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ISWonline at 10: a long, strange trip.

As far as I'm concerned, Harry Urban, not Al Gore, invented the Internet. At the very least, it was my long-term colleague who introduced me to the Internet before I had the capability of connecting to the World Wide Web on my own.

It was early August of 1995 when Harry, then publisher of Wood & Wood Products and Custom Woodworking Business, summoned me to his office to get a first-hand Lesson about the World Wide Web. He had Logged onto a chat room in which people were pouring their hearts out over the death of Jerry Garcia, guitarist and leader of the Grateful Dead. I don't recall any specific threads posted by the grieving Dead Heads, but I do know that I instantly grasped the enormous power of the Web and its phenomenal ability to spread information around the globe and connect like-minded people from anywhere in real time. My mind raced at the possibilities of disseminating information to a wider professional woodworking audience more quickly.

Thus began my personal long, strange trip into cyberspace, an odyssey that continues as we observe the 10th birthday of our Web site, Industrial Strength Woodworking, www.iswonline. com. It's an occasion worth celebrating and to pause and reflect on where we were, where we are and where we're headed.

We Were, Where We

The Sept. 19, 1996 Launch of ISWonline resulted in one of my personal favorite columns. It consisted of the large ISWonline icon, a bright yellow 55-gallon barrel bearing the W&WP, CWB and ISW logos, and a brief editors note instructing readers to log onto to read the column. I think it was a clever way of trying to draw readers' attention to the new Web site. As a side benefit, it bought me a couple of extra days to actually write the column because of the Lag time between getting all of the pages to the printer and mailing the issue.

I can't rightly say how many readers heeded my call and logged onto ISW or how much traffic ISW generated in its first month of service. I can, however, say that visitor traffic continues to increase each year. Indeed, 58,575 unique visitors came to ISWonline Last month, 14,860 of which visited two times or more. In comparison, ISWonline hosted 47,157 unique visitors in August 2005.

Where We're Headed

We take a lot of pride in ISWonline and continually look for ways to improve it as an information resource for the woodworking industry. To this end, we are busily working on an extensive redesign and reformatting of ISWonline, plus working on developing separate Web sites for W&WP and CWB. Our goal is to have these sites, plus new Looks for RedBookOnline and CLOSETS magazine's Web site, up and running by early October. The wild card to assigning a precise date to the Launch of the ISW family of Web sites is the time it will take to reclassify 10 years worth of feature archives into the new Web platforms.

We Guarantee It Will Be Worth the Wait

The new Web sites will sport a more contemporary look, have better internal search engine capabilities for mining information and include a better system of cross indexing information by topic or issue date. We also have several new features in mind that will be rolled out in future months.

Coinciding with this effort is a redoubling of our efforts to provide the most comprehensive news coverage of the wood products industry as possible on a timely basis. To achieve this, we have increased the staff of the ISW News Team from three to six editors. In addition to generating fresh news copy and editing press releases to post online, the members of this team will scour the Web for news from international, national and local newspapers, periodicals and other Web-based sources to keep on top of breaking news such as plant openings and closings, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory news and more.

The Right Information Is Everything

Information has always been at the core of W&WP's mission. W&WP and its extended family of publications pledge to continue providing readers with a well-rounded mix of news and features pertaining to the markets each serves. The pledge of ISWonline and its related Web sites is to do all that and more on an expedited basis.

As always, we look forward to hearing your comments about what more we can do to serve your needs that will help your business prosper. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail at rchristianson
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Title Annotation:FOR THE RECORD
Author:Christianson, Rich
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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