Quite randomly, I picked up a pretty magazine laying on my parents’ coffee table on Christmas Eve. The magazine was the inaugural issue of “Parks,” the magazine of the National Park Foundation. What was random was the blurb I read in the magazine announcing their “Share The Experience” photo contest, which was reminiscent of The Nature Conservancy’s photo contest I mentioned on Friday.
The deadline is Dec. 31, which doesn’t leave much time, but if you have a nice photo from one of our national parks (or any “official federal recreation lands”), it might be worth submitting.
This photo contest is related to the new America The Beautiful pass, which is threatening some dedicated funding to the National Park Service and will hinder public access to public lands, so I’m still trying to decide what I think of it and if I want to participate.
Policy issues aside, please forgive a few very geeky criticisms. If you aren’t interested in Web communications, design, usability or in “social media,” stop reading now (but scroll down to see one more pretty photo :)).
As an aside in Friday’s post about The Nature Conservancy’s contest, I said I thought it was “a great idea and an encouraging example of a major conservation organization adopting ‘social web’ ideas to resounding success.” The NPF contest stands in stark contrast to that. They are exhibiting all the tendencies of an archaic way of operating on the Web.
The Conservancy is using the immensely-popular, powerful and easy-to-use photo sharing site Flickr to power their contest, thus showing not only an admirable “Web 2.0″ acumen but also creating lasting opportunities for engagement with participants. And not just any participants, but the type of wired nature lovers whose numbers are rapidly increasing and who are likely to be impressed by an old-school conservation organization such as the Conservancy following them to their online spaces.
On the other hand, the NPF contest requires a cumbersome, fine-print-laden process to submit one single photo, and of course you have to give them all your information and refuse offers for their e-mail (and sponsor) spam. And nothing says “good user interface” like clicking a “Continue” button and the browser window closing without warning.
It’s not exactly related, but it’s just silly that on the NPF homepage they link to two other domains, one for the photo contest (sharetheexperience.org) and one for their magazine (parksmagazine.org). Yes, it’s become cheap and easy to buy and maintain several domains, but just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Talk about losing a sense of cohesion on their site and any sense of a consistent brand.
I’m done ranting now. Back to dreaming about the sound of the wind rushing down from the ridges above the valley, the sight of cutthroats slipping through the water.
(All photos in this post were taken in the Slough Creek meadows in Yellowstone National Park last September… one of the great paradises of my life.)