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    Quiet Month for NavList
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2018 Feb 25, 10:49 -0800

    It's been a quiet month, so the question arises: how quiet is it? Attached below is a graph of NavList (and before 2006, Navigation-L) monthly message traffic from the beginning of 2001 through the present. This month's been quiet, that's true, and about the same as May of 2017, but there's no clear trend downward in message numbers. Folks are just taking a break. 

    The trend that has I have watched for many years (and contemplated as a measure of the status of celestial navigation in the world) is the long-term stability over the past 10-15 years. The Internet has expanded enormously in those years, but NavList has been stable, at a plateau. It should be growing. This is only a crude measure of overall interest in celestial navigation since online communities represent a very small fraction of navigation enthusiasts. Of note, fewer than 10% of people who have attended my classes at Mystic Seaport in the past nine years have joined NavList even briefly (but they often come back for more classes, so these are mostly people with strong interest in the material). When I ask, most say they're not interested in online conversations. That's the way the Internet has evolved: it is a passive medium to be viewed, read and absorbed, and interaction is limited to light social activities, like Facebook-style "sharing" for the vast majority of people while only a small fraction seek constructive conversation, like in NavList discussions. It's also a "discovery" problem. In the vast sea of Internet information, Google and other search engines prefer and promote the passive options, like Wikipedia, and rank online discussion communities as old-fashioned. Paradoxically, the deep archive of old messages works against us in that scoring system.

    Want to see more discussions? Need more NavList in your diet? :) The best promotion remains word-of-mouth. So if you want to breathe some life into the discussions as Spring comes upon us, tell your friends. That always works best. :)

    Frank Reed


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