Content and configuration

We’re putting together the next issue of Gardner’s Beacon and got looking into this old issue. It has to do with ‘hats’ as they relate to roles. And, this implies lots that relate to cognitive issues. We’ll continue on this theme, which deals with whether there is an AI (or is it a chimera?). One sure hears a lot of discussion on this topic, again.

As well, we are reviewing what was done, to date, since we started our quest for understanding the origins of the U.S. with respect to the people involved. This includes family. But, let’s do the recap.

Having filled in Dr. Frank’s entire tree and surveyed all of the material that we could find on the web, or get our hands on, with regard to Thomas Gardner and early New England, we are at the point where we can start to fill in what was left incomplete 100 years ago. One task will be to describe what we want to do, with an accompanying ToDo list. Wishes, even. Of course, priorities will be necessary. Getting prepared to support 400th celebrations will be one major theme. It’s time to tackle documenting the first five or so generations starting with Thomas and Margaret. We need to summarize Cape Ann families. Some, like Conant, Balch, and Woodbury, have made a good start. We can settle issues related to how things went; on reading the literature, there are many stories, some of which conflict. And, that activity will help us look at origins.

Briefly, one can think of content as that which people want to read. For any content, there are configuration issues that pertain to how it is developed and offered. This got a little more complicated with the computer involved. There are two hats (despite McLuhan’s take on the matter) that we have to balance. One might even talk more hats as technology progresses. Hence, this topic will be a recurring theme for us and the TGS, Inc.

Besides the Thomas Gardner page, there are several other pages on Wikipedia. One considers the house that was built at Cape Ann the first year using material brought by the crew. John Endicott had this dwelling moved to Salem. Rev. Higginson mentioned the ‘faire’ thing. John Winthrop was feted there on his arrival. Of course, John Winthrop wasn’t pleased with the area and moved on. Salem became a wallflower? Another page deals with ‘old planters’ of which there are several types. Dr. Frank and friends started a group (named Old Planters Society) where the scope was those who entered New England prior to 1630 and who were not associated with the Mayflower group.

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In terms of publication, this is the ninth year of Gardner’s Beacon which is our newsletter and which we expect to produce several times a year. The Gardner Annals is our research publication. Volume V of the TGA will publish this year. The first four volumes of the TGA are in print mode with the first eight volumes of Gardner’s Beacon included. One can purchase a set with each print version having two volumes of the TGA. With the coming issue of the TGA, we are considering printing all five volumes together.

We have published articles in The Essex Genealogist as well as via our own publication efforts. Some of our work has been suggested as being suitable for publication in the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s Register, especially information about Margaret. We have printed the first four volumes of the TGA and expect to republish these in one volume that would be suitable for libraries.

We have extended requests for articles. As we look to document early generations, we expect that this information will be written in a form that is suitable for an article. The Gardner Annals would present these for public consumption. Of course, part of our renovate will be introducing eBusyness capabilities. Lots of alternatives have been reviewed. I am still of the notion that we can roll our own.

Speaking of which, issues related to configuration will be a constant. In our case, concurrent with the construction of the Wikipedia page, we started a blog to report about things that were found, read, and written about. We already had blogs dealing with economic and engineering concerns so a known process was used. The TGS blog was hosted on Blogger which was bought by Google. About the same time, we started a website, ThomasGardnerSociety.org, using the OfficeLive facility of Microsoft. One motivation was to enter the ‘asp’ world and enjoy its benefits.

After all, Office had been incorporated in a lot of busyness and was being oriented to web publishing and on-line commerce. Lots of small businesses took the bait and built their future on the free offerings of Microsoft. Then, the plug was pulled. We were told that the direction would now be Office 360.

After a quick review, the need to focus on content resulted in a configuration change that fell back to stable web processes. For one thing, tables were the format. Then, menu options were provided via icon with attached links. It worked. However, as time went on, and content issues settled down, it was time to reconfigure.  

About then, a second blog was started with a focus on technology as there were many topics to address. As a control, we watched another organization that paid a developer to start a site for them. This was the 2012 timeframe where we had to get the kludged configuration to where content could be more easily managed. For instance, Google announced that it wouldn’t list any site that was not mobile friendly. So, that motivated some necessary changes.

That meant, put on the technology hat, again. Several web development systems were available including WordPress. We looked at a few and did several prototypes. This activity was all blogged. Well, the choice was to not use them and go with html/css/js. Turns out that many had made the same decision. Much to discuss there. We helped a couple other groups do a minimal site. Then, moving to TGSoc.org allowed us a new look.

Turns out that we are making a similar decision, again. Fortunately, those who find this type of stuff interesting have made many updates available some of which could be easily adopted. One choice has been to not do the general cloud but to rent server resources.

The internet is a mess, quite frankly. Problems abound everywhere one looks. We are trying to avoid potholes. 

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