By Jim McCloskey
When WaterShapes first appeared in February 1999, those of us behind the magazine had some definite hopes about how things would play out in our declared marketplace.
[ ] First was the hope that there really was an emergent watershaping community out there, just waiting to take form – and that the people who designed and installed swimming pools, ponds, fountains and various other waterfeatures had more than enough in common with one another to define the need for a forum for the exchange of ideas.
[ ] Second was a hope that, if WaterShapes worked and the voices of pool designers and builders started being heard along with those of landscape architects and other designers in that common forum, then it would follow that a diverse advertising base would take note and the magazine would gradually thicken in ways that would make it possible for us to do more and more in support of both readers and the marketers who wanted to reach them.
[ ] Third was a hope that watershaping would prove to be a global endeavor reaching well beyond the borders of our home markets in the United States and Canada. Again, we saw that if the voices of European and South American and Australian watershapers began to be heard in our forum on anything approaching a steady basis, our own continent’s industry would benefit (as would our foreign compatriots) and there was a possibility that we’d witness an explosion of communication, creativity and design capability.
There were other things Eric Herman and I saw coming through the mist, but the three listed just above were, as we saw it, the keys to building a healthy Watershaping Industry and ensuring its success (and ours) into the future.
Our hopes about the emergence of a greater watershaping community began coalescing the minute our first issue hit the streets, and we were also gratified by the way the continental marketplace responded. Indeed, we had a number of prosperous years in the run-up to the Great Recession and, with the support of that same marketplace, are making headway again as an all-digital forum.
So what about the other extension on the three-legged stool I mentioned above? Well, I have to concede that truly international scope is something we have yet to realize on any sort of satisfying scale. We tried various outreach programs in the span from 2001 through 2006, but there were always hurdles related to language and expense we just couldn’t overcome – at least not with a printed magazine.
With time and our all-digital approach, however, I see fresh hope and opportunities emerging on the international front. Manufacturers and distributors have seen and pursued these opportunities for years, of course, and there are several watershaping companies that can be said to operate with global scope. But for them, the hurdles are lowered by the fact that they deal in products that are somewhat self-explanatory with respect to function and performance.
More encouraging to me today is the fact that the National Swimming Pool Foundation is busily expanding its international presence, building on the fact that pool operators from 81 countries have taken its training courses. What I like about this is that NSPF deals in information and subtle conversations about ideas with their foreign contacts – and I have to say I don’t mind the thought of them blazing a trail for an entity like WaterShapes.com to follow.
My friends at Genesis 3 have also long been proponents of building relationships with professional organizations around the world, aware of the fact that standards and codes adopted overseas inevitably have rippling effects closer to home. I’ve always seen this outreach as a wonderful idea – another step on the path to creating a planet-wide Watershaping Industry.
However this global marketplace develops, WaterShapes.com will be there. And if web services keep making such creditable strides in text-translation capabilities, it may not be long before we see my third original hope for WaterShapes come to pass.