The Past: Deep in the archives of Rochford Life we have the following ‘trial’ that we put on the first page when we initially set up:
EDITORIAL: 27th September 2010
We're getting near to being ready to publish. We’ve been preparing for this for the past year. More than once we wondered whether we should do this. At the end of the day we’ve decided, yes, we’d like to do this for Rochford. Our aim, as we’ve written in the “Who We Are” section, is to draw people of Rochford together, if that is possible, by making people known. Last year we carried out a small number of trial interviews and we’re going to present them shortly and then try to update them. Every person we’ve talked to about doing this has been very encouraging and helpful. We’re a bunch of amateurs but we’ll see what we can do!
On the 4th August 2010 we had our first pukka ‘Editorial’. Back then the editorial became a means to tell you what had been added in the previous week. A couple of weeks after this one we wrote, “It’s been an encouraging week. Near the end of it, no less than four different people said how good they felt the site was. One of them said, “It is simple, straight forward, easily readable, and easy to find your way around. We purred with delight for those are exactly the characteristics we wanted for it. We aren’t here to sell anything – except Rochford itself and that to its residents.” That was an interesting comment because the reality has turned out to be that people in both Australia and the USA at least, have found Rochford Life. Sometimes it has been people who have either lived here in the past or who have family here, or who are trying to make contact with people here. It has been an interesting time.
The Present: But now it is October 2019 – we are nine years old! If we were a dog this would make us 63 by human standards, and the sixties are a time for reflection. I happened to have been speaking to a group recently and commented on the changes that have taken place in nine years and said, “If the truth be told, I have wondered if it was time to close Rochford Life but like a much loved and aging pet I am loath to put it down.” The truth is that nine years ago there were not that many websites around and so we provided a real service to the community (so a number of you have told me) by providing contact information for shops, businesses, clubs, groups, organisations etc. etc.
Today when I look around the vast majority have their own website. In fact I wonder why some of the other search sites are also still in operation because if I want to know about your presence as one of these I mentioned above, I will probably speak to Google on my phone and no doubt others speak to their Alexa, Siri or whatever. In other words the amount of information has multiplied so much in these nine years, that really the need for our presence is now strictly limited. We do provide an overview that is sometimes clearer than some other providers but the main directory provision need is far less today than it was nine years ago. For those who don’t feel as confident yet at talking to their phones, iPads etc., we do still provide direct links to the local NHS news pages, the District Council’s news pages and the airport news pages, as well as keeping updated on the Library activities each month.
The Problems: As the years have passed we have encountered one or two problems of note. The biggest one has been the fact that, even though we ask people to inform us when their personal information changes, it has only been very rarely that that has happened (there have been one or two exceptions – thank you guys!) This means that prices change – so we no longer carry menus – or other information gets out of date, which we don’t like. The other problem that we have fought to overcome is that once material is recorded by Google it seems to remain in their archive, even though we may delete the page. This has happened several times and so when a business, say, closes down, the only way we can remove their information is create a new blank page that Google picks up. A nuisance not insoluble. Sorry in the past if you suffered from this. There is also a strange phenomenon that means if you have been to an outdated and changed page, unless you get into the habit of refreshing the pages you use, you will still come up with the old one. We used to put our own contact number at the top of every page but when we realised that users often didn’t read beyond the top line of the page, we removed our number hoping that users would read down and get the right contact number they needed. The lesson is please scroll down, because the ghost in the (Google) machine appears to keep our number there even though we have now removed it.
The Provision: Having said all we have about our obsolescence, we do still provide five ‘recreational pages’ for light reading – Silver Surfers, Thought for the Month, Tapestry, Quiz pages and ‘Growing Stuff, as well as the five educational-
Well that’s it. Will we be here for our tenth birthday? I don’t know. But the basic rules still remain for the present – we are happy to provide information about your shop, business, club, group, organisation etc. – if you send us the information (and are even willing to do an interview to convey more information if you want). It is free, we charge nothing, and it will stay there until you tell us it has changed. So, we’re still here and still grateful for the encouragements that a number of you send us. Thanks guys, we appreciate it.