting them frequently. I do sincerely hope to continue to intrigue and at the same time help to educate discerning visitors; indicative perhaps of deserving of a certain response and captivating people enough to justify considering and expecting the odd email, occasional comment, and return from Neverland of a few colleagues, collaborators and once closely involved, sympathetic parties.

   I do absolutely appreciate hearing from all of you, just the same. Thanks for reading of the oddity of this rather absurd predicament. You all matter extremely and I value your patronage and interest very much, otherwise I wouldn't make the effort in the first place.

   bottom line 

  The brass tacks of what it all boils down to is a simple request for your support through a basic interest in our history. If visitors, old colleagues, new sponsors, those that just have a passing acquaintance yet feel deep down they are much intrigued and one time collaborators, ALL, if YOU have indeed enjoyed and gained some satisfaction through F/WFH then, by all means, come back to the fold, take time to keep involved, give me some needed feedback and show a degree of support!  

THANK YOU and God Bless.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave a comment

Contact Form


Email *

Message *