New Years’ Resolutions

I wanted to capture a few things for 2007 and get feedback from visitors and regular contributors.

  • Tour the White House. This may seem odd, but, altho I’ve been to Washington DC on a few occasions and made plans to tour the White House, I’ve never managed to do so. This year, I’ll plan a long weekend in April or so. Any suggestions on how to prepare are appreciated. (camera tripod?)
  • Tour or encyclopedia? I’m happy with the look of the WHM site now, but the navigation is starting to get a little unwieldy (the multiple detail articles off the main history pages, for example), and I’m afraid casual visitors will get a little lost. Should it be a more linear experience (taking visitors to, say, 10 of the best known rooms) or more webby and interconnected, like a web encyclopedia? Can it be both?
  • Room maps. I occasionally think it might be useful for each room page to display an enlarged map of its immediate area, showing connections to adjoining rooms, but I’m not sure where it should go.
  • Furniture and art? I’ve been adding a little more on the art and furniture of the White House, but I’m considering full pages on major pieces. The Monroe furniture, the round sofa that was once in the Blue Room and later in the China Room, the cabinet table W props his feet on in the Treaty Room, and of course the Lincoln Bed. Then there’s Stuart’s GW portrait, the seated Lincoln, and some of the famous non-portraits and sculptures. I don’t want to try to recreate Monkman’s book any more than I want to recreate Seale’s, but certain things may deserve special recognition.
  • Games and lesson plans. Given that I’d like to attract schoolteachers and kids, I wonder if it would be of interest to have some pages that are scavenger hunts, trivia, and what-not. I did create a lesson plan page, so I think I’ll discuss it directly with a local history teacher.
  • Web forum? One visitor suggested a forum, but I think we have about half a dozen regulars, and it seems the blog comment functionality might be enough. There’s always the danger of a message board attracting political commentary and assassination conspiracy theories. And I don’t think I could stand to read another Lincoln/Kennedy coincidence list.
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8 thoughts on “New Years’ Resolutions

  1. Going to the White House for Tours isn’t easy. And I’m sure you know you don’t get to see anything in the WW or the residence. Unless that is you know someone! 🙂

    The only fear I’d have with a forum is that it would start to get carried away and get political and such. I like chatting about politics but there are already tons of places to do it. Why talk here outside of the blog? The blog already serves that purpose.

    I know you have political opinions Derek, but what I like about the WHM is that you run it like a WH butler would, you keep it non-partisan. And I think some people would make a forum more and more political over time.

    IMHO the WHM should be kept out of the forums biz.

  2. I agree with Pete. I appreciate the non-political tone. The White House belongs to all the people, regardless of party affiliation, and to its Presidents for their specific terms.

    To go on a tour means being in a group of at least 10 which has tickets from Member of Congress or Senator.

    I live in the greater DC area, let me know if you come to town!

  3. I dont think you can tour the White House just by walking up to the gate anymore.

    During the Clinton years, I managed to visit by just walking in.

    Since Sept 11, that style of touring has stopped. I think you many need to go through your local leaders to do so now. I do hope that in the future, it will return to pre Sept. 11 days when we could just walk up and go through the WH as if it were a public building. After all, it is the people’s house.

    All the best! Hope you get to see the house for yourself. It really is awe inspiring.

  4. Just to add, I agree wih Pete and Den that there should be NO politics on this site.

    What I truly like about WHM is that we are a bunch of fanatics crazy about the Institution of the Presidency but NOT the president himself. There is a difference, and lets appreciate that.

  5. Have you thought about a link to the White House Historical Association? That would enrich the site, too.

    I like the way the site is laid out and I think it is fairly easy to get around. I did suggest, and I know you are working on it, a way of seeing the photos based on the renovations/eras rather than only by room.

    The other thing I would suggest is a “What’s New?” link, that would tell immediately any photos added, without going through the blog.

  6. I agree with Dennis. Some of the new photos aren’t always easy to find, but to have a “new pics” page would be great.

    Maybe a single page with thumbnails. A nice uniform thumbnail page that has the most recent photos at the top. I don’t mean skipping putting the photo in in relevant area, just also have a photo gallery of what you added by date, kinda like how the WH does it.

    Or . . . just do what you sometimes do in the blog, put a small thumbnail of the new pics you add.

    It is sometimes hard to see which photos are new on a given page, even though you put in a lot of effort to describe what it is you added.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s not THAT hard, but if you’re looking for a suggestion . . . but don’t create a ton of work. 🙂

  7. I too agree I like the fact this is not political! As a long time fan of the White House I must say I really appreciate the amount of work Derek puts in. I was able to tour the White House in July 2006 after contacting my Congressman’s office to get in a tour. I think it was the best tour of the White House I have ever had (I’ve been through several times in pre 9/11 days).

    Again thanks Derek for this website.

  8. I too agree I like the fact this is not political! As a long time fan of the White House I must say I really appreciate the amount of work Derek puts in. I was able to tour the White House in July 2006 after contacting my Congressman’s office to get in a tour. I think it was the best tour of the White House I have ever had (I’ve been through several times in pre 9/11 days).

    Again thanks Derek for this website.

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