The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Thursday, April 7, 2011

On American OO in the Internet Age

One of the features I enjoy in this website is the gadget over in the right column that features the ten most popular posts this week. It is driven by the Google Analytics results of which pages in the last seven days have been most viewed. I like watching it to see what comes up as it is partially a result of links from recent articles and partially a result of searches done by site visitors. It gives a sense of what articles have generated content related to things people are actually looking for. Some come up for random reasons related to searches unrelated to American OO but the main Lionel OO article has never dropped out of the top ten and for sure that article is a first destination for people just getting into Lionel OO.

A few days ago an article from 2008 on JC Models came up in the search rankings for the first time. Why? I suspect because a number of JC OO gauge kits have come up on eBay recently.

This ties in actually with the editorial in the most recent (March, 2011) issue of The OO Road, the newsletter of the American OO SIG of the NMRA. The question there being in this Internet age what is the function of a traditional newsletter? For sure part of the modern newsletter audience is that percentage of people who are not able to access the Internet easily. But on the other hand, most of the OO SIG members actually do have Internet access and they use it to search sites like this for articles and information that would largely be lost in back issues and inaccessible to people who did not own them in hard copy. And I try to add new content at least every week, so there is a reason to keep coming back.

I have a number of published articles in my field but also have in my field a large presence online. With American OO being a long-time interest of mine I set up this site three years ago in April of 2008, and with OO being such and outlier to modern model railroading and modern train collecting this was for sure the right thing to do as the number of people with an interest in OO is I think going up—at least site traffic is thanks to Google and more seems to be showing up on eBay. This is part of why I set up this site; with the basic skills down it is not that hard to put up a site like this, you only need to generate the content, and I had a good start on that content as I had previously worked out in a book draft and two articles (the latter written with the late Ed Morlok, published in the October, 1986 and April, 1987 issues of The Train Collectors Quarterly).

In terms of new content I have a lot of ideas for the site, and the support of readers with photos and ideas has been extremely helpful also. All that I need is time, which sometimes is in short supply.

I do like print publications though, that you can hold in your hands. In working through OO history nothing helps more than old magazines and catalogs. I have a series started looking at OO history though the years and I look forward to when I get into the time frame that The OO Road was launched by Ed Morlok, there is a lot of interesting information in those back issues of the SIG newsletter to highlight. It will take a few years to get there though.

For sure there is still room for a traditional newsletter like The OO Road but it is a changing time—print publications are rapidly becoming less relevant, especially so in such a small niche market as American OO. When I launched the site there was very little online about American OO. But today if you are a train collector and stumble across some OO gauge JC kits for sale you can search and find information on this website. It is a new world.

If you are a regular reader I would still recommend that you join the OO SIG (information here) and support that publication with new content. And also consider setting up a site of your own or perhaps a message board. There are many ways to spread the word out there; it is up to all of us to do what we can.

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