Thursday, July 2, 2020

Thanks a Million!

By M.C. Farrington
HRNM Historian

I never thought I would see this day.

Over 270 posts and five years ago, I took over the editorship of the six year-old Hampton Roads Naval Museum blog. Although we experimented with different formats such as long-form stories and book reviews, the most important factors for success were focusing on our artifacts and particular primary sources in our collection, leavened by brevity and timeliness.  From 2014 to 2018 we went from an average of 320 page views per post to over 4,000.

Statistics on page views from the HRNM's blog from its founding until June 2020. 

When Naval Network Warfare Command began blocking Blogger-hosted blogs on government computers and Google shut down their Google+ social media platform at around the same time over a year ago, our numbers plummeted once again.  Despite this, and the fact that the social media platforms that have come into being since the blog's founding have become the predominant platforms for news and information about museums, not to mention everything else, we have persisted and our numbers have even been climbing again as of late.
The top ten posts of the HRNM blog as measured in page views on Blogger, not counting those read on other ersatz aggregation sites (otherwise known as "content farms") around the web hosting HRNM posts without permission.  
Although it may never again hit the heights it did only a couple of years ago, writing for and editing this blog has been a surprisingly demanding yet subtly satisfying experience.

We could not have gotten close to one million page views without the work of current and former museum staffers such as educators Diana Gordon, Matthew Headrick, Jerome Kirkland, Julius J. Lacano, Joseph Miechle, Reece Nortum, A.J. Orlikoff, Alicia Pullen, and Zachary Smyers. HRNM Registrar Katherine Renfrew, former director Elizabeth "Becky" Dove and former curator Joe Judge also contributed pivotal posts during my tenure here.
A screen shot of the first HRNM blog post, published by then-HRNM historian Gordon Calhoun, who founded the blog.   
Helping us have been our contributing writers, made up of local authors and naval enthusiasts, museum interns and docents as well even drillling reservists, who each have contributed their deep and varied experience to the blog, such as Diane L. Cripps, Cmdr. Colette Grail, USNR, Justin Hall, Ira "Dick" Hanna, Matthew Krogh, J. Huntington "Hunt" Lewis, Sarah Linden-Brooks, Steve Milner, Alexander G. "Sandy" Monroe, and Christopher Pieczynski,

The blog's very survival has also sometimes depended upon the efforts of former and sometimes co-editor Laura Orr, the museum's education director, as well as Elijah Palmer, her deputy.  They have also written quite a few posts in their own right, both before and after my arrival.  

As my departure draws nigh, I will look back with pride at our modest attempt to make the collection of this museum and its parent command, the Naval History and Heritage Command, more accessible to naval enthusiasts, journalists, students, scholars, and those who are unable to visit either by circumstance, distance, or the ongoing pandemic prohibitions.

What the future holds, who can say?  As for the last few years, we have hopefully made local naval history more interesting for you along the way.  

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