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Digital Initiatives - a more realistic/pessimistic view  
 

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Pillar Of The Community
United States
658 Posts
Posted 01/07/2017   2:48 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Climber Steve to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
To play a bit of devil's advocate here, I spend far too much time each day in front of a computer screen, like right now. I do a lot of volunteer work; advocacy work, fundraising, and the like; mostly done on line and via e-mail. It is a REAL pleasure to be able to knock off work for the day and be able to thumb through an actual print philatelic publication. Couple days ago, I got the January American Philatelist and stayed up an extra hour just to read it. I don't get into everything that comes in each issue of the A/P, but I find it to be extremely valuable. Between Xmas and New Year's, it was an issue of Linn's.

Along the same lines, I get most of the information about my several specialties from the print publications coming from my specialist societies (Portu-Info, Polonus, Mexicana, etc.). Before anyone chimes in about how young people spend all their time on line, I've had a number of Millenials tell me that they too enjoy a break from the digital world. I don't discount the value of online philatelic sites, but there has to be a balance.

"they need to look at Steiner pages......" I'll pass on those. They're too small to fit into my Big Blue International binders and I don't have a wide format printer. Steiner pages also have no value for all my specialized stuff; I still need Scott or Subway blank quadrille pages for that material.
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Posted 01/07/2017   3:38 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
...but there has to be a balance...


Hi Steve,
I agree, I am all for balance.

But for there to be a balance both sides have to be equal. Can anyone really argue that philately is anywhere near a balance between the 'face-time' hobby and the 'online' hobby?

I can certainly list more out-of-date, poorly implemented philatelic websites than well done ones. Anyone want to defend basic online philatelic resources like the APS Glossary http://stamps.org/Glossary-of-Terms? This pitiful one page list, with it's handful of terms, is the best an organization like APS can muster to help new hobbyists?

Surely no one would tout any of the major catalog or album publishers has having made transition to digital really well. (i.e. Amos digital catalogs were abysmal implementations.)

The major philatelic libraries have also struggled and many have now locked themselves into a technology corner but digitizing into PDFs.

And shows? How many shows have embraced technology well? It took the International Show 6 month to even produce a half-baked attendance accounting.

What does it say about the state of our hobby when eBay can outperform ever other commercial philatelic implementation? That APS struggles, even when it is exponentially better in terms of quality material and buyer recourse, to even make it's online store pay for itself?

It seems to me that a rather large gap has grown between the traditional, organized hobby and the largest group of today's hobbyists (online folks like us). The evidence for this seems pretty apparent, simply look at the decline of local, national or international memberships rolls.

We can only make one of two conclusions; either the hobby in general is dramatically declining or a large number of hobbyists are finding they can interface with philately online and don't want/need memberships in the traditional clubs and organizations.

Can anyone point any significant effort that has been made to capture new hobbyists using online technology?

I think that we are long, long way from being close to achieving any kind of balance.
Don
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
658 Posts
Posted 01/07/2017   5:55 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Climber Steve to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Don: maybe then I'm not the best possible spokesperson for the "old way" of doing things. Steve

1) "poorly implemented, philatelic web sites than well done ones." Those that I visit regularly; MEPSI and Polonus; seem well done.
2) major catalog or album publishers: no argument from me about the shortcomings of the Scott catalogs.
3) "The major philatelic libraries....." Rocky Mountain seems to be in good shape. I can't speak for others.
4) "And shows....." I'm attending WESTPEX this year for the first time ever. They have a very good web site. Same for Rocky Mountain Stamp Show, which I attend occasionally. Can't speak for others.
5) "....when eBay can outperform......" Don't do eBay. When I've looked for specialty Portuguese area stuff, the scant amount of stuff found on eBay has been grossly overpriced. eBay thus does not meet my needs.
6) "don't want/need memberships in the traditional clubs......." I've never belonged to any regularly meeting stamp clubs, even before the advent of all the online activity.
7) "any significant effort.....capture new hobbyists using online technology?" Mystic seems to do OK in that regard.
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Posted 01/07/2017   7:06 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Steve,
The issue here is that desktop computing is no longer the predominate platform. About 5-8 years ago everyone saw that ubiquitous computing was about to take over. That day arrived a while back, well over 50% of all online traffic is now coming from mobile devices. Moving forward we will all have our computing with us, on our person. Desktop computing will become a much rarer thing. Why run to your desktop, fire up your browser, and type stuff into Google when you can simply ask Echo? What happens to desktop computing when a device like Echo moves to our wrist? The desktop computing era is over, philately is once again about 10 years behind the curve.

The website you list (i.e. MEPSI) is a good example of a 1995 website. It represents a good site for that era but in terms of current online technologies it does not meet any of the current ‘mobile friendly' requirements. To test any website you can enter the address into a free Google analyzer https://search.google.com/search-co...ile-friendly



As you can see, it fails on several important levels. Websites which are designed and coded using HTML5, CSS, PHP, ASP etc are considered current and compatible for the majority of for today's browsers. The sites you mention are not designed or coded this way. The MEPSI site fails in several other key areas including not being SEO friendly (no meta data like descriptions and keywords, this results in search engines ranking it very low). What good is having great content if the majority of users cannot see it on their 320 pixel wide screens? (I hate it when people then try to argue, "yes, but most of our current users are older people who don't use mobile devices'. Inevitably when I follow up and ask how many user do they think they are missing out on the only answer is a blank stare. They have no clue on how many visitors are opening they website and leaving within 10 seconds due to this issue.)

I concur that the Rocky Mountain library has a good grasp on technology. They have a mobile friendly site that is properly coded and is well positioned for moving forward. In fact the philatelic libraries like RMPL and the Royal are the most technology suave groups in philately. The trouble they are facing is more because they all invested in PDF technology; and PDFs are not mobile friendly. So what is the PDF plan? I asked this question to the Philatelic Library group and got some feedback. Some libraries, like the Royal, have enough resources and vision to be considering their options. Others are not; and no one has any solutions at this point. There are also a few other notable good, current websites for stamp collectors but my point stands; for every one of these we can name a dozen more which fail. Would you send a new hobbyists to Mystic? Do we send new hobbyists to the APS website to learn? How does a new hobbyist who isn't on a desktop view and read a PDF file? Scroll endlessly side to side and up and down? Make the font size so small that it cannot be read?

Membership in clubs and organizations and other subscriptions to philatelic publications have all declined greatly in the exact same time that the internet popularity rose. This was not a coincidence. We changed how, when and where we want our information delivered to us. Philately is competing with our time bandwidth and other hobbies/interests; we need to be not just promoting the hobby but also making the basic information that new hobbyists need freely available to them. I think that doing things like charging for the beginner "APS Stamp Identifier" booklet is just nuts. Posting embarrassing incomplete basic stamp Glossary is inexcusable for an organization that needs to be capturing the hearts and minds of new hobbyists.

I think that we are seeing a growing divide between ‘old school' philately and ‘techy philately'. The techy folks that I have been talking to over the last few years are not a part of the ‘old school' thinking; many felt excluded so they moved away and are doing it on their own. My fear is that this divide is going to continue and this will result in the diminishing/loss of some of the great opportunities. I know that organizations like APS are now much, much less relevant to me due to the lack of technology.
Don
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Pillar Of The Community
Finland
585 Posts
Posted 01/08/2017   04:32 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add scb to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I think that we are seeing a growing divide between ‘old school' philately and ‘techy philately'. The techy folks that I have been talking to over the last few years are not a part of the ‘old school' thinking; many felt excluded so they moved away and are doing it on their own. My fear is that this divide is going to continue and this will result in the diminishing/loss of some of the great opportunities. I know that organizations like APS are now much, much less relevant to me due to the lack of technology.


Being one of those 'techy' collectors (doing their own thing) I'll underwrite this statement any day.

Possibly a new venue for this talk is what should the role of philatelic organizations be in digital world? Should be be 'builders' (building and maintaining services of their own) or 'enablers' (opening new venues for all interested parties)?

Right now philatelic organizations such as APS seem to have lots of interest on becoming 'builders', but zero interest on becoming 'enablers', whereas if considering the true need of this hobby of ours (and the true nature of digital world), it should be just the opposite.

Just my 5 cents worth,

-k-
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United States
405 Posts
Posted 01/08/2017   07:03 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add angore to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I finally got a smart phone over the holidays and already find many sites unusual. In fact, many sites have custom apps to maximize the experience on the smartphone rather than interfacing through a browser. I now see why many web sites changed their format of presenting info.

Technology is the way to connect with potential members. APS needs to stop trying to grow the hobby by converting heathens into stamp collectors (diminishing returns) but focus on the ones who are not members. You can build a library and nice HQ but a limited few can take direct advantage of it. However, if they can access services via the Internet (education, social interaction, etc) you have a chance of improving the appeal of APS to collectors.
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Al
Pillar Of The Community
United States
658 Posts
Posted 01/08/2017   10:27 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Climber Steve to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
OK Don. So I entered another URL in the link that you gave me and nothing happened. There is apparently nothing to click on to start the test. ????
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
1097 Posts
Posted 01/08/2017   10:35 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add littleriverphil to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Steve, hit "enter"
I just tested this site, Not so good.
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Posted 01/08/2017   12:08 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
littleriverphil,
This site has an excuse, it's foundation is an SQL database and requires a ton more coding to make it responsive. Try the APS site.

Steve,
After entering the link and hitting enter, you have to check the 'recaptcha' box. (This stops 'robots' from using the form programmaticly.)



Don
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