RuskinARC Newsletter: Preservation at the Crossroads

We think the tagline to the last National Preservation Conference fits what we’ve been thinking, and what we’ve been hearing, for a long time. “Preservation at the Crossroads”. Development and “progress” are starting to over shadow preservation efforts all around the world. We’re trying to help with that with one important aspect of our product, public outreach. How do you get an elected government body to listen to your concerns over preserving your shared heritage? Make the electorate care. Educate them on what your community’s history means and why it’s important. And, as we’ve heard from a number of clients, if it’s not online, no one knows about it and if they don’t know about it, how could you possibly get them to care? Getting your story online is one of the tasks RuskinARC is built for and to help with that, we’ve added a few small but important features recently to help you embed all that wonderful RuskinARC information directly into your website. The Village of Oak Park has actually done just that and we’re dedicated to making these useful features work for you. This is your information, you should have the flexibility to use it how you want, like embedding it on your own website to show your community that these building really matter and should be saved.

We feel like we’re in a constant state of excitement around what communities are doing with RuskinARC, from Miami Beach’s amazing documentation effort (over 2,500 photographs!) to Abilene’s consistently growing survey work. We’re also excited to welcome Tulsa, OK and Galena, Il as new customers and we can’t wait to see how those communities can use RuskinARC in their important efforts. Here at RuskinARC, we believe that we are at a crossroads, but it’s one where preservation wins in the end, because the stories that we tell here are the ones that young people will remember and then work to preserve.

Are we at a crossroads and, if so, what does that crossroads look like to you? Please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

RuskinARC Newsletter: Academic Pricing and a New Feature

Academic Pricing Now Available

We’ve recently introduced an academic pricing tier for use with short term student projects. For just $99 a month, you can use RuskinARC for your student project at the full Premium level access. Just let us know how many months you’ll need it and we’ll get it all set up for you. Also, if you or the city or historic society decide that you want to keep the project longer, we can convert you to a full fledged long term account with the flip of a switch, so you won’t have to worry about losing all of your hard work. Contact us today to learn more.

Image Reordering Coming Soon

Soon, you’ll have the ability in RuskinARC to reorder the images posted on a resource. This will let you define which image will show as the first one on a resource instead of just having them ordered by when you uploaded them. It was an often requested feature and now it’s finally added. On each image on a resource in edit mode, you’ll now see an up arrow button next to the caption. Just click that and the image will move up one spot. Easy reordering!

Look for that to get added this weekend when we roll out a new version.

Saving Homes at Risk for Demolition

John Poole, who has been doing some interesting surveys of homes on his blog, A Preservationist’s Technical Notebook, has recently written anopen letter concerning the demolition plans for the Thomas Sanford House in Milford, CT. As we talked about in our last newsletter, I think public awareness is one of the most important tools for someone trying to preserve an historic structure. Don’t wait until after the fact, be like John and do it now. We wish him luck.

RuskinARC Newsletter: Documentation and Crowdfunding Project

Documentation: It’s More Than Just a Pretty Picture

That’s the title of a recent article posted by the National Trust. The actual article concerns how to completely document a building that is slated for demolition as a case study. It’s sad to see this kind of documentation wait until after a building has been condemned to be destroyed and that’s why we’re always so happy to see places like Miami Beach taking a proactive stance in documentation. We also believe that documenting now can prevent this kind of destruction from happening in the first place. The only thing that will prevent destruction of your historic places is having a group people who care about those places fight to protect them and the only way to make people care is to tell them the story of why this place is important. Public outreach is preservation and needs to be a part of every historic preservation plan.

Highway Revolts Break Out Across the Midwest

As a clear example of what I was talking about above, here’s an article that talks about community groups fighting against highway expansion projects that hurt downtowns. People care about their downtown areas because they live there and already understand the story that they tell themselves about it. Small, passionate groups can make a difference. If you’re a historic preservation group, I encourage you to start a conversation and alliance with a local community or business group today. It could be a very important alliance when you eventually need it.

Hacienda Hotel Crowdfunding Project

And speaking of getting community support, we recently ran across thisproject to restore the Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey, Florida. We’ve talked about crowdfunding before and this is a great example of it in action. This project really lays out what a good crowdfunding project needs; a good video describing the importance of the place, a description that tells more of the story and a good explanation of why the money is needed and how it will be used.

And while you’re there, throw a couple of dollars in. Every little bit is going to help.

Until next time…

First RuskinARC™ Newsletter

For those that might have missed the first newsletter, here it is. If you’d like to get it fresh off the press, subscribe to our newsletter with the sign up form on the right.

Welcome to our RuskinARC™ Newsletter

Main Street Accreditation for 2013 Announced (sort of)

The National Main Street Center has announced 2013 members for their Main Street Accreditation program, sort of. There are a lot of press releases from the various cities, but no definitive list from the NTHP, at least that we can find. Perhaps the best way to see what new communities are being added, run this Google News search on “main street accreditation”. You can also catch the full list of all accredited programs here.

Maybe they need a system that can map all this…

EBook Sales Soon to Outstrip Paper Book Sales

PricewaterhouseCoopers has said that ebook sales will surpass paper book sales by 2017, just 4 years from now. This isn’t too surprising as Amazon.com announced in 2011, two years ago, that ebooks were already more popular than paper books in their sales numbers. Now it looks like the rest of the world is catching up.

Lest you think that this has nothing to do with Historic Preservation, let me assure you this isn’t just a fad and the transition from expecting paper to expecting digital is going to matter a lot to all of us in the coming years.

RuskinARC™ News

New Catalog View

Lately, we added a “Catalog View” to RuskinARC™ in place of the “text descriptions” report. If you’re a client, it’s already working on your system. To see it go to Reports and then Generate the Summary Catalog. It consolidates your resources nicely, combining auto-generated descriptions with photos. Couldn’t be easier. Here’s an example (from Miami): http://www.ruskinarc.com/mdpl/Ocean-CollinsDistrict/descriptions. Looks good even on paper. To try it use your browser’s Print or Print Preview once you’re there.

Survey Forms

We’ve added a few new survey form choices: most recently California, Kentucky, and West Virginia. We can also do custom output forms on request under our professional services like we did for a client in Toronto, Canada.

New Look

By now you’ve noticed the “new” look and feel. We hope you like it. It’s designed to look great and work well on mobile devices (iPads, tablets). Now it’s easier than ever to do your survey work right in the field.

Pricing Adjustments

If you’ve seen our pricing page on the site, you might have noticed our announcement about pricing and service adjustments.

Over the past year we’ve taken a good look at what it really takes to develop, maintain, and support RuskinARC™. The new pricing structure is geared toward better business sense while still delivering real value for clients. Actually, it’s meant to (finally) allow us to deliver real power and reliability. We handle the backups, bandwidth, disk space, hosting, databases, security, bug-fixes, and all the other technical aspects so you don’t have to worry about it.

We’re especially looking hard at how the pricing and service tier might be altered so we can provide great support to clients, which is critical. You already know that RuskinARC™ is an absurd value, especially when compared to “rolling your own”, maintaining an in-house system or worse, not having a system at all that will give you the insight and information you need in today’s fast-paced world. We think that won’t change.

If you are already a client, you’ll simply stick with the pricing and service you have established with us. We don’t plan to charge any more than you’ve signed up for, and won’t be changing anything about your accounts unless you ask us to.

Until next time…