Friday, March 15, 2013

Scratching the seven-year itch of agriculture news blogging

Today is officially the seven-year anniversary of the launch of Blogriculture. This site was, and remains, an area where the Capital Press staff has been able to interact with readers in a way not always possible on our main website.

It has also been a forum for experimentation and trying new things in the digital realm that we haven't always been able to do our Today, it mostly serves as the entry point for our podcasts and audio posts of Ag Minute audio.

But what will it be tomorrow (meaning the months and years ahead)? That is unknown.

Agriculture's use of digital media has grown tremendously since Blogriculture was born. Back in 2006 it took a lot of searching to find agriculture blogs of any kind. Today, they are seemingly everywhere. And if you add in blogs and websites about special interests related to the products farmers and ranchers grow, you can get lost in the digital web of food and farming sites. Farmers and foodies are also very active in social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. We have been proud to be a small part of that digital information explosion.

There are some big technology changes occurring soon at the Capital Press and its parent company, EO Media Group. A new computer system produced by the people at Saxotech will make it much faster and easier for the Capital Press and her sister publications to publish to the web and it bring changes to the manner in which we print too.

On the digital front, one of the biggest changes online readers of the Capital Press will see is a relaunched website that is built using responsive design. That means the same website will look and behave differently depending on what type of devise and what size browser window you have. Instead of building separate sites for desktop/laptop computers, tablets and smartphones, we will have one site capable of serving up our stories and photos in a format that works better with the device you are using.

The print and web publishing functions will be made possible by a new computer system designed to integrate with both web publishing and build pages destined for ink-on-paper printing. Our company is in the process of installing that system now and will be rolling it out over the next several months in a process that is likely to take most of this year, and may stretch into next year. It's a massive project for us.

What that means for Blogriculture, specifically, is that our chief contributor here, Will Koenig, and I will be moving to new roles with the company to ensure our print papers continue evolve to take advantage of these new tools. Will and I hope to keep a hand in the digital realm in some regard, but given the size and scope of this project, it is difficult to know today just what that role may be and when we will be able to contribute specifically to things like podcast and blogs.

So, perhaps someone else (or several someones) at the Capital Press will pick of the torch at Blogriculture, just like Will picked up the torch after I moved into other activities a few years ago. Or perhaps sometime in the next few months, new posts to Blogriculture will dry up. It's hard to say. In the beginning, Blogriculture was launched because it was faster and easier to make updates here than on our main website. We also could customize our blog easier than we could our website and add features to it that either couldn't be added to our main site or required submitting a job ticket to a third-party vendor who may or may not help us successfully achieve the desired goal. Today, our main site is much faster and easier to update, we have more control over it and can do more things with it. And in a few months, the domain will boast a whole new look and feel that just wasn't possible even in our last website relaunch in August 2009.

These are exciting times for our company, but the excitement has a price of uncertainty for  Blogriculture. We are proud of the role Blogriculture has made in helping Capital Press evolved as a digital agriculture medium. It has played a huge role in helping us become better and faster at sharing information, not just in the Pacific Northwest, but nationwide and worldwide. It has helped us understand digital communication better and helped us communicate in ways that are just not possible in print.

It's fairly rare that a blog stays active for seven years. We are proud of the run so far. What will the future hold? Will the run continue? We will find out this and more in the months ahead.

Thank you, for taking the time to share this blogiversary with us and thank you to everyone who has contributed to Blogriculture as a poster, reader and commenter over the last seven years.

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