Milestone Time

By Jim McCloskey

I was chatting with a high-school friend a couple weeks back – someone I hadn’t spoken with in quite a while, so we had lots of catching up to do.

Once we passed beyond kids and grandkids and a brief discussion of the vicissitudes of advancing age, he asked how I was spending my time these days and let me know he’d heard through another of our shared friends that I wasn’t in the magazine business anymore.

That’s right, I said, but before the magazine went away in 2011, we had started a digital version of WaterShapes as a twice-monthly complement to the magazine.  Once the magazine stepped aside, we’d scaled up our digital presence and had been producing our newsletters without interruption ever since.

“Damn,” he said, “if you’ve been at it a twice a month since before 2011, you must have a whole lot of newsletters under your belt by now.”

I hadn’t thought about it, but I knew he was correct:  As I noted at the end of WaterShapes World last time, July 27 marked publication of the 150th edition of this newsletter – meaning we’ve done more of them by count than we ever managed to produce in print and did it in about half the time with, by now, a larger count of original articles than ever managed to make their ways into the printed magazine.

Between February 1999 and July 2011, we printed 141 separate magazines.  While we were at it, we published approximately 500 feature articles.

In the span from May 2010 to July 2016, we’ve generated 150 all-digital newsletters.  Within these compilations, we’ve added to the article trove to the tune of nearly 600 additional, web-exclusive articles – and this includes more than 100 features built around videos that approach watershaping on an all-new level.  (We also reprise some old magazine articles to keep them alive in peoples’ minds, but that represents less than a quarter of our newsletter offerings on an annual basis.  Beyond that, it’s all new, all the time.)

The thing that amazes me is that we’ve done all of this digital-content generation in less than half the count of years – and because of the advantages of digital publication have been able to do so with many more photographs, almost all of which can be blown up to nearly full screen size for closer examination.  And there are the aforementioned videos, which I’m certain will become a stronger component of what we do in the future.

I never thought I’d say it, but I think WaterShapes is better now than it’s ever been in terms of accessibility and detail.  I’m definitely not knocking anything we did in print, particularly when it comes to quality and depth, and I know how much I miss working with Eric Herman on the editorial side and Rick Leddy on design – but I have to say that the all-digital approach creates opportunities we had to leave on the table with our printed magazine, and that was never an ideal situation for the crew of perfectionists we became.

Many thanks to my good friend for making me think about how far WaterShapes has come since 2010.  We had a family get-together a week or so back, and I took the opportunity to make a heartfelt toast to our progress and opine that it’s only getting more fun for me with each passing day.

Allow me to raise another, albeit figurative glass to you, my readers – and confirm our commitment to maintain the lofty trajectory WaterShapes set out to track nearly 18 years ago:  Onward and upward!

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