A Few Thoughts On The Coop
The How & The Why
Once upon a time, long, long ago (around 1994), the Internet was virtually void of chicken pages. I started The Coop as a project to learn HTML and web design. Raising chickens was selected as a topic(why? Why not.) and The Coop was born. I never intended for it to be a big, ongoing project, I just needed something to write about. I was amazed by the number of people that were stopping by the site and giving me encouragement. There were literally hundreds of visits per month! The more I worked with the project, the more fascinated I became with the Internet's potential to bring together geographically seperate groups with common interests, promote sharing of information and ideas and act as an educational resource. I have carefully observed as the Internet has grown and changed over the years. This has piqued my curiosity and fueled my fascination. Catalyzed by that fascination, my background in management, communications and marketing led me to form L. Hadley & Associates in 1998 (but that is a different story.)
By April 1999, The Coop was visited by around 34,000 visitors per month who spent well over 5,000 hours reading the materials and resources presented. At times it staggers my imagination, but I know that this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Internet's potential.
A Couple Thoughts On The Internet and The Coop
My overall goal for The Coop is to create a central place where poultry enthusiasts can turn to find resources they seek, or to share the resources they have created with others. As the internet has grown, it has become a crowded library with no shelves. There is a wealth of material available, but it is time consuming at best to search for information. The irony is, as the volume of information increases, it becomes harder to find what you need. One goal for The Coop is to provide a level of organization to the far-flung treasury of poultry information on the net.
Another important trend is the increase in Internet users. A source I trust (Nua) estimates that there are currently 163.5 million people using the Internet. That number is growing at a teriffic rate and with it, the number of poultry enthusiasts available on-line. Imagine if we could tap the accumulated knowledge of each of these people! I hope to make The Coop a resource for tapping that knowledge, through The Classroom at The Coop, The e-mail directory, "expert resources" and the like. The goal here is to find beneficial ways to make connections.
The Internet will change the world as surely as the printing press, telephone, radio, TV or any other communication innovation. Ultimately, the purpose of The Coop is to assist the poultry fancy and small flock farmers to harness the power of this information revolution.
The Future Of The Coop
I have considered closing The Coop down on more than one occasion when I have found myself too busy to give it the level of attention I wanted. At that same time, the number of people using it kept growing and so I didn't. Now, The Coop meshes with L. Hadley & Associates business and I can afford to throw a few more resources at it. Even so, I will be looking at ways to increase the site's value to readers while making it less resource intensive. It will be an ongoing process and no doubt there will be periods when updates and new features are sparse.
Our first step is to update the pages look and navigation to make it easier and quicker. That process is under way. Our next project will be to add a "Farmer's Market" feature. The idea is to host basic pages on The Coop for Poultry enthusiasts. This will provide a very cost effective way for individuals, farms, and manufacturer/retailers to get their message out to the poultry enthusiasts of the world. In addition to a very reasonable price for hosting and managing the sites, each page(s) will become an integral part of The Coop and share in the 5,300+ hours of reader time that are currently being spent here. It doesn't take a degree in marketing to realize that this is a unique opportunity for businesses and individuals to reach a very select market. As the poultry community will benefit and many will profit, some of the revenue will go to The Coop to help alleviate the shortage of time and resources needed to keep it functioning smoothly. It looks like a win-win situation if the poultry community is ready to take advantge of it. Please stop by the future site of "The Farmer's Market" and find out more about what we have planned.
We are also looking at:
- Ways to make the Classroom @ The Coop (message system) easier and more reliable.
- Putting together panels of available "experts" to answer specific types of questions.
- Developing better indexing and registration processes for the Poultry People On The Net directory.
- Finding better ways to catalog and reference poultry shows and clubs.
- Continuing to update and improve the selection of available entries on the poultry links list.
We at The Coop hope you enjoy your visit and will stop by again to learn something, teach something, or simply share in our enjoyment of poultry. We look forward to getting to know you in the years to come.