By Jim McCloskey
I’ve never had much luck when it comes to using this time of year, as so many do, to take stock, review the year just ending or think in any significant way about what’s to come with a fresh page on a newly printed calendar.
The reasons for this are simple: WaterShapes exists in service to professionals who return the favor by supplying us with almost all of our content – by the trade, for the trade. It has always operated in a universe in which what I might want, when I might want it, has to be subordinated to what’s going on with those who participate in what we’re doing. If they’re busy, my plans get pushed back, often for weeks or even months. As a result, I tend not to think about what’s coming in hard, fast terms, because all too often it’ll fly right past my window.
Yes, I sometimes intend take up new tasks or start new programs or article sequences in some sort of alignment with the arrival of a New Year, but things seldom work out. I’ve had magazine launches slip from January to February or March, for instance, and I’ve seen how tough it is to project rollouts for new components on the WaterShapes.com web site, because almost invariably digital doodads take longer to polish and launch than anyone anticipates. And in the past with WaterShapes magazine or, now, with the WaterShapes newsletter, it may be my intention to add new wrinkles to start the year, but I can’t recall having made too many things happen in accordance with the calendar.
Most things we pursue do come through eventually, thank goodness, so I’ve learned to be impatient in constructive ways by continuously finding new resources to draw on and keep the juggling act going on in such a way that nobody’s the wiser. It can be stressful at times, but after almost 30 years of working with watershapers to get things done, I’m generally comfortable with how things unfold. So mostly, instead of annual sit-down sessions, I work at stock-taking and product development constantly, typically with fingers crossed.
All of this is a preamble to my New Year’s message to you about what I think/hope/pray is coming to WaterShapes in the weeks and months to come. Don’t hold me to a timeline, but rest assured that before long you’ll see:
[ ] A new contractor-contact module on our web site. This will give professional watershapers the opportunity to market their services as designers, engineers and builders to other watershapers as well as to consumers, more of whom are finding their ways to WaterShapes.com every day.
[ ] A new design for the home page that will increase the amount of information directly available to site visitors. We’ll be adding new article arrays, increasing the number of features linked from the home page and speeding access to the huge assortment of information available beyond the home page.
[ ] A new widget that, when you find an article on a topic of interest, suggests additional content that might be of use or interest. Driven by keywords, this system will save you the trouble of having to go back to conduct additional searches in your subject area of choice.
[ ] A new article series written by a number of watershapers who have transitioned their businesses from hand-drawing to computer-assisted design. I will always see drawing skills as being extremely valuable for designers, but in a digital age, it only makes sense to start thinking in terms of digital solutions.
[ ] Finally, with the departure of Ripples from the newsletter – and this change, ironically, does kick in with this first-of-the-New-Year edition – I’ll be stepping in with my selection of the two or three most significant watershape-related links to stories that have appeared on the Internet in the few days leading up to each newsletter’s release date. Some will be odd or amusing; others will be newsy or otherwise informative. Always, my aim will be to surf the web so you don’t need to bother.
With the exception of the last item, don’t hold me to any dates. But rest assured that all of these things are already well into the works and will be reaching to you soon to enrich the WaterShapes Experience.
Be well, and have a great and prosperous New Year!