A decade ago, the term “mission creep” passed into the vernacular; it describes the all-too-common situation in which various elements are added to a project, until at some point one realizes that the original concept of the project is no longer relevant. This usually happens when one person after another suggests that it would be a good idea to add “just this one little thing” until all the resources are drained and the project itself becomes virtually unmanageable. I suspect that this is what happened with our own Grand Lodge website development.
I wasn’t in on the concept from the start, so I can only guess as to how it happened; but I have a suspicion that the idea to give all of the lodges in Connecticut their own website, and then to link them all started out as something pretty simple. I do know that several Masons put a lot of their own time, money, and energy into getting the project off the ground, and for that I salute them. It could not have been easy to explain to the various non-Internet savvy committee members along the way how things could or should work. Even those of us with some computer background are surprised by the number of obstacles to a smooth transition – after all, most of us merely see the web pages, and have no idea about the underlying code, the layers of protection, the database linking, and the updating of a hundred different websites.
I do know that last year at this time I was pretty disgusted with the Friendship Lodge website; several crashes had taken out all of our trestleboard data (the various dates and descriptions of events). In mid-summer, the Grand Lodge site was hacked, and even more data was lost. Worse, some of the computer geeks in Friendship had modified our site by adding things to the template that all of the lodges were using, and each crash meant that the modifications had to be re-created. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I started blogging because I wanted a place to announce events, put up pictures, and keep the members of the craft informed.
Fortunately, the Grand Lodge website problems have been resolved, and for the last several months the administrators have been doing a fantastic job of keeping things running. They’ve added some useful features, like a search function for the various lodge activities, and online copies of our newsletter The Connecticut Freemason. They have polls, and a section where one can download various policies and procedures, and tons of contact information, and links of various Masonic interest. That they have not linked to The Tao of Masonry is surely an oversight. Excellent work, brothers!
One of the few nits left to pick, however, is that all of the lodges use the same template; with a few exceptions, the site for each lodge looks exactly like the others. This has been the source of much aggravation and many sleepless nights to the l33t h4xx0rs at Friendship Lodge – a cadre of men in their 20’s who have been wanting to upgrade the plain-vanilla site. So, over the last week they formed a committee and launched a new site: www.friendshiplodge33.org. Our Junior Warden Eric Charette heads up the committee, and is joined by his brother Kyle, and two of our newest members, Bill Reyor and Eric Tetreault.
While there is still some fine-tuning to be done, they have done a fantastic job of getting the new site up and running. They’ve been using Joomla content management software, mainly because that’s what our own Grand Lodge site is using – we’re looking down the road to where we can (hopefully!) replace the standard template with the new site. The new site has a calendar that’s fed from the GL Friendship 33 calendar, a place for members to post news and event articles, a photo gallery, a user forum (including a “tiled” section) and they promised me that they would soon have our own Wiki module set up. I can foresee setting up a forum group for the DeMolay chapter and Rainbow chapter that meet in our lodge, too.
Right now the site is being hosted on Bro. Kyle’s own server, so some of the content loads more slowly than we’d like. But I’d like all of my readers to stop by and give us some feedback, especially those of you from Connecticut. If nothing else, stop to share a joke at the Humor forum.