The GMU Hoops Archive has been a big, albeit short-term, success. Since the site went live on March 30 just under 5,000 visitors have been to the site and the archive contains just under 300 digital objects (159 stories and 135 files). The list below shows that this site, which is tied so closely to a phenomenon (the success of the University’s basketball team), is largely dependent on the hype and hoopla surrounding that phenomenon. Now that the basketball season is over and attention has moved elsewhere, so has the traffic.
What’s the lesson for historians trying to collect history online? If you’re going to collect the history of something so transitory, you better be prepared to act quickly, getting the database and the website up and running in a hurry while interest is high. And you need to be aggressive in your flogging of the site imemdiately, before your moment passes.
..7459 (Site goes live on March 30 around 4:00 pm)
50014 March 31
32940 (Mason’s game in the Final Four)
33448 April 2
34590 April 3
23897 April 4
19286 April 5
16956 April 6
14918 (On-campus celebration and parade)
10332 April 8
.6543 April 9
The persistent flogging of the GMU Basketball Digital Memory Bank is starting to pay off. As of 6:00 pm today (a little more than 24 hours since the site went live), the site has logged over 1,400 unique visitors and more than 40,000 hits. One hundred digital objects have already been deposited in this collect-history-as-it’s-happening archive.
The GoogleBot crawled the site around 3:00 today, so it should start showing up in Google searches before much longer, at which point we can expect a good deal more traffic. And for reasons unknown, someone in Andorra is checking out the site. See what you learn when you have good log tracking?
At this point, much of the promotion is good old fashioned marketing–handing out flyers, calling friends and relatives, pestering students. As the traffic begins to build, it will be interesting to see how many people find their way to the site. One would expect that if GMU defeats Florida on Saturday night that the traffic will jump significantly. I also suspect that within a month, this same traffic will die off until the basketball season starts up again next fall.
The George Mason Basketball Digital Memory Bank has now achieved lift off. Since the site officially went live several hours ago, visitors have begun to pour in and contributions to the memory bank have begun.
One thing we’ve learning in all of our projects is how essential it is that we flog the hell out of them to everyone we can think of. “If you build it, they will come” was the voice of a ghost in a cornfield, not a mantra for website development. So, instead, we have been emailing, posting on MySpace, Facebook and other social networking sites, writing to sports writers, posting to sports blogs…in short, doing everything we can online to create traffic for the site. And, in addition, we’ve been doing it the old-fashioned way…handing out flyers in crowds in the student union building and elsewhere.
Whether this project really takes off will be a function of the success of the men’s basketball team in Indy this weekend. But it will be fun to watch it grow.